Chevy’s subcompact puts on a new face for the New York Auto Show

Revealed at the 2010 Paris Motor Show, the current Chevrolet Sonic is a little long in the tooth compared to its main competitors, but that didn’t stop it from being a hot seller that brings new, younger customers to the brand in the U.S. But, while Chevrolet isn’t planning on ditching the already six-year-old Gamma II platform, the Sonic received a significant makeover ahead of the 2016 New York Auto Show.

Compared to last year’s model, which also gained a few nips and tucks, the 2017 Sonic is miles ahead in terms of exterior design. Solid improvements were operated inside as well, where a new infotainment system and the latest connectivity technologies are available. Chevy did ignore the drivetrain department, but the standard 1.8-liter and the optional 1.4-liter turbo provide just enough power for the small compact, along with excellent fuel economy. The hatch also comes with a couple of segment-first features, but we’ll talk about that in detail in the review below.

“The new styling and features of the 2017 Sonic reinforce its position as a fun, efficient small car with leading technology – all at an affordable price,” said Steve Majoros, director of marketing at Chevrolet. “This is an important segment for Chevrolet, as we really have an opportunity to introduce ourselves to new buyers and show them what we’re all about.”

The new Sonic goes on sale this fall with three trims to choose from for the sedan version. The hatch, on the other hand, will only be offered in RS guise.

Continue reading to learn more about the 2017 Chevrolet Sonic.

  • 2017 Chevrolet Sonic
  • Year:
    2017
  • Make:
  • Model:
  • Engine:
    inline-4
  • Horsepower @ RPM:
    138
  • Torque @ RPM:
    125
  • Displacement:
    1.8 L
  • 0-60 time:
    9.7 sec.
  • Top Speed:
    108 mph
  • Price:
    16000 (Est.)
  • Price:
  • car segment:
  • body style:

0Exterior0

2017 Chevrolet Sonic High Resolution Exterior
- image 669939
There's a new front hood and a reshaped nose with a slimmer, and more stylish upper grille that houses the "bowtie" emblem.

The Sonic’s shell is entirely new for 2017 and uses the same styling cues seen on the recently unveiled Cruze, Trax, and Bolt EV. There’s a new front hood and a reshaped nose with a slimmer, and more stylish upper grille that houses the "bowtie" emblem. The new grille is flanked by redesigned headlamps that no longer feature round lights. Below, there’s a much larger grille with chrome trim and vertical slots for the new daytime running lights (available with LED technology).

Both models received similar changes around back, with the most interesting feature being the new taillight cluster. Although they’re similar to the previous model as far as shape and size go, they now feature a stacked, three-piece configuration with the reverse lights in the middle. The bumper is also new and features sportier lines, a diffuser-like element, and a pair of slim red lights. On the sedan, these are paired with L-shaped character lines that give the rear end a sportier appearance. The chrome trim above the license plate is now painted in the same color as the body.

The profile of the car remained unchanged for the most part, featuring the same lower character line that ascends toward the rear wheels. Speaking of wheels, Chevy offers new 15-, 16-, and 17-inch designs in bright or dark chrome finishes. Finally, the Sonic gained four new exterior colors: Orange Burst Metallic, Brimstone, Cajun Red Tintcoat, and Arctic Blue Metallic.

All told, the new design brings the Sonic in line with the rest of Chevrolet’s compact lineup and gives it a more upscale appearance.

0Interior0

2017 Chevrolet Sonic High Resolution Exterior Wallpaper quality
- image 669943

Chevrolet has yet to publish photos of the Sonic’s new interior, but it did say that there is a new gauge cluster incorporating an analog speedometer, for "a higher degree of refinement" and a new steering wheel. Other than that, the brand doesn’t say a word about the cabin’s design, which leads me to believe that not much has changed with this update. We’ll find out more when the Sonic debuts at the New York Auto Show.

There is big news in the technology department, though. For starters, the new model gets a power driver’s seat, which makes it the first in its segment to offer this feature. Chevrolet also included keyless entry and start. The options list includes heated cloth seats and steering wheel, while the RS trim adds RS-branded floor mats, piano black decor, an RS-badged flat-bottom steering wheel, and red cloth seats.

Arguably the most important addition to the Sonic is the seven-inch touchscreen powered by a new infotainment system designed to support the latest connectivity technologies. It includes 4G LTE with Wi-Fi hotspot that allows passengers to connect up to seven compatible devices to high-speed, wireless Internet and Apple CarPlay and Android Auto compatibility. The latter is yet another segment-exclusive feature.

0Drivetrain0

2017 Chevrolet Sonic High Resolution Exterior Wallpaper quality
- image 669941
The standard engine is the same 1.8-liter four-cylinder rated at 138 horsepower and 125 pound-feet of torque

This is where the Sonic carries over unchanged, featuring the same pair of four-cylinder powerplants as the previous model. The standard engine is the same 1.8-liter four-cylinder rated at 138 horsepower and 125 pound-feet of torque, while the optional 1.4-liter turbo-four delivers the same 138 horses and 148 pound-feet of twist.

The former mates to either a five-speed manual or a six-speed automatic, while the latter can be paired with either a six-speed manual or a six-speed automatic. Performance should remain the same with 0-to-60 mph sprints of 9.7 and 7.8 seconds, respectively. Top speed is limited at 108 mph for both the hatch and sedan.

Also, look for the same fuel economy numbers as last year’s model. The 1.8-liter should return 26 mpg in the city, 35 mpg on the highway, and 30 mpg combined, while the 1.4-liter should be good for 29 mpg in the city, 40 mpg on the highway, and 33 mpg combined.

0Safety0

2017 Chevrolet Sonic High Resolution Exterior
- image 669946

There are no major changes in the safety department, but the Sonic was already well-equipped in this area. For 2017, both the hatch and sedan come with 10 standard air bags, Forward Collision Alert, Lane Departure Warning, Stabilitrak (electronic stability control), and an antilock braking system. New standard features include Rear Park Assist and a rearview camera.

0Prices0

No word on pricing yet, but the Sonic’s sticker should see a mild increase given the numerous changes. With the current sedan and hatchback retail from $15,220 and $15,820, respectively, expect the 2017-model-year versions to fetch about $16,000 and $16,600 before options.

0Competition0

1Ford Fiesta1

2014 Ford Fiesta High Resolution Exterior
- image 518614

One of the best-driving small cars in America, the Ford Fiesta is both sporty and efficient thanks to its small-displacement, three- and four-cylinder engines. Available in both sedan and hatchback guises, the Fiesta is actually a bit narrower than the Sonic, which translates into less hip and shoulder room in the cabin. Motivation is provided by either a 1.6-liter four-pot with 120 horsepower and 112 pound-feet of torque or a 1.0-liter, three-cylinder turbo good for 120 horses and 112 pound-feet. But, while the standard models are less powerful than the Sonic, Ford also offers a performance-oriented ST version of the hatch with a turbocharged 1.6-liter that cranks out 197 horsepower and 202 pound-feet. More importantly, the Fiesta is more affordable with starting prices set at $14,090 for the sedan and $14,390 for the hatch. Priced from $20,970, the Fiesta ST makes for a hot deal compared to similarly priced Sonic options.

Find out more about the Ford Fiesta here.

1Kia Rio1

2016 Kia Rio Sedan High Resolution Exterior Wallpaper quality
- image 616703

Lightly revised for the 2016 model year, the Kia Rio might not be as pretty as the new Sonic, but it does come with certain advantages. First, high-density foam in its A- and B-pillars allow very little noise inside the cabin. Second, the 1.6-liter four-cylinder with 138 horsepower and 123 pound-feet of torque (similar to the Sonic’s) delivers significantly better fuel economy than Chevy’s naturally aspirated unit at 27 mpg in the city, 37 mpg on the highway, and 31 mpg combined. Pricing-wise, the Rio sedan is notably more affordable at $14,165, while the hatchback is only marginally cheaper than the current five-door sonic at $15,495.

Read more about the Kia Rio here.

0Conclusion0

2017 Chevrolet Sonic High Resolution Exterior
- image 669940

The Chevrolet Sonic was one of the first subcompacts to bring premium features to this segment by introducing navigation and iPhone/Android suport on its more expensive trims back in 2014. This trend seems to continue in 2017 with power driver’s seat and Apple CarPlay/Android Auto compatibility, two features that should help the Sonic keep its position at the top of its class. Granted, these features come at a cost with range-topping models likely to fetch more than $19,000, but the Sonic is the closest thing you can get to a premium compact in a smaller package designed for crowded cities.

  • Leave it
    • * Slightly pricier than competition
    • * Needs a performance-oriented version

Press Release

Chevrolet today introduced the 2017 Sonic – a more expressive, sporty take on the brand’s fun-to-drive small car. It offers big technologies such as a new MyLink system with segment-exclusive Apple CarPlay and Android Auto compatibility, and a fresh exterior with new LED signature lighting.

2017 Chevrolet Sonic High Resolution Exterior
- image 669940

The updated styling complements new comfort and convenience features such as an available heated steering wheel and a standard 7-inch-diagonal color touchscreen for the new MyLink system. Rear Park Assist is also new, adding to one of the most comprehensive safety packages in the segment.

“The new styling and features of the 2017 Sonic reinforce its position as a fun, efficient small car with leading technology – all at an affordable price,” said Steve Majoros, director of marketing, Chevrolet Cars and Crossovers. “This is an important segment for Chevrolet, as we really have an opportunity to introduce ourselves to new buyers and show them what we’re all about.”

Like the new Trax, Sonic brings new, younger customers to the brand, with more than 20 percent of them younger than 35 – and nearly 30 percent trading in non-GM vehicles. It is also Chevrolet’s top vehicle for first-time new buyers.

The 2017 Sonic goes on sale this fall, offered in LS, LT and Premier trims on sedan models. The hatchback returns exclusively in RS guise, offered in LT and Premier trims. An RS package is also available on the sedan.

Refined design

Sonic’s athletic exterior has an entirely new, expressive look echoing the global Chevrolet cues seen on vehicles such as the Cruze, Bolt EV and 2017 Trax.

It is a richer, more detailed design, with the front end featuring a new hood, new front fascia and new lighting elements. Projector-beam headlamps are standard, along with available LED daytime running lamps. Likewise, the rear fascia is new.

“With its trademark wheels-at-the-corners stance, the dramatic changes to the Sonic’s design give it and even sportier stance and attitude,” said Justin Thompson, exterior design manager.

2017 Chevrolet Sonic High Resolution Exterior Wallpaper quality
- image 669941

There are also new 15-, 16- and 17-inch wheel designs and four new exterior colors offered in 2017: Orange Burst Metallic, Brimstone, Cajun Red Tintcoat and Arctic Blue Metallic (late availability).

Interior and technology enhancements

Sonic’s thoughtful interior retains its focus on delivering comfort, convenience and technology. A new, detailed gauge cluster incorporating an analog speedometer adds a higher degree of refinement to the cabin, complementing addition new comfort and convenience features.

For 2017, Sonic becomes the first in its segment to offer a power driver’s seat. Additional new features include:

Keyless Open and Start
Available heated cloth seats with new heated steering wheel
RS trim includes RS-logo floor mats, piano black décor, RS-badged flat-bottom steering wheel – with new, red cloth seating available.

Also new is a 7-inch-diagonal infotainment system designed to support the latest connectivity technologies, including Apple CarPlay and Android Auto compatibility and 4G LTE with Wi-Fi hotspot. With the available 4G LTE connection, Sonic provides a Wi-Fi hotspot that allows passengers to connect up to seven compatible devices such as smartphones, laptops and tablets, to high-speed wireless Internet.

2017 Chevrolet Sonic High Resolution Exterior
- image 669939

Apple CarPlay and Android Auto compatibility is subject to their terms, privacy statements and data plan rates, as well as a compatible smartphone.

Safety first

Sonic offers safety features designed to alert drivers to potential crash situations. Forward Collision Alert and Lane Departure Warning are available active safety features. Sonic also offers 10 standard air bags, Stabilitrak electronic stability control and an antilock braking system to help provide peace of mind. Rear Park Assist is new for 2017 and a rearview camera is now standard on all models.

Turbocharged performance

The Sonic’s standard Ecotec 1.8L engine is estimated to deliver similar fuel economy numbers for the 2017 model year, however official EPA estimates are not yet available. Sonic’s fun-driving spirit returns with an available Ecotec 1.4L turbo engine, backed by a six-speed automatic or manual transmission. Rated at 138 horsepower (102 kW).

View the full press release Hide press release
Press release
What do you think?
Show Comments
Car Finder: