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2019 Chevrolet Sonic Performance Review

Scorecard

Performance: 8.1

The 2019 Chevrolet Sonic has decent engine power and agile handling. However, its fuel economy is below average and ride quality can be stiff over uneven surfaces.

  • "In our short time behind the Sonic's wheel, we came to think of it less as a subcompact commuter car and more a poor-man's Mini Cooper." -- Kelley Blue Book (2018)
  • "On the road, the … Chevrolet Sonic feels more solid and refined than other subcompact sedans and hatchbacks." -- Edmunds (2017)
  • "The Sonic's dark horse is the … 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)

Acceleration and Power

The 2019 Chevrolet Sonic comes standard with a 1.4-liter turbocharged four-cylinder engine that produces 138 horsepower and 148 pound-feet of torque. Front-wheel drive and a six-speed manual transmission are standard, and a six-speed automatic transmission is optional. The Sonic sedan gets up to 27 mpg in the city and 38 mpg on the highway with the manual transmission. The manual hatchback gets 26 mpg city and 35 mpg highway. Both Sonic models with the automatic transmission return 26 mpg city and 34 mpg highway.

The Sonic's turbocharged engine is energetic but lacks off-the-line power and struggles under heavy acceleration.

  • We also like the Sonic's turbocharged engine, which is standard this year. It makes a respectable 138 horsepower and a gutsy 148 pound-feet of torque. This torque makes the Sonic responsive and increases the fun-factor. Uniquely, all trims of the Sonic are available with either a six-speed manual or a six-speed automatic transmission. … Unfortunately, the manual gearbox is a bit clunky, and the 1.4-liter turbo lacks responsiveness at low rpm." -- Edmunds
  • "On flat to slightly sloping uphill runs, the 1.4-liter turbo was incredibly zippy. While we didn't measure it ourselves, Chevrolet claims the engine can get the car to 60 miles per hour in about 8 seconds -- a claim that our experiences certainly supported. However, the turbo tended to lose power on moderate-to-steep uphill climbs, requiring what we felt was an excessive amount of downshifting on the 6-speed manual to power through." -- Autotrader (2018)
  • "[The] 1.4-liter turbocharged 4-cylinder that's sportier and makes more torque, and thus goes quicker, but has as its main advantage a 2-5-mpg gain in highway fuel economy, depending on transmission. … In our experience, we found no reason not to like any of the transmission choices." -- Kelley Blue Book (2018)

Handling and Braking

The Chevy Sonic has athletic handling, with sharp steering and good control. Critics disagree over the ride quality, with some noting that it feels smooth and others arguing that the optional sport suspension makes it harsh.

  • The Sonic is a spirited little car with good steering and handling, especially with the sport-tuned suspension. … Unfortunately, there's lots of tire noise over rough surfaces, and the sport suspension delivers a ride that borders on harsh." -- Edmunds
  • "As subcompact cars go, the … 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 (2018)
  • "Where the Aveo was slow and dull-witted in corners, the Sonic is quick and surprisingly agile." -- Autotrader (2015)
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