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 blamebliss on Wednesday, February 19, 2014
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 20,000overall rating 9 of 10rating details
Pros: "fun to drive, great mpg, interior features"
Cons: "wheel well gap,"
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 10
"I bought this car purely on a test drive, with no intentions to buy a new car. I absolutely fell in love! The 1.4l turbo is the way to go however, and Im glad I got it. The power isn't massive, but its very peppy, handles incredibly well and the understeer doesn't control you in the tight turns. Would be an awesome track car as well. Great on gas too! I run premium always, and have seen 45mpg highway, and usually am around 33 to 36 around town when driving like a law abiding citizen. Great car, a blast to drive."
By Natasha on Tuesday, February 11, 2014
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 24,000overall rating 10 of 10rating details
Pros: "Turns on a dime, fund to drive"
Cons: "Only one outlet plug, back seat small for adults"
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 9
"With our family shrinking in size, my husband & I decided to down size. Although it has been an adjustment when we have our adult children with us (from van to car), this is a wonderful car. Gas is fantastic, especially on long trips with an average of 40+ on the highway. City driving averages 35 mph. It desperately needs more outlet plugs as one just doesn't do it when you need to charge 2 or more phones & a possible GPS."
2 people out of 4 found this review helpful
By Mike on Sunday, February 02, 2014
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 2,450overall rating 2 of 10rating details
Pros: "Wrong car for us."
Cons: "Harder for elderly people to get in and out.."
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 3
"Not our kind of car. Traded a 2008 Toyota Sienna CE. Bad choice. Not really that economical, and hard for us to transition to such a small car. Not worth the money..."
By Skip on Thursday, January 16, 2014
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 14,500overall rating 9 of 10rating details
Pros: "Price, Gas, Stiling, Safety, fun to drive."
Cons: "Small trunk, what do you except?"
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 9
"I have 2013 Sonic Turbo 1.4L 5 door Ltz. I have 17 cars and trucks. All are SRT Supercharged/ Turbo Dodge's and am used to power. This car is great as far as power and gas mileage. The safety rating is the best for this size of car. I bought this car for in town and has lived up to its name. I have had many complements, in regards to stile and performance. From 0 - 60mph its faster then the Camaro & Mustangs v-6's and gets about 38MPG. I would buy this car all over again. Totally love it for the bang for the buck!!!!"
4 people out of 5 found this review helpful
By L2 on Tuesday, January 07, 2014
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 13,000overall rating 1 of 10rating details
Pros: "small and easy to park"
Cons: "Bluetooth unreliable, cheap leather, fogs up easy."
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 1
"I absolutely hate this car! It was a very bad decision on my part. First, it fogs up very quickly and builds up dust all over. I was told by the dealership…after purchasing…that because it is so small and has very tight seals, the dust and fog are a likely characteristic of this car. The blue tooth is very unreliable. I am constantly having to switch between iPhone and bluetooth…very annoying and unsafe. Snow? Forget it! I got stuck twice today; on a hill and then parked on a side street. Cheap leather….ugh! Seats feel more like plastic than like leather. Still cannot download pictures onto dash screen. No biggie…but is one of their claims. One good thing…easy to park since it is so small. I am already upside down and have been making hefty payments since purchasing. This car does not hold its value. I am so very disappointed in this car!"
4 people out of 12 found this review helpful
By Bori on Monday, December 30, 2013
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 1,711overall rating 10 of 10rating details
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 10
"I was looking to buy a 2nd car for better gas milage and when my family comes to visit me they have there own car to get around town. Since I bought my Sonic LT sedan I have been impressed. The gas milage is great I get in the city around 30 miles. the handling of the car is amazing. The inside is big and comfortable. the price I paid for the car I got all the bell and whistle you want to get on a new car not sacrificing my wallet. The fixture I love on this car is the on star app from my phone. Could start my car from anywhere. When driving at night time combining the head lights with the fog lights the lights distance is wider and longer is better then my other car. I use this car more then my other car. My sister drove it over the holidays and she loves it."
2 people out of 3 found this review helpful