After an initial test drive of the new 2012 Chevrolet Sonic, the writers at Road & Track called it the “anti-Fiesta” and a “Fit-fighter.” They also called it “a well-designed, good-looking, fun-to-drive small car.” This aggressively styled compact sedan, and its five-door hatchback sibling, are stylish and sporty, and there’s more than a touch of Corvette joie de vivre wrapped up in the only small car built in the United States.
The $545 million invested in the Orion Assembly Center in Lake Orion, Michigan where the Sonic is built is another indication of the seriousness with which Chevrolet approaches the compact segment. The high level of technology and attention to detail throughout the Sonic is another underscore, too, and this attention has the attention of the automotive press; in its “First Drive Review,” Car and Driver magazine said the Sonic “is actually fun to drive,” and Sonic “does appear to mark the return of the American small car, and not just in name.”
There are two powertrain options available in the Sonic. The standard engine is a 1.8-liter Ecotec four-cylinder that sends 135 hp and 125 lb/ft of torque through either a five-speed manual or six-speed automatic transmission. A turbocharged 1.4-liter Ecotec engine is also available with 138 hp and 148 lb/ft of torque. The increased peak torque of the turbocharged Ecotec stretches from 1,850 rpm to 4,900 rpm, a wide power plateau that delivers both efficiency and performance. These Ecotec four-cylinders, both shared with the Chevrolet Cruze, are compact engine designs that feature low-mass blocks, dual overhead camshafts with variable valve timing, efficiency-boosting roller camshaft followers and variable flow oil pumps. Even the thermostat is electronically controlled, showing that Chevrolet has gone to tremendous lengths to create an affordable, cutting-edge compact car.
The Sonic features a body structure that’s one of the most rigid in the class, giving the MacPherson strut front suspension and torsion beam axle-mount compound link-type rear suspension a solid foundation. To tune the car’s ride and handling, Chevrolet brought in a team of Corvette engineers. A stabilizer bar up front and gas-charged dampers give an athletic feel. The Sonic uses a “flat top frame” cradle to reduce flexibility in the front of the chassis, and the standard electronic power steering system compensates for wear to keep the Sonic cutting precise cornering lines for many years to come.
The Sonic has an undertone of motorcycle styling cues inside and out. The headlamps are reminiscent of the headlights you’ll see on two-wheelers, and within the cabin you’ll find an instrument panel featuring an analog tachometer and LCD speedometer that clearly takes its inspiration from hot-blooded superbikes. The interior design features a sweeping dashboard and premium materials. Two contrast colors, titanium and brick, are available to accent the door panels and dashboard, and rear-seat passengers will find the Sonic a more comfortable place to be compared to competitors like the Ford Fiesta. There’s also best-in-class trunk capacity in the Sonic, and the rear seats fold down to aid cargo flexibility.
Technology is a part of the modern motoring experience, so the Chevrolet Sonic comes with OnStar and six months of Turn-by-Turn Navigation. The Sonic can also be packed with USB and Bluetooth connectivity, XM Satellite Radio, the MyChevrolet mobile application and the OnStar MyLink app, which can connect your smartphone with OnStar, putting your vehicle’s health report in the palm of your hand along with remote unlocking and starting functions, and navigation.
The safety of 10 standard airbags teams with StabiliTrak® electronic stability control with rollover sensing, Antilock Braking with Electronic Brakeforce Distribution (EBD) and Brake Assist (BA) to make the Sonic as safe as it is secure. OnStar includes Automatic Crash Response to alert help when an accident occurs, giving the Sonic the ability to automatically have your back, even when you might not be able to summon help.
Chevrolet is out ahead of the curve with the 2012 Sonic. It’s a sport-infused small car that doesn’t short you on refinement or beat up your wallet. Buyers looking to go small don’t have to sacrifice or run to other brands, since the 2012 Chevrolet Sonic is at the top of its class.