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2012 Chevrolet Sonic

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2012 Chevrolet Sonic Review

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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 153 Ratings for the 2012 - 2016 models.

Review this car
  • Value
    8.4/10
    Quality
    8.3/10
  • Reliability
    8.9/10
    Performance
    8.5/10
  • Comfort
    8.3/10
    Styling
    8.5/10

I love my car!!

By on Thursday, December 17, 2015

I own this car - My approximate mileage is 29,900

10 9.0
overall rating 9 of 10rating details

Reviewer Ratings

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

Pros: "Great gas mileage"

Cons: "Car drifts in bad weather"

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

"I love this car, the only thing I don't like about it is that it is so light....when I am driving in a storm or windy weather, I literally can feel my car drift, pretty scary sometimes bc I work night shifts lol but other than that I absolutely love it. I have had it since July of 2014. Great gas mileage"

8 people out of 8 found this review helpful

picky people read below :) 2014 sonic 1.8L

By on Wednesday, October 14, 2015

I own this car - My approximate mileage is 40,000

10 9.0
overall rating 9 of 10rating details

Reviewer Ratings

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

Pros: "Read full review"

Cons: "Read full review"

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

"I am very picky about thje vehicles I drive. but i love this car, things that I have noticed so far 1. the rear view mirror makes noise, so it sounds like your dash is rattling, but its just the mirror, a quick jiggle and it goes away 2. At times if the air condition fan is on 2 or 3 speed setting, it makes a high pitched squeaking noise, like the fan bearings are going out. 3. When the car is not warmed up and you put it in reverse the car tends to bump back and forth in a rythem till you ether back up really fast or drive forward. 4. The cooling fan for the engine also makes a squeaking noise at times Other then that, its a great little car, and is quick, has good gas millage, and rides really really well."

16 people out of 28 found this review helpful

Budget Car for the Masses

By on Friday, September 11, 2015

I own this car - My approximate mileage is 33,544

10 10.0
overall rating 10 of 10rating details

Reviewer Ratings

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

Pros: "Price,Fun to drive, Spacous,Quiet cabin."

Cons: "A Bit more Power, Power windows on base model"

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

What My Car Looks like Now.

"When I First heard about this Car I saw it in a Chevy Commercial and I was Amazed by it..not because of the Advertisement, but how it looked inside..and the body design was different. This being my First Car used CPO I was VERY Happy with it, It's Very Spacious..but the hatchback will give you a BIT more space in the trunk, but it handles VERY Well in and out of corners. I've owned the car for just over a 1 and 2 months I've lowered it which gives it even MORE greater handling, the engine could use a BIT more umfff, BUT..all in all it's a nice little car..VERY Quiet cabin also."

14 people out of 26 found this review helpful

What My Car Looks like Now.

Very pleased with this peppy Chevy Sonic Turbo

By on Thursday, August 20, 2015

I own this car - My approximate mileage is 20,000

10 9.0
overall rating 9 of 10rating details

Reviewer Ratings

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

Pros: "Very good price, reliable, stylish, Turbo is great"

Cons: "Really doesn't have any for the price."

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

"I've had the Sonic LT Turbo Hatchback for over 1 year and it's a little dream. Excellent on gas, which for us was very important. If you get the Sonic, go for the Turbo it really makes a difference for overtaking, to get out from traffic at light stops and overall fun. The white color which we have does show the dirt easily, but is good for Florida, however next time I'd go for the silver color. I hardly ever use the moon roof but it's a nice extra when the weather is a little cooler. Love the windows on this car, you really get a feeling of space and light as they are so large. Hatchback is so useful and plenty of room for when we go to a DIY store or need to cart home things from the flea market or auction house, you can split the seats also which is great and still allow the extra passenger. Parking is also a breeze due to its compact size. Blue tooth is great, love all the dials being within reach and extras on the steering wheel also make it very easy to drive. Quite comfortable for this price car and seat material is easy to clean and durable. All round a great, inexpensive, yet sturdy and reliable little car with the extra shot of turbo that leaves other cars standing. Very pleased."

11 people out of 21 found this review helpful

Can't believe I'am driving this Chevy

By on Tuesday, August 11, 2015

I own this car - My approximate mileage is 61,000

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: "Great looking ride."

Cons: "Mesh seats"

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

"Since the first time I drove this car off the lot in my area people had hardly seen a Chevy Sonic LT they were used to Chevy Impalas and I get asked a lot what kind of car is it.It's stylish has a lot of cool features in pricer vehicles but yet my Chevy has these features for less.I save a lot on gas and it's comfortable to drive so much that I forget I'am going to fast and have to slow down.I love the safety of all these air bags and bluetooth.I love my Chevy I like when people ask about the motorcycle inspired lights it gives it a mysterious look.I look like a hundred bucks!!!.Only thing is the mesh seating that is the only complaint but with all the other features who cares about the seating.My 6'4 son fits really good in front there is plenty of room.Plenty of trunk space.I also love the credit card holder and space to put my phone.My cup holders are a little far out but the fact that I have 3 cup holders makes it o.k. I love my Chevy Sonic LT!!!!"

13 people out of 20 found this review helpful

I love My Sonic

By on Tuesday, August 11, 2015

I own this car - My approximate mileage is 46,660

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
8/10

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

"I love my Sonic. I really love the fact when I get on the highway I can drive in manual.I had Chevrolet Cavalier,Chevrolet Malibu out of all my Chevys My Sonic is the best for me. One thing They need to put a arm rest for Passengers,because I don't like sharing mines."

4 people out of 8 found this review helpful

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