2018 Sonic New Car Test Drive
The Chevrolet Sonic, which debuted for the 2012 model year, earned strong ratings in the subcompact-car category. Today, Sonic is behind the times. Only a handful of minor changes mark the model year for the 2018 Chevrolet Sonic.
Sonic comes in sedan and hatchback versions. Both ride the same wheelbase.
For 2018, the RS package adds black bowtie emblems. The Fun and Sun package for 2018 includes 17-inch alloy wheels, as well as the 1.4-liter turbo engine and a sunroof.
Sedans come in base LS, midlevel LT, and top Premier trim levels.
Hatchbacks are offered in LT and Premier guise.
Powertrains haven't changed much over the Sonic's lifetime. The base engine is a 1.8-liter four-cylinder, making 138 horsepower. The more powerful turbocharged 1.4-liter four-cylinder is rated at 138 horsepower, also, but its torque output of 148 pound-feet is 23 more than the base engine delivers. Not only do turbocharged cars accelerate with greater spirit, they're more fuel-efficient at lower engine speeds.
Only the 1.8-liter engine is available with base LS trim, which comes with wind-up windows and steel wheels. LT versions can have either engine.
Most Sonic buyers will choose the optional 6-speed automatic transmission, but a 5-speed manual gearbox is standard. Turbos get a 6-speed manual as standard.
Striving to keep pace with the competition, Chevrolet updated front-end styling and reworked the interior for the 2017 model year, while adding some active-safety features.
Crash-test ratings have been impressive. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration not only gave the 2018 Sonic five stars for overall safety, it earned five stars in every category except rollover prevention (a calculated figure), where it got four stars. The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety awarded the 2017 Sonic its top Good rating for each test performance. No rating was given for the small-overlap test on the passenger side. Latch child-safety seat anchors scored only Marginal for ease of use.
All Sonics come with 10 airbags and a rearview camera. Several active-safety features are optional rather than standard, but relatively affordable. A $495 Driver Confidence Package, available for LT and Premier versions, includes forward-collision alert, lane-departure warning, and rear parking assist. That option group makes the Sonic competitive in the subcompact class, but behind several rival small cars.
Sonic LS 4-Door Sedan ($15,295) comes with the 1.8-liter engine, 5-speed manual transmission, rearview camera, steering-wheel controls, keyless entry, air conditioning, Bluetooth, a USB port, LED daytime running lights, 15-inch steel wheels, and OnStar connectivity. A 6-speed automatic transmission ($1,200) is optional. (Prices are MSRP and do not include $875 destination charge.)
Sonic LT 4-Door Sedan ($17,695) offer a choice of 1.4-liter turbo or 1.8-liter engine and matching manual shift, plus deluxe cloth seat trim, power windows and mirrors, cruise control, 15-inch alloy wheels, six-speaker audio, two USB ports, and chrome beltline moldings. Sonic LT 5-Door Hatchback ($17,795) is equipped similarly but with hatchback body. Automatic transmission ($700) is optional.
Sonic Premier Sedan ($19,795) and Hatchback ($19,795) come with the turbocharged 1.4-liter engine, adding heated power front seats, 17-inch alloy wheels, foglamps, a leather-wrapped steering wheel, and enhanced digital instruments. Automatic ($700) is optional.
The RS Package includes a sport body kit.