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2016 Chevrolet Sonic LT 1.4t AT sedan

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DRIVEN: 2016 Chevy Sonic LT 1.4 turbo 6AT sedan.  MSRP was  a little bit below 20g.

 

It's pretty amazing i had not yet driven a Sonic.  I usually find a way to test most of Chevy's newer car lineup and so therefore the fact that i put this off so long is a big surprise.

 

HIGHS:

-Chevy nails the styling with the Sonic.  It's unique both within Chevy and for it's econocar class.  A lot of presence and very tasteful.

-Compact outside, relatively space efficient inside for its overall size.  GM doesn't do packaging efficiency well very often!

-Getting in and out easier in the Sonic than other compacts and subcompacts.

-Lots of headroom and more upright seating than you are used to in small cars.  In fact, big people fit well in this car.  Seat heights and headroom and knee room are decent for a car this small.

-The trunk benefits, it's YUUUGGGEEEEE! and perfectly shaped.

-Much better interior design than you usually get for this class.  Lots of interesting surfaces, and even when they are inexpensive, they don't look CHEAP; an example, the Rice Chex texture on some of the plastics was really cool to me.

-Fantastic driving position with great views all around.  This reminded of me the first Ford Focus and it's tall but efficient proportions and their benefits.

-I'm always going to show love for big mirrors.  The Sonic has big mirrors.

-Controls and ergonomics were very interesting.  Dash sits lower and away than what I am used to, and I liked it.  Loved the cubbies on each side of the radio.  Loved the steering wheel and its faux grips.....and i really dug the motorcycle look gauges with the LCD speedo.

-This had a fair amount of kit, remote start, heated mirrors, backup camera.

-Large drink bottle spots in the doors, and a couple of usable cupholders in the center.  The driver's armrest actually fell to arm pretty well.

-It didn't seem overly noisy, like i expected.  It still sounded econocar, but on a much smaller dose.

-Turbo 4 had great gusto for a car in this class.  Mated to the 6 speed, it provides very relaxed cruising at highway speeds, which can often be rare in this class of cars.  Very road trip worthy.

-An interesting contrast to the outgoing Cruze which was its contemporary....feels entirely different and in its own way very appealing vs. the Cruze in comparison.

-No nonsense car, done in no nonsense fashion.

 

LOWS:

-No rear armrest...C'MON!

-Really the front could have more of an armrest too.......

-Weak brakes (the LT has drum rears, overall they felt as if they would be inadequate more than in rare occasions.  Not in any way confidence inspiring.

-Steering felt like the front end was a bit insubstantial.  I think this makes me believe that the steering itself is not tuned awesome, and the suspension and tires are just not tuned to just 'get by'.  I would actually want to compare an RS or LTZ (same? both?) to see if all the chassis upgrades improve the feel of the car and maybe graduate it to a little bit of sporty.

-I think the car could have stood to be about 2 inches wider (and 2 inches wider inside, so that's why they left the armrest out I guess).  

-A feeling exists when driving this that more improvements were left out and could easily be made in the future.  (and hey I guess that is happening).  There is just some minor sense that a lack of refinement holds the car back a bit.  (Now we all know there is only so much you can do with the price).

-something like a 1.8t would be a fantastic performance option here.

-Chevy pushes the limits of this class with their MSRP's on the Sonic....

 

SUMMARY:

Despite the notion that a trim level upgrade probably helps with whatever is minorly unfavorable in steering, suspension, feel, and mostly braking, I think it's enough to knock it out of a grade of A-.  If the engine and tranny had been a knock out of the park, I would have kept it an A-.  It's a very solid powertrain in this class but not AMAZING.  The brakes need more in the LT and since that is a safety item its fair to nick the car a bit for that.  So for that, and MSRP's a bit high, I think a B+ is a fair grade for the LT trim and turbo engine on this car.

 

It's quite possible if I take an RS or LTZ out that it will address those dynamic shortcomings to some degree, but remember the price goes up too.

 

For me, what I got out of this was that i expected the Sonic to be a bit junky and it's far from it.  It's a charming rig, and to me its a much better choice than the other tinny boxes in the segment.  It's a legit road car, and it would be a fantastic daily commuter as well.  And if someone picked this over the outgoing Cruze, I would understand that as well.  It really has a different persona, and is a real honest good solid car to boot.  I have no clue why anyone would ever consider a Fiesta when this available (ST Fiesta withstanding).

 

Should be neat to see the 2017 when it hits.

Edited by regfootball

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I do like the Sonic.  Local dealer has about 4 1.8L hatches with stick, tempting in times of 20% off MSRP... but then I think I'd have to have the turbo, and I am a sucker for the newest thing, and the 2017 takes care of the gimmicky instrument cluster and the hard to clean headlights of the current.

 

Fiesta ST is fantastic of course, but I am thinking I'd be hooning it all the time, and that would kill mileage, and maybe even myself, so I hold off on that.

 

Right now, local dealer has loaded up on Trax LTs.  I am fantasizing on the brown one with deluxe black and brown cloth and vinyl interior.  With gloss black wheels and stock size off-road tires, it would be a little beast.  I like the current look of the Trax... but the 2017 has a nicer interior by the looks of things... so... ???

Edited by ocnblu

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^^^^ decisions, decisions ^^^^^   I'm trying to decide if we will pull the trigger on something very soon.  A sonic would cover what i need the car for 80-90% of the time.  But we could move up a bit and lease a Cruze or a Malibu too.  The C&M have all the new gadgets like Apple Car Play.

 

one thing is for sure to me, do not get the 1.8 if you get a Sonic.  You gotta have the 1.4.

 

Trax is a nice rig too.  On that one I really believe it would pay to get the 17.

Edited by regfootball

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^^^^ decisions, decisions ^^^^^   I'm trying to decide if we will pull the trigger on something very soon.  A sonic would cover what i need the car for 80-90% of the time.  But we could move up a bit and lease a Cruze or a Malibu too.  The C&M have all the new gadgets like Apple Car Play.

 

one thing is for sure to me, do not get the 1.8 if you get a Sonic.  You gotta have the 1.4.

 

Trax is a nice rig too.  On that one I really believe it would pay to get the 17.

I recommend holding off as there is a ton of updates and new models coming over the next year. My gut tells me the auto companies are going to clean house on old tech / parts to then release far superior products. Plus why not save a bit longer and get a nicer auto that lasts longer than to get some instant gratification now.

 

Just IMHO.

Weak brakes? That's scary.

Agree, in today's market, why the hell still have rear drum brakes when there is clearly superior products that the competition use in this same category. 

  • Upvote 1

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Even in Canada where compacts have been very popular, subcompacts, including the Sonic have failed to gain much traction.  The value proposition just isn't strong enough.

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We've got a 2016 LT Turbo that's a 25% off unit. 16K brand new. Crazy deal.

So only 12k???? 

 

 

 

No, 16K now. MSRP is 22K.

 

Oh okay, still a great deal. I just didn't expect a 22k Sonic... 

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With the prices of everything these days, a loaded turbo sonic for 16,000 would be a killer deal.

 

One thing with Sonics I noticed though, the used market is flooded and prices are not good.  If you bought a 22,000 Sonic even at 16,000, if you'll be underwater for a LONG time.  Try to trade that Sonic 18 months from now, and you'll get a 10,000 dollar offer.

 

Chevy is driving leasing on the Cruze and Malibu right now because they are new.  They give the big buy discounts on the Impala and Sonic right now.  In three years, if you want a used Cruze or Malibu, the prices will be high still because GM will get the lease returns back and have their dealers re-sell them as CPO's etc.  Since Sonics don't lease, and there is not much of a first tier used market for them, their street value will nosedive quickly.

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