Best Bet
  • (4.2) 65 reviews
  • MSRP: $4,984–$12,184
  • Body Style: Sedan
  • Combined MPG: 29-30
  • Engine: 138-hp, 1.8-liter I-4 (regular gas)
  • Drivetrain: Front-wheel Drive
  • Transmission: 6-speed automatic w/OD and auto-manual
2013 Chevrolet Sonic

Our Take on the Latest Model 2013 Chevrolet Sonic

What We Don't Like

  • Less rear headroom in sedan than in hatchback
  • Most models rated below 40 mpg
  • Pricey for a subcompact

Notable Features

  • 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

2013 Chevrolet Sonic Reviews

Cars.com Expert Reviews

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

4.2

Average based on 65 reviews

Write a Review

Love my new car

by C.C from San Rafael, Ca on October 9, 2017

When I bought this car at a dealership as a used car, I had never heard of the car before. Since then, I have been more than impressed with the car. I have the turbocharged LT version and it is sporty... Read Full Review

Read All Consumer Reviews

14 Trims Available

Photo of undefined
Wondering which configuration is right for you?
Our 2013 Chevrolet Sonic trim comparison will help you decide.
 

Chevrolet Sonic Articles

2013 Chevrolet Sonic Safety Ratings

Crash-Test Reports

IIHS Ratings

Based on Chevrolet Sonic LS Auto

Head Restraints and Seats
G
Moderate overlap front
G
Roof Strength
G
Side
G

IIHS Ratings

Based on Chevrolet Sonic LS Auto

G Good
A Acceptable
M Marginal
P Poor

Head Restraints and Seats

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

Moderate overlap front

Chest
G
Head/Neck
A
Left Leg/Foot
G
Overall Front
G
Restraints
G
Right Leg/Foot
G
Structure/safety cage
G

Other

Roof Strength
G

Side

Driver Head Protection
G
Driver Head and Neck
G
Driver Pelvis/Leg
G
Driver Torso
G
Overall Side
G
Rear Passenger Head Protection
G
Rear Passenger Head and Neck
G
Rear Passenger Pelvis/Leg
G
Rear Passenger Torso
G
Structure/safety cage
G
Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) is a nonprofit research and communications organization funded by auto insurers. IIHS rates vehicles good, acceptable, marginal or poor based on performance in high-speed front and side crash tests. IIHS also evaluates seat/head restraints for protection against neck injuries in rear impacts.

NHTSA Ratings

Based on Chevrolet Sonic LS Auto

Overall
Overall Front
Overall Side
Overall Rollover Rating

NHTSA Ratings

Based on Chevrolet Sonic LS Auto

Overall
Overall Front
Overall Side
Overall Rollover Rating
Driver's
Passenger's
Front Seat
Rear Seat
Side Barrier
Side Barrier Rating Driver
Side Barrier Rating Passenger Rear Seat
Side Pole
Side Pole Barrier combined (Front)
Side Pole Barrier combined (Rear)
National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) is part of the U.S. Department of Transportation. NHTSA provides vehicle safety information such as front- and side-crash ratings and rollover ratings. Vehicles are rated using a star rating system from 1-5 stars, with 5 being the highest.

Recalls

There are currently 8 recalls for this car.


Safety defects and recalls are relatively common. Stay informed and know what to do ahead of time.

Safety defects and recalls explained

Service & Repair

Estimated Service & Repair cost: $3,000 per year.

Save on maintenance costs and do your own repairs.

Warranty Coverage

Bumper-to-Bumper

36mo/36,000mi

Powertrain

60mo/100,000mi

Roadside Assistance Coverage

60mo/100,000mi

What you should get in your warranty can be confusing. Make sure you are informed.

Learn More About Warranties

Warranties Explained

Bumper-to-Bumper

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.

Powertrain

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.

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).

Free Scheduled Maintenance

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.

Other Years