2015 Chevrolet Sonic Review and Prices
Past and Future Reviews
The 2015 Chevrolet Sonic is the best car for you if you want a surprising small sedan or hatchback that proves world-class subcompacts are built in the USA.
The 2015 Chevrolet Sonic is likely to continue little-changed after Chevy added safety and connectivity features for model-year 2014. Sonic came to America for model-year 2012 and is based on a design from General Motors’ South Korean subsidiary, Daewoo. U.S.-market Sonics are built at a GM plant in Michigan, and the economical, fun-to-drive subcompact has been a sales success in a class normally associated with cars like the Honda Fit (made in Japan), Ford Fiesta (Mexico), and Hyundai Accent (South Korea).
Should you wait for the 2015 Chevrolet Sonic or buy a 2014 Chevrolet Sonic? With the next-generation Sonic due no sooner than model-year 2016, there’s an outside chance Chevy could spiff up the 2015 version with minor styling changes. That facelift is more probable for model-year 2016, in anticipation of an all-new 2017 Sonic. Wait for the 2015 Sonic if you’re betting on a midcycle freshening. Buy the 2014 Sonic if you’re OK with the current looks, need a neat little car, and don’t want to swallow model-changeover price increases.
2015 Chevrolet Sonic Changes back to top
Styling: The 2015 Chevrolet Sonic almost certainly will be a visual repeat of the 2014 Sonic. It’ll continue to slot into the Chevrolet lineup between the smaller Spark minicar and the larger Cruze compact sedan. It’ll also remain the only one of the three to offer both a four-door sedan and four-door hatchback body style.
Sonic’s nose will again be dominated by oversized headlamp ensembles and a large grille divided by a horizontal bar holding the Chevy bow-tie emblem. Sonic’s sporty RS model gets its own grille and front fascia with an air dam and fog lamps, plus its own rocker moldings, spoiler, and rear fascia. Both Sonic body styles share a 99.4-inch wheelbase (distance between front and rear axles), but the sedan is some 14 inches longer overall than the hatchback.
The 2015 Sonic sedan will return with one of the largest trunks in the subcompact class, at 14.9 cubic feet. The Sonic hatchback will again furnish 19 cubic feet behind the rear seat and a station-wagonlike 47.7 cubic feet with those seatbacks folded. In a styling slight-of-hand, the hatchback’s rear door handles will remain hidden in the roof pillars.
Expect a 2015 Sonic lineup consisting of base LS, volume-selling LT, and fancy LTZ models for both body styles, with the RS continuing as a hatchback only. The 2015 LS Sonics should again come with 15-inch steel wheels with wheel covers, LT models with 16-inch alloys, and LTZs and RSs with 17-inch alloys.
Every 2015 Sonic will again have front bucket seats and a 60/40 split/folding rear seatback. The RS will return with sport front seats and a sport steering wheel, aluminum pedals, and specific gauge graphics.
A motorcycle-inspired pod that combines a digital speedometer and analog tachometer will again be the main instrumentation for all 2015 Sonics. Standard in the central dashboard “stack” of the LTZ and RS and optional on the other models will be a 7-inch color touchscreen serving Chevrolet’s MyLink connectivity system (see the Features section below).
Mechanical: The 2015 Chevrolet Sonic has no mechanical changes on its agenda. It’ll again borrow its engines from the larger, heavier Cruze, giving it a slight power advantage over many subcompact rivals.
The standard engine for all 2015 Sonics should again be a 1.8-liter four-cylinder with 138 horsepower and 125 pound-feet of torque (think of torque as the force that gets you moving, horsepower as the energy that maintains momentum).
Standard on the 2015 Sonic RS and returning as an option on LT and LTZ models will be a turbocharged 1.4-liter four-cylinder with 138 horsepower and 148 pound-feet of torque.
Sonic will continue among the few subcompacts to offer more than one engine. It will otherwise run with the pack with front wheel drive, a torsion-beam rear axle, and electric power steering. Rear disc brakes are likely to repeat as an RS exclusive.
Transmission choices probably won’t change, with the 1.8-liter linked to a five-speed manual or six-speed automatic and the turbo 1.4 to a six-speed manual or six-speed automatic. Chevy will again tweak the RS with acceleration-boosting gear ratios and a handling-enhancing lowered and stiffened suspension.
All-in-all, the 2015 Sonic should repeat as a little car that rides like one that’s larger and heavier. An upright seating position, generously sized windows, and decent sound deadening also contribute to a feeling of relative confidence on the road. Acceleration is best described as adequate, even with the turbo engine. But handling is agile thanks to minimal mass and well-sorted steering and suspension.
Features: The 2015 Chevrolet Sonic won’t skimp on features buyers in this class expect, and it should continue to offer several more common to larger, costlier cars.
Added for model-year 2014 and continuing for 2015 will be a rearview camera; expect it to be standard on the Sonic LTZ and RS and optional on the LT. And offered on all but the LS model will be systems that warn of an impending frontal collision and of unintended lane departure.
Among other relative rarities in the segment likely to continue on the 2015 Sonic: remote-control engine start, standard on automatic-transmission LT, LTZ, and RS; heated front seats, standard on LTS and RS; and leather upholstery, standard on LTZ and RS, with sueded microfiber inserts in the latter.
Bluetooth phone connectivity, air conditioning, a height-adjustable driver’s seat with fold-down armrest, tilt/telescope steering wheel with Bluetooth and audio controls, and power door locks, are among other conveniences that’ll return as standard equipment. Same for remote keyless entry, an outside temperature gauge, variable intermittent windshield wipers, automatic off-on headlamps, and an antitheft alarm.
Also returning will be the aforementioned Chevrolet MyLink, which in effect imbeds an onboard smartphone into the car’s infotainment system via a USB interface or hands-free Bluetooth streaming connection. The dashboard touchscreen accesses personal playlists, photo galleries, phone books, and other stored media. Pandora and Stitcher internet radio are available. MyLink has been standard on LTZ and RS Sonics and available on the LS and LT. Chevy could upgrade the version offered in the 2015 Sonic to include integrated voice-recognition capability.
It’s also conceivable Chevy could equip the 2015 Sonic with an onboard navigation system, though very few cars in this price range offer one. Chevy will continue to fit every 2015 Sonic with GM’s OnStar system with six months’ free basic service. OnStar can furnish turn-by-turn audio directions and stolen-vehicle tracking, among other assistance.
True to their entry-level status, Sonic LS models have traditionally come only with manual windows and mirrors. Chevy might bow to competitive pressure and extend to those models the power windows and power heated mirrors that have been standard on LT, LTZ, and RS models.
Look for 2015 Sonic LS sedans and hatchbacks to continue with a basic four-speaker AM/FM audio system with auxiliary jack. Optional again on LSs and standard on other 2015 Sonics should be a six-speaker CD system with a USB iPod interface and Bluetooth audio streaming.
Chevy probably will continue to make XM satellite radio (with three months’ complimentary service) optional on LS models and standard on other 2015 Sonics.
2015 Chevrolet Sonic Prices back to top
Prices for the 2015 Chevrolet Sonic were not announced in time for this review but shouldn’t increase drastically over those of the 2014 Sonic.
That suggests a base-price range of $15,300-$22,500. (Estimated base prices in this review include the manufacturer’s mandatory destination fee; Chevy’s fee for the 2014 Sonic was $810).
The 2015 Sonic sedans should again be priced slightly below Sonic hatchbacks. Expect sedans to start at $15,300 in LS trim, around $16,700 in LT form, and around $18,300 in LZT guise.
Projected base prices for 2015 Sonic hatchbacks are $15,800 for the LS, $17,200 for the LT, and $18,800 for the LTZ. Estimated base price for the 2015 Sonic RS is $22,500.
To these price estimates, tack on about $1,100-$1,300 for automatic transmission, depending on model. Adding the turbocharged engine to a Sonic LT or LTZ sedan or hatchback should again cost an additional $700 or so.
2015 Chevrolet Sonic Fuel Economy back to top
EPA fuel-economy ratings for the 2015 Chevrolet Sonic were not released in time for this review but are not apt to change from those of the 2014 model. That would maintain the 2015 Sonic around the middle of the subcompact class for gas mileage. It’s kept from the top tier by engines a bit more powerful than the norm and curb weights 200-300 pounds more than many cars in the competitive set.
With the base 1.8-liter engine and the five-speed manual transmission, expect the 2015 Sonic to be rated 26/35/30 mpg city/highway/combined. With the six-speed automatic transmission, 1.8-liter Sonics are likely to again rate 25/35/28 mpg.
With the turbocharged 1.4-liter engine and the six-speed manual, expect 2015 Sonic LT, LTZ, and RS models to repeat at 29/40/33 mpg city/highway/combined city/highway. With the six-speed automatic transmission, they should rate 27/37/31.
Chevy likely will continue to recommend regular-octane gas for both Sonic engines.
2015 Chevrolet Sonic Release Date back to top
Expect 2015 Chevrolet Sonics in showrooms during the second half of 2014.
What's next for the 2015 Chevrolet Sonic back to top
Chevy will aim to keep Sonic competitive with continued emphasis on value for the dollar, which suggests some enhancement of features, especially connectivity. That would appeal to young buyers who haven’t established strong brand loyalties. Indeed, Chevy says 30 percent of Sonic buyers are under 35, and nearly half trade in a non-GM brand.
Model-year 2013 introduction of the Sonic RS is one bow to shoppers looking for sporty style, though it’s not really an answer to Ford’s Fiesta ST. The ST knocks the RS for a loop with 197 horsepower and 202 pound-feet of torque, though it’s available only with a six-speed manual transmission. Chevy could respond with a more-powerful Sonic, but RS prices already encroach on those of the larger Cruze.
2015 Chevrolet Sonic Competition back to top
Ford Fiesta: We’ll limit Sonic’s competitive set to subcompacts that offer both sedan and hatchback body styles. Topping the list is the Fiesta. It’s virtually the same size as the Sonic on the outside, though it’s slightly tighter inside (most evident in marginally less rear-seat space). And Sonics have more cargo space. Fiesta fights back with road manners befitting its origins as a car designed to meet demanding European tastes. Its styling is more flamboyant, inside and out, too. Look for mainstream 2015 Fiestas to return with around 120 horsepower and 112 pound-feet of torque while the turbo ST scoots with 197 and 202, respectively. Fiesta’s lighter than the Sonic and fuel economy is better, topping out at 39/40/33 mpg with the $700 Super Fuel Economy option. Estimated 2015 Fiesta base-price range is $15,100-$20,900 for mainstream models, with the RS starting at $22,300.
Nissan Versa: Versa’s appeal lies in compact-class dimensions at subcompact-class prices. Both the Versa sedan and Versa Note hatchback are larger than any other subcompacts inside and out, and have more cargo space than many larger cars, too (the hatch maxes out at 50.4 cubic feet). With that size comes a degree of on-road refinement most subcompacts can’t match – an advantage on long drives. However, with one engine of just 109 horsepower and 107 pound-feet of torque, acceleration is tepid, though fuel economy tops out at a pleasing 31/40/35 mpg with the continuously variable (automatic) transmission. Tepid also describes the styling, though the hatchback has a certain continental flavor. Estimated 2015 Versa base-price range is a tempting $13,100-$18,100.
Hyundai Accent: Here’s a subcompact with styling that turns heads – and a value proposition that opens wallets. Good fuel economy, generous warranty coverage, and impressive cabin materials round out the plus column for these South Korean sedans and hatchbacks. On the downside is sometimes erratic steering feel. Expect 2015 Accents to return with 138 horsepower and 123 pound-feet of torque and ratings of 28/37/32 mpg with the six-speed manual transmission and 28/37/31 with the six-speed automatic. Passenger room is comparable to Sonic’s. So is the sedan’s trunk volume. The Accent hatchback has an impressive 21.2 cubic feet of cargo room behind the rear seat and 47.5 with the seat folded. Estimated 2015 Accent base-price range is $15,800-$16,900 for the sedan and $15,990-$18,400 for the hatchback. Accent’s basic design is shared with the Kia Rio from Hyundai’s corporate partner.