2012 Chevrolet Sonic Long Term Road Test

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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: Does the Turbo Matter?

August 20, 2012

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Before you answer, let me explain. Of course the turbocharger matters in terms of performance. What I'm curious to know is whether it matters to buyers of the Sonic. In other words, does the "Turbo" badge on the back actually mean anything to most buyers in this class?

This argument goes back decades, as there's always been a split between buyers who know what's under the hood and those who couldn't care less. In this case, I'm guessing that the Sonic's artificial aspiration means little to its intended audience. Sure, maybe just the sound of the word "turbo" conjures up images of high performance, but Chevy might might as well be promoting the engine's Bin 4 emissions classification as that will likely mean just as much, if not more, to the target audience.

Ed Hellwig, Editor, Edmunds.com

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2012 Chevrolet Sonic Turbo: Another Trip to NorCal

August 09, 2012

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I copied James and also went to Palo Alto this week (yeah, right after I got back from my Seattle trip in the BMW X3). Although James and I were bound for the same destination, in true SoCal fashion, we drove separate cars -- as you can see, I picked our 2012 Chevrolet Sonic.

I didn't plan as well, though, so I enjoyed a numbing drive on Interstate 5 there and back. This was one of my few stops -- a hole in the wall ramen place I found while trying to escape the Silicon Valley office parks. I never met a bowl of hot noodles I didn't like, but man, I wish I'd gotten the tonkatsu broth instead of the miso.

The Sonic hasn't gotten much road trip love thus far. I've taken it on a couple 200-mile drives before, but this was a half-day, 375-mile haul each way. I knew the Sonic's tall gearing might come into play on I-5, which gets contentious (angry L.A. drivers mixing it up with truckers) and hilly (the Grapevine/Tejon Pass), but it was a little more of an issue than I thought.

Nearly every single passing maneuver necessitated dropping out of 6th gear. If I happened to be in a long line of cars passing a truck (as I was on perhaps 30 occasions), I needed to drop to 4th to stay in the power. On the Tejon Pass, I often needed 3rd, and in a couple instances on California Highway 152's Pacheco Pass, I reached for 2nd gear.

I like shifting... actually, I love shifting manual-gearbox cars. Even when I know a computer could do it better. And had I been on a back road, or U.S. 101 like James, or Highway 1 near the Hearst Castle, I would have been happy to do all these gearchanges. But when you're just trying to make time on the interstate, it gets a little old. I'm all for lowering fuel consumption, but please, let me a have few more revs.

On the upside, the shifter is a precise piece and the clutch work is easy, so it certainly wasn't wholly unenjoyable. I just tried to imagine I was driving in Europe stirring the gears in a car with a diesel engine and a narrow power band.

Also, ride quality was plenty compliant for the long trip -- more so than just about any other car in the Sonic's class. And its spacious cabin makes you feel like you're taking a road trip in a larger car. Other motorists may have been seeing a red subcompact, but the Sonic rides and feels like a car built on a larger, C-segment chassis.

Erin Riches, Senior Editor @ 10,758 miles

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2012 Chevrolet Sonic LTZ: The Manual Mystique

July 10, 2012

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We've had lots of calls recently from journalists who are trying to figure out whether or not cars with manual transmissions are really making a comeback, or whether the manual-mania is largely a creation of carmaker marketing departments.

The sales figures for cars with stick shifts do indicate a slight uptick: a nearly 7 percent "take rate" as of the end of May 2012 versus 3.8 percent in 2011. But that trend might not hold up, and it will be interesting to see where stick shift sales land by December. For those who are interested in stick-shifting, we've put together an excellent story and video, How to Drive a Stick Shift.

One reason people cite for buying cars with manuals is that they wring out better fuel economy, and while that's not true in every case, it's certainly true for the Chevrolet Sonic. Our six-speed manual with its 1.4 liter, 4 cylinder engine is EPA rated at 29 city/40 highway/33 combined. The automatic version is 27/37/31. In our actual driving, the Sonic is averaging 29.2 mpg. You can see a comparo below of the different Sonic engine/transmission fuel-economy numbers (as shown on fueleconomy.gov):

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2012 Chevrolet Sonic: Field of View, Chevy vs. Ford

June 28, 2012

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I'm just back from driving some Fords around and it reminds me again that the Chevy Sonic is pretty notable for its expansive field of view.

It's easy to understand why the front bulkhead might loom above you, like it seems to do in the Ford Fiesta. Much of the structure for a car depends on the rigidity provided by the bulkhead, so it's understandable if it occasionally seems as if the thing has been designed to be more like a railway bridge than a simple dashboard.

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2012 Chevrolet Sonic LTZ Turbo: How Would It Be With an Automatic?

June 21, 2012

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As much as I like our long-term Chevy Sonic Turbo, there's no denying it has limited appeal. Every time I run through the gears (well, maybe the first four... 5th and 6th are darned tall), I remember that not everybody likes to run through the gears.

However, back in April, Chevrolet began offering a six-speed automatic transmission with the 1.4-liter turbo engine. This month, Senior Editor Bill Visnic spent a week with an automatic-equipped Sonic Turbo. Does the automatic blunt this warm hatch's performance, broaden its reach or a little of both?

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2012 Chevrolet Sonic LTZ Turbo: Yeah, I Could Own This Car

June 20, 2012

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I put a lot of freeway miles on our long-term 2012 Chevrolet Sonic over the weekend. A lot of it was light traffic, but I did time in stop-and-go jams as well.

One thing that struck me about it is that it just feels natural to be in this car. It feels like my car. I've never felt that way about a Cruze, Malibu or Equinox.

It starts with a really normal driving position. OK, so you sit a little tall in this car (as you do in most of these short-stuff budget hatchbacks), but there are plenty of adjustments, so it's not bad. Second, there's the interior room. It feels spacious. I'm not bumping elbows with the front passenger, and another (small) adult can sit in back and still have adequate room. Also, the A/C system is up to the task of keeping the cabin cool on a 90-degree day with three aboard.

Alas, when you're running the A/C is exaggerates the one thing I don't like about this car -- its pokeyness off the line. Seems to be a combination of an EPA-friendly, this-is-how-you-drive-a-manual-son (read: dead) throttle calibration and the A/C compressor sapping power.

Whatever. It's annoying, but it doesn't ruin the driving experience for me (though, admittedly, you don't have to run the air-conditioner all day, every day where I live). I like the clutch takeup otherwise, and I like how the shifter moves fluidly through the gates. On most freeways, I really like the ride quality -- only over the really broken ones does the ride get harsh. And I think the steering is nice and precise.

Add in a nice dose of hatchback utility, and you have an Erin-friendly car.

Erin Riches, Senior Editor @ 9,501 miles

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2012 Chevrolet Sonic LTZ: Eject Button

May 30, 2012

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Why do all GMs make me do this? Is this some kind of digital nostalgia for the tape/disc eject button? Are we still on Windows XP here? Why do I need to command-disconnect my portable device?

Is OnStar compiling my musical tastes and preferences and sending to Bob Lutz's desk? Or Facebook's Skynet? Is Mark Zuckerberg going to resurrect Joe Strummer and serve me ads for the Ultimate Clash Reunion Tour? Like!

Ah, well. Despite its fish-oil funk (still present) and boggy throttle, the Sonic still charms. Once you get into boost, it's plenty of fun. And it looks like enthusiast tuners are starting to open the ECU and flash new mappings that improve throttle response. Not the preferred fix for a new car, but worth a look if you're sold on the rest of the Sonic.

As I sit and plan my future mogul-dom of some obscure cottage industry, I think about what small car I'd like to putt around the expensive coastal village I'll call home. The Sonic makes the list, although probably behind the Mazda2, which is lively, easy to park and careen down hills, and packs good power for the package. Although if I'm feeling belligerent, a well-kept R32 might be the better call.

Can't a rich man just get a subcompact Bentley?

Dan Frio, Automotive Editor

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2012 Chevy Sonic: How the Sonic Really Stinks

May 22, 2012

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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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2012 Chevy Sonic LTZ: Reverse Goes Here

May 09, 2012

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This is where reverse goes-- next to first-- and I'll hear no debate on the subject.

It's closer. It makes more sense. There's zero chance of trying to get into top gear and finding out you're driving a five-speed and not a 6 (not applicable here, but you get the idea.)

Even without the lockout (which is a pull-up collar just below the knob -- excellent) there's virtually no way to accidentally hit reverse here. You shouldn't be shifting into first that quickly.

I would also accept reverse being dogleg down from first but the point remains: Reverse belongs on the slow side of the shifter.

Mike Magrath, Features Editor, Edmunds.com @ 8,408 miles

Oh, wait, I didn't mention the stink....

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2012 Chevrolet Sonic LTZ: The Up-Shift Light

May 01, 2012

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Does anyone in the world pay attention to the silly up-shift light that Chevy installs in the Sonic's instrument panel?

I mean, I know it's there to promote fuel efficiency and all, but come on: It's actually suggesting that I upshift to a higher gear when it's already only pulling like 1,700 rpm, which is lugging for this little four-cylinder.

Mike Monticello, Road Test Editor @ 7,936 miles.

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2012 Chevrolet Sonic LTZ: Sonic vs. FR-S

April 30, 2012

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Photo by Rex Tokeshi-Torres

I really like the handling of the little Chevy Sonic. It has quick, precise steering and a relatively stiff suspension. All of which help it get around corners much better than you'd expect from an economy car. And more than that, it's fun to take around those corners.

We had the long-term Sonic at our test track recently the same day as the Scion FR-S. No way it could hang with the rear-drive FR-S around the slalom, right?

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2012 Chevrolet Sonic LTZ: Octane Decision

April 25, 2012

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Our longterm 2012 Chevrolet Sonic has the same 1.4-liter turbocharged engine as our Chevy Cruze. Last year, the Cruze produced some thought-provoking results when tested on 87 and 91 octane in hot weather. Namely, on a per-mile basis it was cheaper to use 91 (the owner's manual doesn't require octane higher than 87).

There's little reason to believe the Sonic will respond differently in similar conditions. That said, we've not been super-strict about staying with 87 or 91 in the time we've had the Sonic in our care.

Were it your Sonic, though -- and assuming you live where summers are truly hot -- would you switch to 91 in summer months, having internalized the results at the link above? Or is the psychological hurdle of filling with fuel that has a higher per-gallon cost too great to bear? Be honest.

Jason Kavanagh, Engineering Editor

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2012 Chevy Sonic LTZ: It's a Six-Speed

April 23, 2012

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Every time I go to drive our 2012 Chevy Sonic on the highway I forget, for at least 40% of my drive, that it's a six speed. I hop onto the highway, plunk it in fifth and continue with the flow of traffic.

The reasons for this are twofold: 1) I still think small cars always have a five speed. 2) At 70 MPH the Sonic cruises at 2,500 rpm in fifth. 2,500! That's nothing for a small car on the highway. Remember that Acura Integra Type R we tested? It spun 3,800 RPM at 70. That's the kind of highway revs most of us are used to in small, small displacement cars. When the Sonic is driven properly and put into sixth it spins a lazy 2,050 rpm at 70. Barely trying at all.

Thankfully I've only driven the Sonic on the highway a short distance. It shouldn't really have an impact on our overall fuel economy.

Mike Magrath, Features Editor, Edmunds.com

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2012 Chevrolet Sonic LTZ: Tinsel Town Saturday Night

April 16, 2012

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EXT. DOWNTOWN LOS ANGELES, DUSK
A 2012 Chevrolet Sonic turns onto Broadway. Once a shining boulevard of vaudeville palaces, the street is noticeably rougher now. But the marquee of the fully restored Orpheum Theater shines into the dusk, signaling that Los Angeles, a city that would prefer to knock down its history than preserve it, has perhaps changed its ways. Tonight, the Orpheum is hosting the Los Angeles Conservancy/American Planning Association's screening of "Chinatown," a dark tale of Los Angeles' determination to grow and forget its past--whatever the cost. The Sonic snaps a smart right turn into a narrow alley.

PARKING LOT
An attendant points the Sonic into a wafer-thin parking place. He's determined to pack as many vehicles as possible (at $10 each) into the lot. The Sonic slips into its place, leaving its passenger and driver just enough room to exit.

PARKING LOT, NIGHT
Hours later, the movie is letting out. Now, every parking place is taken, and some rows are partially blocked. The Sonic's driver has to back up for several rows to find a way out of the lot. The car has no problems maneuvering through narrow rows. It slides onto the street and makes its way through the changing downtown cityscape: bright lights, darkened blocks, the encampments of Skid Row. It's comforting that the doors lock automatically once the car is underway. The Sonic is easy to drive. Nimble. Fun. Unpretentious. What you want in the naked city at night.

LITTLE TOKYO, NIGHT
Another parking lot, not as congested as the first one. The passengers exit. The Sonic rests, awaiting its next action sequence.

Carroll Lachnit, Features Editor @6,583 miles

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2012 Chevrolet Sonic LTZ: Clutches, Anyone? Freshly Smoked!

April 12, 2012

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Our longterm 2012 Chevrolet Sonic LTZ's throttle calibration is going to result in premature clutch wear. You read it here first.

Here's the deal. When you engage the clutch from a standstill in any manual gearbox-equipped car, you -- the driver -- feed in the throttle at a rate you think will both a) avoid a nasty bog/stumble, and b) not excessively slip the clutch. After years of driving manual gearboxes, you -- the driver -- have a keenly-honed sense for this balancing act. You do it instinctively now. You probably don't even know you're doing it, but you are.

The problem arises when the car -- which is not the driver -- attempts to execute this balancing act, too, at the exact same time as you -- the driver -- are doing it.

The resulting bumfight between driver and the Sonic's smarty-pants electronic throttle results in WAY TOO MUCH throttle being applied while you're still letting the clutch in, which in turn prompts the little turbo to start spooling up in earnest and the process just bootstraps itself into frantic, runaway clutch-slipping stupidity. True, I haven't yet smelled that distinctive odor of fried clutch lining when driving the Sonic. Then again, I drive with the windows up.

Apparently the Magistrates of Throttle Manipulation residing in the Sonic's ECU are a conservative bunch and always bang the gavel down on the side of "holycrapdon'teverlettheenginestall" rather than taking the more measured approach of realizing that "hey, this meat bag behind the wheel is taking care of things. I'mma let you finish." At which point it would let you -- the driver -- drive the car.

Jason Kavanagh, Engineering Editor

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2012 Chevrolet Sonic LTZ: The $15,000 VW

March 30, 2012

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They’re making Volkswagens in Michigan, I’m sure of it.

After driving a large assortment of Volkswagens over the last ten days, I’m more sure than ever that the Chevrolet Sonic drives like it wants to be one of them. Packaging, control feel, ride quality, and general dynamics – the Sonic should be wearing a VW badge. And I mean that in the best possible way.

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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 LTZ: How About More Power?

March 22, 2012

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After my back road drive yesterday in our Sonic LTZ, I got to thinking more about the upcoming Sonic RS. Going on sale late this year, the RS will come with a sport-tuned suspension, sport seats, larger wheels and slightly more aggressive styling. The turbocharged 1.4-liter engine will be standard. (At SEMA, Chevy also showed off the Z-Spec line of styling accessories.)

Ah, but there's the question every small car enthusiast is wondering: Will the Sonic get more power, too?

More power is always a good thing in car enthusiast land. And how hard could it be? Just turn up the boost dial up to 11, right? The RS suspension upgrades combined with more horsepower and torque could be a pretty sweet combination.

Ah, but GM has already said that it's not doing an SS version with more power. My suspicion is that it'd cost too much. I doubt GM would want to spend the money on such a niche product. As a subcompact, the Sonic is already a low-volume seller. Now add in the development cost of an SS, including shoring up the drivetrain, ensuring longevity for the turbo-4, stronger brakes, etc. An SS could actually end up being pretty pricey.

That said, I think it'd be cool if GM could at least add a sport exhaust to the RS.

Brent Romans, Senior Automotive Editor

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2012 Chevy Sonic LTZ: Now Available in Automatic

March 22, 2012

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One of the major complaints about the Chevy Sonic when it first launched (when we bought ours) was that the good motor, the 1.4-liter turbo 4, was only available with a manual transmission. This wasn't so much a complaint from our side of things as we tend to like manuals. Unfortunately, the American consumer, on the whole, doesn't and by limiting the turbo motor to the manual transmission, most people would be stuck with the 1.8 that runs far less smoothly and returns worse fuel economy (35 highway with the autobox).

Now, however, GM has announced that the 1.4-liter turbo motor will be available with a six-speed Hydra-Matic 6T40 automatic. The EPA says that this new transmission will return 37 mpg on the highway, 27 city and 31 mpg combined and GM says the combination's good for a 0-60 time of 7.8 seconds. In our testing the manual version hit 60 in 8.5 seconds.

Pricing was not announced, but for the Cruze 1.4-liter, the automatic is a $1,185 option.

Mike Magrath, Features Editor, Edmunds.com

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2012 Chevrolet Sonic LTZ: Back Road Drive

March 21, 2012

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Some of my coworkers were out testing a rather desirable exotic sports car yesterday. Since I wasn't able to participate, I figured I needed a condolence prize. Alas, driving our Sonic on some back roads would have to do. Driving a subcompact around corners is not normally something that would sound all that fun, but the Sonic was up for the task.

The Sonic LTZ isn't a hot hatch, but "warm hatch" probably isn't too far off the mark. The steering has pretty good feel to it, and there's respectable grip from the Hankook 205/50R17 tires. It reminded me a little of our old GTI long-termer, actually. The suspension is compliant in that long-travel sort of way, but you can press on in the Sonic up to a certain point and still enjoy yourself.

The turbocharged 1.4-liter engine and manual transmission are a big draw, as well. Together, they make the Sonic feel pretty lively as I powered out of corners. It does make me wonder how a regular Sonic with the normally aspirated engine, automatic transmission and non-LTZ wheels/tires would be -- you know, the Sonic a lot of people will probably buy. In all likelihood: not nearly as enjoyable to drive on a road like this. Even so, I had a fun time with our Sonic LTZ today.

Brent Romans, Senior Automotive Editor @ 4,925 miles

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2012 Chevrolet Sonic: Gearing Comparison

March 16, 2012

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After my post a couple days ago on highway driving and the Sonic's low rpm at speed, I was curious to see how its gearing ratios compared to other subcompacts with six-speed gearboxes. If you were wondering the same thing, well, you're in luck.

I put the Corvette in just to see how low (or tall) you can go.

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2012 Chevrolet Sonic: Good On The Freeway

March 14, 2012

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As a freeway companion for a long drive, our Sonic is pretty agreeable. The ride is comfortable for a short-wheelbase car. Overall wind and road noise seem below average. (Incidental note: check out in the photo how the tall gearing keeps engine to just 2,000 rpm at 70 mph in sixth gear.) There's lots of storage space for your stuff. The six-speaker sound system isn't a $6,300 Bang and Olufsen, but it certainly gets the job done.

As for seating, I can't seem to really find a driving position I really like in this car (even though there's telescoping steering wheel and height-adjustable seat), so I'm not really as comfortable as I'd prefer for a long drive. But that's pretty minor. Overall I think our Sonic works pretty well for long drives.

Brent Romans, Senior Automotive Editor @ 4,570 miles

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2012 Chevrolet Sonic LTZ: Dual Personality Engine

March 13, 2012

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The interesting thing to me about utilizing a turbocharged, small-displacement four-cylinder engine in the Sonic is that it gives the driver more options for driving style. If you want to treat your Sonic like a hot hatch, the turbo 1.4-liter will boost up and do its best to appease you. Alternately, if it's maximum fuel economy you want, just tread lightly on the throttle and stay out of the boost.

I like it because I can mix both styles so easily. For normal driving, I'll just keep it casual, maximizing mpg. But when I do need to accelerate quickly (say, for a highway entrance ramp), the turbo provides an extra dose of power that wouldn't otherwise be available in this type of car.

Brent Romans, Senior Automotive Editor

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2012 Chevrolet Sonic LTZ: The Korean Influence

March 02, 2012

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Although most readers of this site know that the Sonic was largely a project of GM's Korean operations, to the casual observer, the site of Hankook tires on a Chevrolet might be a bit alarming.

No need to worry, though, as this Chevy rides just fine without a set of Goodyears connecting it to the road. In fact, the Sonic is one of the best riding Chevrolet vehicles I've driven in years.

Obviously, not all of the credit can go to the tires, but they're a big part of the overall equation. Road and tire noise is moderate and the grip levels seem well suited to this hatchback. No need to fear the Optimos.

Ed Hellwig, Editor, Edmunds.com

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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 Chevy Sonic: I Like This Car

February 14, 2012

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I agree with Magrath that the Sonic's dashboard design looks like a sad elephant. I'd also add that its materials quality and selection could be better. If I could transplant the Kia Rio's cabin into the Sonic I'd be a happy guy. However, none of the above dulls my enthusiasm for this car when I drive it.

Its turbocharged engine is wonderful, providing ample punch off the line and making it eager to dart through traffic. The steering is sharp and I appreciate that the controls work with a similar amount of effort. GM apparently put in a lot of effort to make them work with such a consistency and it makes a big difference. It just feels right.

Last night, however, I realized why I like the Sonic so much. It reminds me a lot of the GTI, a car I like for similar reasons. Yes, the turbo engine has a lot to do with it, but I found my driving style and level of enjoyment to be reminiscent of one of my favorite cars on the road. Heck it even has a VW-esque long-throw shifter, though, it's less damped in its motions and the one-two shift can be notchy at times.

And like the GTI, this Sonic is also going to be a divider amongst our staff. Already battle lines are being drawn amongst the "Love its" and "Hate its." Count me in the former camp. In the subcompact class, this is the car I'd buy.

James Riswick, Automotive Editor @ 2,829 miles

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2012 Chevrolet Sonic LTZ: Video Review

February 09, 2012

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Here is Senior Editor Erin Riches with a video review of the 2012 Chevy Sonic. This video covers the whole Chevrolet Sonic model lineup but the action footage is Erin driving our long-term Sonic LTZ.

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2012 Chevrolet Sonic LTZ: Playing Golf

January 27, 2012

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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.

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2012 Chevrolet Sonic LTZ: Leaving Them All Behind

January 25, 2012

ChevySonic 009.jpg

I have to say that I've been enjoying driving our new long-term 2012 Chevrolet Sonic LTZ through rush-hour traffic. That's saying a lot considering it's stick.

Usually when the long-term car board comes to me, I pick a car based on where I'm going for the evening. Like, is it way cross town where I have to sit on the notoriously clogged-up 10 East and then cut through the equally bad surface street traffic? Or am I just going straight home, which is just 7 miles from the office, aka 30-45 minutes away? Most of the time I'll go for a car with auto because, let's face it, driving stick in stop-and-go suuuhucks.

But our little Sonic isn't so hard to shift. It's not as light as the Fiat's shifter/clutch but neither is it like our old Mazdaspeed 3. And bonus is that it has a 1.4-liter turbocharged Ecotec engine and 138 horsepower so I can switch lanes quickly and get around the slow pokes and not-so-slow pokes like no one's business.

I see many more rush-hours in our future together. By the way, score on the seat heaters in the Sonic. So effective! More on that later.

Caroline Pardilla, Deputy Managing Editor @ 2,244 miles

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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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