2013 Chevrolet Sonic RS
The word is out: General Motors is no longer producing subpar small cars. Instead, they’re making very good ones. The new Chevrolet Sonic, which was introduced this past year (as a somewhat smaller complement to the Chevrolet Cruze sedan, and a replacement for the merely competent Aveo), ranks as one of the top better bets for either cost- and style-conscious commuters or even safety-conscious families who need a small second car.
The 2013 Sonic lands right in the heart of the small-car market, between the likes of the Nissan Versa, Honda Fit, Hyundai Accent, Ford Fiesta, and Toyota Yaris. And like several of these models, the Aveo is in effect two different models: a sporty-looking five-door hatchback, or a somewhat longer four-door sedan. In either, the front half of the vehicle is largely the same-as is the wheelbase. One other key design difference: while the rear doors in the hatchback are ‘hidden’ (located up high at the back), those in the sedan are of a more conventional design and location. Inside, you’ll find a more cockpit-like design than in other small cars, and outside of up-close materials and detailing, it’s impressively upscale.
Powertrains for the Chevy Sonic are pretty much the same as in the larger Cruze sedan; there’s a normally aspirated 1.8-liter four, or a turbocharged 1.4-liter four. Both can be had with either a manual gearbox or an all-new six-speed automatic. Between the two, the 1.4T is by far the better choice, as it’s stronger and more flexible, as well as more refined and fuel-efficient–and it makes the Sonic feel like a premium-brand vehicle, almost. Unfortunately, you do need to step above the base LS to get that engine. Otherwise the Sonic is surprisingly enjoyable to drive for an affordable, economical car, with nicely weighted steering.
Later this fall, a new hatchback-only Sonic RS model will join the lineup. While the RS doesn’t have any more power, it does include long list of appearance enhancements inside and out–like a flat-bottom steering wheel, sport seats, and aluminum pedals, plus a different wheel design, different front fascia insert, and retuned exhaust.
From a passenger or cargo perspective, there’s also mostly good news. Seating is adult-sized in front enough, while back seats have enough space for adults in a pinch; flip the rear seatbacks forward and you get wagon-like versatility in hatchback models, or space for longer items in sedans. The hatch isn’t quite as space-efficient as the reigning cargo king, the Honda Fit, but there aren’t any serious flaws with either package, and the cabin is better-insulated from road and engine noise than most other small models.
Compared to the Aveo that the Sonic replaces–as well as to most other small cars–the Sonic is a safety standout, and we have no hesitation in calling it out as the safest subcompact pick on the market. Its structure feels vaultlike next to some other small-car designs, and its safety ratings have been top-notch so far, with IIHS Top Safety pick status this past year plus five-star federal ratings and ten standard airbags. All models get blind-spot mirrors this year, too.
New for 2013 is the Chevrolet MyLink system, which includes a seven-inch color touch screen, voice recognition, and connectivity for hands-free calling, streaming audio, and apps for streaming audio (Pandora or Stitcher). MyLink is standard on LTZ and RS models, and available on the Sonic LS and LT. Otherwise, even at the base LS level you get alloy wheels, plus remote keyless entry and air conditioning. Chevy has also revised the Sonic’s feature set for 2013 so that Bluetooth and steering-wheel controls are included even on the base LS, and LT models with the automatic transmission include remote start. Also a new Connectivity & Cruise package brings cruise control and a USB port to the LT, and an official navigation app will be offered later in the year.
More Pictures of 2013 Chevrolet Sonic