2014 Chevrolet Sonic LT "Personalized"


PHOTO (select to view enlarged photo)
2014 Chevrolet Sonic LT


By Larry Nutson
Senior Editor, New York Bureau
The Auto Channel


As luck would have it, I was in the right car at the right time. As I write this review, the annual Specialty Equipment Market Association (SEMA) Show is going on in Las Vegas. It’s the largest automotive aftermarket exhibition in the world and manufacturers from everywhere want to show something special to the huge audience. The SEMA show is filled to the brim with tuners and aftermarket purveyors galore.

Chevrolet is showing more than a half dozen concept vehicles based on existing products. Three concepts at the show from the Sonic line are a RS high-performance, an "all-activity version”, and a "personalized version.”


2014 Chevrolet Sonic LT (select to view enlarged photo)

The Chevrolet Sonic is a great canvas for customization. To demonstrate this, Chevy provided the loan of 2014 Sonic LT with GM Accessories installed. GM Accessories are engineered and validated to the same specifications as production parts. They’re highly integrated with the vehicle and they are covered by warranty through GM.

About 12 percent of Sonic buyers choose to personalize their cars and according to SEMA, of these modifiers, 23 percent purchase the accessories at the dealership. Industry wide, of all of Chevy customers who purchase an accessory, a little over 25 percent choose a performance part.

Chevy says thirty percent of Sonic buyers are under 35, and nearly half of buyers trade in a non-GM brand.

The Chevy Sonic media loan vehicle I’m driving is a 2014 Sonic LT 5-door with a standard-equipped price of $17,205, including destination charge. Factory installed are the Ecotec Turbo 1.4L engine, 6-speed manual, Mylink radio, rear view camera, advanced safety package with forward collision alert and lane departure warning all for another $1495.

Dealer installed accessories are 16-inch black painted alloys wheels mounting 205/55 tires, an exterior black flash package (grille surround, mirror caps and spoiler), fog lamps, and a Borla performance exhaust. These all ran another $2645.

All this totaled to $21,345 for this personalized Blue Topaz Metallic 2014 Chevy Sonic. Note that there would also be some minor installation fees that vary by dealer.


2014 Chevrolet Sonic LT (select to view enlarged photo)

According to information from Chevrolet, the Sonic Stage Kit with the Borla performance exhaust will provide quantified improvements in Horsepower and Torque while giving the vehicle an aggressive sound as well. The change in performance is noticeable. The Borla exhaust, available on the 1.4L Turbo, reduces backpressure and provides 10 more HP (up to 148 HP) and increases torque by 10% (15 ft-lbs). The kit includes the exhaust system, calibration, premium fuel label and new 50 state legal emission label. On the Borla website (www.borla.com) Borla says fuel economy while cruising will increase.

In driving the Sonic, I often had the urge to hear the exhaust note and that had me getting into the throttle more often and winding up the engine. That being said, the pleasure of driving goes up and fuel consumption goes up too.

The Sonic comes as either a four-door sedan or a five-door hatchback in LS, LT, LTZ and RS (five-door hatchback only) models. Prices start at $14,170 for the 4-door sedan and $14,770 for the hatchback. The 138HP Ecotec 1.8L engine mated to either a five-speed manual or six-speed automatic transmissions is standard on all but the RS. EPA test fuel economy ratings for this engine are 26 mpg city and 35 mpg highway with the manual. The 138HP 1.4L Ecotec turbocharged engine that was in my test car is optional on the LT and LTZ and standard on RS. It’s paired with the six-speed manual or a six-speed automatic. This is the “mpg engine” and is EPA test rated at 29 mpg city and 40 mpg highway with the manual.

The Sonic Sedan has 14.9 cu.ft. trunk and is 173.1inches long. My choice would be the city-friendly hatchback with a rear seat that folds nearly flat, expanding the 19 cu.ft. of trunk to 47.7 cu.ft. And, it’s only 159 inches long which makes for zipping around a city and parallel parking quite easy.


2014 Chevrolet Sonic LT (select to view enlarged photo)

There’s lots of connectivity available depending on model. There’s Chevrolet MyLink radio, standard OnStar with six months of Automatic Crash Response, Directions and Connections service, Turn-by-Turn navigation and MyChevrolet mobile app, and SiriusXM Satellite Radio along with USB and Bluetooth streaming audio functionality.


2014 Chevrolet Sonic LT (select to view enlarged photo)

Remote start, heated front seats, sunroof, rear view camera, forward collision alert and lane departure warning are available.

During some weekend errands my wife asked how I like the Sonic. I remarked the Sonic is great for maneuvering the crowded streets of Philadelphia. The turbo engine needs to build revs beyond 2000 rpm to get you going, but after that it’s fun. The shifter for the manual trans works smoothly and hill hold certainly helps on those inclines. All-in-all, even at city speeds which are mostly below 20mph, the Sonic worked great. If I were buying I would get the manual trans. On the highway there is plenty of performance especially with the manual transmission allowing you to get into the rev range with strong pull from the turbo boost. With 4-doors and the big rear hatch, loading groceries, the dry cleaning, weekend beverages or whatever is very easy.


2014 Chevrolet Sonic LT (select to view enlarged photo)

If you are interested to compare the 2014 Chevrolet Sonic to other subcompact cars you can do that right here on TheAutoChannel.com. I drove the Sonic sedan at the tail end of last year. If you want to read what I had to say here's the link.

For more information and detailed specifications on the 2014 Chevrolet Sonic go to www.chevrolet.com. . Should you want more information on the personalization choices offered by Chevy, visit GM Accessories Zone at http://www.gmaccessorieszone.com/Chevrolet/en-US/Sonic/2013/).

Also, download the free TheAutoChannel smartphone app. The “My Test Drives” app for both the iPad and iPhone is available for free on The Auto Channel app found in the Apple App Store. The Auto Channel's free "My Test Drives" app gives serious car shoppers the help they need to make test drive evaluations accurate, effective and meaningful.

Sonic is the first and only car in its class to receive a 5-Star Overall Vehicle Score for safety from the National Highway Traffic Administration, and the 2013 model was named a Top Safety Pick by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS). The 2014 Chevrolet Sonic has been named a Best Buy by Consumers Guide Automotive, its second year.

With ease of maneuvering and a high fun-to-drive quotient, the 2014 Chevrolet Sonic is a great small car for big city driving. Or for that matter, commuting to your job in the suburbs.

Larry Nutson


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