With a stiff structure, ride and handling developed by Corvette engineers and a proven powertrain portfolio adapted from the 300-lb heavier Cruze, the 2015 Chevrolet Sonic squares off against established subcompact contenders, such as the Ford Fiesta and Honda Fit. Both 4-door sedan and 5-door hatchback versions are available. The hatch is 14.1 inches shorter than the sedan, providing up to 31 cu ft. of cargo space with the rear seat folded. Built in the U.S., the Sonic can deliver up to 38 miles per gallon on the highway with the optional 1.4-liter turbo 4-cylinder engine and 6-speed manual transmission.
New on Sonic for 2015 is standard OnStar 4G LTE which makes the cabin a rolling Wi-Fi hotspot for mobile devices.
The Sonic is a good used-car choice, offering an impressive interior package, comfort and sporty handling in a fuel-efficient subcompact layout. Plus, Chevrolet parts and servicing are readily available.
What We Like
OnStar 4G LTE mobile Wi-Fi hotspot; choice of sedan and hatchback body styles; fuel economy of 1.4-liter engine; sporty RS model; communicative steering; roomy trunk; motorcycle dash design
What We Don’t
Cramped rear seat; disappointing fuel economy with the 1.8-liter engine; hard-plastic door armrests; heavy for its size
Fuel Economy & Engine Specs
The 2015 Chevrolet Sonic has two available engines, both rated at 138 horsepower but with very different performance characteristics. On all but the RS and LTZ models, the Sonic’s standard engine is a 1.8-liter dual-overhead-camshaft (DOHC) 4-cylinder with four valves per cylinder, continuously variable intake and exhaust cam-phasing. The 1.8-liter must be revved to a lofty 6,300 rotations per minute to make its 138 hp and produces 125 lb-ft of peak torque at 3,800 rpm. It burns regular unleaded gas and is the only engine available on the base Sonic LS. The 1.8-liter has Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) ratings of 26 miles per gallon in the city and 34 mpg on the highway with the standard 5-speed manual transmission and 24 mpg city/34 mpg hwy with the optional 6-speed automatic.
The 1.4-liter turbo is optional on the LT and standard on the RS and LTZ. The turbocharged 1.4-liter DOHC turbo 4-cylinder also produces 138 hp but at a more accessible 4,900 rpm. It also develops a more robust 148 lb-ft of torque over a broad range of 1,850–4,900 rpm, so it doesn’t have to work as hard in traffic. The turbocharger kicks in at low speed, so there is no noticeable turbo lag. It also runs on regular unleaded (although premium will help performance in hot desert climates) and is EPA-rated at 28 mpg city/38 mpg hwy with the 6-speed manual and 27 mpg city/36 mpg hwy with the 6-speed automatic. The sporty RS model has a shorter final-drive ratio for improved acceleration but EPA estimates dip to 26 mpg city/33 mpg hwy for the 6-speed manual transmission and 25 mpg city/33 mpg hwy for the 6-speed automatic.
Standard Features & Options
The 2015 Sonic is available in LS, LT, LTZ and RS trim.
The LS includes OnStar 4G LTE with an in-car Wi-Fi hotspot, air conditioning, cloth upholstery, a tilt-telescopic steering wheel, a height-adjustable driver’s seat, a fold-down center driver’s armrest, automatic headlamps, remote keyless entry, a 4-speaker AM/FM stereo, 15-inch steel wheels with hubcaps, stability and traction control, anti-lock brakes, 10 airbags and power door locks. Bluetooth for phone and steering-wheel controls is now standard.
The LT adds heated power mirrors, power front windows, upgraded cloth trim, 15-in alloy wheels, cruise control and Chevrolet MyLink infotainment with a 7-in color touchscreen and 6-speaker AM/FM/CD/MP3 stereo with SiriusXM radio. Optional on LT are wider 205/55 tires on 16-in alloy wheels, fog lamps and the 1.4-liter turbo and 6-speed manual transmission.
The LTZ gains the 1.4-liter turbo engine, heated front seats, leatherette upholstery, fog lamps and 205/50 tires on 17-in alloy wheels. Remote starting, a power sunroof and a rear spoiler are optional.
The RS comes with the 1.4-liter turbo, short-geared 6-speed manual, 4-wheel discs, 17-in alloys, a lowered ride height, stiffer springs and shocks, aluminum sport pedals, a bright exhaust tip, a leather-wrapped shifter, a flat-bottom steering wheel and leather and suede seat coverings.
The Chevrolet Sonic is a great small car, but it lacks the track record of offerings from brands such as Toyota and Honda. Steeper depreciation, however, means there will be some bargains out there, especially on the used-car lots of competing brands.
For an idea of the 2015 Sonic’s price range, check out the Kelley Blue Book used-car values at KBB.com. You can also search the Autotrader Classifieds to see which models are for sale in your area.
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) has announced the following recalls for the 2015 Sonic:
On models equipped with the Bring Your Own Media radio, the audio speakers may not sound a warning chime if the driver fails to latch the seatbelt when driving or leaves the key in the ignition switch when exiting the car. If the seatbelt is not latched, the injury risk in a crash is increased. If the key is left in an unattended car, the risk of theft increases.
On models with the base radio and OnStar, a software issue may cause the radio to lock up, black out the display and cease audio functions, eliminating warning chimes if the driver leaves the key in the ignition or fails to fasten the seatbelt.
Recall repairs are required by law, even if the vehicle is out of warranty. Your dealer can check to see if the repairs were performed and, if not, will fix the car for free.
Safety Ratings & Warranties
NHTSA gave the 2015 Chevrolet Sonic five stars for frontal and side impacts and four stars for rollover performance.
The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) gave the 2015 Sonic 4-door sedan Good ratings for small- and moderate-overlap front impacts, side impacts, roof strength and head-restraint and seat-crash performance. It didn’t test the hatchback. IIHS named the 2015 Sonic sedan a Top Safety Pick.
General Motors covered the 2015 Sonic with a 3-year/36,000-mile bumper-to-bumper warranty, a 5-year/100,000-mile powertrain warranty with roadside assistance and a 6-year/100,000-mile corrosion-perforation warranty.
Chevrolet certified pre-owned cars cannot have more than 75,000 miles on the odometer and must be five years old or less. Every CPO Sonic undergoes a 172-point inspection. Those that pass receive a 12-month/12,000-mile bumper-to-bumper limited warranty, plus the transferable original 5-year/100,000-mile powertrain coverage is extended to six years and includes roadside assistance. Also included is a 2-year/24,000-mile maintenance plan.
Other Cars to Consider
2015 Ford Fiesta — Available as a 4-door sedan or 5-door hatchback, the Fiesta delivers mini Aston Martin front styling, sporty handling, good fuel economy and the latest in infotainment and safety systems. Engine choices include a 120-hp 1.6-liter 4-cylinder, a 123-hp 1.0-liter 3-cylinder turbo economy model and a 197-hp 1.6-liter 4-cylinder turbo ST performance variant. Rear-seat room remains cramped, however, and the 6-speed dual-clutch automatic transmission is jerky.
2015 Toyota Yaris — This subcompact receives a sportier front-end appearance for 2015 and is available as a 3- or 5-door hatchback. Toyota’s entry-level car delivers the basics and is powered by a modest 106-hp 1.5-liter 4-cylinder, teamed with a 4-speed automatic or a 5-speed manual transmission. The latter combination is rated at 30 mpg city/36 mpg hwy.
Unless you need the security of a trunk, choose a Sonic hatchback. It’s way shorter than the sedan, easier to park and maneuver and has more cargo space with the rear seat folded. The base 1.8-liter isn’t bad, but it won’t deliver the fuel economy and performance that makes 1.4-turbo Sonics fun to drive. Look for a Chevrolet certified pre-owned Sonic when available, and check with the dealer to make sure the car you’re considering has had safety-recall items resolved.