2020 Sonic New Car Test Drive
The 2020 Chevrolet Sonic is a solid, if unexceptional, small car, adrift in a sea of crossovers and SUVs. A successor to the old Aveo, the Sonic debuted as a 2012 model and was freshened for the 2017 model year. It's available as either a sedan or hatchback and boasts excellent safety ratings and an impressive value proposition. The Sonic can also provide an engaging experience and, depending on model, some joyful motoring.
A bit bigger than the Spark, Chevy's tiniest car, the Sonic competes against subcompacts such as the Hyundai Accent, Kia Rio, and Honda Fit. Weighed against some of them, the Sonic looks rather dated, especially inside. Its outside is sharp and maintains a down-to-business attitude.
Not much has changed for the 2020 model year. The previously standard 6-speed manual transmission is no longer available, while two new body colors have been added: Oasis Blue, and Cayenne Orange Metallic for the hatchback.
All Sonics employ the same powertrain. A 1.4-liter turbo-4 engine makes 138 horsepower and 148 pound-feet of torque, mated with a relatively smooth 6-speed automatic transmission. Like most economy cars, Sonics come only with front-wheel drive.
Though the gas-mileage numbers are fairly high, the Sonic ranks only about average for its segment. Both body styles are EPA-rated at 26 mpg city, 34 highway, and 29 combined. Some larger compact cars do better.
The Sonic lacks standard active safety features. In fact, only forward-collision warnings, lane-departure warnings, and rear parking sensors are available, and they cost extra on the top two trims. This means all Sonic models lack automatic emergency braking. This isn't uncommon in the segment, but it's still disappointing.
Crash-test results are above average for the class at least. The Sonic carries a five-star overall safety rating from the NHTSA, and got the top score on all five of the IIHS' crash tests. Many competitive models get subpar crash-test results.
Four-door sedans come in LS, LT, and Premier trim levels, while five-door hatchbacks are offered in LT and Premier form for $800 more than their sedan counterparts.
The base LS starts at $17,595 and comes with manual windows and mirrors, 15-steel wheels with plastic covers, LED daytime running lights, two USB ports, a four-speaker audio system, and keyless entry. Cruise control isn't included. The 7.0-inch touchscreen infotainment system offers Apple CarPlay and Android Auto compatibility.
Stepping up a notch, the $19,495 LT includes power features, cruise control, 15-inch alloy wheels, heated side mirrors, a six-speaker audio system, and satellite radio. The LT hatchback starts at $20,295 and gets 16-inch wheels, remote start, fog lights, a sportier body kit, a rear spoiler, black “bowtie” badges, and black interior trim.
Topping the lineup, the Premier starts at $21,595. It adds leatherette upholstery, six-way power front seats, heated front seats, a heated steering wheel, keyless start, remote start, and 17-inch alloy wheels. The Premier hatchback costs $22,395 and further adds a sport suspension, 17-inch black wheels, and the same sportier elements as the LT hatchback.