2013 Chevrolet Sonic

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2013 Chevrolet Sonic Review


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.

You'll Like This Car If...

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.

You May Not Like This Car If...

The 2013 Chevy Sonic isn't the smallest car in the category, but it's not as accommodating or flexible as the 2013 Honda Fit. Nor is the interior as polished as that of the 2013 Hyundai Accent.

What's New for 2013

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 the Sonic
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.

2013 Chevrolet Sonic Details
2013 Chevrolet Sonic photo Interior

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).

2013 Chevrolet Sonic photo

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.

Notable Equipment
Standard Equipment

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.

Optional Equipment

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.

Under the Hood

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)

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

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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?