2012 Chevrolet Sonic Long Term Road Test

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2012 Chevrolet Sonic: Quick and Easy Sale

January 22, 2013

2012 Chevrolet Sonic

The 2012 Chevrolet Sonic's tenure in our long-term fleet has come to an end. We took it to Carmax as part of our usual sale-evaluation procedure. The Sonic had a little less than 17,000 miles on it and according to Edmunds trade-in TMV, its value was about $12,955. But did Carmax offer us anything close to that?

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2012 Chevrolet Sonic LTZ: Super Sonic

January 10, 2013

2012 Chevrolet Sonic LTZ

I'm usually not a fan of customized economy cars. Civics with exaggerated ground effects, oversized double-tiered wings and 20-inch wheels strike me as silly. Don't get me wrong, I've got a soft spot for the '99-'00 Civic Si, but that's a factory hot rod that was tastefully done. When fitted with the feisty turbo 1.4 however, the little Chevy Sonic has enough personality (and performance) to get away with an attention-grabbing paint scheme and some tasteful styling tweaks.

This souped-up (there's an old-time expression for you) Sonic sedan was done by Design Rides and Gurnade for the '11 SEMA show (this is the first time I saw it). The candy yellow paint — a hue I would normally deem too much — works well as do the handsome double-spoke wheels and discrete rear spoiler. I'd probably go without the hood stripes, but otherwise think this is a sharp little pocket rocket.

John DiPietro, Automotive Editor @ 16,945 miles

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2012 Chevrolet Sonic: Can You Tow it Behind a Motorhome?

January 8, 2013

2012 Chevrolet Sonic

Sure, you can tow any car behind a motorhome if you have a trailer, but that's not the preferred method. The ideal situation is pictured above: a so-called "dinghy" vehicle rolls behind on its own four wheels, ready to be disconnected and driven around on side trips while the motorhome sits parked with its awning unfurled and its sliders popped out in full relaxation mode. The extra towed weight and storage hassle of a trailer puts an unwelcome damper on such proceedings.

This activity goes by many names: dinghy towing, flat towing and four-down towing to name a few. As you can imagine there are mechanical implications for the car involved.

Some transmissions depend on a rotating input shaft driven by a running engine for lubrication, others don't. Some all-wheel drive systems can deal with it, others can't. Manual transmissions are generally less troubled by this activity than automatics, to the extent that such use in many cars is restricted to manuals only. Others warn against dinghy towing altogether. The owner's manual usually has the details.

Where does this all leave the 2012 Chevrolet Sonic? Can you tow it behind a motorhome?

The short answer is yes. And it doesn't matter if your Sonic has an automatic or a stick-shift gearbox.

This is good news because the Sonic has a few other things going for it that are appreciated by dinghy towing folk. It's inexpensive, costing between $15,000 and $20,000. You can get it as a hatchback or a sedan. It's fuel efficient to the tune of 33 mpg combined and as high as 40 mpg on the highway. And it doesn't weigh much. Our 2012 Sonic LTZ turbo weighs 2,743 pounds, well under the 3,000-pound threshold that triggers the need for a remote motorhome-to-car braking system in some places.

Of course Chevrolet does want you to follow a few specific procedures before you head out.

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2012 Chevrolet Sonic LTZ: Ford versus Chevy

January 2, 2013

2012 Chevrolet Sonic LTZ

Usually, when you hear Ford versus Chevy, it relates to the long-fought battle between the Mustang and the Camaro. Or maybe F-Series versus Silverado. Today, however, I'm talking about the econoboxes fielded by these two long-time foes — Fiesta versus Sonic.

First off, I really like the Ford Fiesta, mostly because of its enjoyable, involving handling and its sharp styling. But for me, the Sonic tops it for several key reasons. The Chevy has more intuitive controls, a lot more cargo/passenger space, and with the spunky turbo 1.4, considerably swifter acceleration.

Yes, the Fiesta may beat it in the MPG derby, but I'll take the Sonic's still-respectable fuel economy and the fun of its added kick, thank you. I've signed out our Sonic quite a few times, and even as it nears the end of its tour of duty with us, I still enjoy its spirited performance, slick-shifting 6-speed, quiet highway ride and comfortable cabin.

John DiPietro, Automotive Editor @ 16,920 miles

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2012 Chevrolet Sonic LTZ: Winter-Time TPMS

December 19, 2012

2012 Chevrolet Sonic LTZ

The weather recently changed in sunny Southern California. I know, I know. I can hear the littlest violin playing for us. The first morning after a good rain with outside temperature in the low 50-degree range, I started the Sonic and drove down the street. A glance at the instrument panel showed a tire-pressure monitor system (TPMS) alert. Continuing down the road, the car didn't pull in one direction indicating a drastic difference in pressures. The steering felt normal.

Just in case, I pulled into the nearest gas station and pulled out my pressure gauge. Sure enough, the first tire I checked was five psi under. The next was the same story. It turned out, all four were exactly 5psi low and the lower-than-normal ambient temperature caused the tires to dip below the TPMS threshold. I set them all to the recommended "cold" pressure.

Funny thing is, I've talked to a number less-than-car-literate friends recently who have all told me that their TPMS lights have recently turned on after months of being dark.

Chris Walton, Chief Road Test Editor @ 16,634 miles

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2012 Chevrolet Sonic: July Sales Report

August 01, 2012

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GM's monthly sales were down 6 percent compared to last year, but the Chevrolet Sonic itself had a strong July.

News reports said GM sold 6,278 Sonics last month.

Did you buy one of them?

Kelly Toepke, News Editor

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2012 Chevrolet Sonic: Where Do You Put Your Hands?

July 31, 2012

sonic steering wheel

Back in the '80s, when I was first learning to drive, I was taught that my hands should be at the 10 o'clock and 2 o'clock positions on the steering wheel. But the professional driving schools I've attended (thanks to my job here at Edmunds) suggest 9 o'clock and 3 o'clock, so I've adjusted. (They also suggest 8 and 4, race car-style, but I just can't seem to make that comfortable yet.) There are some steering wheels that accommodate this positioning nicely, but the Sonic is not one of them.

Maybe I have tiny baby hands, but the 9 and 3 positions on this steering wheel feel way too chunky for me. Looks to me like the designer didn't expect Sonic drivers to have their hands at 9 and 3.

What about you? Where are your hands when you drive?

Bryn MacKinnon, Senior Editor, Edmunds.com, @ 9,953 miles

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2012 Chevy Sonic LTZ: A Look Underneath

July 05, 2012

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Here's a look under our long-term Chevy Sonic courtesy of our 2-post Rotary Lift. Gotta love the beam axle.

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2012 Chevrolet Sonic LTZ Turbo: Hatches Are Cool

June 12, 2012

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Over the weekend, I returned from breakfast to find that an example of the most attractive hatchbacks currently on sale in the U.S. -- the Volvo C30 -- parked next to our long-term Chevrolet Sonic.

Since parking was plentiful, I took this to mean the C30 owner was drawn to the Sonic's edgy styling (rather than assuming said individual was looking to shorten the walking distance to the nearby OP Cafe).

This is obviously a sparely equipped C30, as you'll note its unpainted lower body moldings, but I think this car looks great in any color with any of the wheel options. It's such a clean design and I love the rake and curve of the hatch.

Next to it, the Sonic has harder lines and looks funkier, and maybe not quite as refined, but I like the pinched look of its hatch. The tail ends abruptly on the Chevy, but the roof spoiler softens the effect. And the longer I look at the Sonic, the more I realize what a critical element that spoiler is to its overall appearance.

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2012 Chevrolet Sonic: Writing A Country Song

June 08, 2012

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Chevrolet is running a country music "Fan Anthem" contest over on Facebook, but I figured we could have our own fun right here.

I'll start a song about our Chevy Sonic, you add a line or two:

"Got a new Sonic hatchback,it's made by Chevrolet, has a spunky little turbo, I drive it most every day..."

Kelly Toepke, News Editor

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2012 Chevrolet Sonic: Little Cutie

June 01, 2012

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My daughter has dubbed our Chevy Sonic, "Little Cutie."

Yesterday, when we stopped at the store, she pointed back as we were walking away from the car, "See? It's just cheerful."

I had to admit among all the grayish whales parked near it, the Sonic definitely stood out in the crowd.

If Chevy is marketing the Sonic to 11-year-old girls, it hit its mark.

Kelly Toepke, News Editor @ 8,914 miles

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2012 Chevrolet Sonic LTZ: Does the Robotic Arm Fit?

May 15, 2012

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Let's step away from the "Sonic smells" posts for a sec. I give you the bad-ass 2012 Chevrolet Sonic doing up some graffiti with the help of muralist Jeff Sotto and a robotic arm that was lifted off the assembly line (yes, it does fit in the Sonic). Together they decorate a brick wall in the world's first street art man-car collaboration.

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2012 Chevrolet Sonic: Low Front Airdam

May 06, 2012

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The front airdam on our 2012 Chevrolet Sonic is low. This is the view of me backing into my driveway, which is not steep by any means. If I creep at a pace below idle there is a hair's-width between plastic and asphalt. If I allow the car to move at idle speeds, it drags.

Not only does its proximity to the ground increase the risk of this piece being removed by physics, but driving over dips and speed bumps can be embarassing too. Scraaaape over an everyday dip and again up your average driveway. It's a head turner, but not in the good way.

Maybe it's a Chevy thing. We've experienced the same on Volts and Corvettes in the past. I realize it serves an aerodynamic purpose... fuel economy and all that stuff too... but I wish it didn't have to be so intrusive. This is not my favorite feature of the Sonic.

Mike Schmidt, Vehicle Testing Manager @ 8,130 miles

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2012 Chevrolet Sonic LTZ: Kinda Dig The Headlights

March 29, 2012

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This may sound strange, but I'm intrigued by the Sonic's headlights. More than anything, for their lack of a clear shield covering them. I was surprised when I noticed this the first time I walked around the front of the little Chevy.

So many cars these days have intricate head- and taillight designs, but we're almost always barred from getting close, reaching out and physically touching the headlights, due to a protective lens covering the entire unit.

The Sonic's headlights certainly don't have the most intricate detailing, but for some weird reason I dig the fact that they are devoid of an all-encompassing plastic shroud.

Probably not the most aerodynamic design, though.

Mike Monticello, Road Test Editor @ 5,568 miles.

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2012 Chevy Sonic LTZ: More on the Automatic

March 26, 2012

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By now we all know that the 2012 Chevy Sonic will now be available with the 1.4-liter turbocharged motor (the good one) and an automatic transmission (the one most Americans want and that it will cost an additional $1,070.

Here are two more facts about the automatic...

1) The Sonic automatic will have slightly different gear ratios than the Cruze automatic. They are:

1 4.58
2 2.96
3 1.91
4 1.45
5 1.00
6 0.75
Rev 2.94

(Cruze is: I = 4.58; II = 2.96; III = 1.91; IV = 1.44; V = 1.00; VI = 0.74; R = 2.94 )

2) The manual shift gate will operate like the one in the Cruze (and not like the stupid one in the Malibu) and, in manual mode, will hold gears at redline.That's always a welcome feature.

Mike Magrath, Features Editor, Edmunds.com

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2012 Chevrolet Sonic: 5,000-Mile Milestone

March 26, 2012

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Our Chevrolet Sonic cleared its first 5,000 miles a couple days ago. So far I'd say the Sonic's been a nice addition to our fleet.

Brent Romans, Senior Automotive Editor @ 5,007 miles

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2012 Chevrolet Sonic: Name Recognition Still Seems Low

March 19, 2012

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My friends know what I do for a living, so a common question I get is in social situations is: "What are you driving now?" Usually there's some sort of car name recognition, but with the Sonic, replying with: "A Chevrolet Sonic," has typically resulted in a pause, a quizzical face and something like, "A Sonic? What's that?"

Of course, the odds aren't in the Sonic's favor. For one, it's a new nameplate. No doubt it was tough for Chevrolet to choose between staying with the known (but image-damaged) Aveo nameplate or going all-new. And then there's the issue that the Sonic is a subcompact, which, as a market segment, most Americans are about as interested in as knowing who the top secretaries of the U.S. Treasury Department are.

Then again, Chevrolet did run its splashy "Stunt Anthem" Super Bowl commercial for the Sonic. Maybe my friends were too busy doing web searches on their smartphones for Adriana Lima and Catrinel Menghia to notice.

Anyway, I'm rooting for the Sonic to build up some nice sales momentum. It's a solid little car.

Brent Romans, Senior Automotive Editor @ 4,820 miles

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2012 Chevrolet Sonic LTZ: Changing Times

February 24, 2012

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I was sitting at lunch the other day with Josh Jacquot and Dan Frio reminiscing about some recent test cars in our long-term fleet.

Me and Josh were telling Frio (who joined us after these long-term cars departed) that we had a Nissan GT-R35 and an Audi R8 at the same time. This overlapped with our long-term test of the Dodge Challenger R/T.

Good times indeed.

But yesterday, I went down to the garage and was greeted with this...

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2012 Chevrolet Sonic LTZ: Direct Injec...Whaaaa?

February 16, 2012

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So there I was this morning; making a hasty early morning retreat to beat the Obama motorcade out of Beverly Hills (I succeeded, by the way). When I rolled to a stop at a light, this popped in my head, "Man, that direct injection really makes this sound like a diesel."

That was going to be my blog post this morning, until I double-checked out long-term intro. The Sonic is not direct injected. Being that Magrath wrote it, I triple-checked it against the GM specs. "Sequential multi-port fuel injectors," is what it said. That's not good. Our Sonic sounds like a diesel and Magrath is right.

As this revelation circled the editorial department, everybody had the same reaction of disbelief. But even with the underhood clatter, I think the Sonic is a great little car.

Mark Takahashi, Automotive Editor @2,842 miles

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2012 Chevrolet Sonic: Facebook Likability = Like IRL?

February 13, 2012

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Since I haven't been a new-car owner...ever, I haven't had the need to poke around the Facebook pages of any new cars to get info on "my car" or bond with other owners. But for some reason I found myself on the Facebook page for the 2012 Chevrolet Sonic.

And I have to say, color me impressed. Such a fun page, what with its Foursquare-like badge challenge, Sonic bucket list, and even a way to customize your own Sonic. Compare that to, say, the Fiat 500's Facebook page and the Sonic's is certainly more engaging and dynamic. But then again, the Fiat USA page does give you a chance to win an Abarth. So there's that.

On a side note, it's funny to compare the 500 and Sonic's Likes. Fiat likes the pages for Mopar and other Fiat pages while Sonic likes bands, music venues and even Arizona State University. Looks like Chevy's social media team knows who the Sonic's audience is.

In any case, a question to new-car owners: Do you even look at the FB pages of your cars or of cars you're looking to buy? Just wondered if social media like this has any influence on prospective car owners nowadays.

Caroline Pardilla, Deputy Managing Editor

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2012 Chevrolet Sonic: The Lights Are On in Detroit

January 30, 2012

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Three years ago, a bunch of guys said it was time to turn out the lights on Detroit.

They were guys in New York and Washington D.C. and Dallas and L.A. and all over. Wall Street guys and telecom guys and business guys and shopkeepers elected to office. They waved their arms a lot. They seemed very important. They certainly thought they were important.

And now, three years later, you can peer through the trees and, look, the lights are still on. Those guys in Detroit are still building cars.

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2012 Chevy Sonic: Where's Our Ecologic Environmental Label?

January 27, 2012

2012 Sonic Ecologic label.jpg

Chevy has just announced a new Ecologic window sticker that will be fitted to all new Chevy's starting with the 2013 Chevy Sonic. (Ours is a 2012.) The sticker "lets customers see some of the environmental features of the vehicle relating to manufacturing, driving and recycling." GM's Mark Reuss said that "Customers want companies to be honest and transparent about their environmental efforts and sustainability goals and rightly so. Putting an Ecologic label on each Chevrolet is just one more way for us to share our environmental progress."

The labels are audited by Two Tomorrows, a third-party sustainability agency which provides "assurance services to companies for environmental initiatives."

Three areas are covered on the label: Before the road, On the road and After the road. The first highlights manufacture and assembly, the second fuel-savings and the third notes how 85% of the vehicle is recycled.

While it probably won't aid in the sales of many cars, I can see this tactic reassuring nervous buyers that the car they want is still good for the environment. "Look, 85% of my Suburban can be recycled. Can your Prius batteries?"

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Chevy Sonic Super Bowl Ad to Feature Rob Dyrdek, Kickflips

January 26, 2012

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Chevy has just released details on yet another Super Bowl ad they'll be playing this year. First we had "Happy Grad" promoting the Chevy Camaro and now we've got word from Chevy that another spot will have Rob Dyrdek kickflipping the little hatch.This is the second of seven commercials we'll see from GM.

The ad "Sonic Anthem" will also feature other stunts made by the Sonic and will air on, you guess it, February 5th. Music will be the song "We Are Young" by the New York indie band Fun.

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2012 Chevrolet Sonic LTZ: Styling Critique

January 26, 2012

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It used to be that cars in the entry-level hatchback class were dull and uninspired. Nowadays, it seems like this segment is leading the way with fun and evocative design. Between the Hyundai Veloster and our new long-term Chevy Sonic, teenagers today have it much better than I did.

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Edmunds Insurance Estimator

The Edmunds TCO® estimated monthly insurance payment for a 2012 Chevrolet Sonic in NJ is:

$253 per month*
* Explanation
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