The Auto Channel
The Largest Independent Automotive Research Resource
Official Website of the New Car Buyer

2012 Chevrolet Sonic LT Sedan Review By Larry Nutson


2012 Chevrolet Sonic LT Sedan (select to view enlarged photo)
2012 Chevrolet Sonic LT Sedan

SEE ALSO: Chevrolet Buyers Guide
SEE ALSO: Perfect New Car Match

2012 Chevrolet Sonic LT Sedan
Made in the U.S.A.

by Larry Nutson
Senior Editor, Chicago Bureau
The Auto Channel

The Sonic is Chevy’s newest small car. The Aveo is gone. But…these two cars are as different as night and day. I won’t dwell on the Aveo that was cheap looking and feeling, and not very loved. Chevy says the Sonic was developed “first and foremost to be fun-to-drive with ride and handling characteristics not expected in this segment”.

Expected? Well, that’s a matter of whom you are talking to. What’s expected in a small car today is changing and evolving…Chevy gets this. Cheap with few frills is not the way to go today. Urban dwellers and city-folk want a small and compact exterior size and yet interior comfort and convenience combined with excellent road manners with a decent sense of agility.

Chevrolet has done well with the overall design and engineering of the 2012 Sonic Sedan . I had a twenty-minute stint behind the wheel of a Sonic back in October at a Midwest Automotive Media Association drive event, and I was looking forward to a longer drive time. My Sonic sedan tester scheduled-in for the last week of the year, so I spent time between Christmas and New Year’s Day scooting around Chicago on my Holiday-week outings.


2012 Chevrolet Sonic LT Sedan (select to view enlarged photo)

The Sonic has seating for five and is offered as a 4-door sedan or a 5-door hatchback. Three trim levels, LS, LT and LTZ, are available. Engine choices, both 4-cylinder and both rated at 138HP, are a standard 1.8L DOHC mated to a 5-speed manual or a 6-speed automatic or an optional 1.4L turbo DOHC mated to a 6-speed manual. The turbo makes more torque, in spite of its smaller displacement, and the torque comes on full at a nice low 1850 rpm. EPA fuel economy estimates for the 1.8L are 26 city mpg and 35 highway mpg for the manual and 25 city mpg and 35 highway mpg for the automatic. The 1.4L turbo is rated at 29 city mpg and 40 highway mpg.

My test car was an LT sedan with the 1.8L engine and 6-speed automatic. Although I live in the city I had a couple highway runs to Midway Airport as well as along Lake Shore Drive. With the mixed driving and outside temps between 25 and 40 º, I was seeing 27 mpg on the Driver Information display, and I’m not a hyper-miler… I get in and go. The Sonic sedan only weighs 2721 lbs and is plenty quick with good throttle response and relatively smooth shifting. Once the engine is warmed the cabin is quite quiet. I didn’t notice any disturbing wind or road noise.

Chevrolet made alloys wheels standard on all Sonics. According to Chevrolet, that reduced road noise by 2dB over a steel wheel with wheel cover. Another benefit comes from the alloy wheel being 4-times stiffer than the steel wheel which provides for more predictable handling and a quieter ride. The added cost of the alloy has a good payback.

Electric power steering helps to reduce fuel consumption. Other small but yet significant features of the Sonic that I liked are two glove compartments, the illuminated driver’s power window switch so it is easy to find in the dark, the folding-feature for the outside mirrors…a must have, in my view, for on-street parking in a crowded city with narrow streets.


2012 Chevrolet Sonic LT Sedan (select to view enlarged photo)

The motorcycle-inspired theme of round headlamps and taillamps is carried over to the instrument cluster. The supportive seats are two-tone with cloth covering on the LS and LT and perforated leatherette on the LTZ. The mid-instrument panel is available in two choices, dark titanium or brick.


2012 Chevrolet Sonic LT Sedan (select to view enlarged photo)

The 2012 Chevrolet Sonic has received 5-star rating, the highest, from the NHTSA and is an IIHS “Top Safety Pick”. A full contingent of safety features includes 10 air bags, stability control, traction control, ABS brakes, brake panic assist, tire pressure monitoring and more. Available comfort and convenience features depending on trim level include power windows, power door locks, power and heated outside mirrors, air conditioning, sun roof, heated seats, cruise control and more.

The sedan is 173.1 inches long and is very maneuverable, easy to drive and well suited for city driving. The sedan trunk is a very roomy 14 cubic feet. The hatchback is even shorter at 159 inches and has even more space behind the rear seat if you need to carry lots of stuff. Both engines use regular gasoline and the 12.2 gallon fuel tank will take you about 480 miles down the highway with the 1.4L turbo engine.


2012 Chevrolet Sonic LT Sedan (select to view enlarged photo)

The LS sedan is the lowest price model at $14,495, with the LT priced at $15,695 and the LTZ at $17,295. The LS 5-door starts at $15,395, with the LT at $16,495 and the LTZ at $17,995. My 2LT sedan had a base of $16,005 plus a Connectivity Plus Cruise Package at $525 and a Wheels (16inch) and Fog Lamp Package at $295. Add in a $760 destination charge and the grand total came to $17,585.

The 2012 Chevrolet Sonic is assembled in the U.S. at GM’s Orion Township, Michigan assembly plant, and the only subcompact built in the United States. (See Where All Cars Sold In USA Are Built)

All Sonic vehicles are equipped with OnStar including a complimentary six months Directions and Connections Service. The Sonic Warranty includes 5 year/100,000 mile powertrain coverage.


2012 Chevrolet Sonic LT Sedan (select to view enlarged photo)

Wrapping up, if you are a retiring or re-urbanizing baby boomer looking to downsize, a millennial who finally got a drivers license, or a young couple in need of a first or perhaps second car in the household, I would not miss shopping at your local Chevrolet dealer and giving the 2012 Sonic LT Sedan a good look and a meaningfull and productive test drive.

© Larry Nutson