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2013 Chevrolet Sonic

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$4,300 — $10,992 USED
24
Photos
Sedan
5 Seats
29-30 MPG
(Combined)
Key specs of the base trim
 — 
Compare 8 trims

Overview

Is this the car for you?

The Good

  • Interior quality
  • Standard alloy wheels
  • Aggressive looks
  • Engines

The Bad

  • Less rear headroom in sedan than in hatchback
  • Most models rated below 40 mpg
  • Pricey for a subcompact
2013 Chevrolet Sonic exterior side view

What to Know

about the 2013 Chevrolet Sonic
  • New sporty RS model
  • New standard features and options
  • Available MyLink entertainment and information system
  • 1.8-liter or turbo 1.4-liter
  • Sedan or hatchback
  • Six-speed automatic transmission

Our Take

from the Cars.com expert editorial team

By David Thomas

The 2013 Chevrolet Sonic is a well-balanced car for not a lot of money, but the new RS trim level's engine and suspension tweaks fall far short of a driving enthusiast's expectations.

Buying a small car these days doesn't mean giving up much in terms of features. But what about performance? Chevrolet looks to answer that question for subcompact car shoppers with the new RS version of its Sonic hatchback.

The most significant change for the 2013 Sonic is the addition of the RS trim level, which comes only in hatchback form. You can read a review of the 2012 Sonic sedan and hatchback models here. Compare the 2012 and 2013 models side-by-side here.

For a photo gallery, click here.

Performance & Price
The main draw of buying a model like the RS is getting an extra dose of power and driving excitement.

Unfortunately, the RS doesn't offer more power than the more pedestrian Sonics, at least those equipped with the up-level, 138-horsepower, turbocharged 1.4-liter four-cylinder engine. A fully loaded Sonic LTZ hatchback with a manual transmission costs $1,635 less than the RS, which costs $20,995, including destination charge.

What do you get for that extra money? There's a stiffened suspension that also lowers the car by 10 mm, four-wheel disc brakes and what Chevy calls more aggressive gear ratios.

Does that make the RS greater than the LTZ? Not really, and certainly not significantly enough to warrant the extra cash. The Sonic is short in length and ...

The 2013 Chevrolet Sonic is a well-balanced car for not a lot of money, but the new RS trim level's engine and suspension tweaks fall far short of a driving enthusiast's expectations.

Buying a small car these days doesn't mean giving up much in terms of features. But what about performance? Chevrolet looks to answer that question for subcompact car shoppers with the new RS version of its Sonic hatchback.

The most significant change for the 2013 Sonic is the addition of the RS trim level, which comes only in hatchback form. You can read a review of the 2012 Sonic sedan and hatchback models here. Compare the 2012 and 2013 models side-by-side here.

For a photo gallery, click here.

Performance & Price
The main draw of buying a model like the RS is getting an extra dose of power and driving excitement.

Unfortunately, the RS doesn't offer more power than the more pedestrian Sonics, at least those equipped with the up-level, 138-horsepower, turbocharged 1.4-liter four-cylinder engine. A fully loaded Sonic LTZ hatchback with a manual transmission costs $1,635 less than the RS, which costs $20,995, including destination charge.

What do you get for that extra money? There's a stiffened suspension that also lowers the car by 10 mm, four-wheel disc brakes and what Chevy calls more aggressive gear ratios.

Does that make the RS greater than the LTZ? Not really, and certainly not significantly enough to warrant the extra cash. The Sonic is short in length and somewhat tall, so it often exhibits unwanted body lean when taking hard corners. The modified suspension tries to lessen this, but there's no escaping the Sonic's overall dimensions.

The fact that the RS isn't a significant performance upgrade doesn't mean it isn't relatively fun to drive. You just have to remember what it is. It's a small hatchback that feels zippy, with a smooth manual shifter and a light clutch that make it a formidable daily driver that also gets excellent gas mileage. More than one of our editors saw mileage exceed 30 mpg in mixed driving. The RS is rated 27/34/30 mpg city/highway/combined.

However, because there are so few performance alterations it's surprising that the RS' mileage is in fact lower than that of the LTZ with the same engine; that car is rated 29/40/33 mpg city/highway/combined. We would have to test both back to back to see if the difference is that significant in real-world situations, but if you're buying a compact car more for efficiency than fun, the RS is a tough sell.

Ford has recently introduced a Fiesta ST — a high-performance variant of that compact. That model, at $22,195 including destination, costs $2,600 more than a top-level Fiesta Titanium. But Ford has a significantly more powerful engine in that car, which boasts 197 hp.

RS Extras
If the performance isn't worthy of its own trim level, Chevrolet sure went through great pains to make the RS look the part. It has a slew of exterior and interior tweaks to make it stand out.

The grille and front bumper are tweaked, there's a unique rear spoiler, added rocker molding, special 17-inch wheels, leather and microfiber seats, a stitched leather steering wheel and shifter, aluminum pedals and, of course, lots of RS badging inside and out.

Interior & Cargo Room
The more pedestrian Sonic trims have decent interior and cargo room, which doesn't change with the barrage of RS badging.

Interior volume is rated at 90 cubic feet and is spacious for the driver and front passenger, with a tall greenhouse for plenty of headroom.

The backseat is competitive in this class, and at 19 cubic feet the cargo area is extremely competitive. I was able to fit large bags of mulch without having to resort to folding the rear seats forward. Doing so expands cargo space to 47.7 cubic feet, which competes admirably against the Fiesta, Hyundai Accent and Mazda2. You can compare all four here.

Safety
The Sonic is a Top Safety Pick by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, scoring the top mark of Good in front, side and rear crash tests, as well as roof strength. A new small-overlap test has not yet been performed (see the details).

Both the hatchback and the sedan versions of the Sonic earned a five-star overall crash rating from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

There are 10 standard airbags, including knee airbags for the driver and front passenger. Seat-mounted side-impact airbags are also included for both front and rear occupants.

Our editors inspected child-safety seat fit and found the Sonic surprisingly roomy for all forms of seats. See the full Car Seat Check here. See all the Sonic's safety features listed here.

Sonic RS in the Market
The market for go-fast compacts is not a booming one, and the RS doesn't go much faster than its pedestrian siblings. The extras don't seem worth the money for performance, but perhaps the package price will attract buyers looking for the practicality of the Sonic with a little extra styling flash.

Send David an email  


Consumer Reviews

What drivers are saying

4.2
91 reviews — Read All reviews
Exterior Styling
(4.5)
Performance
(4.2)
Interior Design
(4.3)
Comfort
(4.3)
Reliability
(4.3)
Value For The Money
(4.3)

Read reviews that mention:

(4.0)

Nice car , feature rich

by Dilip from EXTON on November 29, 2018

Car is fun to drive in highways. In city you might see a lack of initial power, other it is very good. Stereo and other additional features are nice. Read full review

(5.0)

Very economic

by Ivan from chicago, il on October 11, 2018

This car is great on gas and comfortable to be in. blind spots arent bad, its a great every day rider. It isn't as powerful as a muscle car of course but that is where you get the great gas mileage. Read full review

Safety

Recalls and crash tests

Recalls

The 2013 Chevrolet Sonic currently has 5 recalls


Crash and Rollover Test Ratings

Based on 2013 Chevrolet Sonic LS Manual

IIHS rates vehicles good, acceptable, marginal, or poor.

Head Restraints and Seats

Dynamic Rating
good
Overall Rear
good
Seat Head/Restraint Geometry
good

Moderate overlap front

Chest
good
Head/Neck
acceptable
Left Leg/Foot
good
Overall Front
good
Restraints
good
Right Leg/Foot
good
Structure/safety cage
good

Other

Roof Strength
good

Side

Driver Head Protection
good
Driver Head and Neck
good
Driver Pelvis/Leg
good
Driver Torso
good
Overall Side
good
Rear Passenger Head Protection
good
Rear Passenger Head and Neck
good
Rear Passenger Pelvis/Leg
good
Rear Passenger Torso
good
Structure/safety cage
good
Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) is a nonprofit research and communications organization funded by auto insurers.

Warranty

New car and certified pre-owned programs by Chevrolet

New Car Program Benefits

  • Bumper-to-Bumper

    36 months / 36,000 miles

  • Powertrain

    60 months / 100,000 miles

  • Roadside Assistance

    60 months / 100,000 miles

Certified Pre-Owned Program Benefits

  • Maximum Age/Mileage

    5 model years or newer/up to 75,000 miles

  • Basic Warranty Terms

    12 months/12,000 miles bumper-to-bumper original warranty, then may continue to 6 years/100,000 miles limited (depending on variables)

  • Powertrain

    6 years/100,000 miles

  • Dealer Certification Required

    172-point inspection

  • Roadside Assistance

    Yes

  • View All CPO Program Details

Latest 2013 Sonic Stories

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Cars.com Car Seat Check

Certified child passenger safety technicians conduct hands-on tests of a car’s Latch system and check the vehicle’s ability to accommodate different types of car seats. The Sonic received the following grades on a scale of A-F.*

Third-row access

N/A

Infant seat

B

Booster

(second row)

B

Booster

(third row)

N/A

Latch or Latch system

B

Forward-facing convertible

(third row)

N/A

Forward-facing convertible

(second row)

A

Rear-facing convertible

A
* This score may not apply to all trims, especially for vehicles with multiple body styles that affect the space and design of the seating.

Warranty FAQs

What is a Bumper-to-Bumper warranty?

Often called a basic warranty or new-vehicle warranty, a bumper-to-bumper policy covers components like air conditioning, audio systems, vehicle sensors, fuel systems and major electrical components. Most policies exclude regular maintenance like fluid top offs and oil changes, but a few brands have separate free-maintenance provisions, and those that do offer them is slowly rising. Bumper-to-bumper warranties typically expire faster than powertrain warranties.

What is a Powertrain warranty?

Don't be misled a 10-year or 100,000-mile powertrain warranty doesn't promise a decade of free repairs for your car. It typically covers just the engine and transmission, along with any other moving parts that lead to the wheels, like the driveshaft and constant velocity joints. Some automakers also bundle seat belts and airbags into their powertrain warranties. With a few exceptions, powertrain warranties don't cover regular maintenance like engine tuneups and tire rotations.

What is included in Roadside Assistance?

Some automakers include roadside assistance with their bumper-to-bumper or powertrain warranties, while others have separate policies. These programs cover anything from flat-tire changes and locksmith services to jump-starts and towing. Few reimburse incidental costs like motel rooms (if you have to wait for repairs).

What other services could be included in a warranty?

Some automakers include free scheduled maintenance for items such as oil changes, air filters and tire rotations. Some include consumables including brake pads and windshield wipers; others do not. They are typically for the first couple of years of ownership of a new car.

What does CPO mean?

A certified pre-owned or CPO car has been inspected to meet minimum quality standards and typically includes some type of warranty. While dealers and third parties certify cars, the gold standard is an automaker-certified vehicle that provides a factory-backed warranty, often extending the original coverage. Vehicles must be in excellent condition and have low miles and wear to be certified, which is why off-lease vehicles feed many CPO programs.

See also the latest CPO incentives by automaker

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