By Len Ingrassia
CNHI News Service
— It is truly exciting to have a U.S.-built car that competes, and many say exceeds, the foreign imports that consumers have been choosing in large numbers. Chevrolet’s little Sonic, a sub-compact that replaced the Chevy Aveo last year, hit the ground running and remains a top seller in the industry.
One reason for its popularity is its nimble yet solid ride, enhanced this year with a turbo charger for extra boost throughout its gear range.
Whether you decide on the optional automatic or standard six-speed manual transmission, the Sonic is a fun car to drive. It scoots around town with the agility of a racer, is easy to parallel park and will be kind to your wallet at the gas station.
The cabin of the test car I drove for a week, a hatchback LTZ, was spacious with generous room for four adults, providing ample headroom and legroom. The Sonic is available as a sedan or hatchback with each offering LS, LT and LTZ models. A sport-tuned RS hatchback model rounds out the line. Pricing ranges from $14,000 to just over $20,000.
The instrument cluster is above average for a sub-compact. A digital display shows vehicle speed and is located right of a large tachometer. Engine vitals and trip information displays surround the two.
Bluetooth connectivity is standard on all models. Chevy’s Mylink interface includes voice recognition for phone with Pandora and Stitcher streaming audio displayed on a seven-inch screen.
The Sonic will soon offer a nifty app that will push navigation commands through your smart phone and onto the screen without need for additional hardware. Navigation hardware manufacturers are sure to react to this technology.
The LTZ cabin is well equipped with soft leatherette interior, heated seats, traction and stability control, adjustable tilt and telescoping steering column, air filtration and an industry standard for air bag safety. Sound deadening material keeps the highway noise level to a minimum.
Front fog lamps, rear spoiler and remote start are also included on the LTZ model.
A stiffer suspension system and rear disc brakes combine with a lower ride height to give the Sonic a tight feel on the road. Under aggressive driving there is slight body roll, but for the average commute, the Sonic steers and rides like a larger sedan.
In the zero to 60 mph sprint, the Sonic clocked in at 8.9 seconds with an automatic transmission. The EPA gives high marks to the fuel efficiency for the Sonic. In my experience driving around town and on the highway, fuel efficiency was less than rated.
Overall, the Sonic is an impressive car that deserves a road test along with the competition. You may be pleasantly surprised.
Len Ingrassia is an automotive columnist for CNHI News Service. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.