2018 Chevrolet Sonic

Performance


$15,295 MSRP
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2018 Chevrolet Sonic Performance Review

Scorecard

Performance: 8.1

The sprightly 2018 Chevy Sonic has a nice amount of power. It's at home both on the highway and in urban environments, but gas mileage is at or below class average, depending on whether you pick the base engine or the turbocharged four-cylinder.

  • "On the road, the 2017 Chevrolet Sonic feels more solid and refined than other subcompact sedans and hatchbacks." -- Edmunds (2017)
  • "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. Despite its compact dimensions, the Chevrolet Sonic feels more substantial than a Ford Fiesta or Honda Fit." -- Kelley Blue Book (2017)
  • "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 base Sonic comes with a 1.8-liter four-cylinder engine and a five-speed manual transmission. Powering LT and Premier trims is a turbocharged 1.4-liter four-cylinder engine mated to a six-speed manual transmission. A six-speed automatic transmission is available in every Sonic model.

You won't go wrong with either engine, but if you're looking for extra oomph and better gas mileage, the turbocharged four-cylinder is the way to go. The base engine gets 26 mpg in the city and 35 mpg on the highway, which is below the class average. Fuel economy with the turbocharged engine is 28 mpg city/37 mpg highway.

  • "Few of its competitors offer the option of a turbocharged engine, another factor in the Sonic's playful demeanor. If you go with the standard 1.8-liter engine, you won't be disappointed with the driving experience, but it doesn't offer that added punch that makes turbocharged cars so much fun." -- Kelley Blue Book
  • "Although the 1.8-liter standard engine is a solid performer in this size category, the Sonic's dark horse is the optional 138-hp 1.4-liter turbocharged engine. Available with manual or automatic transmissions, the 1.4-liter Ecotec engine … makes for some seriously fun driving." -- Autotrader (2017)
  • "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 (2017)

Handling and Braking

The front-wheel-drive Sonic's easy steering helps this car navigate tight quarters with ease. On the highway, it feels composed (not like its twitchy smaller sibling, the Chevrolet Spark), and its ride quality does a good job absorbing bumps in the road. The Sonic Premier comes with a sport suspension and larger wheels that boost the car's athletic feel but stiffen the ride.

  • "As subcompact cars go, the 2018 Chevy Sonic places an equal emphasis on efficiency and fun-to-drive dynamics. The Sonic delivers a stable and smooth ride, precise steering and a nimble suspension that can be upgraded with Chevy's enthusiast-oriented FE3 Sport suspension package. We found the Sonic more engaging than the Toyota Yaris or Kia Rio, but not quite as lively as the Ford Fiesta." -- Kelley Blue Book
  • "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. Take it over any pavement rougher than glass and you might momentarily think you're riding on a wooden roller coaster." -- Edmunds (2017)
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