General Motors was proud to show off a bit of recent crash testing done with its 2012 Chevrolet Sonic, and for good reason, too. The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety has officially highlighted the subcompact cruiser as a Top Safety Pick. To qualify, the Sonic needed to earn 'Good' scores in Frontal Offset, Side Impact and Roof Strength tests. Non-spoiler alert: it earned A-plus marks across the board.

Besides being a small cocoon of safety, Chevrolet is happy to report that the Environmental Protection Agency is listing the Sonic with a 40 mile per gallon highway fuel economy rating. The 2012 Sonic utilizes its turbocharged 138-horsepower 1.4-liter engine and six-speed manual transmission to hit the estimated 40 mpg on the highway and it will return 29 mpg around town. Click past the jump and you can watch the Sonic get smashed up. You know... for science.






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2012 Chevy Sonic with 1.4L Turbo Hits 40 MPG on Highway

DETROIT – The 2012 Chevrolet Sonic with the Ecotec 1.4L turbo delivers an EPA-estimated 40 mpg on the highway with a six-speed manual transmission and city fuel economy of 29 mpg.

The Sonic's highway fuel economy makes it one of the most fuel-efficient small cars in the market, on par with the 2012 Ford Fiesta SFE and the 2012 Hyundai Accent. Along with getting 40 mpg, the 1.4L turbo Sonic can reach 60 mph in 8.2 seconds.

"Sonic changes the sub-compact stereotype and puts an end to the term 'econobox,'" said Joaquin Nuño-Whelan, Sonic vehicle line director and vehicle chief engineer. "The 1.4L turbo saves money at the gas pump and is a ridiculously fun car to drive. So, our buyers are getting a safe, exciting and fuel efficient car at a great price with the 1.4L turbo."

The Sonic is the only sub-compact car currently built in America. Production began earlier this summer at General Motors Orion Assembly facility in Lake Orion, Mich.

The Sonic's 1.4L Ecotec turbocharged engine is SAE certified at 138 horsepower (103 kW) – 18 horsepower (14 kW) more than Ford Fiesta and is essentially the same engine used in the Chevrolet Cruze in a smaller, lighter package designed for a greater feeling of performance. The turbo engine is also rated at 148 ft.-lbs. (200 Nm) of torque between 2,500 and 4,900 rpm. The wide rpm range for the maximum torque – a specific trait of turbocharged engines – helps the engine deliver a better driving experience and performance. Premium design elements give the engine smoothness and durability. Features include:

Low-mass hollow-frame cast iron block
Dual overhead camshafts with continuously variable valve timing
Chain-driven cams
Roller-finger camshaft followers
Piston-cooling oil jets and integrated oil cooler
Variable-flow oil pump
Electronically controlled thermostat.
The 1.4L's turbocharger is integrated within the exhaust manifold, for reduced weight and greater packaging flexibility. A reinforced crankshaft and stronger connecting rods deliver additional strength to support the engine's pressurized power and torque over a wide rpm band.

The Sonic's 1.8L manual gets fuel economy of 26 mpg city and 35 mpg highway and the automatic gets 25 mpg city and 35 mpg highway.

"Our engineers wanted to bring a car with an athletic feel and an excellent ride and handling to a segment not known for excitement," said Nuño-Whelan. "Combine these driving characteristics with the 40-mpg fuel economy rating and we think we have a winning combination for Sonic drivers."

The suggested retail price of the Sonic begins at $14,495 including destination but excluding tax, title, license and dealer fees.

2012 Chevy Sonic Earns IIHS Top Safety Pick
Comes standard with two more airbags than segment competitors

DETROIT – The all-new 2012 Chevy Sonic, which has two more air bags than its subcompact competitors, is an Insurance Institute for Highway Safety Top Safety Pick.

The Sonic achieved "good" scores in all four types of tests performed, including frontal offset and side impact. It also has standard StabiliTrak electronic stability control, which the institute requires of all vehicles receiving a Top Safety Pick designation.

The IIHS tests vehicles to determine how well they protect occupants in front and side crash tests, in rollovers via a roof strength test, and in simulated rear impacts to evaluate seat and head restraints for protection against neck injuries.
"Only vehicles that perform with the highest level of safety in their class earn the Institute's top accolade," said IIHS President Adrian Lund.

In addition to 10 air bags, the Sonic offers a body structure incorporating a single welded side ring unit. More than 60 percent of the vehicle safety cage consists of high-strength steel.

"We developed Sonic to exceed our customers' expectations of the subcompact market, both in the fun-to-drive performance characteristics and the segment-leading safety features," said Joaquin Nuño-Whelan, Sonic vehicle line director and vehicle chief engineer. "This designation by IIHS confirms that Chevy customers can buy a subcompact with top safety performance."

Other Sonic safety features include LATCH system (Lower Anchors and Top tethers for Children);six months of complimentary OnStar Directions and Connections service, including stolen vehicle assistance and automatic crash response, and power-assisted front disc and rear drum brakes with panic brake assist technology.

Sensors that control the deployment of 10 standard airbags are mounted into Sonic's structure. The sensing and diagnostic module receives data from the car's sensors and establishes the severity of the impact and whether to deploy the airbags. The additional driver and passenger knee airbags can help reduce injury to lower extremities.

Another standard feature is Sonic's hill-hold technology, which makes navigating hilly terrain with a manual as effortless as automatic. It's a luxury-level feature that helps drivers maintain braking control on hills.

With this rating, the Sonic joins the Chevrolet Volt and the Chevrolet Cruze, two other small cars that recently received a 2011 IIHS Top Safety Pick.


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    • 1 Second Ago
  • 43 Comments
      Herp-a-Derp
      • 3 Years Ago
      why did the curtains go off late (or at all) in the frontal?
        Swifty
        • 3 Years Ago
        @Herp-a-Derp
        To prevent the head from hitting the side window or b-pillar as it rebounds back from the airbag.
      • 3 Years Ago
      [blocked]
        Bandit5317
        • 3 Years Ago
        While I was reading this post, I thought to myself "Who is this muppet?" Then I saw the name and realized "Oh, it's just Sea Urchin."
        hevace
        • 3 Years Ago
        That is an excellent point. I agree that the sonic is nothing more than a restyled Chevette and will probably be six times as crappy because they had to drag the rusty old tooling out from the parking lot where it was sitting in the rain.
          jhawk
          • 3 Years Ago
          @hevace
          Heave face, possibly one of the most ignorant posts ever posted in AB
      Bryan Pizzuti
      • 3 Years Ago
      It'd be nice if the 40 mpg was based on some form of reality. But the reality is that there aren't many turbo engines being stocked because it's only available with a manual. The vast majority will be sold with an automatic, and hence will be 1.8L machines until and unless they release an automatic for the 1.4L turbo. So for right now this "econo" box pretty much gets 35 MPG highway. Which makes it one of the worst in its class. Frankly the 1.8L is an embarrassment given the competition. Chevy shouldn't have bothered with it, and stuck with the 1.4L for all trims. Much simpler to manufacture that way too.
        Chase
        • 3 Years Ago
        @Bryan Pizzuti
        Take a look at user reports of the Cruze on Fuely or EPA.gov. They are right on the EPA figures, or in the ECO's case, a few MPG above. The Elantra is lower than EPA on those sites, as is the Focus, but the Cruze, Corolla, and Civic are all above their EPA estimates. So, I bet you the Sonic's ratings are on target as well.
        stclair5211
        • 3 Years Ago
        @Bryan Pizzuti
        Take off the dress and learn to shift your own gears I say.
      Dest
      • 3 Years Ago
      Nice title Autoblog. I guess you couldn't fit the word "highway" after the 40 mpg? Even their own press release notes it's the highway mileage that's 40 mpg. Not to mention only the manual Ecotec achieves that...
      dan1malk
      • 3 Years Ago
      yes the mileage of the 1.8 isn't good, but honestly none of us here would buy that engine. 40mpg matches lots of the competition, but the Sonic offers more power and torque, so that's a fair trade to me. And the $700 for a better engine/transmission is worth it when you consider navigation packages can cost that much. Maybe a Sonic Eco is in our future? Wouldn't be surprised. I drove the 1.8 auto, sedan (not even close to how I'd configure one for myself) but I walked away impressed. This is a crazy competitive segment, and like the Cruze in it's class while not necessarily for everybody, the Sonic is totally competitive. It is heavier than its competition, but the early reviews are right in that it feels the lightest. Turn-in is quick and the steering feels best in class. Fantastic viability, and tons of room inside. (I'm 6'3") Like most cars in this class, I'm sure it needs a manual to be fun. Combine the manual with a torquey turbo, and I am itching for another test drive. I even kind of like how it looks. The Fiesta is too covered in random swoopy-curviness to me. And its dulled American face looks terrible when I know the aggressive looking Euro version is out there.
      jhawk
      • 3 Years Ago
      More craptastic posts from autoblog readers, why do you bother, I agree with many though in that there is not much point in having two engines in this car, the 1.4 should most definately have a 6 spd auto option. The 1.8 is pointless in this ride with 35 mpg and 28 in city. Worst of all though the base radio was pulled from a 84 Crapalier, one of the worst modern interpretations of a radio ever. Still hopefully this car will do well 4 GM... and hope sea urchin will rot in hell along with fried rice and laser.
      lne937s
      • 3 Years Ago
      Although the 40 mpg Highway number will be emphasized in GM marketing and press releases, it is important to remember that it is just the highway number for the most expensive engine option and a manual transmission. While automakers can match final drive ratios to test procedures to inflate the highway rating, it is the mileage rating least relevant to typical driving patterns. The combined rating (which is more representative) is 33 mpg for this special model. However, the majority of cars sold in the US have automatic transmission (despite what a vocal minority here would lead you to believe). As such, it is more important to look at the automatic version that the vast majority of these cars will be sold with. The Sonic automatic gets 28 mpg combined... 5 miles per gallon less than the automatic Accent/Rio and cvt Versa Sedan.
        Dest
        • 3 Years Ago
        @lne937s
        Much thanks for putting things into perspective.
        rem
        • 3 Years Ago
        @lne937s
        While I love that the 1.4t is only available with a manual, I have a hard time believing that's going to last very long. I think you'll eventually get the 1.4t / 6 speed auto combo which will probably return almost as good numbers. As far as this being the "most expensive engine option" - it's an extra $700, and I believe is available on all but the lowest trim level. With what it brings to the table in terms of both performance and economy - a measly $700 is entirely worth it. I do wish they'd dump the 1.8 entirely, as that does seem to transform the car into just another cheap ecobox.
      harbour
      • 3 Years Ago
      Looks like the Hyundai/Kia idolaters are out to damnify anything but their own true loves, as usual.
        hevace
        • 3 Years Ago
        @harbour
        The word is "condemn." Some other words that might also fit the context: Disparage Ridicule Demean Slander Repudiate Dismiss. English is a marvelous language equipped with many ACTUAL WORDS that easily express many shades of meaning.
      Raymond
      • 3 Years Ago
      Yes this the best of the bunch it seems when it comes to power and economy. Everyone is doing 40 in the class but not with the power of this car. Should be very interesting to see how this plays out though I wish they would just trash the 1.8 liter.
      MANARC100
      • 3 Years Ago
      Thats great and all but the 1.8L automatic gets 25/35 and that is not impressive.
      Robert_Esq
      • 3 Years Ago
      Hey, WTF Chevy can make a fuel efficient ride? Blaaaa my friend got a turbo in his Mazda last year, his fuel economy is nowhere near EPA estimates.
      • 3 Years Ago
      [blocked]
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