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2013 Chevrolet Sonic RS Heels on Wheels Review

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2013 Chevrolet Sonic RS

By Katrina Ramser
San Francisco Bureau
The Auto Channel

2013 Chevrolet Sonic RS is surprising on all fronts – safety, style, price and performance…

Introduced just a couple model years ago, the Chevrolet Sonic compact hatchback delivers racy attitude at a great starting price of under $15k. The performance-mined RS trim struts even more sass with the addition of unique RS-specific accents and a stiffer suspension system featuring performance-tuned dampers.

I drove a 2013 Chevrolet Sonic RS with the standard 138-horsepower turbocharged ECOTEC 1.4-liter four-cylinder engine mated to a six-speed manual transmission with close-ratio gearing. Standard equipment at this trim level includes: RS interior trim package; leather and suede seat trim; front heated seats; leather-wrapped steering wheel with controls; leather shift knob; six-speaker audio system with XM Radio; seventeen-inch wheels; fog lamps; RS-specific spoiler and fascia; rocker panels; and a chrome-like bright exhaust. Without options, vehicle described comes to $20,185.

The RS trim is an all new option geared to please drivers who prefer their tinier ride disguised in sportier treatments – and the look works for the Sonic. Main competitors are numerous, and include the Toyota Prius C, Kia Rio 5-door to the Volkswagen GTI; it all just depends how hot, affordable or efficient you want your hatch to be.


Stylish But Comfortable Results: Surprisingly sporty in design, the Sonic features smart touches like embedded rear door handles. The RS trim’s unique fascia adds dramatic depth and really is a top-of-the-line Sonic. Chevrolet’s connectivity system MyLink is standard and boasts all the latest technology like Bluetooth for voice-recognition to music and smartphones and access to Internet radio like Pandora and Stitcher. The touch-sensitive commands are less complex and finicky that Ford’s MyTouch, too. Even with a front passenger, rear car seat space is extremely accessible. You won’t fit more than a small stroller in the cargo area, however (meaning groceries will have to find a home in the rear seating area).

Reliability & Safety Factor: The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) s the 2013 Chevrolet Sonic RS ratings of “Good” in all areas, making it a Top Safety Pick. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) gives is an overall rating of 5-Stars (with just four-out-of-five stars in rollover crash testing). Standard safety equipment includes advanced airbag system, OnStar response, StabiliTrak stability control, hill hold feature, and anti-lock brakes.

Cost Issues: Starting price for a Sonic LS trim is $14,785, with the RS trim topping out at $20,185. A base Ford Fiesta starts at $14,000 and a base VW GTI at $23,995. A MINI Clubman begins at $22,100 and a Kia Rio5 at $13,800.

Activity & Performance Ability: While the Sonic RS behaves sprightly upon acceleration under the ECOTECH 1.4-liter and hangs on the corners with gravitating grip thanks to the upgraded suspension system, I’ve tested more aggressive turbo engines on similar-sized cars (think anything Volkswagen or the Hyundai Veloster Turbo). Not that I think the Sonic disappoints – it is actually the right blend of agility, sportiness and functionality for the cost.

The Green Concern: The RS trim with the turbocharged 1.4-liter four-cylinder engine averages 27 miles-per-gallon city and 34 highway for a combined 30. The fuel economy of the Veloster’s 201-horsepower 1.6-liter gasoline direct injection engine is 26 miles-per-gallon city and 38 highway. The GTI’s turbocharged 2-liter Dual Overhead Cam four-cylinder engine serves up 200 horsepower with a fuel economy of 21 miles-per-gallon city and 31 highway.

Surprising on all fronts – safety, style, price and performance – the 2013 Chevrolet Sonic might not be an be as much of a hot hatch as the Volkswagen GTI, but it’s certainly a gas-sipping statement when dressed up in the RS trim.

2013 Katrina Ramser