2012 Chevrolet Sonic at the 2011 Detroit Auto Show
- Competes with: Ford Fiesta, Honda Fit, Nissan Versa, Toyota Yaris
- Looks like: Chevy has built a subcompact car that's appealing for reasons other than price or gas mileage
- Drivetrain: 135-hp, 1.8-liter four-cylinder with five-speed manual or six-speed automatic or 138-hp, turbocharged 1.4-liter four-cylinder with six-speed manual; front-wheel drive
- Hits dealerships: 2011
Following quickly on the heels of the all-new Chevrolet Cruze compact car, the Sonic is the brand's latest offering in the increasingly important small-car segment. The Sonic, which replaces the Aveo in Chevy's lineup, is smaller than the Cruze and will be offered in sedan and four-door hatchback form when it hits dealerships as a 2012 model.
The current-generation Aveo's styling has always been ho-hum, but the upcoming Sonic has an aggressive stance and chiseled features.
The shape of the Sonic's dashboard and center console is reminiscent of the Cruze's, but a unique instrument cluster distinguishes the cabin. Instead of a traditional hooded instrument panel, the Sonic's arrangement calls to mind the steering-column-mounted cluster of a Mini Cooper. It has a large analog tachometer, to the right of which is a digital display that incorporates the speedometer. The upper portion of the Sonic's dashboard is offered in two colors: Dark Titanium or Brick.
Front bucket seats are standard, and seat heaters are available. The Sonic also comes with a folding backseat for times when more than the sedan's 14 cubic feet or the hatchback's 19 cubic feet of luggage room is needed. Available features include remote start, a sunroof, XM Satellite Radio, a USB input and Bluetooth connectivity. Safety features include 10 standard airbags and available antilock brakes.
The Sonic shares its available engines with the Cruze. The base engine is a 135-horsepower, 1.8-liter four-cylinder that comes with a five-speed manual or a six-speed automatic transmission. Buyers can opt for a 138-hp, turbocharged 1.4-liter four-cylinder that produces more torque at lower rpm. The turbo works exclusively with a six-speed manual. Both engines take regular gas, but mileage estimates weren't available as of publication.
We've witnessed a renaissance in the compact-car segment of late as new models like the Cruze, Ford Focus and Hyundai Elantra have shown that choosing a small car doesn't automatically exile you to a life of mundane motoring. With cars like the Honda Fit, Ford Fiesta and now the Sonic, the same thing is happening in the subcompact class.