By Joe Tralongo, Contributing Editor
KBB Expert Rating: 9.0
Chevrolet’s 2015 Sonic subcompact sedan and hatchback are not the division’s smallest cars (that accolade goes to the tiny Spark micro car), yet as the old saying goes, good things come in small packages. In the Sonic’s case, those things include a roomy interior, excellent fuel economy and an affordable price tag. Every bit the equal of the Toyota Yaris and Ford Fiesta, the Sonic adds a bit more spice, with sporty handling and a turbocharged engine that delivers zippy performance around town. Also surprising is the Sonic’s impressive list of standard and available features that include streaming Bluetooth audio and GM’s impressive MyLink infotainment system that allows for hands-free control of messages, apps and music devices.
The 2015 Chevy Sonic sedan and hatchback are cute, fun to drive, extremely good on gas, priced to sell, and full of features younger buyers covet (like built-in Wi-Fi). Cool colors and a very high-end looking interior should help seal the deal.
KBB Expert Ratings
Chevy’s subcompact Sonic for 2015 sees only a few minor updates. OnStar with 4G LTE and Wi-Fi is standard and comes with a 3-month/3GB free trial. Other changes include the addition of the 1.4-liter turbocharged engine to LTZ models and a new color, Blue Velvet.
One spin in the 2015 Chevy Sonic and you’ll have an entirely new take on the subcompact genre. The ride is smooth and stable, the steering precise, and the suspension...
... nimble enough to round corners with confidence or dart through nasty city traffic with ease. Despite its compact dimensions, the Chevrolet Sonic feels more substantial than a Ford Fiesta or Honda Fit. When equipped with the 1.4-liter turbocharged engine, the subcompact Sonic feels quick and agile, and its fuel economy figures earn two big thumbs up from our test staff. Stick with the base 1.8-liter engine and you’ll still find a very pleasing driving experience, plus you’ll have the choice of a slick shifting 5-speed manual or smooth 6-speed automatic. The front-wheel-drive Sonic subcompact really loves to hustle, be it on a twisting canyon road, a long stretch of highway or a snow-covered side street.
Chevy’s MyLink infotainment system helps drivers keep connected to their music, messages and apps while keeping their hands on the wheel and eyes on the road. The system is also compatible with Siri Eyes Free and the BringGo navigation app.
FORWARD COLLISION ALERT
Almost unheard of in this class, the 2015 Chevrolet Sonic sedan and hatchback offer an advanced safety package that includes Forward Collision Alert and Lane Departure Warning.
There’s a lot of fresh thinking inside the 2015 Chevy 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.
The subcompact class is full of exciting designs these days, with such standouts as the Ford Fiesta and the new Toyota Yaris. 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 and some really eye-popping color choices.
As either a sedan or 5-door hatchback, standard equipment on the 2015 subcompact 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 3-month 4G LTE Wi-Fi and 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 premium 6-speaker audio system is offered on Sonic LS and standard on all others, while the LTZ with the automatic transmission comes with standard remote start.
A fully-loaded 2015 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. 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. The Dusk package is offered exclusively on the LTZ sedan and includes metallic Ashen Gray paint, ground effects, and 18-inch aluminum wheels with a Pearl Nickel finish.
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)
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, standard on LTZ and 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 2015 Chevy Sonic LS sedan starts at a Manufacturer’s Suggested Retail Price (MSRP) of just under $15,000, while the 5-door LS hatchback starts around $15,500. The LT trim level, with its additional features, comes in just over $17,000. Loaded, a 2015 Sonic RS can top $24,000. 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 KBB.com Fair Purchase Price, which reflects what others in your area are currently paying for the Sonic. As for resale value, we expect the 2015 Chevy Sonic sedan and 5-door to return average figures, better than the Fiat 500 and on par with the Hyundai Accent, but well below the Toyota Yaris, Honda Fit, Nissan Versa and Ford Fiesta.