2012 Chevrolet Sonic: First DriveSeptember 26th, 2011 by Armaan Almeida
Chevrolet’s all-new 2012 Sonic is the product of a new mentality at GM’s volume brand: build cars not just good enough, but far better than they need to be. The new subcompact instantly vaults near the top of the segment and gets enough right to make buyers forget the lackluster 2011 Aveo it replaces. Autoblog staff recently put the car through its paces and their results should have the people at Chevrolet grinning.
The car’s design is quite eye-catching, taking Chevy’s new front-end treatment from the Cruze and Malibu and stretching around a smaller, squared-off form in a cohesive and attractive fashion. Four-door sedan and five-door hatchbacks will be available. Small details, like standard forged alloy wheels for all models, go a long way to improve the car’s credentials.
Inside the Sonic agreed with Autoblog staff as well, who called it “not just inhabitable, but a truly enjoyable place to spend time” and “segment-leading.” Interior plastics and fabrics do not feel overly cheap and standard infotainment and safety features, like a 6-speaker stereo and 10 airbags, are numerous. The car has earned a 2011 IIHS Top Safety Pick.
On the road the Sonic displayed excellent manners, leaving testers “continually amazed at the precision of the steering, along with the surprising lack of body roll.” Either engine choice—the standard 1.8-liter 4 or the LTZ’s 40-mpg 1.4-liter turbocharged 4—brings ample power at 138 horses, though the turbo engine also comes with a welcome 148 lb-ft. of torque. GM has spent valuable time tuning chassis dynamics in a segment where cheap price and high mpg are no longer enough.
The final verdict from testers was clear: “the Sonic doesn’t just compete, it could be the class leader.”