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2018 Chevrolet Sonic

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2018 Chevrolet Sonic Expert Review

By Joe Tralongo, Contributing Editor

KBB Expert Rating: 8.7

In an age where tiny houses are all the rage, it only makes sense someone builds a tiny car to park in the driveway. The 2018 Chevrolet Sonic is just such a car, slightly larger and more powerful than the Chevy Spark, but not quite as big as the compact Cruze. In this sweet spot, the 2018 Sonic offers plenty to like, including a very low starting price, high-tech options like Apple CarPlay and a Wi-Fi hotspot, not to mention sporty styling and an available turbocharged engine. Base models lack even the most basic accommodations (you’ll have to crank open the windows), but when comparably equipped, the Sonic remains competitive against cars like the Kia Rio, Hyundai Accent and Toyota Yaris.

You'll Like This Car If...

If you find most small-crossover SUVs too expensive and fuel thirsty, yet you need room for passengers and/or cargo, the 2018 Chevrolet Sonic can help bridge the gap. Affordable, efficient and offering the latest in infotainment and driver safety, the Sonic breaks the small-car stereotype.

You May Not Like This Car If...

If you regularly travel with friends, family, dogs or lots of gear, the Sonic may be too small to accommodate all your needs. You’ll find the Sonic’s optional driver-assist features standard on the Toyota Yaris, while a base Subaru Impreza delivers more room, features and standard all-wheel drive for around $20,000.

KBB Expert Ratings

  • 8.7
  • 8.5
  • 8.6
  • 8.4
  • 8.6
  • N/A
How It Ranks
2018 Chevrolet Sonic Low/wide front photo What's New for 2018

The Chevy Sonic receives some minor tweaks for 2018, mostly centered around some package shuffling and new color options.

Driving the Sonic
2018 Chevrolet Sonic Front angle view photo
Driving Impressions

As subcompact cars go, the 2018 Chevy Sonic places an equal emphasis on efficiency and fun-to-drive dynamics. The Sonic delivers a stable and smooth ride, precise steering and a nimble...

... suspension that can be upgraded with Chevy’s enthusiast-oriented FE3 Sport suspension package. We found the Sonic more engaging than the Toyota Yaris or Kia Rio, but not quite as lively as the Ford Fiesta. Then again, few of its competitors offer the option of a turbocharged engine, another factor in the Sonic’s playful demeanor. If you go with the standard 1.8-liter engine, you won’t be disappointed with the driving experience, but it doesn’t offer that added punch that makes turbocharged cars so much fun. In our short time behind the Sonic’s wheel, we came to think of it less as a subcompact commuter car and more a poor-man’s Mini Cooper. We also appreciate the driver-seat’s built-in right-side armrest.

CHEVROLET MYLINK
You’ll find some compact cars costing far more that don’t offer the standard audio setup in the 2018 Chevrolet Sonic. Every model includes a 7-inch touch screen that controls Apple CarPlay and Android Auto integration, Bluetooth, OnStar 4G LTE and an available Wi-Fi hotspot.

BIG SAFETY FEATURES
Standard safety features on every Chevy Sonic include 10 airbags, anti-lock brakes and electronic stability control. Optional are forward-collision alert (but not prevention) and lane-departure warning systems.

2018 Chevrolet Sonic Details
2018 Chevrolet Sonic Dashboard, center console, gear shifter view photo Interior

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 a 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.

Exterior
2018 Chevrolet Sonic photo

All 2018 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 offers a large trunk. Both versions benefit from an attractive 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.

Notable Equipment
Standard Equipment

The 2018 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.

Optional Equipment

Top-line Sonic Premier models have the most robust set of features, including Leatherette upholstery with heated and power-adjustable front seats, heated steering wheel, 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.

Under the Hood
2018 Chevrolet Sonic Engine photo

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.

1.8-liter inline-4
138 horsepower @ 6,300 rpm
125 lb-ft of torque @ 3,800 rpm
EPA city/highway fuel economy: 26/35 mpg (5-speed manual), 25/34 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: 28/37 mpg (6-speed manual), 27/35 mpg (6-speed automatic)

The 2018 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 $18,600. 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.

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