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Chevrolet Sonic

A good American subcompact.

The Sonic replaced the Aveo for 2012 and, without a doubt, improves on that car in every way. Like the Aveo, the Sonic is offered as a sedan and a hatchback. High-strength steel makes up 60 percent of its structure, but the Sonic still checks in with a heavy-for-its-segment curb weight of about 2800 pounds. The heft also owes to a relatively large footprint (about 1.5 inches bigger than a Ford Fiesta in both wheelbase and track), a reinforced structure, and a class-leading ten standard air bags. No one will be picking on this fat kid, though, as it shares its engines with the larger Cruze. As in the Cruze, the electric power steering’s lightness belies its accuracy, and the six-speed manual is smooth but could be more precise. The cabin, meanwhile, falls short of the Fiesta’s in materials quality but impresses with a tilt-and-telescoping steering wheel, good panel fits, and an adult-friendly back row. The Sonic comes with a long list of options not previously available on Chevy’s small cars, such as Bluetooth, remote start, heated seats, and seventeen-inch wheels. For 2013, the sporty Sonic RS debuts with a unique front fascia, higher gearing (manual transmission), and rear disc brakes. These add-ons don’t transform the RS into a sports car, but they inject some attitude and driving fun into an already good subcompact.

COMPETITORS

Ford Fiesta

Hyundai Accent

Kia Rio

Nissan Versa

new for 2013

The RS five-door hatchback is new for 2013. It’s powered by the same 1.4-liter turbo offered on other Sonic models, and it gets disc brakes all around, more aggressive gear ratios for the manual, a 10-mm lower ride height, a more aggressively tuned chassis, unique seventeen-inch wheels, and numerous cosmetic upgrades. Inside, you’ll find leather on the seats, shifter, and steering wheel; aluminum pedals; and RS-specific red accents.

SAFETY EQUIPMENT

Front, side, and side curtain air bags; ABS; traction and stability control; and a tire-pressure monitoring system are standard. OnStar is standard and includes Automatic Crash Response free for six months.

High Mileage

MPG

CITY 25–29

HWY 35–40

PRO

Adult-friendly back seats

RS hatchback is a decent sport compact

Premium options

CON

Chubbier than its rivals

Imprecise six-speed manual transmission

Base Price Range: $14,800–$21,000 (est.)

SPECIFICATIONS

DRIVE: Front-wheel

TRIM LEVELS: LS, LT, LTZ, RS

BODY STYLES: Sedan, hatchback, 5-passenger

ENGINES: 1.4L turbo I-4, 138 hp, 148 lb-ft

1.8L I-4, 138 hp, 125 lb-ft

TRANSMISSIONS: 5- or 6-speed manual, 6-speed automatic

PASSENGER VOLUME: 91.0 cu ft (est.)

CARGO SPACE: (sedan) 14.0 cu ft; (hatchback, rear seats up/down) 19.0/30.7 cu ft

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