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2012 Chevrolet Sonic

Overview
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2012 Chevrolet Sonic Review

By

KBB Expert Rating: 7.9

Some buyers will be drawn to the all-new 2012 Chevrolet Sonic because it's the only subcompact built in the U.S. Far more will be won over by the fact that it's the most well-rounded driver in the segment. As the bow-tie brand's newest answer to subcompact sedans and 5-door hatchbacks like the Honda Fit and Ford Fiesta, the Chevy Sonic comes into the world facing stiff competition. And if you're looking for standout styling or go-git-'em driving feel, you can indeed do better than the Sonic. But if you like the idea of an entry-level subcompact that drives more like a comfortable compact car, consider the Sonic an early favorite in your quest for affordable and efficient wheels.

You'll Like This Car If...

In sedan or 5-door hatchback configuration, the 2012 Chevy Sonic is the quietest and most composed subcompact car you can buy. Combined with more conventional styling than some of its key competitors, the Sonic is destined to become a mass-market favorite.

You May Not Like This Car If...

The 2012 Chevy Sonic isn't the smallest car in the category, but it's not as accommodating or flexible as the 2012 Honda Fit. Nor is the interior as polished as the 2012 Hyundai Accent's. And while it proves impressively athletic when pushed, it doesn't encourage that sort of behavior as much as the 2012 Ford Fiesta.

What's Significant About This Car?

The Chevy Aveo had grown so uncompetitive and unloved enough that when it came time for a new generation, Chevy changed everything including the name. With the arrival of the radically improved 2012 Chevy Sonic, the short list of subcompact cars worth considering is now one car longer.

Driving the Sonic

Driving Impressions Around town and on the highway, the 2012 Chevy Sonic sets a new standard for subcompact driving refinement. The category as a whole has gotten less skittish and less buzzy...

in recent years, but the new Sonic ups the ante considerably and drives like a bigger, pricier car than any of its competitors. It's not perfect, though. The up-level turbocharged engine available on LT and LZ models offers excellent fuel economy but suffers from the same quirky power delivery that hurt the Sonic's Chevy Cruze big brother in our most recent compact sedan comparison test. And until spring 2012, the turbocharged engine is only available with a 6-speed manual transmission – a combination that magnifies the engine's idiosyncrasies. Fortunately, the base-level 1.8-liter engine costs less, is available with the 6-speed automatic transmission right out of the gate, and delivers – in some ways – a better driving experience. It may be down on power, refinement and efficiency compared to the turbo option, but it's still one of the category's most powerful engines. One of the front-wheel-drive Sonic's best tricks is how it manages to deliver both segment-leading highway manners with impressive road-holding abilities. It's not stretching the leash to charge a canyon road, but you might be impressed by the grip and stability it delivers if that's what you want to do. We were.
Favorite Features

Digital Speedometer
We like traditional tachometers – the needle helps you time shifts and more quickly conveys the relative speed of the engine - but when it comes to tracking vehicle speed, two digits is better.

Bluetooth Audio
If your phone and digital music player are one, and you take more short trips than long drives, you'll appreciate the ability to play your music without having to constantly plug and unplug your phone.

2012 Chevrolet Sonic Details
2012 Chevrolet Sonic photo Interior

Like the outside, the inside of the 2012 Chevy Sonic is a mix of conservative design with a touch of 2-wheeler inspiration manifested in the form of a compact gauge cluster with a digital speedometer. Like many of the newer subcompact cars, a key highlight of the Sonic interior is simply the dearth of weak spots common to the category's cabins only a few years ago. Worth noting are that the cupholders are good but awkwardly placed too rearward between the front seats, the backseat is one of the category's roomiest, and the 2-glovebox layout is especially nice for those who use a dedicated digital music player (the USB port is located in the smaller top box).

Exterior
2012 Chevrolet Sonic photo

The motorcycle-inspired headlights notwithstanding, the 2012 Chevy Sonic is among the more traditionally styled subcompact cars in the segment. While it won't generate as much excitement as the crisper styling of the Ford Fiesta or Hyundai Accent, the flip side is that it won't push as many people away. One fun detail to check out: On the 5-door hatchback model, Chevy's designers "hid" the rear door handle in the black area of the C-pillar, in an effort to give the car a little bit of a 2-door look at first glance. Also, we love that even the base Chevy Sonic includes alloy wheels, as opposed to the covered steel wheels more common on base trims in the category.

Notable Equipment
Standard Equipment

In sedan or 5-door hatchback form, a 2012 Chevy Sonic LS includes a 1.8-liter engine, 5-speed manual transmission, 15-inch aluminum wheels, air conditioning, 4-speaker AM/FM/Aux sound system and OnStar with a 6-month subscription that includes convenient turn-by-turn navigation. You might notice power windows and mirrors are missing from the list - Chevy's omission, not ours (but not unusual for base-level subcompacts). A full range of standard safety equipment includes 10 airbags.

Optional Equipment

A fully loaded 2012 Chevy Sonic includes the 1.4-liter turbocharged engine matched with a 6-speed manual transmission (a 6-speed automatic is coming for spring 2012), leatherette seats, heated front seats, moonroof, cruise control, AM/FM/CD/MP3/USB/Aux/Bluetooth audio 6-speaker sound system, steering-wheel audio/phone controls and 17-inch wheels.

Under the Hood

The bad news is that the more powerful, more fuel-efficient turbocharged engine won't be available with an automatic transmission until spring 2012. The good news is that the base 1.8-liter engine is a viable option with more linear power delivery. In fact, the pricier turbocharged engine's key strength isn't the added torque but the 5-mpg advantage in highway fuel economy. We haven't yet tested the 5-speed manual, but we were impressed by both the 6-speed automatic and 6-speed manual transmissions.

1.8-liter in-line 4-cylinder
138 horsepower @ 6,300 rpm
125 lb-ft of torque @ 3,800 rpm
EPA city/highway fuel economy: 26/35 (5-speed manual), 25/35 (6-speed automatic)

1.4-liter turbocharged in-line 4-cylinder
138 horsepower @ 4,900 rpm
148 lb-ft of torque @ 2,500 rpm
EPA city/highway fuel economy: 29/40 (6-speed manual only until spring 2012)

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2012 Chevrolet Sonic Consumer Reviews

Overall Rating
8.6
Out of 10

Based on 87 Ratings for the 2012 - 2014 models.

Review this car
  • Value
    8.6/10
    Quality
    8.3/10
  • Reliability
    8.9/10
    Performance
    8.4/10
  • Comfort
    8.3/10
    Styling
    8.6/10

Inexpensive, surprisingly refined, and thrifty!

By on Wednesday, April 09, 2014

I own this car - My approximate mileage is 29,600

10 10.0
overall rating 10 of 10rating details

Reviewer Ratings

Overall Rating
10/10
Value
10/10
Reliability
10/10
Quality
9/10
Performance
8/10
Styling
9/10
Comfort
10/10

Pros: "Amazing refinement, great mileage, many toys."

Cons: "No diesel version avail. in US."

Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 10

"2012 Chevy Sonic LT Hatckback, Bluetooth package, 5 speed manual, 1.8l non-turbo. I purchased this car new in Dec '11. After almost 30k miles, I still love it. Seats are comfy, interior is extremely quiet for an economy car, mileage has consistently exceeded the specs, and the only 2 little issues I've had were covered under warranty -- no questions asked. The steering and brakes are very responsive, and the stability control w/ good snow tires got me through snow and ice that I probably shouldn't have been in without issue. There's plenty of space, Phone syncs nicely with the bluetooth, dual glove boxes (one for phone or other with usb port and aux port), trunk is bigger than it looks, and back doors are easy to get kids/dogs/cargo into. My one complaint is the dual mass flywheel, it's SO heavy. Yes, it helps noobs learn to drive stick, and yes, it makes the car smooth and vibration free, but it diminishes the amount of hoonage possible... :) It has so many features for a car that I paid less than $16k for... You really NEED to at least test drive one if you're shopping for an economy car."

Inexpensive, surprisingly refined, and thrifty!

By on Wednesday, April 09, 2014

I own this car - My approximate mileage is 29,600

10 10.0
overall rating 10 of 10rating details

Reviewer Ratings

Overall Rating
10/10
Value
10/10
Reliability
10/10
Quality
9/10
Performance
8/10
Styling
9/10
Comfort
10/10

Pros: "Amazing refinement, great mileage, many toys."

Cons: "No diesel version avail. in US."

Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 10

"2012 Chevy Sonic LT Hatckback, Bluetooth package, 5 speed manual, 1.8l non-turbo. I purchased this car new in Dec '11. After almost 30k miles, I still love it. Seats are comfy, interior is extremely quiet for an economy car, mileage has consistently exceeded the specs, and the only 2 little issues I've had were covered under warranty -- no questions asked. The steering and brakes are very responsive, and the stability control w/ good snow tires got me through snow and ice that I probably shouldn't have been in without issue. There's plenty of space, Phone syncs nicely with the bluetooth, dual glove boxes (one for phone or other with usb port and aux port), trunk is bigger than it looks, and back doors are easy to get kids/dogs/cargo into. My one complaint is the dual mass flywheel, it's SO heavy. Yes, it helps noobs learn to drive stick, and yes, it makes the car smooth and vibration free, but it diminishes the amount of hoonage possible... :) It has so many features for a car that I paid less than $16k for... You really NEED to at least test drive one if you're shopping for an economy car."

love the gas mileage, and all the options

By on Monday, April 07, 2014

I own this car - My approximate mileage is 33,000

10 9.0
overall rating 9 of 10rating details

Reviewer Ratings

Overall Rating
9/10
Value
9/10
Reliability
9/10
Quality
9/10
Performance
8/10
Styling
6/10
Comfort
7/10

Pros: "Great gas mileage Fun to drive Good power"

Cons: "Low roof line, poor leg room in rear, rear windo"

Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 9

"In general this is a great car but does have a few things that really bug me. The rear window is impossible to keep clean because of the body design. All road moisture and dust is deposited on the rear of the body an window. The roof line in front is low making it hard to enter for taller or larger people. Great gas mileage."

1 person out of 2 found this review helpful

Great car for teenager.

By on Friday, March 28, 2014

I own this car - My approximate mileage is 38,000

10 6.0
overall rating 6 of 10rating details

Reviewer Ratings

Overall Rating
6/10
Value
1/10
Reliability
9/10
Quality
6/10
Performance
8/10
Styling
6/10
Comfort
8/10

Pros: "Good gas mileage comfortable peppy"

Cons: "Bad resale value interior build quality is cheap"

Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 6

"I feel there is an issue with my transmission that has not been dealt with by the dealership despite numerous attempts at a diagnoses. Otherwise the car is comfortable to drive, has some pep thanks to the turbo and its cute. Aside form the horrible resale value its a pretty decent car. Brakes are spectacular if you don't mind them a little touchy. The build quality could use some better craftsmanship on the interior. Overall not bad."

1 person out of 1 found this review helpful

I am totally in love with this car.

By on Thursday, March 27, 2014

I own this car - My approximate mileage is 17,310

10 10.0
overall rating 10 of 10rating details

Reviewer Ratings

Overall Rating
10/10
Value
10/10
Reliability
10/10
Quality
10/10
Performance
10/10
Styling
10/10
Comfort
10/10

Pros: "Fun to drive handles well and the cool tech"

Cons: "When your phone is lock can't access the apps"

Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 10

"I love the Piano black goes all the way up in the new 2014 gives it a more premium look and the back up camara that comes with the car. I love this 13 turbo Rs it is Cyber Gray iput Carbon Fiber Bow ties it looks so good compare to the lower level Sonics. It drives so good I am trying to get a 14. that is why i am on the website"

2 people out of 6 found this review helpful

Poor gas mileage, poor performance

By on Wednesday, March 26, 2014

I own this car - My approximate mileage is 8,100

10 5.0
overall rating 5 of 10rating details

Reviewer Ratings

Overall Rating
5/10
Value
8/10
Reliability
5/10
Quality
4/10
Performance
5/10
Styling
7/10
Comfort
7/10

Pros: "Remote star"

Cons: "Poor gas mileage and performance."

Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 5

"Mileage below 20 mpg combined, the suspension of fair quality with only 8000 miles and has problems, poor acceleration power."

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Trading in or Selling? Know where you stand with the most up-to-date Kelley Blue Book Value at your fingertips. See your car's value

Buying this car?