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2016 Chevrolet Sonic Performance Review

Note: This performance review was created when the 2016 Chevrolet Sonic was new.


Performance: 8.0

The 2016 Chevy Sonic has sharp handling and a composed ride, critics say. The base engine provides adequate power, according to auto writers, but the optional turbocharged engine is punchier and more fuel efficient.

  • "On the road, the 2015 Chevrolet Sonic feels more solid and refined than other subcompact sedans and hatchbacks. Similar to European cars, the Sonic handles well around turns, with notably responsive steering, yet it also rides well enough that long road trips are not an endurance test." -- Edmunds (2015)
  • "Every bit the equal of the Toyota Yaris and Ford Fiesta, the Sonic adds a bit more spice, with sporty handling and a turbocharged engine that delivers zippy performance around town." -- Kelley Blue Book (2015)
  • "Yes, it's a subcompact, but it drives like it has a spring in its step. With a feisty four-cylinder engine, this is no Point A to Point B drone." -- Cars.com (2012)

Acceleration and Power

The 2016 Chevrolet Sonic comes standard with a 1.8-liter four-cylinder engine. A turbocharged 1.4-liter four-cylinder is available. Both engines produce 138 horsepower, though the turbocharged engine produces more torque. Models with the base engine come standard with a five-speed manual transmission, while turbocharged models come with a six-speed manual. A six-speed automatic is available with both engines. According to the EPA, the base Sonic gets 24/35 mpg city/highway with the automatic transmission, which is low for a subcompact car. Turbocharged models get 27/37 mpg, which is about average for the class.

Reviewers note that the Sonic’s base engine provides sufficient acceleration, but most prefer the turbocharged engine, which is peppier on the highway and gets better fuel economy. Both the five- and six-speed manual transmissions are quite satisfying to shift, according to test drivers, and the automatic delivers seamless gear changes.

  • "Both engines offer decent performance, but the turbocharged 1.4-liter feels more lively and delivers useful power for merging and passing maneuvers." -- Edmunds (2015)
  • "When equipped with the 1.4-liter turbocharged engine, the subcompact Sonic feels quick and agile, and its fuel economy figures earn two big thumbs up from our test staff. Stick with the base 1.8-liter engine and you'll still find a very pleasing driving experience, plus you'll have the choice of a slick shifting 5-speed manual or smooth 6-speed automatic." -- Kelley Blue Book (2015)
  • "Rowing the gears is plenty fun, and the clutch takeup is properly weighted for an engaging feel. Power is solid from the turbo four for brisk acceleration." -- AutoWeek (2013 Sonic RS)

Handling and Braking

Auto writers say the 2016 Chevy Sonic has a surprisingly composed ride, sharp steering, strong brakes and deft handling. They add that the sport-oriented RS trim is even more dynamic and fun to drive.

  • "The ride is smooth and stable, the steering precise, and the suspension nimble enough to round corners with confidence or dart through nasty city traffic with ease. Despite its compact dimensions, the Chevrolet Sonic feels more substantial than a Ford Fiesta or Honda Fit." -- Kelley Blue Book (2015)
  • "Its well-tuned suspension provides both steady handling and respectable ride comfort, giving the Sonic the character of a miniature Volkswagen Golf." -- Edmunds (2015)
  • "This car's stiffer suspension setup merely reinforces what is already a fun chassis to toss around and to enjoy at the limit, thanks to good body control and decent steering weight and feedback." -- AutoWeek (2013 Sonic RS)
  • "The pedal was a bit soft and we did experience a little nose dive, but the Sonic's braking was still impressive." -- Motor Week (2012)

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