Used 2012 Chevrolet Sonic Hatchback
Chevrolet Sonic Hatchback
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2012 Chevrolet Sonic KBB Expert Review
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 New for 2012
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.
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.
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.
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.
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).
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 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.
Notable 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)
A 2012 Chevy Sonic Sedan LS starts at a Manufacturer's Suggested Retail Price (MSRP) of $14,495 including destination. The Sonic 5-door commands an additional $900 – but nets a rear-window wiper – with a starting sticker of $15,395. Loaded, a 2012 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 2012 Chevy Sonic to perform better than its Aveo predecessor, but not as well as some of its more proven subcompact competitors.
Chevrolet Sonic Consumer Reviews
November 11, 2018
Possibly the most economically valuable car. 78k
I purchased this car last year from the original, single owner of the car. It is an LTZ hatchback with leather, the 1.4l turbo, and a 6...
November 07, 2018
Very stylish and sleek. Extremely reliable.
This car has curb appeal and is very fuel efficient. It handles exceptionally well, has a decent turning radius and is quite comfortable...
June 06, 2018
Great vehicle and fun to drive
I purchased the LTZ Turbo and it is like driving a sports car. I love it. It has many safety features. Gets great mileage. All amenities...
May 24, 2018
I love it!
Just purchased it in March. Had so many people say, its really nice for the price. Got the LT and would of loved to have heated seats,...
February 21, 2018
Best Car I Have Ever Owned
Solid as a rock. Nothing rattles. No strange sounds. Styling makes it look bigger than actual size. Fun to drive. Handling is tight and...
February 01, 2018
This car saved my life
I want to start off by saying Im not sponsored or paid, I fell in love with this car. My first car in my name. I was driving home from...
December 22, 2017
Great value and VERY low cost of ownership
We are now approaching 87,000 miles and our list of maintenance or repairs has been limited to oil changes, tires (done at 80k), and a...
June 24, 2017
godsend when the gas prices are high.
Easy to park, great gas mileage the ac blows me away. Turn it when I start the car an an go 50 feet down the road I have to turn it back...
April 24, 2017
We Love The Sonic So Much We Own Two
350 miles is total for both Sonics this date. We rented vehicles for trips the last two years until my wifes 2008 Cobalt needed...
April 21, 2017
Amazingly Sporty, Comfortable, & Convenient
I bought the 2017 Chevrolet Sonic LT 5-Door Auto Hatchback and added the Optional Convenience & Drivers Confidence Packages to match the...