THE PROS & CONS
- What’s Best: New tweaks and techie bits, inside and out
- What’s Worst: Sonic offers a small car alternative. But with the Spark as the entry car and the Cruze offering compact sedan and hatchback choices, is it really necessary?
- What’s Interesting: Seeing Apple CarPlay and Android Auto spreading through all levels of auto lineups, with navigation and other apps once the reserve of premium products now available to all
Okay, the headline might be pushing it a little.
But while you might not go so far as to describe it as a “super” Sonic, this latest version of Chevy’s second-generation subcompact at least strives for relevancy with its post-millennial audience, adding tweaks and techs for 2017.
The changes start with fresh-faced styling, bolstering the Sonic’s pugnacious, wheels-to-the-corners stance with new front and rear fascias, a new hood and new lighting assemblies.
New projector-beam headlights now come standard across the lineup and available LED daytime running lamps accent the global Chevrolet styling cues now seen on other new lineup additions like the 2017 Trax, Cruze and Bolt EV.
Tested here, we have a five-door Sonic hatchback, always a slightly edgier and more charismatic model than the four-door sedan version.
New wheel designs and four new colours – Orange Burst Metallic, Brimstone, Cajun Red Tintcoat and Arctic Blue Metallic – complete the exterior makeover.
Inside, the Sonic features a new refined gauge cluster and boasts of “big technologies for a small car”, including an enhanced Driver Information Centre and a new MyLink system with a standard 7-inch colour touchscreen, along with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto abilities. An available 4G LTE connection provides a Wi-Fi hotspot internet connection for up to seven compatible devices, such as smartphones, laptops or tablets.
Other segment-busting additions include keyless entry and ignition, an available power driver’s seat, optional heated steering, rear view camera monitoring made standard, and a new Rear Park Assist system added to the Driver Confidence Package.
Nice touches worth noting include the 10 airbags and standard Hill Start Assist, dual glove boxes and an under floor storage compartment that compliments the cargo area’s 1,351 litre capabilities.
It’s not all pluses and new additions, however. The interior colour palette has been pared down to a single selection Jet Black choice and the sport-oriented RS trim level was dropped for 2017, along with some of its performance enhancements – four-wheel disc braking, for example.
But most of the RS cosmetic cues live on, spread now throughout the entire hatchback lineup as an included RS package with fog lamps, a sporty front and rear fascia, rocker moulding side skirts, a rear spoiler, RS exterior badging, piano black interior trim, a three-spoke RS-badged flat-bottom sport steering wheel, RS-embroidered seats and red-edged RS-logo floor mats.
The simplified Sonic hatchback lineup for 2017 includes the LT Manual ($17,845), the LT Auto ($19,295) and Premier Auto ($21,795).
Power choices start with a 1.8-litre Ecotec four-cylinder engine making 138 hp and 125 lb/ft of torque. Fuel economy with this base engine is rated at 9.7/6.9L/100km (city/hwy).
Our top-of-the-line Premier trim tester comes standard with the optional 1.4-litre turbocharged Ecotec four-cylinder mated to a six-speed automatic.
This smaller turbo engine is also rated at 138 hp, which might lead to a little head scratching.
But, while it would be nice to hang your hat on a higher horsepower number, more significantly, the boosted 148 lb/ft of torque adds practical oomph, bringing accelerative power on earlier at a low 1,850 rpm, while also improving on fuel economy at 8.8/6.6L/100km (city/hwy). My actual fuel econo average worked out to 8.1/100km (comb).
And while the little turbo mill won’t exactly send you swooning about town in tire-smoking abandon, the Sonic does manage a brisk and tidy pace, capably handled with standard Stabilitrak and traction control along with, in this case, an optional Driver Confidence Package that includes Forward Collision Alert, Lane Departure Warning and the newly-added Rear Park Assist. An RS suspension lowering kit ($765) and sport pedals ($155) are also available for gearheads.
Compared to a dearth of product in the past, GM now offers all kinds of small vehicle choices aimed at younger, first-time buyers. The Sonic hatchback, starting at $17,845 fits snugly between the diminutive Spark ($9,995) and the brand new compact Cruze hatchback ($20,695).
So, although the current crossover wave of popularity might steer some buyers to SUV-flavoured vehicles like the Trax CUV ($19,795), with the urban runabout advantages of a small and versatile hatchback, the 2017 Chevrolet Sonic offers a well-rounded compromise mix of larger car equipment and amenities blended inside a nimble, subcompact package, a worthy competitor against Rio, Accent, Fit and Fiesta contenders.
2017 Chevrolet Sonic Premier Hatchback
BODY STYLE: Five-door, four-passenger hatchback subcompact
DRIVE METHOD: Front-engine, front-wheel-drive, six-speed automatic (as tested)
ENGINE: 1.4-litre Ecotec turbo DOHC VVT inline four-cylinder (138 hp, 148 lb/ft)
FUEL CONSUMPTION: (Six-speed auto) 8.8/6.6L/100km (city/hwy); as tested 8.1/100km (comb).
CARGO CAPACITY: 1,351 litres
PRICE: MSRP Premier 6AT Hatchback $21,795; As tested $23,085 incl. Kinetic Blue Metallic ($495) and Driver Confidence Pkg. ($695). Destination ($1,600) not incl.
WEB SITE: gm.ca