By KBB.com Editors
KBB Expert Rating: 7.7
The 2014 Sonic subcompact is the next-to-the-smallest car to carry Chevrolet's familiar bow-tie badge (the Spark is the smallest), but it offers capabilities and characteristics that far transcend its tidy size. Coming in sedan and hatchback forms, the Sonic's fuel economy is equal to or better than those of such rivals as the Ford Fiesta and Honda Fit, its ride and handling go from comfortable and responsive to certifiably sporty and enthusiastic, and it comes with lots of features that are pleasant surprises in this price bracket, including streaming Bluetooth audio and the MyLink infotainment system that allows for control of cell-phone-enabled apps. Add in that it looks good and is priced very affordably, and it's a winner.
Reasons to like the 2014 Sonic: It's the quietest and most well-behaved subcompact car on the market. It's truly fun to drive. The fuel economy is exemplary. It's full of nice features. The pricing is very affordable. It's one of the very best subcompacts in the segment. Check it out.
Reasons to pick a different car: The Honda Fit offers more interior room and versatility, the Hyundai Accent is nicely done, the Ford Fiesta has its own considerable charms. The subcompact segment is not without choices.
KBB Expert Ratings
Changes for the Sonic for 2014 are relatively few. A rear-vision camera is standard on the LTZ and RS and available on the LT. There's an available advanced safety package that includes Forward Collision Alert and Lane Departure Warning, and the LT Promotional Package includes MyLink radio, a power sunroof and front fog lights.
Driving Impressions It is difficult to take the Chevy Sonic for a drive and not come back mightily impressed with the comfortable ride, the nimble response, the snappy handling and the overall...... level of composure and refinement. All subcompact cars are better than ever, but the Sonic stands out from the crowd and drives like something bigger and more expensive than the competition. Its available 1.4-liter turbocharged engine brings exceptional fuel economy and sprightly performance, but is somewhat quirky in its power delivery. The base 1.8-liter engine costs less, is available with either a 5-speed manual or 6-speed automatic transmission, and is in some ways a more pleasant driving experience. But, with either engine, the front-drive Sonic combines class-leading road manners with remarkable handling capabilities. If there's a canyon road in your daily commute you won't mind so much the ride to work and back. You might even look forward to it.
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.
OVERALL ROAD MANNERS
In any trim level, the Sonic delivers a combination of driving dynamics that is more than just a welcome surprise in a subcompact. In the LTZ trim, it's comfy and nimble, and in the RS it's downright sporty.
There's a lot of fresh thinking inside the Sonic and we like it, starting with the motorcycle-inspired gauge cluster that's unlike anything else on a car's dashboard. Another strong point is that there are no weak points, no spots that look like they just didn't quite care enough to finish it. A few things worth mentioning are that the cupholders are good but placed too far to the rear between the front seats. The rear seat is one of the roomiest in the subcompact segment. And we really liked the dual glovebox arrangement, which is particularly thoughtful for those who use a dedicated music player, with the USB port located in the smaller, upper glove box.Exterior
The subcompact class is full of exciting designs these days, with such standouts as the Ford Fiesta and Hyundai Accent. The Sonic is rather more reserved, but it also won't be one of those love-it-or-hate-it deals either. And it does have its interesting details, including hiding the rear door handles in the black areas of the C-pillars to make the car look more like a 2-door, at least at the first, quick glance. Another thing in the Sonic's favor: With the exception of the base LS trim level, all models have aluminum-alloy wheels.
As either a sedan or 5-door hatchback, standard equipment on the 2014 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. Power windows and mirrors are missing from that 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 2014 Chevy Sonic includes leatherette seats, heated front seats, a moonroof, cruise control, and 17-inch wheels. Chevrolet's MyLink infotainment is available on LS and LT models, 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, 4-wheel disc brakes, a performance suspension, 17-inch alloy wheels, and a sport steering wheel. The available advanced safety package includes Forward Collision Alert and Lane Departure Warning, and the LT Promotional Package includes MyLink radio, a power sunroof and front fog lights.
There are two engine choices for the Sonic, each more than merely acceptable. The base 1.8-liter 4-cylinder cranks out good power and is entirely reasonable and pleasant. The pricier alternative is a 1.4-liter turbocharged 4-cylinder that's sportier and makes more torque, and thus goes quicker, but has as its main advantage a 5-mpg gain in highway fuel economy. The 1.8-liter is available with a 5-speed manual transmission, the turbo 1.4-liter with a 6-speed manual, and both can be matched with a 6-speed automatic. In our experience, we found no reason not to like any of the transmission choices.
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 2014 Chevy Sonic LS sedan starts at a Manufacturer's Suggested Retail Price (MSRP) of just under $15,000. 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 2014 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 the Kelley Blue Book Fair Purchase Price, which reflects what others in your area are currently paying for the Sonic. As for resale value, we expect the 2014 Chevy Sonic to perform better than its Aveo predecessor, but not as well as some of its more proven subcompact competitors from Ford, Honda and other manufacturers.