2012 Chevrolet Sonic
Starting MSRP $13,865–$18,625
The 2012 Sonic is a brand-new subcompact from Chevrolet, and it mostly hits the nail on the head. It's small but doesn't look too cute, and it's actually a kick to drive.
Yes, it's a subcompact, but it drives like it has a spring in its step. With a feisty four-cylinder engine, this is no Point A to Point B drone. The Sonic comes as a sedan or hatchback. My test hatchback looked tall, but there was no body roll. The suspension easily handled potholes on the road.
The more I drove the Sonic, the more I liked it. I also appreciated that my family of four fit pretty comfortably in it.
The Sonic has a starting MSRP of $13,865. My test car, a midlevel 2LT trim, had a base price of $16,805; the addition of a couple of options bumped the price up to $18,580. That's a few more bucks than you might expect for a small car, but it does feel and look upscale.
The Sonic's sporty looks help it stand out from its competitors. The bow-tie grille is consistent with other Chevrolet models, and the front end also incorporates some slanted headlights.
My kids liked the Sonic because it was so sporty looking with its bright red-orange-gold metallic paint that Chevy calls Inferno Orange. We liked that we could easily spot it in a parking lot full of white, silver and black cars.
Both of my kids, ages 6 and 9, could get in and out easily of the Sonic. Shorter kids might have problems because Chevy put the rear door handles up high. The doors were easy to close from the inside, though.
The hatchback was a cinch to open and close, as well. I liked the looks of the rear end, with its round taillights and the wraparound rear window with the spoiler. It matched the front; this car is fun from start to finish!
My test car had a 138-horsepower, 1.8-liter four-cylinder engine paired to a six-speed automatic transmission. It uses regular unleaded gasoline and gets an EPA-estimated 25/35 mpg city/highway. If you're looking for higher mpgs on the highway, one of Sonic's trims gets 40 mpg highway.
SENSE AND STYLE
Family Friendly (Not Really, Fair, Great, Excellent): Fair-Great
Fun-Factor (None, Some, Good Times, Groove-On): Good Times
The interior of the 2012 Sonic is basic, but it's also modern and sleek. The instrument cluster is different; it's got a traditional dial for the tachometer but a digital readout for the speed, fuel level, compass and mileage.
There are still old-fashioned knobs for the climate controls and buttons for the stereo, which can be comforting to those who don't adjust to new technology easily. Another feature that's fantastic is OnStar's Turn-by-Turn Navigation, which shows up in the stereo system's display and can be heard through the speakers. The only problem was the music was muted during this process. That's fine for short trips, but on longer drives I'd like for the radio volume not to be tied to the OnStar volume. The Sonic gets six months of OnStar service for free. Afterward, a subscription is required.
There aren't many bells and whistles in the Sonic, but Chevy dressed up what it has quite nicely.
In the backseat, there is a nice flat bench for child-safety seats, but don't kid yourself. Only two will work in this five-seater. Also, there's just one seatback pocket, which means kids will start claiming their territory. Be prepared. The backseat's cupholders are in the rear of the front row's center console, which can be difficult for younger kids in car seats to reach. There's no folding armrest or anything, but that's on par in subcompacts.
The cargo space is small but somewhat flexible. Large boxes fit easily into it. Add the 60/40-split folding rear seats and you can create some decent space — enough to accommodate a Costco trip. Well, a Costco trip with lots of stuff but forget about trying to include the flat-screen TV. You'll probably have to go back for that if it's a biggie, but you'll zip back to the store with a smile and a giggle as your Sonic will have tons of extra room in those ginormous parking spots.
IT'S THE LITTLE THINGS THAT COUNT
Storage Compartments (Puny, Fair, Ample, Galore): Ample (considering the car's size)
Cargo/Trunk Space (Puny, Fair, Ample, Galore): Fair
The 2012 Sonic has been named a Top Safety Pick by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety. To earn this safety nod, a car must receive the top score of Good in frontal-offset, side-impact, rear and roof-strength crash tests. The 2012 Sonic also has earned an overall safety rating of five stars out of five by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. It scored five stars in both frontal and side-impact crash tests and four stars out of five in the rollover crash test.
The Sonic is easygoing for those with kids in backless and high-back booster seats. However, using the Sonic's two sets of lower Latch anchors will require some work as it's hard to get at the anchors where the back and bottom cushions meet. The three tether anchors are easy to reach. Find out how the Sonic performed in Cars.com's Car Seat Check.
The Sonic has standard front-wheel drive, antilock brakes with electronic brake-force distribution and brake assist, an electronic stability system, traction control and 10 airbags, including rear-seat side-impact airbags. On the 2LT trim, the Sonic has front disc and rear drum brakes.
More safety information about the 2012 Chevrolet Sonic here.
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