$10,647 - $14,644

2017 Chevrolet Sonic Performance Review

Note: This performance review was created when the 2017 Chevrolet Sonic was new.


Performance: 8.1

The 2017 Sonic has agile handling and sharp steering, and it feels sturdier than most subcompacts. It also has a comfortable ride over most surfaces. The base engine has decent power for city driving, but the available turbocharged engine's acceleration is a better choice if you travel a lot on the highway.

  • "On the road, the 2017 Chevrolet Sonic feels more solid and refined than other subcompact sedans and hatchbacks." -- Edmunds
  • "Take a spin in the Chevy Sonic and you may just gain new respect for the subcompact genre. This small Chevy's ride is smooth and stable, its steering is precise, and the car's suspension is nimble enough to round corners with confidence or dart through city traffic with ease." -- Kelley Blue Book
  • "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 2017 Chevrolet Sonic comes standard with a 1.8-liter four-cylinder engine mated to a five-speed manual transmission. A five-speed automatic transmission is available. A turbocharged 1.4-liter four-cylinder engine is also available with either a six-speed manual or a six-speed automatic transmission. Both engines produce 138 horsepower, but the turbocharged engine delivers more torque. The EPA estimates that the base Sonic achieves 25 mpg on city streets and 33 mpg on the highway. With the automatic transmission, fuel estimates are similar at 24 mpg in the city and 34 mpg on the highway. Those are some of the lowest fuel estimates in the class. Models with the turbocharged engine and the manual transmission earn better fuel estimates of 28/38 mpg city/highway. With the automatic transmission and turbocharged engine, the Sonic achieves 27/36 mpg city/highway.

Most commuters will be pleased with the base engine's power for city driving. However, if you spend significant time on the highway, you'll be happier with the available turbocharged engine's faster acceleration. Still, some critics say the turbocharged engine is slow to respond when accelerating from a stop.

  • "Even if you stick with the base 1.8-liter engine you'll find a driving experience that's pleasing enough. The smaller but more powerful 1.4-liter turbo makes this car quite fun, especially if you opt for the available sport suspension." -- Kelley Blue Book
  • "Both engines offer decent performance, but the turbocharged 1.4-liter feels more lively and delivers useful power for merging and passing maneuvers. The only downside is the engine's somewhat sluggish responsiveness, which can make it difficult to accelerate smoothly from a stop in heavy traffic." -- Edmunds

Handling and Braking

The nimble Chevrolet Sonic zips around corners with ease, thanks to its athletic handling and sharp steering. The car also feels better balanced than some rivals. Ride quality is comfortable whether you're cruising around the city or on the highway. However, the Premier trim's available RS package has larger wheels, which make its ride firmer than the base model's. It also makes the ride more uncomfortable compared to the base model’s ride. Though the 2017 Sonic's brake pedal is somewhat squishy, it provides plenty of stopping power.

  • "Similar to the Volkswagen Golf, 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. Unfortunately, that isn't true for the Premier trim level equipped with the RS package. While the sport-tuned suspension and bigger wheels sharpen up the car's handling through turns, it comes at the expense of ride quality." -- Edmunds
  • "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)
  • "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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