Chevrolet's subcompact Sonic gets a new look for 2017, but not as part of a full redesign. This refresh makes the car look more "expressive and sporty," says its maker, but the basics remain the same as they were at this car's 2012 introduction.
This is a good-looking small sedan and hatchback whose new styling better ties in with that of other recent Chevrolet designs. Power comes from a standard 1.8L four-cylinder engine that can be optioned up to a turbocharged 1.4L, both of which can be matched with either manual or automatic transmissions.
Both engines make 138 hp, leaving turbocharged torque to make the difference: the 1.8L makes 125 lb-ft, while the 1.4L turbo is good for a more-impressive 148 lb-ft, and that's really what sets this car apart from its competition. The Sonic isn't exactly fast, but that torque makes it entertaining in city driving, particularly with the manual transmission, which is one of the better examples of the type in the Sonic's class.
All of that helps Sonic remain one of the engaging driving experiences in the subcompact class, even though many of competitors boast much newer designs. There's a compelling combination, here, of fun handling, decent powertrains and refinement like that of larger car.
Fuel consumption figures haven't been published yet, but the 2017s should be close to those of last year's car, whose best ratings were 9.0/6.8 L/100 km (city/highway) for a 1.8L/manual transmission model, and 8.5/6.2 L/100 km with the 1.4L turbo engine and manual transmission.
We like fine how Chevrolet has updated this car, but we felt a brief pang of regret upon learning last year's motorcycle-style gauge cluster (it had an analog tach and digital speedo) has been replaced by a more traditional all-analog cluster.
That's progress for you, and it's also one of many signs of a little car that's grown up a little since its introduction: available features include a heated steering wheel, heated front seats, seven-inch touchscreen infotainment system, intelligent keyless entry with push-button start, forward collision alert, lane departure warning and rear park assist. All of those items are now mandatory at least as options, even in little cars like this thanks for fierce competition from Korean brands; Kia in particular has proven there's a market for entry-level cars with uplevel features. Standard surprises include ten airbags and a backup camera.
Pricing and feature lists haven't been finalized yet, but expect the base LS model (offered on the sedan alone) to come with items like power door locks with keyless entry, 15-inch steel wheels with covers, four-speaker stereo, Bluetooth, four-way manual driver's seat and two-way front passenger seat, automatic headlights, driver information system and hand-cranked windows.
Mid-range LT trim will bring power windows, air conditioning, power-adjustable and heated side mirrors, aluminum wheels, six-speaker stereo with USB input, MyLink infotainment, satellite radio, heated front seats and cruise control.
A new Premier trim level will include many of the newest niceties, like collision alert and lane departure warning, along with advanced keyless entry and that heated steering wheel.
Additionally, all hatchback models will come with a standard RS appearance package that includes 17-inch wheels; RS trim will be an option for the sedan.
Look for pricing to start a little under $15,000 for an LS sedan with manual transmission and to top out around $24,000 for a Premier hatchback model.