2018 Chevy Sonic Review
2018 Chevy Sonic Review
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Edmunds' Expert Review
Senior Editor and Content Strategist, CarMax
Will Kaufman has worked in the automotive industry since 2017. He has written hundreds of car-related articles and reviews over the course of his career. Will is a senior editor and content strategist for CarMax at Edmunds. Will has been featured in the Associated Press and a number of major outlets on the topics of infotainment and vehicle data, vehicle subscription services and autonomous vehicles. Will started his career in online publishing by writing and editing standardized test guides, but he has a lot more fun writing about cars.
- Optional turbocharged engine makes good power and fuel economy
- Spacious cabin for the class
- Standard infotainment system supports full smartphone integration
- Excellent crash test scores
- Base engine offers lackluster fuel economy
- Cabin materials look and feel low-rent
After last year's face-lift, the 2018 Chevy Sonic receives an updated version of the MyLink infotainment system, a second USB port, and minor adjustments to package and trim level features.
Last year's update helped keep the aging Sonic competitive, adding technology and optional active safety features to an already fun-to-drive small car. It has some flaws, but most subcompacts are compromised in one way or another.
Calculate my fuel costs
Cost to DriveCost to drive estimates for the 2018 Chevrolet Sonic LS 4dr Sedan (1.8L 4cyl 5M) and comparison vehicles are based on 15,000 miles per year (with a mix of 55% city and 45% highway driving) and energy estimates of $3.11 per gallon for regular unleaded in Virginia.
Monthly estimates based on costs in Virginia
$129/mo for Sonic LS
Avg. Compact Car
The 2018 Chevrolet Sonic sets itself apart from most subcompacts with its standard infotainment system. For most subcompacts, you'd pay extra for Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. On the Sonic, it's standard. And with standard OnStar, even the lowest trim of the Sonic can have an onboard 4G LTE data connection and a Wi-Fi hotspot. As a bonus, the Sonic is a fun little car to drive, and it comes with a spacious interior and plenty of cargo room.
Of course, the lowest-cost Sonic does give up quite a few other conveniences, such as power windows and mirrors. Getting your hands on the eminently practical hatchback also requires stepping up to the midlevel trim. And the base engine is not only a bit anemic, but it also returns subpar fuel economy when compared to the rest of the class.
Additionally, the cabin can get noisy, and opting for the suspension that adds the most to the Sonic's driving experience makes the ride borderline harsh. There's also a lot of hard plastic on display in the cabin, even in the Sonic's top trim, and some competitors offer more in the way of active safety features and driver aids.
There are some solid alternatives in the segment, depending on your needs. The Honda Fit is a monster of practicality thanks to its large cargo area and versatile folding seats, but its handling does feel a bit floaty and it's pricey for the class. There's also the all-new Kia Rio, which is easy to recommend thanks to its upscale interior and sporty driving dynamics. Still, if you're willing to pay a little more than the base price, you can get a well-equipped and relatively spacious Chevy Sonic with both good fuel economy and performance.
Edmunds' Expert Rating
Last year's update helped keep the aging Sonic competitive, adding technology and optional active safety features to an already fun-to-drive small car. It has some flaws, but most subcompacts are compromised in one way or another. Overall, it's a solid pick.
The Sonic is a spirited little car with good steering and handling, especially with the RS package's suspension. Unfortunately, the manual gearbox is a bit clunky, and the 1.4-liter turbo, while an improvement over the base engine, lacks responsiveness at low rpm.
The comfortable front seats are a highlight, with decent bolstering for spirited driving and a comfortable driver-seat armrest. Unfortunately, there's lots of tire noise over rough surfaces, and the sportier RS suspension delivers a ride that borders on harsh.
There's plenty of head- and legroom both up front and in the back, though elbow room is tight all around. The large door openings make it easy to get in and out. Unfortunately, cheap plastics abound and thick roof pillars reduce visibility.
The sedan's trunk is bigger than average for a subcompact, and the hatchback similarly offers a generous amount of cargo space with the rear seats folded down. Up front, there are many storage spaces for your small items.
The standard 7-inch touchscreen with Android Auto and Apple CarPlay is a great feature for this class, and we like Chevy's MyLink system. Forward collision warning and lane departure warning are optional for the LT and Premier.
Which Sonic does Edmunds recommend?
The LT sedan with a manual transmission is actually the best bargain of the bunch — it's the least expensive version of the LT and it comes standard with the turbocharged engine. That's an optional extra on any other Sonic LT trim. Opt for the Convenience package for greater day-to-day livability. But for an automatic-equipped Sonic, consider moving up to the Premier. Adding the turbo 1.4-liter to any other LT trim brings the price within spitting distance of the Premier, and the Premier comes with the Convenience package.
2018 Chevrolet Sonic models
The 2018 Chevrolet Sonic's trim levels actually have a few surprises, though on the surface they seem straightforward enough. There are three trim levels: the LS, LT and Premier.The Sonic is also available in sedan and hatchback body styles. Chevy offers two engine choices along with a plethora of options.
The two powerplants for the Sonic are a 1.8-liter four-cylinder engine (138 horsepower, 125 pound-feet of torque) and a turbocharged 1.4-liter four cylinder (138 hp, 148 lb-ft of torque), which offers dramatically improved fuel economy. The 1.8-liter engine comes with either a five-speed manual transmission or a six-speed automatic, while the 1.4-liter receives either a six-speed manual or the six-speed automatic
The base Sonic LS sedan is, in many ways, a bare-bones commuter, although it doesn't skimp when it comes to infotainment. Standard equipment includes 15-inch steel wheels, automatic headlights, LED daytime running lights, manual side mirrors and manual windows, a rearview camera and remote locking and unlocking. Inside, you'll find a four-way manually adjustable driver seat, a tilt-and-telescoping steering wheel and a 60/40-split folding rear bench.
Infotainment duties are handled by a 7-inch touchscreen running Chevy's MyLink system. This includes Bluetooth, Android Auto and Apple CarPlay compatibility, two USB ports and a four-speaker sound system. GM's OnStar is also included, which adds a 4G LTE data connection and a Wi-Fi hotspot.
The base LS trim is only available with the sedan bodystyle and the 1.8-liter engine. It does not have access to any major options packages.
Moving up to the LT sedan adds 15-inch alloy wheels, power windows, heated power mirrors, upgraded cloth upholstery, a six-speaker stereo system and satellite radio. Oddly, the cheaper LT manual sedan comes standard with the 1.4-liter engine and the six-speed manual, while the automatic comes with the 1.8-liter engine and its six-speed automatic. The 1.4-liter engine is available as a stand-alone option, or with some upgrade packages, for the LT automatic sedan.
Quite a few packages are available for the LT sedan. The Convenience package adds heated front seats, a six-way power-adjustable driver seat, a leather-wrapped steering wheel with heating, an upgraded trip computer with more functionality, and proximity entry with push-button start. The Driver Confidence package adds forward collision alert, lane departure warning and rear parking sensors.
The optional RS package adds sporty styling cues to the exterior and interior, and a leather-wrapped, flat-bottom steering wheel. The Fun and Sun package includes a sunroof, 17-inch alloy wheels and the 1.4-liter engine (with the LT automatic). This package can be had with or without the RS package. Opting for Sun and Fun with RS gets you the RS appearance package and a sport-tuned suspension.
The Sonic LT can also be had in the hatchback bodystyle. Both the automatic and manual LT hatchback come with the 1.8-liter engine and the RS package. Otherwise, similar upgrade packages are available.
The Sonic Premier sedan comes with 17-inch wheels, the 1.4-liter engine, simulated leather upholstery, proximity entry and push-button start, heated front seats, a power-adjustable driver seat and a heated steering wheel (automatic transmission only). Opting for the manual transmission gets you the RS package as standard. The Driver Confidence package is available for the Premier sedan, and the sunroof is a stand-alone option. The Premier hatchback with either the automatic or manual transmission comes with the RS package.
3.6 out of 5 stars
Most helpful consumer reviews
4 out of 5 stars
No name given, 03/03/2017
2017 Chevrolet Sonic LT 4dr Hatchback (1.8L 4cyl 6A)
Bought it and have not regretted it. It is an inexpensive car, but has great technology and drives well for a small car. I also think it is a good looking car.
5 out of 5 stars
2017 Chevrolet Sonic Premier 4dr Hatchback (1.4L 4cyl Turbo 6A)
The 2017 Sonic Hatchback has more passenger & cargo room than the new Toyota Corolla Hatchback. The Sonic LT/RS comes with power drivers seat and heated seats and pushbutton start. You have to step up to Corollas XSE hatchback model to get these features. The Sonic comes with a sunroof not available in the Toyota. The Sonic has a turbo charged cast iron engine with a 6 speed … automatic. The corolla did not offer a turbo and has a cvt transmission. The sonics 7 inch screen is built in where the corollas looks slapped on. The sonic electric steering is better than the Toyotas... The ride is also surprisingly better than the corollas. Visibility is better in the chevy Sonic. The sonic cost less than the Toyota and is built in America. The sonic has a larger back window and can hold more upright luggage. The Sonic is quieter inside the a Mercedes S class. The one issue I have is the sonic lacks a temp gauge. Why?
1 out of 5 stars
Don't buy a Sonic
2016 Chevrolet Sonic LTZ 4dr Sedan (1.4L 4cyl Turbo 6A)
Worst Chevy I have ever owned. Replaced the water pump, thermostat housing, and another major coolant part at 65k, I have replaced the coolant resivour 3 times. Fuel sensor at 48k. Valve cover gasket, camshaft actuator seals, oil filter housing/oil cooler assm, turbo oil return hose at 74k. And now that I'm at almost 76k my transmission is taking a crap. I'm over it. Car isn't worth half … of what I bought it for, the depreciation of the car is unreal! Would not recomend this car to anyone. The up keep is more than the car is worth.
5 out of 5 stars
An American Built Success Story
Ross A., 10/20/2016
2016 Chevrolet Sonic LS 4dr Hatchback (1.8L 4cyl 5M)
After hitting 8,500 miles with my 2016 Sonic, I think it is time to review this surprisingly well put-together car. I commute over 100 miles round trip a day in upstate NY, so the Sonic and I have spent a lot of quality time together over the past months. Before the Sonic, I drove a 2013 Honda Fit, a car which the Sonic has blown out of the water (I decided to part with the Fit after it … was out of commission for a total of 6 months for an airbag recall-and there will be another to follow). First of all, for what you get, the Sonic is priced exceptionally competitively. I paid just over $11,000 for my LS Hatch, brand new. True, it didn't come with a lot of bells and whistles, but it's an American built car that is a top safety pick, had Bluetooth and Onstar, and looks stylish to boot. Though I looked at getting a new Fit, I couldn't spend 5k-7k more for a car with the same features built in Mexico. Second, driving wise, the Somic outperforms the Fit as well. For a subcompact car, the Sonic is fun to drive (while getting an average of 35 mpg) and you sit fairly high up in comparison to other subcompacts. My wife has a Subaru Impreza and when riding in her vehicle one sits noticeably closer to the road. Third, the Sonic's interior design is functional and well thought out, however the materials could be of higher quality, though if I cared about being surrounded by "soft-touch" materials, I would have opted for a more expensive car. Overall the Sonic seems like it will be an excellent vehicle that will last a long time.
We have a limited number of reviews for the 2018 Chevrolet Sonic, so we've included reviews for other years of the Sonic since its last redesign.
2018 Sonic Highlights
|Combined MPG||29 MPG|
|Cost to Drive||$129/month|
|Cargo Capacity |
All Seats In Place
|Drivetrain||front wheel drive|
|Warranty||3 years / 36,000 miles|
Our experts like the Sonic models:
- Forward Collision Alert
- Detects potential obstacles and warns the driver to take action to avoid a collision.
- Lane Departure Warning
- Alerts the driver if the car drifts out of its lane without the turn signal engaged.
- Rear Park Assist
- Sounds an audible tone when reversing to alert the driver to obstacles behind the car that may not be visible.
NHTSA Overall Rating5 out of 5 stars
The National Highway Transportation Safety Administration offers independent analysis.
- Frontal Barrier Crash RatingOverall5 / 5Driver5 / 5Passenger5 / 5
- Side Crash RatingOverall5 / 5
- Side Barrier RatingOverall5 / 5Driver5 / 5Passenger5 / 5
- Combined Side Barrier & Pole RatingsFront Seat5 / 5Back Seat5 / 5
- RolloverRollover4 / 5Dynamic Test ResultNo TipRisk Of Rollover12.6%
The Insurance Institute of Highway Safety uses extensive crash tests to determine car safety.
- Small Overlap Front Driver-Side TestGood
- Small Overlap Front Passenger-Side TestNot Tested
- Moderate Overlap Front Test – OriginalGood
- Moderate Overlap Front Test – UpdatedNot Tested
- Side Impact Test – OriginalGood
- Side Impact Test – UpdatedNot Tested
- Roof Strength TestGood
- Rear Crash Protection / Head RestraintGood