Thursday, November 16, 2017

Devon test drives a Small Chevy (Used)

2012 Chevrolet Sonic 1LT hatchback -- 10-19-2011 front 2.jpg

The Chevy Sonic has finally replaced the long and forgotten Chevy Aveo. This time around the Sonic is stylish and comes in the familiar sedan and hatchback body styles. Trying to catch up to its Korean rivals Hyundai and Kia. Has Chevy found a new reason to buy American? Let's find out.

Performance: Engine offerings are similar to that of the Chevy Cruze. You can choose from a 1.8-liter producing 138hp and a 1.4-liter turbocharged four-cylinder producing the same 138hp. Pick of the two is the turbocharged four-cylinder. It has more torque at low revs which makes it more entertaining to drive on the highway. Plus fuel economy between the two are relatively similar so it really only boils down to if you desire a turbo or not.

On the road: The ride feels jittery over rough surfaces but the suspension does a good enough job ironing out potholes and some road imperfections. The small size helps make the Sonic easy to maneuver around town. Steering feel is light but is rather heavy at low speeds. Take the Sonic on open road and the steering looses that sharpness and there's way too much body lean than we'd like. The non-turbo engine often feels short of pull when you are on the move. This is why we suggest going for the turbo which has the extra torque to make it feel less short winded. Wind and road noise are reasonably ironed out.

Behind the wheel: It's easy to get comfortable behind the driver's seat. Steering wheel adjust for reach and height and the dash board has a simple layout with a motorcycle-inspired design.  Visibility is good all round thanks to large windows and good seating adjustments. Rear seat space is best left for two as three would be a tight squeeze. Boot space is good too although you'll have to lift heavy items over a boot lip.

Equipment: LS trim offers keyless entry, Bluetooth connectivity and stability control. You'll have to step up to the LT trim to get cruise control, power windows and alloy wheels. LTZ trim adds rear view parking camera, fog lights and perforated leatherette seats. Top of the range RS trim adds a 7 inch infotainment screen, premium sound system and unique RS body-kit and interior treatment.

Buying & owning: The Sonic is priced aggressively towards the Ford Fiesta and Hyundai Accent. Running costs should be reasonable with both engines. Resale value won't be impressive but we think that it should hold its value averagely compared with most of its rivals.

Quality & safety: The Sonic isn't the classiest compared to its rivals but you do get a good amount of car for your money. The interior quality is good although some plastics feel rather cheap. It's a leap forward however and we applaud Chevy for finally get up with the times. Reliability record should be decent too.

When it comes to safety the Sonic comes with ten airbags standard as well as stability control and anti-lock brakes. Both standard across the range. An alarm system and theft deterrent comes standard to keep theft at bay.

The Chevy Sonic is a compelling option when you look at the Ford Fiesta and Hyundai Accent. However there are a few short comings that make it feel a tad behind its keen rivals. First the two engine choices are 'okay' there's nothing special about them. The turbo has the most zip and feels more peppy than the 1.8 which we think is the better engine option to go for. Handling and steering aren't as good as a Ford Fiesta and the overall packaging is good but feels a tad overpriced when you climb up the line-up. The RS trim is only for looks but is priced to compete with the Ford Fiesta ST and Fiat 500 Abarth which both have more powerful engines. If you can overlook these few negatives we'd say the Sonic is a huge leap in the right direction. Only if Chevy ironed out the few bits and added more power. The Sonic would be even more of an compelling option. Disappointing.

Likes: Finally a compelling small car option from Chevy. Turbo engine has real zip and is affordable. Interior quality has improved too.

Dislikes: RS trim needs more power. Handling and steering fall short on open roads. Sedan looks dumpy compared to hatchback.

Devon's Pick: The LT trim is the pick of the range. You get all the kit you'll ever really need with the Sonic. Plus the price seems very reasonable too. If you spec up the base trim the way you'd desire you'll be close to this trim which we feel is worth spending the extra cash for. Paying the extra for the turbo is also worth it too because the 1.8 feels short on pull.

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