2012 Chevrolet Sonic Long Term Road Test - Introduction

2012 Chevrolet Sonic Long Term Road Test

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2012 Chevrolet Sonic LTZ: Introduction

Jan 25, 2012

It was not hard for GM to replace the Aveo. There were no farewell parties, no e-mail campaigns calling for a retrospective of the awful little car, and there were certainly no shortages of suggestions on how to improve the next one.

The first item on the list was to ditch the inscrutable Aveo name in favor of something cooler, like say, Sonic. Next it ditched the uninspired rental-car interior for something with grown-up materials and a slick, modern design. Finally, Chevy chucked the old 108-horsepower 1.6-liter and four-speed automatic in favor of a 138-hp 1.8-liter inline-4 hooked to an optional six-speed automatic transmission (5MT is standard).

But Chevy didn't stop there: It upped the ante even further with an optional 1.4-liter turbocharged four-cylinder making 138 hp and 148 pound-feet of torque. This optional engine is available only with a six-speed manual transmission. Interesting choice for a subcompact Chevy.

The 2012 Chevrolet Sonic may look like the Aveo in profile, but that's where the similarities end. It's an all-new car with an all-new outlook, one where inexpensive does not mean cheap.

What We Got
The base 2012 Chevy Sonic LS Sedan is available with the above-mentioned 1.8-liter Ecotec and a five-speed manual transmission for a starting price of $13,735. That car comes with remote keyless entry, 15-inch wheels, air-conditioning, OnStar and, wait for it, a four-speaker AM/FM stereo with an aux jack. As inexpensive as that one is, we wanted more. Specifically, we wanted a hatchback (they're more useful) which starts at $14,635 and we wanted it with the smaller turbocharged motor. That engine would be more fun and, according to the EPA, the 1.4-liter returns better fuel economy, which will be helpful as it costs an additional $700.

The 1.4-liter is only available on LT and LTZ models. LT models are fairly loaded with full power accessories and upgraded cloth upholstery and are available with the Connectivity Plus Cruise package that has Bluetooth, iPod and steering wheel-mounted controls. LTZ models have the Connectivity Plus Cruise package standard along with leatherette upholstery, 17-inch wheels, foglamps and heated seats. The price difference is $1,500 if we didn't want Connectivity or $1,125 if we did want the $375 package.

A local dealer arranged a local trade to get us a 1.4-liter Sonic LTZ in Victory Red with a jet black/dark titanium interior. Other than the turbocharged Ecotec motor, there were no options, which gave our car an as-tested price of $18,695 including the $795 destination fee.

Invoice, however, was $18,018. After some shrewd negotiating by our crack team of car buyers, we paid the invoice price.

Why We Got It
In a comparison test earlier this month, a 2012 Chevy Sonic LTZ absolutely mopped the floor with a 2011 Mazda 2. At the end we concluded that the Sonic is "worth the extra money over the Mazda 2 and it's even good enough to talk you out of buying a Mini Cooper."

In our short-term testing the Sonic was an impressive little car. Will that hold up for the year? Will we manage to stay out of the throttle and get the EPA fuel economy? Will we still be thinking Mini beater after 12 months and 20,000 miles?

Current Odometer: 1,788
Best Fuel Economy: 35.1
Worst Fuel Economy: 23.7
Average Fuel Economy (over the life of the vehicle): 28

Edmunds purchased this vehicle for the purposes of evaluation.

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Past Long-Term Road Tests