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2012 Chevy Sonic

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The 2012 Chevrolet Sonic 2LT Review: Chevrolet has historically had a split personality. On one side, it's always made some of the best full-size pickups and SUVs on the road. Chevy's engineers long ago figured out the formula for building big, comfortable vehicles that last a long time.

On the other hand, Chevy's small cars have struggled against Japanese brands since the 1980s. Honda and Toyota were known for making fun-to-drive, long-lasting cars, and Chevy simply wasn't.

Finally, that's starting to change. There were signs of the shift a few years ago when the new Cobalt was introduced. It was the closest General Motors had ever come to beating the Japanese brands where they were strongest, which is in compact cars.

And now Chevrolet has introduced a little car that makes it harder than ever to choose a foreign-brand vehicle in this segment. It's called the Sonic.
The Sonic is an all-new subcompact car, actually the smallest and least expensive Chevy for sale today, starting under $14,000, but it doesn't feel cheap, like the bottom-end Chevy’s did in the 1980’s and '90s.

Like the Malibu, and Cruze before it, the Sonic has gotten the full "New GM" makeover that gives it more refinement, a better cabin and an advanced drivetrain. In other words, it neutralizes all the traditional strengths of the Japanese cars. It's thoroughly modern. It's enjoyable to drive. It looks and feels spunky.

If you compare it with its most direct foreign competition, the Honda
Fit and Toyota Yaris, the Sonic comes out a narrow winner, in my opinion. It's more exciting than the Yaris, and feels more solid than the Fit, which is really saying something.

It also comes out ahead on gas mileage. The Chevy is rated for 40 mpg on the highway, compared to 38 in the Toyota and 35 in the Honda. A big reason for that is its engine technology, and there's really only one thing to remember about it: the Sonic's smaller engine is the one you want.

Unlike the longstanding tradition in American cars, where you pay more to upgrade to a bigger engine, the Sonic lets you pay more to upgrade to a smaller power plant that comes with a turbocharger.

The base engine is a 1.8-liter four-cylinder model that's durable but just a bit old fashioned. It makes 138 horsepower. The much better engine, and the one that will get 40 mpg with a manual transmission, is the smaller, 1.4-liter Ecotec. It makes the same horsepower and significantly more torque than the 1.8-liter engine, but it gets better gas mileage and feels smoother and more refined.

What's the downside for the Sonic? Well, it's that the benchmark has changed. Japanese compact cars aren't the best in the world anymore. That title has now been passed to the Korean peninsula where Hyundai is cranking out jaw-droppers like the new Elantra and Accent.

No matter how you look at it though, the Sonic is the best subcompact car Chevrolet has built in decades. It's great to see a brand with all-American roots regaining its competitiveness in this category.

What was tested? The 2012 Chevrolet Sonic 2LT with a base price of $17,730. Options on the test car: Connectivity Plus Cruise Package for $525 and the Ecotec turbo engine for $700.  The total MSRP price as tested, including the $795 delivery fee, came to: $19,280.

Why avoid it? It has competitors from Korea, too, and they're hard to ignore this year.

Why buy it? It's just as good as its Japanese competitors, if not better, and it gets better gas mileage than both the Honda Fit and Toyota Yaris.
By Derek Price © AutoWire.Net - San Francisco


The 2012 Chevrolet Sonic 2LT Bottom Line Review provided by: 
Tony Leopardo © AutoWire.Net 

The Bottom Line: The 2012 Chevrolet Sonic is fun, efficient and affordable. This five-door hatchback is the newest subcompact car from GM's iconic Chevy brand, and has rear door handles mounted up high on the rear pillar, to make it look more like a sporty two door car. Chevrolet says motorcycles inspired the Sonic’s interior layout, and it looks it. It has a cluster of digital readouts behind the steering wheel, and a better quality feel than many of its competitors. Plus the optional 1.4-liter Ecotec turbo engine gets 40-MPG highway. You should Drive one, Buy one, Today © 
Bottom Line Review provided by: Tony Leopardo © AutoWire.Net

“Tony the Car Guy” is an automotive writer, editor and publisher in the San Francisco Bay Area. If you have a question or comment for Tony send it to or visit AutoWire.Net at - And remember: “ You Are What You Drive ©


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Column Name: Sub compact Chevy impresses
Topic: The 2012 Chevrolet Sonic 2LT
Word Count:  828
Photo Caption:  The 2012 Chevrolet Sonic 2LT
Photo Credits:  Chevrolet Sonic Internet Media

Series #:  2012- 18

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