The little Aveo has come a long wayChevrolet has had quite a bit of history making small, efficient cars. Some were great and some were just plain awful.
Chevrolet has had quite a bit of history making small, efficient cars. Some were great and some were just plain awful. Although the Japanese have been dominating the small car market in recent years, Chevrolet almost always had the best compacts out of the domestic manufacturers, although in truth that isn’t saying much. In 2012, Chevrolet launched the Sonic in both sedan and hatchback forms, and it was simply a huge step up from its predecessor; the Aveo. For 2013, as GM focused on the Sonic RS instead, the LTZ remains almost unchanged. I’m happy to say, the cheerful and funky charm that made it popular last year is still there.
If you remember how wimpy looking the Aveo was, then you’ll notice that nearly everything about its aesthetics has been changed. Those dinky little shopping cart wheels the Aveo had are now 17” aluminum alloys on the Sonic. The old depressing body is now angular and aggressive. That old drab interior? Gone. It seems as though GM actually put some effort into making a small car good, instead of just cheap and, to be honest, crappy. I personally think the Sonic looks better in 5-door hatchback form, like my tester, especially with attention to detail such as the hidden handles for the rear doors.
I spent most of my time with the 2013 Chevrolet Sonic Turbo in the busy downtown core of Toronto. I have to say, it’s a great little city car. The 2013 Chevrolet Sonic Turbo LTZ comes equipped with a 1.4 litre turbocharged four-cylinder engine producing 138 horsepower and 148 lb-ft of torque. Based on numbers alone, that’s plenty of power for such a small car. However, thanks to the turbocharger, the engine produces a lot of torque down low in the rev range and makes all that power usable almost 100% of the time. My tester unfortunately didn’t have the enthusiast-preferred manual transmission, but even the automatic didn’t ruin the fun. The 2013 Chevrolet Sonic Turbo is geared well, so its acceleration and highway passing abilities were both very impressive. It’s also worth mentioning that power delivery is smooth, as is its engine noise under acceleration, which shouldn’t be taken for granted in this class. There are many econoboxes out there that feel and sound rough and awful; the Sonic does not. The little hatchback weighs approximately 2800 lbs and although that might not sound like very much, it’s a whopping 500 lbs more than the Mazda2 we tested several weeks back. And again, thanks to a great powertrain, the weight is hidden quite well.
The 2013 Chevrolet Sonic Turbo feels well-made; a phrase that is rarely associated with small American cars. I guess the engineers at GM did have some method in their madness when they introduced all that weight. In the handling department, the Sonic feels nimble and responsive. Steering feel is great and its wider tracks definitely help to minimize body roll. Unfortunately, you do tend to feel almost every single bump you drive over, but all in all, it’s a very solid drive. In highway driving, I got around 6.0L/100km and in city driving I got around 9.5L/100km. It’s been a cold and snowy week here in Toronto, so take my city driving number with a grain of salt. EPA estimates for the Sonic Turbo are 7.7L/100km and 5.5L/100km, respectively.
As you step into the Sonic, you’ll notice that there is definitely a premium feel to it. My LTZ tester came equipped with heated leather seats (no, it’s not exactly Nappa leather), power everything, 10 airbags and an interactive MyLink touchscreen multimedia system. It has great phone and iPod connectivity, USB auxiliary input, Sirius XM radio; it plays movies, and even has apps. I was thoroughly impressed with all the features the little car offered and it made the driving experience a pleasure. The steering wheel is leather wrapped and thick, providing a sporty feel. The only true complaint I have about the interior is the instrument panel. It has an analog tachometer and a digital display for speed, fuel, trip meter, etc. Although a digital display is nice, the bezel that surrounds it has a bunch of holes in it for some reason, and in combination with an analog tachometer, the entire design just looks tacky. The interior is relatively roomy and was able to fit four adults comfortably. Front and rear headroom is pretty good too. Trunk space is adequate for a couple bags; definitely enough for an average grocery run. With the rear seats folded down, the Sonic offers plenty of utility if you need to do some moving. Can anyone say university car?
Our 2013 Chevrolet Sonic LTZ has an as-tested price of $24,510. The only option in that price is the MyLink multimedia system for $265. That amount of money is quite a lot for this type of car, however the base Sonic will run much less. I still think the car’s pricing is still a little high compared to other cars in its class, but honestly speaking, the Sonic does offer a lot. All in all, I’m thoroughly impressed with Chevrolet’s latest little hot hatch. I can safely say that I enjoyed driving it, and I don’t say that about many cars in this class.