2012 Chevrolet Sonic at the 2011 Detroit Auto Show


  • Competes with: Ford Fiesta, Honda Fit, Nissan Versa, Toyota Yaris
  • Looks like: Chevy has built a subcompact car that's appealing for reasons other than price or gas mileage
  • Drivetrain: 135-hp, 1.8-liter four-cylinder with five-speed manual or six-speed automatic or 138-hp, turbocharged 1.4-liter four-cylinder with six-speed manual; front-wheel drive
  • Hits dealerships: 2011

Following quickly on the heels of the all-new Chevrolet Cruze compact car, the Sonic is the brand's latest offering in the increasingly important small-car segment. The Sonic, which replaces the Aveo in Chevy's lineup, is smaller than the Cruze and will be offered in sedan and four-door hatchback form when it hits dealerships as a 2012 model.
The current-generation Aveo's styling has always been ho-hum, but the upcoming Sonic has an aggressive stance and chiseled features.

The front of the car wears Chevrolet's signature split grille, but its shape calls to mind Audi front-end styling, too. Circular headlights — a departure from the Chevrolet design norm that it says are inspired by motorcycle headlights — flank the grille. The hatchback version has high-mounted rear door handles, and available wheels range from 15-inch steel rims up to 17-inch alloys.

The shape of the Sonic's dashboard and center console is reminiscent of the Cruze's, but a unique instrument cluster distinguishes the cabin. Instead of a traditional hooded instrument panel, the Sonic's arrangement calls to mind the steering-column-mounted cluster of a Mini Cooper. It has a large analog tachometer, to the right of which is a digital display that incorporates the speedometer. The upper portion of the Sonic's dashboard is offered in two colors: Dark Titanium or Brick.
Front bucket seats are standard, and seat heaters are available. The Sonic also comes with a folding backseat for times when more than the sedan's 14 cubic feet or the hatchback's 19 cubic feet of luggage room is needed. Available features include remote start, a sunroof, XM Satellite Radio, a USB input and Bluetooth connectivity. Safety features include 10 standard airbags and available antilock brakes.
The Sonic shares its available engines with the Cruze. The base engine is a 135-horsepower, 1.8-liter four-cylinder that comes with a five-speed manual or a six-speed automatic transmission. Buyers can opt for a 138-hp, turbocharged 1.4-liter four-cylinder that produces more torque at lower rpm. The turbo works exclusively with a six-speed manual. Both engines take regular gas, but mileage estimates weren't available as of publication.

We've witnessed a renaissance in the compact-car segment of late as new models like the Cruze, Ford Focus and Hyundai Elantra have shown that choosing a small car doesn't automatically exile you to a life of mundane motoring. With cars like the Honda Fit, Ford Fiesta and now the Sonic, the same thing is happening in the subcompact class.








Chevrolet Aveo Chevrolet Sonic Chevrolet 2011 Detroit Auto Show

Senior Editor Mike Hanley is a father of three boys; he reviews new cars, admires classic cars and has embraced the minivan lifestyle.  Email Mike