How the Sonic Really Stinks - 2012 Chevrolet Sonic Long-Term Road Test
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2012 Chevrolet Sonic Long Term Road Test

2012 Chevy Sonic: How the Sonic Really Stinks

May 22, 2012

Chevy Sonic manual transmission with legs.jpg

Frankly, I think this entire "Does the Sonic Stink?" thing has been blown out of proportion. I've been climbing in, out and around new cars since I was a 2-year-old at the Toronto auto show, and I'm here to say that I've smelled FAR worse than the Sonic. Is the cabin pleasantly fragrant? Hell no, but I don't notice after about 5 seconds and I didn't notice it at all this morning. It certainly does not smell like there's a rotten trout under the passenger seat as I think some of our readers are interpreting. Contrast that to our new Impreza or Hyundais from not too long ago -- way stronger, way stinkier.

Now, something does in fact stink in the Sonic, albeit in a figurative sense. The throttle response is awful. Actually, to say that would imply it has throttle response when it in fact has none. Magrath likened it to a Fiat or Mini without the Sport button engaged, but I'd offer that the Sonic is worse than that. Those cars, along with ultra-annoying new Volkswagens, have a dead zone of travel followed by some semblance of response. Jay Kav explained in greater detail, but the Sonic has this too -- you can literally tap repeatedly against the pedal like a jubilant Thumper and nothing at all will happen -- but even when it kicks in, there's zero feel to it, as if the pedal's not actually connected to anything. And this isn't just a manual transmission problem, an automatic-equipped Chevy Cruze feels exactly the same.

A Sport button would probably help as Magrath suggested, but just improving the throttle response would make an already excellent (and not really that smelly) car that much better.

James Riswick, Automotive Editor @ 8,597 miles


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