2017 Chevrolet Sonic Overview
Pros & Cons
- Crisp handling
- Plenty of standard and available features
- Powerful turbocharged engine option
- Spacious seats and cargo
- Poor fuel economy with base engine
Notable for 2017
- Standard touch-screen infotainment system
- Rearview camera now standard
- Apple CarPlay and Android Auto now standard
- Minor exterior styling updates
Chevrolet Sonic Rankings and Research
The 2017 Chevrolet Sonic ranking is based on its score within the Subcompact Cars category. Currently the Chevrolet Sonic has a score of 8.5 out of 10 which is based on our evaluation of 84 pieces of research and data elements using various sources.
2017 Chevrolet Sonic Pictures
2017 Chevrolet Sonic Review
The 2017 Chevrolet Sonic comes loaded with standard features that few other subcompacts have, including a rearview camera and Apple CarPlay. It also has a large trunk, a spacious interior, and well-balanced performance. Poor fuel economy is its greatest issue.
Is the Chevrolet Sonic a Good Car?
The 2017 Chevrolet Sonic – available in sedan and hatchback body styles – is an excellent car for first-time buyers and seasoned car shoppers who want a subcompact that doesn’t skimp on features. It comes packed with standard features that the majority of competing cars don't even offer – including a Wi-Fi hot spot and an infotainment system with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto smartphone integration. It also comes equipped with a rearview camera, which rarely comes standard in subcompacts. Additionally, the Sonic has one of the largest cargo holds in the class in both sedan and hatchback body styles. Its seats provide plenty of space for occupants with long legs. The Sonic is a practical option for both daily commuting and weekend getaways. Still, the fuel-conscious shopper will be disappointed that it earns some of the lowest estimates in the class.
Should I Buy the Chevrolet Sonic?
If you are a tech-savvy shopper who wants an affordable subcompact car that doesn’t compromise on space or features, the Chevrolet Sonic ($15,145) is an excellent value. You'll find few all-around better subcompacts, though the Honda Fit ($16,090) offers some stiff competition. The Sonic's seats have plenty of space for you and your companions in either row. The same is true of the Honda Fit. Whether you select the sedan or the hatchback, the Chevy Sonic has more cargo space than you'll get with most competitors. Even the Ford Focus ($16,775), a larger compact car, has less trunk space. The Fit is the only hatchback that offers more cargo space than the Sonic hatchback – an additional 5 cubic feet.
The Fit can't compete with the Sonic when it comes to features, however. The base-level Fit costs $915 more than the Sonic, and like most other subcompacts, you’ll have to upgrade to a higher trim to get Bluetooth, a touch-screen infotainment system, Apple CarPlay, and Android Auto. The Sonic includes all of these features in its base trim – plus a Wi-Fi hot spot, which the Fit doesn’t offer in any trim.
Despite the abundance of high-tech standard features in the Sonic, you'll have to move up to a higher trim ($17,530 or more) to get power windows. Additionally, the cabin is outfitted with some low-rent materials. The Fit, on the other hand, has top-notch interior materials and standard power windows. When it comes to performance, the Sonic is one of the more well-rounded cars in the class, providing poise around corners and ride comfort on rough surfaces. The Fit also delivers fairly composed handling, but its ride is firm. If you prefer agility to comfort, however, the Focus is one of your best options outside of a pricey sports car.
The Sonic has few faults, but its fuel economy is one. Shoppers purchasing a subcompact with hopes of spending less at the pump may be turned off by the Sonic's poor fuel economy estimates, as it earns some of the lowest in the class with its base engine. The Ford Focus has a more powerful base engine than the Sonic, yet it manages to match the Sonic’s city fuel economy rating and beat its highway estimate by 1 mpg. The Fit's estimates are better than the Sonic's by a few mpg in the city and on the highway.
We Did the Research for You: 83 Pieces of Data Analyzed
Our goal is to make it easy for you to decide if you should purchase the 2017 Chevrolet Sonic. To help you make that decision, we analyzed 83 unique pieces of data and research on the Sonic, including crash test results, reliability ratings, and assessments from automotive journalists. We've done this research so you won't have to spend long hours comparing cars. For 2017, the Sonic receives a minor exterior refresh and new standard and available features. However, since it hasn't been fully redesigned since 2012, this overview uses applicable research and reviews from the 2012 through 2017 model years.
Why You Can Trust Us
At U.S. News & World Report, we have been ranking and reviewing cars for nearly a decade, and our team has 75 years of combined experience in the automotive industry. Our mission is to help you make important buying decisions with as little stress and confusion as possible. You should also be aware that we don't accept expensive gifts or trips from automakers, and the advertising on our site is managed by a third party.
How Much Does the Chevrolet Sonic Cost?
The Chevrolet Sonic starts at $15,145, which falls toward the middle of the class. Depending on options, packages, and trims, you can spend more than $21,000 on the Sonic.
While there are a handful of cars less expensive than the Sonic, they don’t come with as many features. You won't find many subcompact cars with a standard rearview camera and a touch-screen infotainment system, but the Sonic has both. Additionally, its base trim, the Sonic LS, comes with a USB port, a Wi-Fi hot spot, OnStar, and Bluetooth.
The Sonic LT trim ($17,530) adds a more powerful turbocharged four-cylinder engine, power windows, two USB ports, satellite radio, and cruise control. This trim level is available with safety features like forward collision alert, lane departure warning, and rear parking sensors, as well as convenience features like heated front seats and remote start.
The Sonic Premier ($19,720) comes with leatherette upholstery, heated front seats, and rear parking sensors. A lowered suspension for sportier handling is available in this trim, and you can add a sunroof to models with it.
Chevrolet Sonic Versus the Competition
Which Is Better: Chevrolet Sonic or Honda Fit?
The Honda Fit and Chevrolet Sonic compete closely in our subcompact car rankings. The Sonic is the better choice in every way – unless cargo space and fuel economy are your top concerns. The Honda Fit costs $915 more than the Sonic, but it doesn’t come with as many standard features. The Sonic comes with Bluetooth, a USB port, a Wi-Fi hot spot, and a touch-screen infotainment system. The Fit offers most of these features as standard or optional in upper trims only. However, the Fit isn't available with a Wi-Fi hot spot. On the other hand, the Fit has nicer interior materials and comes standard with power windows, while the Sonic doesn’t.
The Fit is superior to the Sonic in passenger and cargo space. The Fit's trunk is the largest in the class, at 52.7 cubic feet, and its seats have plenty of space in the front and rear. While the Sonic has more cargo space than most rivals, the Fit comes with Honda’s configurable Magic Seat, which allows you to store cargo of varying shapes and sizes. The Fit also gets better fuel economy estimates than the Sonic, giving an extra 4 mpg in the city and 3 mpg on the highway.
Which Is Better: Chevrolet Sonic or Ford Focus?
Despite the Ford Focus being a compact car, the Chevrolet Sonic provides the better value. The Focus only costs $1,630 more than the Chevrolet Sonic – not a big difference considering many rival subcompacts start out even more expensive. Still, the Sonic comes with more standard features than the Focus, like a 7-inch touch screen. Plus, it comes standard with a rearview camera. To get a touch screen with the Focus, you’ll have to purchase the second trim level or higher ($20,775). Despite being a subcompact car, the Sonic's back seats feel roomier than the Focus’.
When it comes to performance, the Focus is the winner for those who want a sporty ride and engine options. It offers three engine choices, each with more horsepower than the Sonic's two engine options. The Sonic's base engine has decent power for cruising around town, but unlike the Focus, it feels underpowered on the highway. Performance enthusiasts will also appreciate the availability of the Focus ST and Focus RS hatchbacks, which offer performance somewhat similar to a sports car. Still, the Sonic is no slouch in corners, and it's the better all-around performer for those who want ride comfort in addition to some sportiness.
How Many People Does the Sonic Seat?
The Chevrolet Sonic has seats for five, and they are among the most pleasant in the class, providing comfort and space for all occupants. The Sonic adds extra driver comfort by including a tilt-and-telescoping steering wheel and an armrest, which are both rare standard items for the class. The back seats are just as impressive, providing plenty of space for taller adults.
Sonic and Car Seats
The Sonic has a complete set of LATCH child-seat connectors in the rear outboard seats and one upper tether in the middle seat. The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety gives the Sonic's LATCH system a Marginal rating for ease of use, which is the second-lowest score. You may find that the lower anchors are too deep in the seats, and you may have difficulty maneuvering around them when installing car seats. The upper tether anchors, however, are easy to distinguish from surrounding hardware.
Sonic Interior Quality
The interior has attractive styling and distinctive elements, like a gauge cluster with both an analog and digital display. The digital display has a speedometer and shows other useful information such as fuel economy estimates and distance traveled. The interior looks nice, but many of its materials are hard plastics. This is to be expected of a car in the Sonic's price range.
If you're looking for a subcompact car with better interior quality, the Honda Fit offers upscale materials and handsome styling. The Ford Focus offers modern interior styling, excellent fit and finish, and high-quality materials as well.
Sonic Cargo Space
Whether you choose it in sedan or hatchback form, the 2017 Chevrolet Sonic has plenty of cargo space for a subcompact car. The Sonic sedan has a 14.9-cubic-foot trunk, which is good for a pair of suitcases and a few small bags. No other subcompact sedan offers more trunk space. Even the Ford Focus sedan – which is in the larger compact car class – has less trunk space, at 13.2 cubic feet.
With the rear seats folded, the Sonic hatchback has 47.7 cubic feet of cargo space, which is more than most competing hatchbacks have. Still, the Honda Fit offers a bit more space and leads the class with a 52.7-cubic-foot cargo hold.
Sonic Infotainment, Bluetooth, and Navigation
New standard features for the 2017 Chevrolet Sonic include a rearview camera and a 7-inch touch-screen MyLink infotainment system. Both are standout features for the subcompact car class. However, with standard features like these, you might be surprised to find that the base model Sonic doesn’t come with power windows.
Apple CarPlay and Android Auto are included with the infotainment system. These allow you to access a variety of smartphone features – like navigation (useful, since the Sonic doesn’t come with integrated navigation), music, texts, and contacts – through the infotainment display. Few competitors have these features available, much less come standard with them. The infotainment system also allows you to create a Wi-Fi hot spot. For more information, read What Is Apple CarPlay? and What Is Android Auto? Then, see the Best Cars With Apple CarPlay and Best Cars With Android Auto.
When compared with other subcompact cars, the Chevrolet Sonic comes very well-equipped. The Honda Fit requires you to purchase its second trim level to get a standard touch-screen infotainment system. The Ford Focus, a compact car, comes with nearly the same features as the Focus (minus a standard touch-screen display), but it costs $1,630 more than the Sonic.
Sonic Engine: Good Enough
The Sonic's base engine is a 138-horsepower 1.8-liter four-cylinder that provides enough power for typical commutes. However, if you do a lot of highway driving, the available turbocharged 138-horsepower 1.4-liter engine provides better acceleration. While both engines have the same horsepower rating, the turbocharger makes the difference in power output.
The 1.8-liter comes standard with a five-speed manual transmission; an optional five-speed automatic is available. A six-speed manual is available with the 1.8-liter engine and standard with the turbocharged engine. A six-speed automatic is available with the turbocharged engine.
The Honda Fit's base engine is a four-cylinder that produces 130 horsepower. That’s plenty of power for city driving, but the Fit may feel taxed on the highway. If you want a base engine with a little more strength, the Ford Focus' standard 160-horsepower four-cylinder is up to the task. There are two additional engine options: a 123-horsepower turbocharged three-cylinder and a potent 252-horsepower turbocharged four-cylinder in the Focus ST.
Sonic Gas Mileage: Subpar Subcompact
According to the EPA, the base Chevy Sonic gets up to 25 mpg in the city and 33 mpg on the highway, which are some of the lowest estimates in the class. With the automatic transmission, fuel economy estimates remain about the same at 24 mpg in the city and 34 on the highway. The most fuel-efficient powertrain in the lineup – at 28/38 mpg city/highway – is the turbocharged engine mated to the manual transmission.
Meanwhile, the Honda Fit offers some of the highest numbers in the class. It gets 29 mpg in the city and 36 on the highway with its base powertrain. Opt for the CVT, and fuel economy jumps to 33/30 mpg city/highway. The larger Ford Focus gets a slightly better highway fuel economy estimate and the same city estimate.
Sonic Ride and Handling: Polished and Poised
The 2017 Sonic's agile handling and quick steering make it a blast to drive through city streets and winding roads. It also has the added benefit of ride comfort – unless you opt for the available RS package, which has a firm ride due to its sport-tuned suspension and larger wheels. The Chevy Sonic also feels more planted on the road than rivals like the Honda Fit.
If you would prefer to give up a bit of ride comfort for sharper handling, consider the Ford Focus. It offers quick, well-weighted, communicative steering and can take on a quick turn with ease. If you're serious about performance, look into the sport-tuned Focus ST and Focus RS hatchback models.
Is the Chevrolet Sonic Reliable?
The Chevrolet Sonic is a little more reliable than most cars, according to a J.D. Power and Associates. It scores a 3.5 out of five in predicted reliability, with three being an average score.
The Honda Fit receives the same score. The Ford Focus, on the other hand, receives a 2.5, which is below average.
Chevrolet Sonic Warranty
The 2017 Chevrolet Sonic comes with a three-year/36,000-mile bumper-to-bumper warranty and a five-year/60,000-mile powertrain warranty. That’s a typical warranty for a subcompact car. Honda offers the same warranty terms on the Fit, as does Ford with the Focus.
Sonic Crash Test Results
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration conducted three crash tests on the 2017 Sonic. It receives five out of five stars in the frontal and side crash tests and four stars in the rollover test. The Sonic earns the NHTSA’s five-star overall rating. In all five Insurance Institute for Highway Safety crash tests, the Sonic earns a score of Good – the highest rating.
The Honda Fit receives identical scores from the NHTSA. The IIHS has yet to score the 2017 model. However, the 2016 Fit receives a score of Good in all but the small overlap test (in which it earns an Acceptable rating, the second-highest score).
Sonic Safety Features
Active safety features are particularly important in subcompact cars, which are more prone to accident damage than larger cars. For 2017, the Chevrolet Sonic comes standard with a rearview camera, which is rare for the class. Available safety features include forward collision alert, lane departure warning, and rear park assist. These systems can help drivers avoid front, side, and rear collisions.
Which Chevrolet Sonic Is Right for Me?
The 2017 Chevy Sonic is available in three trims and two body styles (sedan and hatchback). There are two engine and four transmission options. The base Sonic ($15,145) is one of the most well-equipped cars in the class at its price point. Few rivals come standard with a rearview camera or a touch-screen infotainment system, but the Sonic does. Additionally, it comes with a Wi-Fi hot spot with 4G LTE connectivity, which most cars in the class don’t even offer as an option. However, you'll need to spend at least $17,270 to get an automatic transmission with the base Sonic. On top of that, you'll need to choose the second trim if you want power windows.
The Sonic's base engine has good power if you mostly drive in the city. However, to get highway-ready power, you'll need to purchase the second trim level ($2,385 more) or higher.
The base model, the Chevy Sonic LS, starts at $15,145. New for the 2017 model year, the Sonic now comes standard with a rearview camera and the MyLink infotainment system with a 7-inch touch-screen display. Additional standard features include a four-speaker stereo, a USB port, Bluetooth phone and audio connectivity, a Wi-Fi hot spot, and OnStar, a system that alerts Chevrolet in the event of theft or an accident. Powering the Sonic LS is a 138-horsepower 1.8-liter four-cylinder engine mated to a five-speed manual transmission. You can add cruise control for $340. A Sonic LS with a five-speed automatic transmission starts at $17,270.
The Sonic LT with a six-speed manual transmission is priced at $17,530. It’s $19,045 with a six-speed automatic transmission. The Sonic LT has a turbocharged 1.4-liter engine that makes 138 horsepower. Standard features include power windows, dual USB ports, a six-speaker stereo, satellite radio, and cruise control. An $875 convenience package adds heated front seats, a six-way power-adjustable driver's seat, remote start, and a leather-wrapped heated steering wheel. You can add forward collision alert, lane departure warning, and rear park assist for $495. The LT is the lowest trim available in a hatchback body style. The hatchback LT costs $18,455 with a manual transmission and $19,845 with an automatic transmission.
The Sonic Premier is the top trim. It starts at $19,720 with a six-speed manual transmission and $20,415 with a six-speed automatic. The Premier trim comes standard with leatherette upholstery, heated front seats, and rear park assist. This trim is available with the same $495 safety package listed with the Sonic LT. An optional lowered suspension will cost you $845. When you purchase the lowered suspension, you can add a sunroof for an additional $850. This trim in a hatchback body style with a manual transmission starts at $19,720; with the automatic, it starts at $21,290.
Who Makes the Chevrolet Sonic?
The Chevrolet Sonic is made by General Motors, which also makes Buick, GMC, and Cadillac vehicles. The Sonic is assembled at Orion Assembly, a plant located in Orion Township, Michigan.
The Final Call
The 2017 Chevrolet Sonic is one of the best subcompact cars on the market. It comes brimming with features that you won't find standard in many other subcompacts, including a touch-screen infotainment system, a rearview camera, Apple CarPlay, Android Auto, and a Wi-Fi hot spot. And with all these features, the Sonic still has a modest base price for the class. It also offers a spacious interior and plenty of cargo space in both the sedan and hatchback. Still, some rivals have better-quality cabin materials.
The Sonic is also an impressive performer, offering poise in corners and comfort over bumpy roads. While its base four-cylinder engine has decent city power, you'll want to upgrade to the optional turbocharged four-cylinder for better highway acceleration. Fuel economy is where the Sonic suffers, delivering some of the lowest estimates in the class with its base engine.
Don’t just take our word for it. Check out comments from some of the reviews that drive our rankings and analysis.
- "The 2017 Chevrolet Sonic stands out for its comparatively roomy interior, many standard features and available hatchback body style. It's even fun to drive, especially if you opt for the turbocharged engine." -- Edmunds
- "If you're looking for a small, fuel-efficient, easy-to-drive sedan or hatchback with the latest tech features, the 2017 Chevy Sonic is a smart choice." -- Kelley Blue Book
- "Of course, it isn't perfect – but if you're in the market for an affordable pint-sized champ that won't make you feel second-class for driving it, the Chevrolet Sonic may have your number." -- Autotrader (2016)
Research Prices: 2017 Chevrolet Sonic
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