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Chevy Hits the Mark on Today’s Car Needs

By Linda Sharp

There is an old adage that says the best things come in small packages. Nothing makes that saying ring more true than Chevrolet’s new small car entry, the 2012 Chevrolet Sonic. The Sonic is replacing the less than heart grabbing Aveo.

The new Sonic is not only affordable, practical, fuel efficient, but also a lot of fun to drive. The Sonic is available in a number of configurations: four door sedan, or five door hatch back. There are three trim levels LS, LT and LTZ. There are three different transmission available based on the trim level and engine you select, a six speed (1.8L) automatic, a 5-speed manual (1.8L) or a 6 speed manual (1.4L turbo).
Our test vehicle was base LS with the five-speed manual. It was everything anyone would want or need, if they are looking for basic transportation. But the entry level Sonic doesn’t stop at that doorstep. No, it comes right on in offering a quiet, compliant ride, the car chases curves like a sports car, but without the insurance premium of a sportier package.

The interior is bountifully equipped with storage cubbies in the door panels and the dash. There are even two glove boxes. The seating is really quite good. You don’t sit on the floor, but seat height gives a comfortable bend to your knees. The seats are firm and supportive, and are upholstered in a hard surface, durable but attractive cloth material. Additionally, the Sonic features a split folding rear seat, power door locks, AC with air filtration, driver seat armrest, a tilt and telescopic steering column, and electric power steering.

Our test vehicle was the five-door hatch back. Personally, I favor that configuration over the four door sedan not only for practicality and versatility, but because the look of the five door makes more of a statement. It sets it apart in a sea of jellybean shaped sedans.
More higher trim level accessories come standard on the Sonic, than most would expect. Sure it has roll up windows, which to me is no problem. Think of it as exercise for your elbows! It does have a remote door locks, and a central locking system. I see that not only as a convenience, but a safety factor. The side mirrors are manually operated, electric would be nice, but surely not a deal breaker for me. The dash houses a driver information center, as well as an oil life monitoring system. Never forget the best way to make your vehicle live a long, long time, is to change its oil regularly.

A 1.8 L 4 cylinder engine powers the base Sonic. No, it is not a stop light rocket, but has more than adequate power for mid range and Interstate cruising. The infrequent fuel stops more than make up for any lack of stop light performance, coming in at an EPA 26 city and 35 highway. We averaged 31 mpg in combined driving, that was actually slanted a bit more to city driving.
The five-speed manual gearbox was outstanding. Shifts were effortless, yet positive. For someone who doesn’t currently know how to drive a manual, this transmission should make it child’s play. In our test Sonic it was mated to the 1.8 liter Ecotec double overhead cam four-cylinder engine. . A five-year/100,000 mile limited powertrain warranty is included.

In the safety department the Sonic is outfit with 10 standard air bags, Stabilitrak-stability control with traction control, brake panic assist and a tire pressure monitor. All this has helped the Sonic receive a Top Pick rating from the IIHS.

We can’t leave out the fun. Of course first in our list of fun factors would be the Sonic’s drivability and handling characteristics. It really is a lot of car in a small package. Those techno-files will enjoy the AM/FM stereo w/4 speakers and seek/scan and an auxiliary jack.  The car comes equipped for XM radio service, as well as six months of free OnStar service.

Base price on our test vehicle was $14,635. An upgraded sound system with a CD player, and destination charges had our Sonic ringing the register at $15,745.

We think this is the kind of vehicle for a lot of folks who are looking for reliable, affordable transportation. It should be the right choice for not only beginning drivers, but empty nesters, retirees and those that are interested in getting the most in a cost effective package. We’re betting the new Sonic will hit a home run with consumers.


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2012 Chevrolet Sonic



2012 Chevrolet Sonic