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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