The 2019 Chevrolet Sonic subcompact sedan and hatchback made their debut as 2012 models, and remain urban-friendly and sensible choices in the small-car market.
Chevrolet no longer offers the 1.8-liter 4-cylinder as the base engine for Sonics. Little has changed otherwise for the 2019 model year, apart from one new color, dubbed â€œShock.â€
Four-door sedans come in three trim levels: LS, LT, and Premier. Only LT and Premier trims are offered for the five-door hatchback body style.
All Sonics now sport a turbocharged 1.4-liter 4-cylinder engine, rated at 138 horsepower and 148 pound-feet of torque. Either a 6-speed manual gearbox or a 6-speed automatic transmission may be installed. The turbo-4 engine has more perky acceleration than the now-departed, non-turbo 1.8-liter engine, with no significant penalty in fuel economy. An automatic transmission adds as much at $1,400 to the cost of a Sonic, depending on trim level.
An RS group, standard on hatchbacks and optional for sedans, includes a sport body kit and flat-bottom steering wheel, with the option of blacked-out 17-inch wheels.
Safety is a vital concern among typical subcompact buyers, and the Sonic compares well with others in its class. Automatic emergency braking isn’t available, however.
Crash-test results have been admirable. The Sonic has earned a five-star rating overall, and also for frontal- and side-impact, from the NHTSA. Only rollover prevention (a calculated figure) was rated four-star. The Sonic also earned â€œGoodâ€ ratings in every crash test performed by the IIHS.
Forward-collision warnings, lane-departure warnings, and rear parking sensors are optional for LT and Premier models, in a Driver Confidence Package.
Prices do not include $875 destination charge.
The Sonic LS Sedan ($15,420) has wind-up windows and manually-adjustable mirrors, as well as 15-inch steel wheels with plastic covers. Standard features include the 1.4-liter turbo-4 engine, cloth upholstery, power door locks, remote keyless entry, air conditioning, Bluetooth, and four-speaker audio. The 7.0-inch infotainment touchscreen includes Apple CarPlay and Android Auto compatibility, plus a 4G LTE wi-fi antenna to create a mobile hotspot.
LT Sedan ($17,920) adds power windows and heated mirrors, cruise control, 15-inch alloy wheels, six-speaker audio, and bodyside chrome trim.
Premier Sedan ($20,020) adds power-adjustable driver’s seat, 17-inch alloy wheels, foglights, a leather-wrapped steering wheel, and enhanced digital instruments.
LT Hatchback ($18,020) comes with 16-inch alloy wheels, a rear spoiler, foglights, and cargo-area shade. The RS package, including sport body elements, is standard. Otherwise, it’s equipped similar to LT sedan.
Premier Hatchback ($20,020) is equipped similar to Premier sedan.
The Sonic’s styling has aged quite well. Chevrolet gave the sedan and hatchback a subtle freshening two years ago and it remains handsome.
The “signature” two-section grille is less prominent than it used to be. An RS package that’s available for sedans and standard on hatchbacks makes the Sonic look almost like a trendy hot subcompact.
A number of bright body colors are offered, for a refreshing appearance. As is often the case, hatchbacks look better than the sedans, giving the impression of being designed first. Sedans have a tall trunk that makes the car look a bit more blocky.
The Sonic cabin is quiet and comfortable, though its rear seats in either body style can be snug for adults. Taller adults can expect limited headroom in either body style.
The Sonic’s cabin is well-trimmed; its low-sheen textures are impressive, considering the Sonic’s price. Infotainment is a strong point, with a touchscreen center-mounted above intuitive climate-control knobs. Useful data is supplied in a clear format, immediately ahead of the driver.
Whether in sedan or hatchback form, cargo space and utility are decent for a car of Sonic’s size. Sedan trunks hold an impressive 14.9 cubic feet. Hatchbacks get the versatility award, with 19 cubic feet of space behind the fold-flat rear seats. A hidden bin sits beneath the floor, with other storage bins and cupholders available.
On the road, the 2019 Sonic is surprisingly quiet and comfortable and enjoyable to drive for a subcompact, too, helped by the newly standard turbo-4 engine. Picking a Sonic with 6-speed manual shift adds to the fun.
In both handling capabilities and well-controlled ride quality, Sonics score a bit above average. There’s a sturdy quality about the Sonic, and it’s responsive, too. The steering is well-weighted, with a satisfying feel.
Chevrolet’s smooth-running turbocharged engine delivers significantly greater performance and responsiveness than the now-departed 1.8-liter 4-cylinder, which tended to feel strained. Both engines had the same horsepower rating, but the turbo-4 produces substantially more torque, which helps quicken acceleration.
Fuel economy is satisfactory, but the turbocharged Sonic isn’t quite as thrifty as its dimensions suggest. With the 6-speed manual transmission, a Sonic is EPA-rated at 28/37 mpg City/Highway, or 32 mpg Combined. With the 6-speed automatic, those estimates drop slightly to 27/35/30 mpg.
For a small car, the 2019 Chevy Sonic is competent and enjoyable. Only the higher trims have the most recent safety hardware, but all versions have a well-trimmed cabin with good infotainment. Hatchbacks don’t cost much more than sedans, but provide a spacious cargo area, making the LT hatchback a notably good value.
Driving impressions by The Car Connection. James M. Flammang contributed to this report.