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.
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.
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.
Edmunds attended a manufacturer-sponsored event, to which selected members of the press were invited, to facilitate this report.