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#11

in Affordable Small Cars

MSRP: $14,245 - $21,945
Invoice: $13,889 - $20,848
MPG: 26 City / 35 Hwy
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Chevrolet Sonic Performance

The 2015 Chevrolet Sonic is quite satisfying to drive, according to critics, with a composed ride, sprightly handling and sharp steering. Reviewers think the base engine is adequate, but most recommend stepping up to the turbo model because it has livelier acceleration and better fuel economy.

  • "Every bit the equal of the Toyota Yaris and Ford Fiesta, the Sonic adds a bit more spice, with sporty handling and a turbocharged engine that delivers zippy performance around town." -- Kelley Blue Book
  • "Similar to European cars like the VW Golf, it handles well around turns, yet it also rides well enough that long road trips are a viable proposition." -- Edmunds (2014)
  • "You don't usually equate subcompacts with performance, but Sonic is an exception." -- Consumer Guide (2013)
  • "Yes, it's a subcompact, but it drives like it has a spring in its step. With a feisty four-cylinder engine, this is no Point A to Point B drone." -- Cars.com (2012)

Acceleration and Power

The 2015 Chevrolet Sonic comes standard with a 138-horsepower, 1.8-liter four-cylinder engine. A turbocharged 1.4-liter four-cylinder that also produces 138 horsepower is available. Models with the base engine come standard with a five-speed manual transmission, while turbocharged models come with a six-speed manual. A six-speed automatic is available with either engine. According to the EPA, the base 2015 Sonic gets up to 26/35 mpg city/highway, which is low for a subcompact car. Turbocharged models get 27/37, which is still less than what rivals like the Honda Fit and Fiat 500 get.

Test drivers write that the Sonic’s base engine provides adequate acceleration, but most recommend the turbocharged engine. Besides getting better fuel economy, critics say the turbo model is more responsive and delivers solid acceleration on the highway. Automotive journalists also report that both manual transmissions are quite satisfying to shift and the automatic delivers seamless gear changes.

  • "On flat-to-slightly sloping uphill runs, the 1.4-liter turbo was incredibly zippy." -- AutoTrader
  • "When equipped with the 1.4-liter turbocharged engine, the subcompact Sonic feels quick and agile, and its fuel economy figures earn two big thumbs up from our test staff. Stick with the base 1.8-liter engine and you'll still find a very pleasing driving experience, plus you'll have the choice of a slick shifting 5-speed manual or smooth 6-speed automatic." -- Kelley Blue Book
  • "While both of the available engines offer decent performance, the turbocharged 1.4-liter feels more lively and provides useful power for merging and passing maneuvers. The fact that it also delivers better fuel economy makes it even easier to justify the extra up-front expense." -- Edmunds (2014)
  • "Rowing the gears is plenty fun, and the clutch takeup is properly weighted for an engaging feel. Power is solid from the turbo four for brisk acceleration." -- AutoWeek (2013 Sonic RS)

Handling and Braking

The 2015 Chevrolet Sonic has front-wheel drive. Test drivers say the base Sonic feels remarkably agile around corners, and the performance-oriented RS model is even more nimble thanks to its firmer suspension. They also like the Sonic’s sharp steering and comfortable ride.

  • "The ride is smooth and stable, the steering precise, and the suspension nimble enough to round corners with confidence or dart through nasty city traffic with ease." -- Kelley Blue Book
  • "Where the Aveo was slow and dull-witted in corners, the Sonic is quick and surprisingly agile." -- AutoTrader
  • "The well-tuned suspension provides steady handling without a noticeable sacrifice in ride comfort -- call it a junior-size Volkswagen Golf and you won't be far off. And with its firmer suspension and slick six-speed manual gearbox, the sportier Sonic RS model can be downright fun to drive." -- Edmunds (2014)
  • "This car's stiffer suspension setup merely reinforces what is already a fun chassis to toss around and to enjoy at the limit, thanks to good body control and decent steering weight and feedback." -- AutoWeek (2013 Sonic RS)
Review Last Updated: 10/9/14

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