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2014 Chevrolet Sonic

Motor Trend logo Motor Trend 10/24/2014 Austin Lott

New for 2014

The Chevrolet Sonic RS is now available as a sedan, and offers the same performance-oriented features of the RS hatchback introduced for the 2013 model year. A rearview camera becomes standard equipment on the LTZ and RS, and the Advanced Safety Package (consisting of forward collision alert and lane departure warning systems) is now an option. New exterior colors for 2014: Ashen Gray Metallic, Red Hot, and Cool Blue.

Vehicle Overview

The Chevrolet Sonic is the automaker's subcompact offering. In sedan and four-door hatchback forms, the Sonic slots in below the compact Cruze sedan, and above the smaller Spark four-door hatchback in the lineup. The Sonic strikes a balance between economy, utility, and performance, while still being fun-to-drive.

Summary

The 2014 Chevrolet Sonic comes standard with a 138-hp 1.8-liter I-4 that makes 125 lb-ft of torque, and has a five-speed manual transmission or an optional six-speed automatic. Optional on the LT and LTZ (and standard on the RS) is the turbocharged 138-hp 1.4-liter I-4, which makes 148 lb-ft of torque and comes standard with a six-speed manual or an optional six-speed automatic. Fuel economy for the 1.8-liter I-4 is an EPA-estimated 25-26/35 mpg city/highway, while the turbo 1.4-liter I-4 gets 27/29-37-40: the most efficient combination is the turbo I-4 and six-speed manual. The Sonic RS gets the same 1.4-liter I-4, but pairs it with a standard six-speed manual or available six-speed automatic, in addition to a shorter gear ratio and four-wheel disc brakes.

The 2014 Chevrolet Sonic has a five-star overall safety rating from the NHTSA (out of a possible five stars), and is considered a Top Safety Pick by the IIHS for 2013, but only earned a rating of marginal in the small overlap front category (the highest-available rating is good). A rear camera has been added, and the option of the Advanced Safety Package, which includes forward collision alert and lane departure warning systems.

What We Think

In a 2012 Economy Hatchback comparison we commented that GM now had a serious competitor in the econocar segment. "A combination of a six-speed transmission, effective noise insulation, and a well-composed suspension had us sailing along with traffic in silent comfort…" we wrote. "It's status quo for manufacturers to underrate the importance of ride quality in this segment . . . for Chevrolet to take it more seriously deserves commendation." While we enjoyed driving the Sonic, we faulted it for being the most expensive car in the comparison, being third slowest (but most torque, and second best hp), and only getting an observed 30.6 mpg.

You'll Like

  • Handles well for a subcompact
  • Comfortable
  • Up to an EPA-estimated 40 mpg highway

You Won't Like

  • Slower than competition
  • RS model doesn't get engine upgrade like Fiesta ST

Key Competitors

  • Honda Fit
  • Hyundai Accent
  • Toyota Yaris
  • Mazda2

Rating

4 star Balance of technology, fuel mileage and utility.

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