Playing Golf - 2012 Chevrolet Sonic Long-Term Road Test

2012 Chevrolet Sonic Long Term Road Test

2012 Chevrolet Sonic LTZ: Playing Golf

January 27, 2012


As small cars go, my preference has always been for the Volkswagen Golf.

I’ve tried to be a Honda Civic guy. I’ve also always taken an interest in small practical cars from strange, out of the way places. You know, like Croatia. Italian-style small cars are clever, even when they’re being built in Japan like the Suzuki Swift. I’ve even tried to like a German-designed Opel built in South Korea and sold as a Pontiac.

But really I like the VW Golf. So when I say that the Chevy Sonic is pretty much like a VW Golf, it’s kind of a big thing for me. It’s as if the GM guys finally decided to quit fooling around with trying to prove how clever they are and just, what the heck, built a Golf.


The Sonic has long-travel, compliant suspension just like a Golf, and the car rolls a lot in the corners yet never loses touch with the pavement just like a Golf. The Sonic has an engine with a very broad and flexible powerband and very (very) tall gearing just like a Golf. The manual transmission has a smooth, long-throw shift action just like a Golf. The Sonic steers like a Golf and has a certain compatibility in the way all the driving controls work together just like a Golf.

This Sonic hatchback even looks like a Golf, that is if you scrunch up your eyes real good and ignore the Chevy Sonic front end and the wacky, too-clever rear window shape that makes the whole car look like a Golf that’s has been beamed up by the transporter with not entirely perfect duplication. And when you’re sitting in the Sonic, you also feel like you’re in a Golf, except all the architecture has been moved around so you can tell that it’s a sedan trying to be a Golf. Then again, the Sonic’s interior fits big people just like a Golf and the interior trim is actually way, way nicer than a Golf.

So despite being deeply, deeply skeptical of a car that has a heritage that includes the relentless crumminess of the Chevy Cavalier and the scary flimsiness of the Daewoo Lanos, and is still for all intents and purposes a German-designed Opel that’s been engineered in Korea and then built in a former Pontiac plant in Michigan, I really like this car.

Driving the Chevy Sonic reminds me of driving a VW Golf, and I think that’s a good thing.

Michael Jordan, Executive Editor, @ 2,222 miles

Leave a Comment

Past Long-Term Road Tests

Have a question? We're here to help!
Chat online with us
Email us at
*Available daily 8AM-5PM Pacific
Call us at 855-782-4711
Text us at ED411