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.