By KBB.com Editors
KBB Expert Rating: 7.8
Built in the USA, the 2013 Chevrolet Sonic is the second-smallest car to wear the bow-tie badge (the new Spark is officially the smallest), but its abilities are far from diminutive. Competing against Ford's Fiesta and Honda's Fit, among others, the Sonic delivers fuel economy that's equal to or better than its rivals and driving dynamics that range from comfortable and nimble (LT trim) to downright sporty (new RS). Offered as a 5-door hatchback or 4-door sedan, the Sonic is no ordinary small car. It offers loads of features unexpected at this price range, such as streaming Bluetooth audio and the MyLink infotainment system that allows for control of cell phone-enabled apps.
In sedan or 5-door hatchback configuration, the 2013 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.
The big news for the 2013 Chevy Sonic is the addition of the sporty RS that includes a stiffer suspension, leather seats and unique 17-inch wheels. There's a simplified version of the MyLink infotainment system and all Sonics gain integral blind-spot side mirrors. The LT trim adds cruise control, a USB port, second auxiliary input, steering-wheel audio controls and Bluetooth streaming audio.
Driving Impressions Around town and on the highway, the 2013 Chevy Sonic sets a new standard for subcompact driving refinement. As a whole, the offerings in this category have become less skittish...... and less buzzy in recent years, but Chevrolet's Sonic for 2013 drives like a bigger, pricier car than any of its competitors. It's not perfect, though. The up-level turbocharged engine available on LT, RS and LTZ models offers excellent fuel economy but suffers from somewhat quirky power delivery. Fortunately, the base-level 1.8-liter engine costs less, is available with either a 5-speed manual or 6-speed automatic transmission, and delivers - in some ways - a better driving experience. 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. And, if you decide to charge a canyon road, you might be impressed by the grip and stability it delivers.
With MyLink, customers can use their smartphones to enable music from popular apps such as Pandora and Stitcher. Later in the model year a navigation app will be added to the mix.
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.
Inside the 2013 Chevy Sonic is a mix of conservative design with a touch of motorcycle inspiration 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 cup holders 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
The motorcycle-inspired headlights notwithstanding, the Chevrolet's 2013 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, with the exception of the base LS trim, all models include alloy wheels.
In sedan or 5-door hatchback form, a 2013 Chevy Sonic LS includes a 1.8-liter engine, 5-speed manual transmission, air conditioning, Bluetooth, steering wheel audio controls, 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 of standard equipment, but that's not unusual for base-level subcompacts. A full range of standard safety equipment includes 10 airbags.
A fully-loaded 2013 Chevy Sonic includes the 1.4-liter turbocharged engine matched with a 6-speed manual transmission or 6-speed automatic, leatherette seats, heated front seats, moonroof, cruise control and 17-inch wheels. Chevrolet's MyLink infotainment is available on LS and LT and standard on LTZ and RS. A premium 6-speaker audio system is offered on LS and standard on all others, while the LTZ with the automatic transmission comes with standard remote start. The RS trim adds leather seating, four-wheel disc brakes, performance suspension, 17-inch alloy wheels and a sport steering wheel.
The bad news is that the more powerful, more fuel-efficient turbocharged engine isn't available on every trim. 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 inline-4 (LS, LT, LTZ)
138 horsepower @ 6,300 rpm
125 lb-ft of torque @ 3,800 rpm
EPA city/highway fuel economy: 26/35 mpg (5-speed manual), 25/35 mpg (6-speed automatic)
1.4-liter turbocharged inline-4 (Optional on LT and LTZ, standard on RS)
138 horsepower @ 4,900 rpm
148 lb-ft of torque @ 2,500 rpm (manual)/1,850 rpm (automatic)
EPA city/highway fuel economy: 29/40 mpg (6-speed manual), 27/37 mpg (6-speed automatic)
A 2013 Chevy Sonic LS sedan starts at a Manufacturer's Suggested Retail Price (MSRP) of just under $15,000 including destination. The lowest-priced Sonic 5-door is in the step-up LT trim level, with its additional features, at just over $17,000. Loaded, a 2013 Sonic can top $20,000. Overall, the Sonic is priced in line with its key competitors on a feature-to-feature basis. Before heading down to your Chevy dealer, be sure to check our Fair Purchase Price, which reflects what others are currently paying. As for resale value, we expect the 2013 Chevy Sonic to perform better than its Aveo predecessor, but not as well as some of its more proven subcompact competitors.
By Mimi on Sunday, August 10, 2014
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 14,400overall rating 10 of 10rating details
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!"
14 people out of 30 found this review helpful
By Chevy Lover on Thursday, July 31, 2014
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 9,000overall rating 10 of 10rating details
Pros: "Very fun to drive"
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."
9 people out of 15 found this review helpful
By Ron G on Sunday, July 20, 2014
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 5,800overall rating 10 of 10rating details
Pros: "Fun to Drive, Interior comfort, quality feel"
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 10
"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."
14 people out of 25 found this review helpful