I am no car expert by any means, but I know what I like and what I don’t like. As the type of person who is on the go constantly, important elements of a car–for me–include comfort and reliability first, above anything else. Spending lots of time in my car means that the interior features become pretty high on the priority list too.
I was recently asked if I wanted to try out the 2012 Chevy Sonic, fresh off the assembly line. Um, yes please! The Sonic, Chevy’s new subcompact model, has replaced the Aveo…and replaced it WELL. It is an adorable, spunky little car and very fun to drive, which was apparently one of Chevy’s goals in creating it. (Success!) The Sonic comes in two styles, Hatch and Sedan, each with three trims available (LS, LT, and LTZ). I drove the 2012 Sonic Hatch LTZ, whose base price runs around $17,000.
Here’s how my week went:
The Sonic was dropped off at my house. It is so cute! The color is called “Inferno Orange”, for very good reason:
It’s a small car (subcompact, remember?) but interestingly, doesn’t feel claustrophobic inside, like I thought it would (I normally drive a mid-sized car).
The dashboard has everything you need within arm’s reach.
When sixteen-year-old J came home from school, his eyes lit up at the sight of the Sonic. He got in immediately, and I said, “I’m glad you’re excited about it. My contact at GM wants to know what you and your brother think about it.”
He looked at me. “What *I* think about it? Really?” He sat up a little straighter in his seat and cleared his throat. “Well, ahem, I will definitely give you my insights!”
The first thing he did was lay the passenger seat back to determine its nap-worthiness. To his amusement, the seat went nearly flat. He closed his eyes and said, “This is awesome…”
We sat in the car for a few minutes, playing around with buttons. I said, “It’s small but not overly small. I just wish it had four doors instead of two.”
He looked at me.
“It DOES have four doors, mom.”
“No it doesn’t!”
He jumped out and pointed at the door handles in back, placed high up and towards the rear of the car. He laughed at me.
Okay, so it does have four doors. I stand corrected.
My ignorance gave my teenager a good laugh, so there’s THAT…
As an “average person”, one of the tests I intentionally put all of my review vehicles through is a trip to the grocery store. Or maybe it’s just coincidence, since I seem to be at the grocery store every other day. I figured that odds are pretty good that the average owner of a subcompact is single or part of a couple, so the typical amount of groceries that would be purchased in that case would fit just fine. This car could not handle one of my big grocery shopping trips without utilizing the back seat AND the trunk, but for half a cart of food? It did just fine!
Great news: I found out that the trunk is the perfect size for transporting two homemade cakes to the B’nai Mitzvah we were attending!
Took the Sonic on the open road. I haven’t driven a subcompact in a long time, but I do distinctly remember that in the olden days, a subcompact car never let you forget you were driving one because it rattled. The Sonic pleasantly surprised me: no rattles, thank goodness, and it was really smooth and not noisy at all. When I was driving it, the size/class of the car went out of my mind and I was just driving…a car. It’s zippy and fun, as I mentioned already.
We linked up my phone to the Bluetooth system in the Sonic, and it was a great convenience to talk “handsfree” when I needed to. Having OnStar and XM Radio on board was a pleasure as well and really added to the driving experience.
In the afternoon, we picked up nineteen-year-old D and took him to the outlet mall.
I asked him what he thought about the Sonic and he said, “Well, it needs a sunroof.” (That’s an available option.) He also mentioned that he thought it would be even more fun if it was manual (the transmission is available in 5- or 6 speed manual, and 6-speed automatic with manual capabilities via a button).
Perhaps most importantly, D found the backseat to be comfortable. He is five feet, ten inches tall, and he was in the backseat for a couple of hours. He did not feel crushed or claustrophobic: no complaints. Though I’m not sure if he would love riding back there on a consistent basis, I do think that this car might actually be realistic for a family with young children.
My husband test-drove the car. Though he also prefers a manual transmission like D, he thought the six-speed automatic transmission with tap up, tap down manual shifting capability was nice. He commented that he thought the manual button was a little slow to respond. His response after driving the car was surprising to me. He is an extremely loyal customer to a certain Japanese brand of automobile and typically does not budge from his position, but after he drove the Sonic, he said (and I quote), “Hmm. I’d consider this car.” You have no idea what a huge endorsement this was. The only other problem he had with the car besides the perceived delay in response from the manual shifting was that the front seat passenger does not have an armrest in the middle like the driver does. I’m sure this was a decision based on available space, but when I rode in that seat it bothered me as well.
I drove the Sonic to the city and parked it right out in front of a restaurant where I had an event. As I zipped through the city streets (like a cab driver but of course oh-so-safely!), I decided that the city is indeed a great environment for this car. It’s easy to maneuver, and parking is a breeze. I squeezed the Sonic into a short parking space without any problems.
After a great week with the Sonic, it was time to return it. Sad day.
Final analysis? I loved it. The 2012 Chevy Sonic is a great little car. It’s attractive, has great features, and is fun to drive. I did both city and highway driving in the Sonic, and the final calculation on gas mileage was about 34-35 miles per gallon, which I thought was fantastic. Great car for singles, couples, college students, teenagers, and probably young families too.
And now if you’ll excuse me, I need to find a way to get rid of the earworm I’ve had going on all week, which would be a great song to sample in commercials for the Sonic, by the way:
Thanks for the drive time, Chevy!
Disclosure: General Motors loaned me a 2012 Chevy Sonic (with a full tank of gas) to drive for the week. I was not asked to write a review in exchange: I just decided to write one. All words and opinions are mine.