Reviews

2016 Chevrolet Sonic Driving Impressions


Handling decently overall, the Sonic feels strong and sturdy on the highway, holding the road securely. Steering feel is especially gratifying, helped by requiring just the right amount of effort. Although the brake pedal can feel soft; braking action is effective.

Sonic’s base 1.8-liter engine is coarse, harsh, and anemic, struggling when under heavy load and irritating at higher rpm. We strongly recommend the 1.4-liter turbo, which is more refined and develops greater torque.

Throttle response with the turbo sometimes trails the driver’s push on the gas pedal, but only for an instant. Chevrolet’s 6-speed manual gearbox is a pleasure; courtesy of short throws and direct action. Clutch behavior is so smooth, it seems nearly impossible to endure a bad gearchange.

We’d avoid the 17-inch tires on LTZ and RS models, because they’re noisier as well as rougher-riding. Quietest ride comes from the LT, which feels best isolated from coarse surfaces.

With the turbo and manual shift, fuel economy is estimated at a thrifty 29-mpg city/40-mpg highway (33 mpg combined). Automatic sinks those figures to 27/37 mpg (31 combined). Gas mileage with the base engine is slightly lower: 30 mpg combined with manual, or 28 with automatic. Similar estimates are earned by the RS Turbo model. Neither engine requires premium fuel.

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