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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.

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 109 Ratings for the 2012 - 2015 models.

Review this car
  • Value
    8.4/10
    Quality
    8.3/10
  • Reliability
    8.8/10
    Performance
    8.5/10
  • Comfort
    8.3/10
    Styling
    8.6/10

Good mileage and decent power

By on Saturday, September 06, 2014

I own this car - My approximate mileage is 13,687

10 9.0
overall rating 9 of 10rating details

Reviewer Ratings

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

Pros: "Fun to drive on back roads or interstate"

Cons: "one arm rest"

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

"I drive about an hour each day and the sonic is the perfect car for day to day driving. It has features from the more expensive models and was still in my price range."

14 people out of 32 found this review helpful

A Nice Little Car for the Price

By on Friday, September 05, 2014

I own this car - My approximate mileage is 9,000

10 9.0
overall rating 9 of 10rating details

Reviewer Ratings

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

Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 8

"I bought this car because it is assembled in USA. My car is 2013 LTZ with 5 speed manual transmission, gas mileage is excellent, combine highway and city, 33.9 miles. I drove the car cross the country, it's given me a lot fun! The only thing is the clock synchronization is not working and the leather seats look like fake. Otherwise, it is a perfect car! Thanks GM!"

2 people out of 2 found this review helpful

Great car but honest review

By on Friday, August 22, 2014

I own this car - My approximate mileage is 5,400

10 10.0
overall rating 10 of 10rating details

Reviewer Ratings

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

Pros: "great gas mileage using the turbo and 6spd,"

Cons: "one arm rest"

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

"I've purchased this car specifically because I commute 120 miles per day round trip. I opted for the LT-1 Turbo, so mid level with onstar and mylink radio. My car has cloth interior and both sets of mats, power locks and windows but manual seats. It has the 1.4L Turbo with the 6 spd manual. Engine performance: Now, I own a turbo diesel truck so I am up to speed on turbo lag. This car is no different in that department, except what I found is that if you blip the throttle then give it some gas turbo lag is non-existent. It is just something you get used to and remember when pulling across a side street. Transmission: The gearing between 1-2-3 is pretty tall and in some cases you will lug the engine if you are not paying attention. But where this car shines is the 5th and 6th gear. They are a great ratio and add to fuel economy. Shifting is smooth and precise. Sometimes though if you are not paying attention or being too easy on the gas you will miss 6th and drop it into 4th. Fuel economy. Because I commute such a distance and I have taken this vehicle on road a couple road trips, I can definitely talk to the fuel economy aspect of this car. The first week I had this car 52.6 mpg was the norm at 65mph. Now it has settle into 48.9 mpg average across my 60 mile commute over rolling terrain. I have two routes I can take. The 48mpg is a back country open highway, the second route is an urban freeway with lots of overpasses to climb. When taking this route the car will average 44.6mpg. note these trips are all with the A/C on, which actually doesn't ever seem to change the MPG at all. One major factor I have found is the type of fuel and from what gas station will cause the fuel economy to go up or down. I found that Conoco or Chevron both yield the worse mileage ratings over the coarse of two full tanks or for me two weeks worth of driving. I run premium which I have also found yields 3-4mpg better, which over my 22K miles per year is an extra $107, for the year. I found that Shell, safeway, Costco and Mavrick country stores yield the best MPG ratings. I am assuming it is because they do not place addatives into the fuel. Also, I know the Conoco has ethanol which drops the mpg ratings. Audio- This car is not Apple product friendly. The USB port is worthless for apple products and the blue tooth support is sporadic with apple as well. However using any android device including my Samsung tablet, the car has no issues. You can even plug in an external hard drive or USB stick. Show pictures on the screen or play movies and media files from the device. OnStar and Hands free. This car has some cool features in the Mylink system. On the steering wheel you can control your phone and make a phone call from your cell phone. Or on the rear view mirror you can use the vehicles built in cell service to make a phone call. Both calls go through the vehicles speaker system. The onstar function is actually pretty cool. I have used it a lot for directions. Call onstar, tell them where you want to go and they beam you the directions right to your stereo. It then gives you turn by turn directions to where you want to go. No actual navigation required. Driving impressions: You have to face reality, this is a sub-compact car. But there is still room for a small family on a short road trip. We have used it twice to take a 6 hour drive with two adults and two teenagers. So 4 people in the car. The kids never complained once and said they had enough room. But to be fair to them I did stop a few times. This car is zippy and nimble. I am always amazed that it can turn around on a one lane road and the uturn in a parking lot is just amazing. But then again, coming from an F350, a 777 on a runway can turn better. Overall this car is a great fun little car. The gas mileage with the Turbo 6spd is off the charts. The fit and finish is very good and the build quality is stellar. If I had one complaint it is the fact there is only one arm rest in the car. But it you had two, it would cover up the cup holders, so that makes sense. FYI, my car is the sedan and not the hatchback. Now for the other side of things. My wife took this car on a road trip from Utah to Idaho, to Nevada and back to Utah. She said that she really likes this car. That is saying a lot for a person that is used to driving a Honda Pilot with plenty of room. She raved about the radio and how easy the car was to drive, even though it is a manual transmission. When ever I am home she opts to take the Sonic to run errands or even pick the kids up from school. That just goes to show you how good of a package this little car is. I plan on giving it to my son in couple years when he starts driving."

4 people out of 6 found this review helpful

Perfect!

By on Sunday, August 10, 2014

I own this car - My approximate mileage is 14,400

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: "Perfect!"

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

"I love my Sonic! It's comfy, peppy, easy on gas, parks easy, holds a lot of items under the hatchback and looks like a little SUV!"

16 people out of 34 found this review helpful

SONIC RS Is Great!

By on Thursday, July 31, 2014

I own this car - My approximate mileage is 9,000

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: "Very fun to drive"

Cons: "None"

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

"I've had this car now for 1 1/2 years. It is exactly what I expected and wanted. I owned a Cobalt before and it was just not fun to drive. Nothing wrong with it, just BLAH! The Sonic is sporty and eye catching and has plenty of get up and go. The steering is a lot stiffer than most cars I driven which is great since I like to zip in and out of traffic just for fun! I don't get the gas mileage it states, but I do like to tromp on the gas pedal. I still get at least 27 mpg."

11 people out of 18 found this review helpful

Satisfying small car.

By on Sunday, July 20, 2014

I own this car - My approximate mileage is 5,800

10 10.0
overall rating 10 of 10rating details

Reviewer Ratings

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

Pros: "Fun to Drive, Interior comfort, quality feel"

Cons: "Armrest."

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

Fresh and clean.

"I bought my '14 Sonic LTZ Sedan in April and so far, I love it. I am shocked at how good the quality of this car is so far. I also have a Corolla and I find the materials in this car to be on par with Toyota, at least in initial quality, I have only had this car 3 months after all. The exterior looks great. I recommend paying the $325 for Crystal Red Tintcoat, as this color looks great on this car. I love having a spoiler and the exposed headlights are a really cool feature on these cars. So far, I have found Chevy's MyLink to be very easy to use, I have had no issues with syncing my devices to it and the controls in the Sonic are simple to use. The driving position in this car is great. Visibility out the front is excellent and having the back up camera has come in handy for me as well. This is an excellent handling car. I enjoy driving this car and find myself making up excuses to go out just so that I can drive it, I like it that much. This is a very comfortable car on long trips. I have recently taken it up to Ohio and found the seats to be very supportive. This is one of a few cars that I have been in on a long trip that I didn't feel worn out after it was over. The gas mileage has been pretty good so far. I have the 1.8, not the 1.4 turbo, so I don't get the 40 mpg it's rated at, but my car averages about 30 mpg city and highway driving combined. There is actually a lot of room in this car too. I find it to be close to my Corolla in terms of interior room and it actually has more trunk space than the Corolla, my Corolla is an '08, not sure what the '14's are like. The car has plenty of power for it's size and the motor and transmission are well suited to this car. The only complaint that I have about this car is the armrest on the driver seat. I don't really care for it's position and kind of wish that GM would have made a regular console with an armrest instead. Only thing I have to nitpick! This is actually a fun car to own and has exceeded my expectations. SiriusXM is great to have, especially since you don't have a CD player with MyLink in the Sonic, only AUX jacks. The best thing for me though is this, although it has a high parts content from Korea, this car was assembled in Michigan."

15 people out of 27 found this review helpful

Fresh and clean.

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