2017 Chevrolet Sonic
- Optional turbocharged engine is powerful and gets respectable fuel economy
- Cabin is relatively spacious for this class
- Generous number of standard and available features
- Excellent crash test safety scores
- Base engine's lackluster fuel economy
- Cabin materials look and feel low-rent
2017 Chevrolet Sonic pricingin Ashburn, VA
Edmunds' Expert Review
With the exception of many high-end sports cars, it is fairly unusual for an automaker to let one of its cars go mostly unchanged for five full model years. It's typical to see some sort of refresh at least once during that span of time to reinvigorate interest in the vehicle, or at least give people coming off their leases something new to jump into. So far, the Chevrolet Sonic has received only mild updates since it debuted in 2012. That changes for 2017, however.
Though it's still the same car underneath, the 2017 Chevrolet Sonic gets a proverbial fresh coat of paint. Most notable is the Sonic's revised styling; it now looks more like a small-scale version of the Malibu and SS sedans. Inside there's a mildly redesigned center stack, and the gauge cluster has a more traditional layout than before. Several features that were optional on last year's Sonic are now standard equipment, too, including the 7-inch central touchscreen, Bluetooth, a USB port, a rearview camera and Apple CarPlay/Android Auto functionality. The price increases a bit to go along with all the extra stuff, but we think the additional tech is worth it.
Pleasingly, the Sonic's more inherent qualities are still intact, including a relatively spacious interior, top-notch crash safety scores and a strong turbocharged engine (available on the Sonic LT and standard on the Premier) that gives this little car some unexpected pep. That said, there's no shortage of worthy competitors in the subcompact segment. With two body styles and three engines to choose from (including the sporty ST's 197-horsepower motor), the Ford Fiesta is certainly one of the most diverse and fun to drive. If it's versatility you're after, the Honda Fit hatchback has a unique design for its folding rear seat and more maximum cargo capacity. Other options might include the roomy Kia Rio and Hyundai Accent siblings; they are less expensive, but their base trim levels are lighter on features compared to the Sonic LS.
Certainly, you've got some solid choices here. But even in this esteemed company, the revitalized 2017 Sonic is an easy recommendation.
Every 2017 Chevrolet Sonic comes standard with traction and stability control along with antilock brakes (front discs/rear drums) and a rearview camera. There are knee airbags for front seat occupants, side-impact airbags and side curtain airbags. Also standard is OnStar, which includes automatic crash notification, stolen vehicle assistance and remote door unlocking.
Optional on the LT and Premier is the Driver Confidence package, which includes forward collision warning (alerting the driver to an imminent impact) and lane departure warning.
In government crash tests, the Sonic sedan received a perfect five-star rating overall, including five stars for total frontal impact safety and five stars for total side-impact safety. The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety awarded the Sonic its top score of "Good" in the moderate-overlap and small-overlap frontal-offset, side-impact and roof-strength crash tests. The Sonic's seat and head restraint design was rated "Good" for whiplash protection in rear impacts.
2017 Chevrolet Sonic configurations
The 2017 Chevrolet Sonic is available in sedan and four-door hatchback body styles. Both can seat five passengers. Three trim levels are available: LS (sedan only), LT and Premier.
The base LS sedan offers 15-inch steel wheels, automatic headlights, LED daytime running lights, manual mirrors, power locks, remote locking/unlocking, a rearview camera, manual windows, air-conditioning, cloth upholstery, a height-adjustable driver seat, 60/40-split-folding rear seatbacks, a tilt-and-telescoping steering wheel, a driver information screen, Bluetooth phone and audio connectivity, a 7-inch touchscreen interface, Android Auto and Apple CarPlay functionality, OnStar telematics (includes 4G LTE Wi-Fi hot-spot capability) and a four-speaker sound system with a USB port and an auxiliary audio jack.
The LT includes all of the above, plus alloy wheels, chrome exterior accents, heated power mirrors, upgraded cloth upholstery, cruise control, power windows, front and rear floor mats, remote ignition (automatic transmission only), a six-speaker sound system, satellite radio and a second USB port. The turbocharged 1.4-liter engine is standard on models with the manual transmission and optional with the automatic.
You can get an optional Convenience package for the LT that adds keyless entry and ignition, a leather-wrapped and heated steering wheel, a six-way power-adjustable driver seat, heated front seats and an upgraded driver information center.
Moving up to the Premier gets you the turbocharged engine, 17-inch alloy wheels, the contents of the Convenience package and leatherette (premium vinyl) upholstery.
The RS package is available on LT and Premier models (it is standard on the Premier with the manual transmission). For LT models, it includes 16-inch alloy wheels, a sport body kit, a rear spoiler, foglights, glossy black interior accents, a leather-wrapped sport steering wheel and upgraded floor mats. The Premier version or the RS doesn't have the heated steering wheel but adds black-painted 17-inch wheels, a sport-tuned suspension and simulated suede seat inserts.
A sunroof is optional for the LT and Premier, as is a Driver Confidence package that adds lane departure warning, forward collision alert and rear parking sensors.
The hatchback is equipped very similarly to its sedan counterpart. The most notable difference is that the features included in the sedan's RS package are standard here.
The standard engine on 2017 Chevy Sonic LS and LT models is a 1.8-liter four-cylinder that produces 138 horsepower and 125 pound-feet of torque. A five-speed manual transmission with a hill-hold feature is standard, and a six-speed automatic is available as an option.
Optional on the LT and standard on the Premier is a turbocharged 1.4-liter four-cylinder. Although its 138-hp output mirrors the base engine, it feels more potent thanks to its 148 lb-ft of torque. A six-speed manual transmission is standard, and a six-speed automatic is optional.
Although EPA-estimated fuel economy was not available at the time of publication, we don't expect the numbers to change much from last year. The EPA rated the 2016 Sonic with the 1.8-liter engine and manual transmission at 30 mpg combined (26 mpg city/35 mpg highway), while the automatic rang in at 28 mpg combined (24 city /35 highway). The turbocharged 1.4-liter fared slightly better, with 33 mpg combined (29 city/40 highway) for the manual and 31 mpg combined (27 city/37 highway) with the automatic.
In Edmunds performance testing, a turbocharged Sonic hatchback with the manual transmission accelerated from zero to 60 in 8.4 seconds, quick for this segment.
On the road, the 2017 Chevrolet Sonic feels more solid and refined than other subcompact sedans and hatchbacks. Similar to the Volkswagen Golf, the Sonic handles well around turns, with notably responsive steering, yet it also rides well enough that long road trips are not an endurance test. Unfortunately, that isn't true for the Premier trim level equipped with the RS package. While the sport-tuned suspension and bigger wheels sharpen up the car's handling through turns, it comes at the expense of ride quality. Take it over any pavement rougher than glass and you might momentarily think you're riding on a wooden roller coaster.
Both engines offer decent performance, but the turbocharged 1.4-liter feels more lively and delivers useful power for merging and passing maneuvers. The only downside is the engine's somewhat sluggish responsiveness, which can make it difficult to accelerate smoothly from a stop in heavy traffic. In addition, efficiency-oriented gearing necessitates frequent shifting in manual-transmission models because there isn't much power for passing in fifth and sixth gears.
The interior of the Sonic is attractive enough, but its low price is justified in part by the use of hard plastics throughout. It earns extra points for comfort, however, as even tall drivers can find a driving position that works. Smaller adults should find the rear seats similarly accommodating by segment standards, with decent amounts of head- and legroom.
The Sonic's gauges and controls are well laid out and easy to operate. Standard on all trims is a 7-inch touchscreen with the newest version of Chevy's superb MyLink interface, which also includes smartphone integration via Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. MyLink's menus are intuitive enough that it doesn't take long for a first-time user to master its functions and controls. Our only gripe is that it sometimes takes a few beats for inputs to be recognized.
The sedan's 14.9-cubic-foot trunk is among the largest in the segment and can be expanded further with the standard 60/40-folding rear seatbacks. The Sonic hatchback offers 19 cubic feet with the rear seats up and 47.7 cubic feet with them folded down. That's very good, but bested slightly by the Honda Fit (52.7 cubic feet) and the Kia Rio (49.8 cubic feet).
Most helpful consumer reviews
2017 Chevrolet Sonic video
TRAVIS LANGNESS: I'm Travis Langness, Edmunds editor, with an Expert Rundown of the 2017 Chevrolet Sonic. On the outside, the new Chevy Sonic gets some updated styling, new LED running lights and projector headlights. On the inside, a rear view camera's now standard across the lineup, which is nice. And the new seven-inch touchscreen, which comes with Chevy's MyLink infotainment system, that includes Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, is standard grade in this class vehicle. The cabin's pretty spacious for this class vehicle as well. Lots of headroom up front and in the back. Excellent crash test safety scores. The ride quality's pretty good. Overall, you get a lot more from this little car than you expect. And it's also pretty unique in this class that it's fun to drive. A lot of cars in this class feel humdrum, very point A to point B transportation. But we actually enjoy driving the Sonic, especially with the optional turbocharged engine. The base engine doesn't get great fuel economy. It's rated at 30 MPG combined, which is OK. But top rivals do a lot better in this class. Cabin materials are kind of low rent. It's what you expect from this class. But in context with the rest of the car, it seems out of place. The car drive so well, and it looks nice on the outside. But on the inside, there's a lot of hard plastic to look at and it surrounds a nice usable interface on the touchscreen, so it kind of throws you off. Competitors like the Honda Fit and the Ford Fiesta and maybe even the Kia Rio are going to have a little bit better interior quality. But the bottom line is the Chevy Sonic stands out for its roomy interior, lots of standard features, and it's even fun to drive, especially with the optional turbocharged engine. For more reviews of key competitors, go to YouTube and check out more of the Edmunds Expert Rundowns.
2017 Chevrolet Sonic Expert Rundown
Looking for a hatchback that's small and cost-effective? The 2017 Chevrolet Sonic might be worth checking out. Here's a quick rundown of what we like, what we dont and the bottom line from the Edmunds editors.
Features & Specs
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2017 Chevrolet Sonic for Sale
Sporty, fun and a bit quirky, the 2017 Chevrolet Sonic will satisfy the needs of many buyers looking for a subcompact car with a relatively spacious interior, above-average ride and handling, good safety ratings and a host of available technology. Like its predecessors, the updated Sonic is available as either a sedan or hatchback and with enough trim levels, equipment packages and options to allow buyers to tailor it to their own taste.
For 2017 the Sonic's exterior is refreshed with a new hood, grille, projector headlights and LED daytime running lights in front, while out back there's a new rear fascia and revamped taillights. Even the base model now comes with a 7-inch touchscreen and an infotainment system that's compatible with both Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. There are also new color and wheel choices, reconfigured trim levels and several new options and packages, including an RS package — standard on all hatchbacks and the Premier-level sedan with manual transmission — which comes with stiffer suspension, a sport body kit and unique interior and exterior accents.
In both sedan and hatchback versions, the Sonic's interior is attractively styled and well laid out, even if some of the materials have been chosen to keep the price down. The front seats are comfortable and roomy, and the rear compartment, though a bit tighter, still measures up to most competitors in its price range. For 2017 the Sonic becomes the first vehicle in its class to offer a power driver seat; other available features include keyless entry and start, cruise control, a heated and leather-wrapped steering wheel, and heated seats.
Power on the Sonic LS and LT models comes from a 1.8-liter four-cylinder engine that produces 138 horsepower and 125 pound-feet of torque. It's mated to a five-speed manual transmission. Buyers looking for more pep can opt for a 1.4-liter turbocharged four that makes the same 138 hp but ups torque to 148 lb-ft. The standard transmission for the turbo is a six-speed manual, and a six-speed automatic is available with both engines.
The Sonic provides a smooth and stable ride, with one of the quietest interiors in its class. Handling is surprisingly lively, especially with the available sport-tuned suspension. Although the standard 1.8-liter engine isn't disappointing, the optional turbo provides improved acceleration and better passing power.
The Sonic's best fuel economy was achieved with the 1.4-liter turbocharged engine and six-speed manual transmission combo; EPA rated 32 mpg combined (28 city/38 highway). With the 1.8-liter engine coupled to the automatic transmission the Sonic got 28 mpg combined (24 city/34 highway).
The base Sonic LS sedan comes fairly well equipped with such features as a rearview camera, air-conditioning and the Chevrolet MyLink infotainment interface. The LT trim level adds a number of useful comfort and convenience items, and the Premier model includes the turbocharged engine and a standard convenience package. Whatever your preferences, Edmunds can help you find the best 2017 Chevrolet Sonic for your needs.
2017 Chevrolet Sonic Overview
The 2017 Chevrolet Sonic is offered in the following submodels: Sonic Hatchback, Sonic Sedan. Available styles include LS 4dr Sedan (1.8L 4cyl 6A), LT 4dr Sedan (1.8L 4cyl 6A), LT 4dr Hatchback (1.8L 4cyl 6A), LT 4dr Hatchback (1.8L 4cyl 5M), LT 4dr Sedan (1.4L Turbo 4cyl 6M), Premier 4dr Sedan (1.4L 4cyl Turbo 6M), Premier 4dr Hatchback (1.4L 4cyl Turbo 6M), Premier 4dr Hatchback (1.4L 4cyl Turbo 6A), LS 4dr Sedan (1.8L 4cyl 5M), Premier 4dr Sedan (1.4L 4cyl Turbo 6A), and LT Fleet 4dr Hatchback (1.8L 4cyl 6A).
What do people think of the 2017 Chevrolet Sonic?
Consumer ratings and reviews are also available for the 2017 Chevrolet Sonic and all its trim types. Overall, Edmunds users rate the 2017 Sonic 3.5 on a scale of 1 to 5 stars. Edmunds consumer reviews allow users to sift through aggregated consumer reviews to understand what other drivers are saying about any vehicle in our database. Detailed rating breakdowns (including performance, comfort, value, interior, exterior design, build quality, and reliability) are available as well to provide shoppers with a comprehensive understanding of why customers like the 2017 Sonic.
Edmunds Expert Reviews
Edmunds experts have compiled a robust series of ratings and reviews for the 2017 Chevrolet Sonic and all model years in our database. Our rich content includes expert reviews and recommendations for the 2017 Sonic featuring deep dives into trim levels and features, performance, mpg, safety, interior, and driving. Edmunds also offers expert ratings, road test and performance data, long-term road tests, first-drive reviews, video reviews and more.
Our Review Process
This review was written by a member of Edmunds' editorial team of expert car reviewers. Our team drives every car you can buy. We put the vehicles through rigorous testing, evaluating how they drive and comparing them in detail to their competitors.
We're also regular people like you, so we pay attention to all the different ways people use their cars every day. We want to know if there's enough room for our families and our weekend gear and whether or not our favorite drink fits in the cupholder. Our editors want to help you make the best decision on a car that fits your life.
Which 2017 Chevrolet Sonics are available in my area?
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Should I lease or buy a 2017 Chevrolet Sonic?
Is it better to lease or buy a car? Ask most people and they'll probably tell you that car buying is the way to go. And from a financial perspective, it's true, provided you're willing to make higher monthly payments, pay off the loan in full and keep the car for a few years. Leasing, on the other hand, can be a less expensive option on a month-to-month basis. It's also good if you're someone who likes to drive a new car every three years or so.
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