Review: 2012 Chevrolet Sonic LT

Posted on 24. Sep, 2011 by in Auto News

I'm not a big fan of changing a car model's name in an attempt to escape a bad reputation. If the new car is not very good, then you will only have to change the name again with the next redesign. And if the car is very good, it is even more visible through low expectations. In the case of the new B-segment Chevrolet, reviewers could proclaim: "We can not believe that this Aveo one!" Instead we have, "What is a Sonic?"

First, a disclaimer: The dealer-sourced Sonic you see here is not that you are then read elsewhere. It's not a top-shelf LTZ with a turbocharged 1.4-liter engine, six-speed gearbox and 17-inch low-profile tires. Instead, it is a mid-level LT with the Boost-free 1.8-liter base engine, a six-speed automatic and 195/65R15 rubber optimized for anything other than handle. It is the one you will see most frequently on the road (especially if you are in the vicinity of an airport). It's probably not the Sonic you would want personally.

When I first met the Sonic last January in Detroit Auto Show, it might not like love at first sight, but it was certainly at first glance. Displayed in the LTZ trim, the car was offered a sportier, more upscale appearance than most other affordable B-segment car then on this side of the Atlantic. The nose style sheets back of the oversized (not unreasonably) grille. Quad round headlights surprisingly well in this form. Although vague BMW, here the lights are exposed (without lens cover) and put both attractive and distinctive. Other Chevrolets would benefit lit before also.

Unfortunately, every car is optimized exterior design for a wheel with a certain size and in the case it is the Sonic LTZ the 17s. Fit 15s to see how here, and the massiveness of the chunky front overhang and high sides of the body is all too obvious. Especially in $ 195 worth of Note "Inferno Orange Metallic.": For $ 295 you can add, 16-inch wheels like the 15s and fog lamps styled to the LT.

Ford, Mazda and Hyundai have all slimmer-fit small car hatches. In comparison, this appears Sonic a brick on undersized wheels. Nice that the wheels are even forged alloys on the best Sonic, but what's the point if they are two sizes too small? Unlike other B-segment cars, the sedan looks better than the hatch, his rear fender better balance the fronts and it does without expanse of black plastic "hide" the rear door handle.

The Sonic Scionic interior suggests that the new GM might still hold some of the crazy old Pontiac DNA. We have combined a round analog speedometer motorcycle style with a rectangular digital speedometer (even between two sets of warning lights sandwich), a mix of round and rectangular air vents, and a pair of tall, narrow storage rooms flanking the center console. (Everlasting Credit where is the best use for the last one. Maybe hair product?) There is a lot going on. But the look would work if not for the same vigor you hard plastic (Cruze is a much nicer inside) in almost any car in this price class find. The combination solves Aztek flashbacks. But there are certainly cheaper interior, and at least the Sonic is not boring.

With high body sides of the Sonic, GM is a B-segment car that you can bury, and a large Buick. Helps boost the supportive seat, but you're still in a different time zone than the windshield. Good for perceived space, not so good for perceived maneuverability. Pre-teen kids in the back can enjoy a beautiful view of trees and clouds. The rear seat cushion mounted well off the ground, but can not fully mitigate the stratosphere waistlines.

Kudos to GM for making a telescopic steering wheel, standard most competitors offer a no. Unfortunately, the center stack is not even telescope so that its intuitively designed soft-touch buttons and keys, very close to most of its competitors out of my reach.

At 5-9, I can barely fit in the second row, but that's about average for the segment. The freight volume is similarly modest. Safety was clearly a priority: There are ten standard airbags, including front seat knee airbags and rear-seat side airbags (the latter are not offered in most cars, and tend to be a $ 300 + option in expensive German machinery be).

The chassis could be pretty good. It's hard to say, because the big car driving position, steering and mute 195/65R15 Hankook Optima tires give up the fight loudly before the suspension can penetrate them. (The LTZ least avoids the past, and deserves a follow-up test to see if the chassis keeps his calm when actually put into question.) Point straight the car and it runs quieter and lighter than most, but without the premium feel a Ford Fiesta.

Why "Sonic?" The only thing that is traveling the length of the road at the speed of sound the loud gurgling of the 138-hp 1.8-liter four-cylinder as its way rattles past 3,000 rpm. As in any competition, you have to go there in order to generate much resembles forward motion, but in this case, your ears will hate you. Forget stealth. Everyone within earshot will think you are wasting your time, the car much harder than you actually are. GM worked hard to minimize interior noise, then this engine stuffed in the nose. Mysterious.

Last, and least, we have the six-speed automatic transmission. For this conventional unit, GM needs the Fiesta dual clutch automated manual transmission for switching logic and smoothness have benchmarking. Bumps lurches, hesitation jump, two forward gears just jump immediately back it's all annoying here way too much time. Plus engine drag. The transmission does not seem to know that the 1.8 gets the shakes at 1750 rpm, and it takes it as often as possible. You can manually set the gear with a toggle switch to prevent the button to some of the misconduct, but that is a purely practical undertaking. There is no joy had worked a mere 1,250 or so rpm shakes between the Scylla of the mechanical bat and Charbydis of the engine.

Small car, torque-free, four-cylinder, six-speed motor-haul transmission: it seems a recipe for stellar EPA numbers, right? And yet, with 25 city / 35 highway, the tested car barely manages to bind to much larger, much heavier, much more powerful 2012 Toyota Camry.

The solution to all these powertrain suffering? Spend the $ 700, the turbocharged 1.4 received. There is no more powerful up top, but has a clumsy midrange and, although hardly a paragon of sophistication, with its own shakes at idle, is much easier. On the ears than the 1.8 Even a six-speed manual and a better EPA numbers: 29/40. But it will not initially be available with an automatic.

The parts may still require some finessing, but with so much standard (alloy wheels, ten airbags, automatic headlights, four-way steering column adjustment, etc.), there are many of them. A 2012 Chevrolet Sonic LT. With automatic transmission and the Bluetooth / cruise package lists for $ 18,090 Although $ 730 more than last year, Aveo, a run covered by True Delta car price comparison tool almost $ 2,500. In additional features for a feature-adjusted benefit of about $ 1,750 A similarly equipped (but less roomy) Ford Fiesta SE lists for $ 390 more over the setting for the remaining differences, and about $ 1,300 more for it. The redesigned, but still 106-horsepower, four-speed Toyota Yaris SE includes $ 1,500 less stuff in his almost identical list price. A Hyundai Accent SE lists for $ 535 less, but the function setting returns this advantage. In any case, the Sonic-added services is more than offset any cost disadvantage, it is the value of play in the segment.

This was to write review a much more critical than I expected, given the unexpected improvement in some other recent GM products (Cruze, Volt, Equinox, Regal). The Sonic is replaced much better than the Aveo … how the 2005 Cobalt was replaced much better than the Cavalier it. Competitors are not standing still. The B segment has become far more competitive recently. With many new or revised entries that highway driving each smoother, quieter and more sustainable in the position than the past standard Among these is the refined Fiesta, the Mazda2 is more fun-to-drive and the Accent could offer the best combination of both with a semi-livable backseat. In this flash mob, why buy a Sonic? His questionable thickness up extroverted styling, a more attractive sedan (for those who lean that way) and get more standard features. But GM has to play this hand often lost in the past. This is the way the auto industry. Hold target best the old car or the current competition, and you will conjure up a new model name each generation.

Michael Karesh operates, an online source for automotive reliability and pricing information.