- Available as a sedan or hatchback
- Two engine options, both make 138-hp (one naturally aspirated, one turbocharged)
- One of the sportier sub-compact offerings
If we think of the Sonic’s development since it debuted way back in 2012, it really mimics high school. It has gone from a freshman trying to find its legs, to a sophomore with some confidence and new tricks in 2013, to an established contender in its junior year.
Subcompacts are no longer the barren vehicles they once were, and the U.S.-produced 2014 Chevrolet Sonic offers high-tech features and sporty character to keep pace with competitors such as the Honda Fit and Ford Fiesta.
For 2014, the Sonic gets some very minor changes, including some new safety options and a package for LT models that adds Chevy’s MyLink infotainment system, a power sunroof, and fog lamps.
The Sonic carries many of the styling characteristics found on the larger Cruze, including a split front grille with black honeycomb inserts, round head and tail lights, and character lines along the hood that sweep into the windshield pillars. The five-door hatchback has an up-swept beltline running to the back end and a roofline that falls away giving it a somewhat truncated appearance. Adding to that look are rear doors with the handles concealed in trim surrounding the rear window. The Sonic rolls on standard 15-inch steel wheels, with 16- and 17-inch alloys available, as are fog lamps and a rear spoiler.
Chevy offers a choice of two engines and in an interesting twist, they both make the same horsepower. LS, LT, and LTZ trims get a standard 138-hp, 1.8-liter, inline-four cylinder engine producing 125 pounds-feet of torque pairs with either a five-speed manual or a six-speed automatic transmission driving the front wheels. The more interesting engine is the 138-hp, turbocharged, 1.4-liter four-cylinder with 148 pounds-feet of torque mated to a six-speed manual or automatic that is optional in the LT and LTZ but standard in the hotter RS. The turbo not only offers better performance, it’s also the more fuel efficient of the two.
Inside, the five-seat Sonic gets a unique instrument panel that has a large analog tachometer and digital speed readout in a clean, modern design. The split rear seat folds flat for easy cargo hauling; cloth or leather upholstery and heated seats are available depending on trim level. The most notable feature is Chevrolet’s MyLink system, optional on the lower two models and standard on the upper pair. The AM/FM/SiriusXM, six-speaker audio system provides Bluetooth or plug-in connectivity with smartphones, providing hands-free calling, streaming audio and use of Pandora or Stitcher Internet radio apps. A navigation function using a smartphone app is in the works and will allow storage of maps and routes on the phone for easy retrieval even in poor signal conditions.
The 2014 Sonic’s performance in crash tests earned it a five-star overall rating from the NHTSA and a Top Safety Pick from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety. Features that helped it earn those distinctions include 10 airbags, stability and traction control, and antilock brakes with emergency braking assist. New for 2014 are three optional safety features: forward collision warning, lane departure warning, and a backup camera.