2012 Chevy Sonic


2012 Chevrolet Sonic. © General Motors

This year Chevrolet finally introduced a new car to replace the aging, and unloved, Aveo.  The Aveo was not a horrible car, it was just below average (kind of like my GPA) when compared to other sub-compacts.  It was bad luck that the Aveo had to compete with the likes of the Honda Fit, Ford Fiesta and the Nissan Versa.  If only it could have competed with the Chevy Chevette or Vega or Ford Pinto… but it was not to be, and so the Aveo moves out and the Sonic moves in.

Outwardly the new Sonic still resembles the Aveo to a large degree (especially the hatchback) but this is a case where appearances are misleading.  The Sonic is a completely different car, redesigned from the ground up.  The engine is new, the 6-speed transmission is new, the suspension, steering, radio, ergonomics, you name it, it is probably new.

So, was Chevy better at their homework than I was at mine?  The answer is yes.  The Sonic is a much better car than the Aveo and competes with the Ford Fiesta and the Honda Fit.  It doesn’t necessarily win, but it is definitely in the race.  The Sonic handles well, is surprisingly quiet, has comfortable seats and decent (not great) acceleration with the base engine.  Unlike some of its competitors a turbo engine is available that improves performance considerably, but of course adds extra expense and decreases fuel economy.

The Sonic features a motorcycle inspired instrument cluster.  © General Motors

The most noticeable drawback to the Sonic is its 6-speed automatic transmission when paired with the base 4-cylinder motor.  In their desire to maximize fuel efficiency Chevy has sacrificed drivability.   The transmission’s continual hunt for the right gear, especially when accelerating, is a constant annoyance.  Point of fact, getting the car to accelerate was a bit of a challenge, it can be done, just don’t be afraid to really press down on the gas pedal.

Like the Fiesta and the Fit, the Sonic comes with a lot of standard equipment.  The base models of all three cars have, as standard, items that used to be optional such as air-conditioning, power door locks and and an AM/FM radio with an auxiliary input for an MP3 player.   Maybe because the Sonic is supposed to be sporty or maybe to eek another mile per gallon out of it, it is the only one of the three competitors that has 15″ alloy wheels standard — even on the base model.


Comparisons — all hatchbacks with Automatic Transmission.

MPG courtesy www.FuelEconomy.gov

Chevy Sonic LS / LT Ford Fiesta S / SE Honda Fit Base / Sport
Base Price
$15,835 / $16,935 $15,295 / $17,295 $16,125 / $17,910
MPG (city, highway, combined) 27/37/31 29/39/33 27/33/30
Overall Length (in.) 159.0 160.1 161.6
Overall Width (in.) 68.3 67.8 67.7
Overall Height (in) 59.7 58.0 60.0
Stereo w/USB Opt. / Stan. N.A. / Std. Std. / Std.
Bluetooth N.A. / Opt. N.A. / Std. N.A. / Std.
Steering wheel
Std. / Std. Std. / Std. Std. / Std.
Cruise Control N.A. / Opt. N.A. / Std. Std. / Std.
Power Windows N.A / Std. N.A / Std. Std. / Std.
Sirus XM Opt. / Std. N.A. / Opt. N.A. / N.A.
Alloy wheels
Std. / Std N.A. / Opt. N.A. / Std.

The Chevy Sonic is a very good car and a huge step up from the Aveo. The Sonic comes well equipped and compares favorably with the Ford Fiesta and Honda Fit. Which car you like best may well come down to personal preference and the final price. Chevy and Ford are both discounting their cars, especially the well-equipped higher end models, so a good deal is there to be had for the aggressive bargain hunter.

If you have any questions about the Sonic, feel free to leave a reply.  I try to answer questions within 36-hours, often sooner.

Happy motoring.


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