What do you think of the Chevy Sonic?

Published On: Dec 19 2011 10:32:33 AM EST
Updated On: Dec 19 2011 11:03:52 AM EST
DETROIT -

The North American International Auto Show’s previews are less than three weeks away and some automakers are already letting us check out some of their new models.

First up: The 2013 Chevy Sonic RS.

It goes on sale in late 2012, after making its public debut at the NAIAS show in Detroit Jan. 14-22.

The new RS amplifies the Sonic’s youthful style and driving experience with unique exterior and interior features matched with a 138-horsepower (103 kW) Ecotec 1.4L turbo engine. Sonic is the only vehicle in its segment to offer a turbocharged powertrain.

Sonic RS exterior features

  • New front fascia with new fog lamp design
  • New RS-specific grille
  • New rear fascia
  • New rear spoiler
  • New rocker moldings
  • Unique mirror cap finish
  • Retuned sport exhaust with chrome outlet
  • Unique 17-inch five-spoke wheel design
  • Lowered and stiffened suspension with performance-tuned dampers
  • RS badging.

The more-aggressive look of the Sonic RS is inspired by the concept that debuted in Detroit in 2010. The Sonic RS will be available in Victory Red, Summit White, Cyber Gray Metallic and  Black Granite Metallic, which is a new exterior color for the 2013 Sonic.

One of the most-dramatic cues from the concept carried into the production model is the Sonic RS’s front fascia, which has a deep air dam design that enhances the car’s road-hugging stance. Vertical intakes at the edges of the fascia reinforce the wide, low proportion and house the fog lamps.

Sonic RS interior features

  • New front sport seats
  • New sport steering wheel with thicker rim and racing-inspired flat-bottom design
  • New shifter knob (manual transmission)
  • New aluminum sport pedals
  • Specific instrument panel cluster graphics
  • RS-specific interior trim color for the instrument panel and door trim inserts.

The Sonic RS’s interior is a connected environment, with the Chevrolet MyLink infotainment seven-inch color touch screen radio. This system allows customers to bring customized music libraries into the vehicle and use their smart phones and Bluetooth connectivity to access Pandora and Stitcher Internet radio and navigation. Navigation directions downloaded through a smart phone can be displayed on the screen and, when the vehicle is stopped, users can project video and even personal photo albums onto the screen from their phone.

Sonic RS performance

The Sonic RS is powered by a standard Ecotec 1.4L turbo engine that is rated at 138 horsepower (103 kW) and 148 lb.-ft. of torque (200 Nm) – and provides an immediate feeling of power that is sustained across the rpm band, for a greater feeling of performance at lower rpm. It’s matched with a six-speed manual transmission or six-speed automatic.

Unique gear ratios for the six-speed manual transmission and unique final drive ratio for the automatic give the Sonic RS a sportier feel than non-RS models.

Complementing the segment-exclusive turbocharged powertrain is MacPherson strut front suspension with coil springs and stabilizer bar, and a semi-independent, torsion beam axle-mount compound link-type rear suspension – featuring a robust, tubular V-shape beam – with gas-charged shocks. The front and rear tracks are identical at 59.4 inches (1,509 mm), for well-planted stability and balance.

The new RS is the only Sonic model offered with four-wheel disc brakes, which are partnered with a four-channel anti-lock braking system. The four-sensor system – one at each wheel – incorporates electronic brake force distribution, which balances braking performance based on such factors as road conditions and the weight of passengers and/or cargo.

Electric power steering is standard and features a wear compensator that continually adjusts the system interaction with the steering gear to ensure precise steering action over the life of the system. 

Sonic lineup at a glance

The Chevrolet Sonic is offered in two body styles: a four-door sedan and a five-door, with a starting price of $14,495 (including destination charge). Each body style delivers class-leading, rear-seat roominess and cargo space. Vehicle highlights include:

  • Standard Ecotec 1.8L engine (non-RS models) paired with five-speed manual or six-speed automatic transmissions
  • Standard electric power steering and StabiliTrak electronic stability control with rollover sensing
  • Sedan offers trunk capacity that is greater than most compact cars; hatchback and sedan offer better rear-seat roominess than Ford Fiesta. With a rear seat that folds nearly flat, the Sonic hatchback has greater cargo capacity than Fiesta
  • Connectivity includes OnStar with six months of Turn-by-Turn navigation. Available features include XM Satellite Radio, USB and Bluetooth functionality and MyChevrolet mobile application
  • Remote start, heated front seats and sunroof – all rarities in the segment 
  • Ten standard air bags, anti-lock brakes, electronic brake force distribution, brake assist and OnStar with Automatic Crash Response.

Sonic is built at the General Motors’ Orion Assembly Center in Michigan, which received a $545-million investment in upgrades and retooling and helped restore approximately 1,000 jobs in the metropolitan Detroit area.

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