By Matt Degen
KBB Expert Rating: 8.8
Available as a sedan or versatile hatchback, the 2017 Chevrolet Sonic slots between the tiny Spark and compact Cruze in Chevy's lineup. With its efficiency, surprising feature content and easy driving manners, the Sonic has always been a worthy rival to the Ford Fiesta, Kia Rio, Hyundai Accent and Toyota Yaris. Thanks to a freshening for 2017, the new Sonic presents an even better option for younger drivers or commuters on a budget, thanks to the addition of Apple CarPlay and Android Auto smartphone compatibility and available features like built-in Wi-Fi not usually found in a subcompact car. While base models still don't offer power windows, those willing to spend a bit more can find plenty of value in the 2017 Sonic.
If you're looking for a small, fuel-efficient, easy-to-drive sedan or hatchback with the latest tech features, the 2017 Chevy Sonic is a smart choice. Other positives include a fresh design and safety features like forward-collision alert and lane-departure warning.
If lots of highway miles are in your future, consider something more substantial like the Cruze, now also offered as a hatchback. For drivers and parents of drivers seeking extra assurance, the 2017 Toyota Yaris includes a new safety system that can automatically stop the car if a collision appears imminent.
KBB Expert Ratings
The Chevy Sonic is refreshed for 2017 with new front and rear fascias, and even base models now come with a 7-inch touch-screen infotainment system that's Apple CarPlay and Android Auto compatible. Premium features such as heated steering wheel, power-adjustable driver's seat and rear-park assist become available.
Take a spin in the Chevy Sonic and you may just gain new respect for the subcompact genre. This small Chevy's ride is smooth and stable, its steering is precise,...
... and the car's suspension is nimble enough to round corners with confidence or dart through city traffic with ease. Despite its compact dimensions, the Chevrolet Sonic feels more substantial than a Ford Fiesta or Honda Fit. Even if you stick with the base 1.8-liter engine you’ll find a driving experience that's pleasing enough. The smaller but more powerful 1.4-liter turbo makes this car quite fun, especially if you opt for the available sport suspension. We liken that top-line model to a lower-price alternative to a Mini Cooper. A small but notable detail we appreciate: The driver's seat on all models includes an armrest on the right, which makes longer commutes comfortable.
This infotainment system bundles a 7-inch touch screen that acts as central command for smartphone operation -- including Apple CarPlay and Android Auto integration -- radio, Bluetooth and more. Best of all, it's standard in every 2017 Sonic sedan and hatchback.
BIG SAFETY FEATURES
The Sonic aims to mitigate the worries that can come with a small car with standard features such as 10 airbags and available ones like forward-collision alert and lane-departure warning to stop an accident before one can occur.
Whether sedan or hatchback, the Sonic's 5-passenger interior is eye-pleasing, roomy for its size and has an air of sophistication thanks to the standard 7-inch touch screen that dominates the center front of the cockpit. The rear seat is one of the roomiest in the segment, and the versatile and recommendable hatchback models offer 47.7 cubic feet of cargo room with rear seats folded. That's still less than Honda Fit hatchback, but the Chevy has more space than the Honda with the rear seats up -- 19 cubic feet vs. the Fit's 16.6. We also like the handy dual-glove-box arrangement.
All new Chevy Sonics have small footprints and tidy proportions. We favor the design of the hatchback, which reminds us of classy-yet-practical European models, featuring hidden rear door handles in the black areas of the C-pillars that make the Sonic hatchback appear more like a 2-door. For traditionalists, the sedan benefits from a large trunk. Both versions benefit from a new face that makes the Sonic appear wider and better integrates the headlight housings. The RS package, standard on hatchbacks and available on sedans, features a unique body kit and rocker moldings, rear spoiler and other sporty bits.
The 2017 Sonic sedan is available as LS, LT and Premier, while the pricier Sonic hatchback is offered in LT and Premier form. The lowest priced LS Sedan includes some surprisingly sweet features but lacks others. For instance, it includes a robust 7-inch touch-screen infotainment system with CarPlay and Android Auto, rearview camera, built-in 4G LTE Wi-Fi connectivity and remote keyless entry, but lacks cruise control, power windows or power-adjustable mirrors. We recommend the hatchback or stepping up to the LT sedan, which includes a standard turbocharged engine, better-quality cloth seating, 6-speaker audio and those features lacking in base models.
Top-line Sonic Premier models have the most robust set of features, including Leatherette upholstery with heated and power-adjustable front seats, 17-inch wheels, sport suspension, fog lights, and the RS package that bundles unique interior and exterior aesthetics. Options include a power sunroof and a lowering-suspension kit to improve handling on LT and Premier models. The option we most recommend -- and a great value at $495 -- is the Driver Confidence Package that includes forward-collision alert, lane-departure warning and rear-park assist. It, too, is available on all but base LS sedans.
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 adequate, especially for younger drivers. 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 2-5-mpg gain in highway fuel economy, depending on transmission. For that, 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.
138 horsepower @ 6,300 rpm
125 lb-ft of torque @ 3,800 rpm
EPA city/highway fuel economy: 25/33 mpg (5-speed manual), 24/34 mpg (6-speed automatic)
1.4-liter turbocharged inline-4
138 horsepower @ 4,900 rpm
148 lb-ft of torque @ 2,500 rpm (manual)/1,850 rpm (automatic)
EPA city/highway fuel economy: 28/38 mpg (5-speed manual), 27/36 mpg (6-speed automatic)
Note: Due to changes in EPA testing to more effectively reflect real-world conditions, some 2017 models show slightly lower fuel-economy scores than their 2016 versions.
The 2017 Chevrolet Sonic has a Manufacturer's Suggested Retail Price (MSRP) just over $16,000 for a manual-transmission LS sedan, or $17,270 for one with an automatic transmission. Unless you don't mind cranking your own windows, rolling on steel wheels and not having cruise control, we recommend stepping up to the LT sedan or hatchback, each starting below $18,500. Loaded, even the slightly pricier Sonic 5-door hatchback checks in below $25,000. The Sonic's price is in line with the Toyota Yaris and slightly less than the Honda Fit. It's not quite as low as the Nissan Versa, Kia Rio, Hyundai Accent, Ford Fiesta or the hard-to-recommend Mitsubishi Mirage. Still, this subcompact Chevy represents a good value. Before buying, check the KBB.com Fair Purchase Price to see what others in your area are paying. The Chevy Sonic's resale value is expected to be below that of leaders like the Honda Fit and Toyota Yaris.