2018 Chevrolet Sonic Hatchback

As people are gravitating more and more toward mini-SUVs and Crossovers, most brand are having a hard time keeping the Subcompact segment relevant and alluring to car-buyers. But not Chevrolet. The tech-loaded 2018 Chevrolet Sonic Hatchback has the best in class infotainment system. Coupled with an unparalleled 1.4-Liter turbo engine, the nimble subcompact puts up a strong front against the invading army of Crossovers.

Starting at $16,995 for the base 1.8-Liter naturally aspirated variant, all the way to above $21 grand, for the Premier variants, even the most expensive models justify the price. Additional packages can even equip your car with a sun roof, or sporty suspensions to add zest to your daily drive.

The fierce competition in the small hatch segment has kept the Sonic on its toes, especially the formidable Ford Fiesta S, the Kia Rio and quirky Honda Fit. Let’s see if the Sonic can hold up against the overwhelming competition.

What’ll impress you

  • Brilliant steering feel
  • Fun to drive
  • Apply CarPlay
  • 16-inch Aluminum wheels
  • Additional airbags for safety
  • Hill-start assist

What won’t

  • Drum brake setup in the rear
  • Not the quickest car

What’s new in 2018

Apart from the new color options, there have been no major redesigns compared to the 2017 model.

Trims and Features

You can get the small hatch in two engine formats, a 1.8-Liter Engine in the LT variants and the 1.4-Liter turbocharged Engine in Premier variants. Both the engines have similar power output, but the turbocharged engine feels punchy at lower rpm and has a better fuel efficiency.

The shiftable 6-speed automatic gearbox is offered throughout, but you can choose to get a 5 or a 6-speed manual transmission as well.

Trim Premier 4dr Hatchback Turbo Automatic Premier 4dr Hatchback Turbo Manual LT 4dr Hatchback Automatic LT 4dr Hatchback Manual LT Fleet 4dr Hatchback Automatic
MSRP $21,295 $19,795 $19,195 $17,795 $16,995
Key

Features

  • 1.4-Liter Turbo engine
  • 6-speed shiftable automatic
  • Front wheel drive
  • 4-Wheel ABS
  • Electric Power Steering
  • Heated Passenger Seat
  • 6-way power adjustable seats
  • 1.4-Liter Turbo engine
  • 6-speed manual gearbox
  • Front wheel drive
  • 4-Wheel ABS
  • Electric Power Steering
  • Heated Passenger Seat
  • Hands-Free Entry
  • 1.8-Liter engine
  • 6-speed shiftable automatic
  • Front wheel drive
  • 4-Wheel ABS
  • Electric Power Steering
  • Rear View Camera
  • Audio And Cruise Controls On Steering Wheel
  • 1.8-Liter engine
  • 5-speed manual gearbox
  • Front wheel drive
  • 4-Wheel ABS
  • Electric Power Steering
  • Rear View Camera
  • Cruise Control
  • 1.8-Liter engine
  • 6-speed shiftable automatic
  • Front wheel drive
  • 4-Wheel ABS
  • Electric Power Steering
  • Rear View Camera
  • Audio Controls On Steering Wheel

 

We recommend

We suggest you opt for the turbocharged Premier variant with an automatic gearbox. Not only is it fun and engaging for your daily commute, it goes easy on your pockets with an decent fuel efficiency.

With the optional RS performance package, you can get a Flat-bottomed steering wheel with red stitching, fog lamps, black accents, and bigger 17-inch wheels.

For better handling and ride quality you can opt for Chevy’s FE3 sport suspension package, which lowers the car by a few inches.

2018 Chevrolet Sonic Hatchback Engine and Transmission

2018 Chevrolet Sonic Hatchback Engine Bay
2018 Chevrolet Sonic Hatchback Engine Bay

The turbocharged 1.4-liter feels more lively and delivers useful power for merging and passing maneuvers. The only downside is the engine’s somewhat sluggish responsiveness, which can make it difficult to accelerate smoothly from a stop in heavy traffic. – Edmunds

Engine and Transmission

Even with a turbocharger, Chevy couldn’t manage to boost up the power output in the Premier variants compared to the naturally aspirated four-bangers in the lower variants. The manual gearbox offered isn’t the sharpest tool in the shed. The 6-speed automatic is much more responsive and highly recommended.

Models Chevrolet Sonic LT Ford Fiesta S Kia Rio LX Honda Fit LX
MSRP $16,995 $14,505 $15,495 $16,990
Engine 1.8-Liter VVT I-4 1.6-Liter Ti-VCT I-4 1.6-Liter GDI I-4 1.5-Liter I-4
Transmission 6-speed shiftable automatic 5-Speed manual 6-speed shiftable automatic Automatic CVT
Horsepower 138 hp @ 6300 rpm 120 hp @ 6350 rpm 130 hp @ 6300 rpm 128 hp @ 6600 rpm
Torque 125 lb-ft @ 3800 rpm 112 lb-ft @ 5000 rpm 119 lb-ft @ 4850 rpm 113 lb-ft@ 4600 rpm

 

 

Even with less power and torque, the Ford Fiesta feels significantly more lively and responsive. Meanwhile, both the Honda and Kia have traded fun for practicality and versatility, as their engines feel dull and barely alive.

Acceleration

The hatch reaches 60mph at a snail’s pace, but 0-60 time won’t really matter in your daily city commute. The engine is lively in the lower rev range but the power band flattens out towards the upper limits.

Models Chevrolet Sonic LT Ford Fiesta S Kia Rio LX Honda Fit LX
0-60 MPH 8.2 sec 9.1 sec 8.5 sec 9.1 sec
Quarter mile 16.4 sec 17.1 sec 16.5 sec 17.1 sec
Engine 1.8L 1.6L 1.6L 1.5L
Emission

(Tons/yr of CO2 Emissions @ 15K mi/year)

6.3 5.8 5.9 4.9

 

Unsurprisingly, the Ford Fiesta, Kia Rio and the Honda Fit are even slower to the mile-a-minute mark with smaller engines under the hood.

Ride and Handling

The steering feel is absolutely brilliant. It has a sharp, precise, point-and-go steering. The car feels playful around corners, thanks to the nimble suspension. The peppier turbo engine in the Premier trim gives it a sporty and energetic ride in the city and a smooth comfortable ride on the highways.

In the city, the small footprint of the subcompact makes it a breeze to maneuver around the city. With a decent view from the front, rear and side windows, parallel parking isn’t really a nightmare anymore.

The Sport suspension package and 17-inch wheels from the RS package definitely make the car athletic but at the expense of a stiffened ride.

Braking

Chevrolet has made a perplexing choice to go with a drum brake on the rear wheels, while we see disc brakes on all four wheels as standard in the competition. While all four wheels, thankfully, come with an Anti-lock braking system, the subcompact hatch takes a while before it can completely stop from 70mph.

Model Chevrolet Sonic LT Ford Fiesta S Kia Rio LX Honda Fit LX
Brake Front (in.) 10.8 10.2 10.1 10.3
Brake Rear (in.) Drum 7.9 10.3 7.9
Curb Weight (lbs.) 2848 2537 2564 2568
70-0 MPH (ft.) 138ft 129ft 127ft 126ft

 

The other cars, as expected, with disc brakes on all four wheels have a much shorter stopping distance, even with the tiny 7.9-inch discs.

Fuel Economy

Even if the mileage is below the class average, the Chevrolet Sonic, unlike the Honda Fit, hasn’t sacrificed power for economy. The combined mileage is decent, so you won’t mind the lower mileage given the zippy, dynamic ride.

Model Chevrolet Sonic LT Ford Fiesta S Kia Rio LX Honda Fit LX
MPG (city) 25 27 27 33
MPG (highway) 34 35 36 40
MPG (combined) 28 30 30 36

 

The Honda beats the Competition by a huge margin with its lifeless, buzzy engine, having a combined mileage of an astonishing 8 miles per gallon more than the Sonic.

2018 Chevrolet Sonic Hatchback Exterior

2018 Chevrolet Sonic Hatchback Side View
2018 Chevrolet Sonic Hatchback Side View

The Sonic has managed a very pleasant design balance. It’s neither overly bold nor bland, and it managed to look modern without the bland, boxy econocar look of some class rivals that offer as much practicality as this. – TheCarConnection

­­Dimensions and Weight

Sonic carries the same exterior to the 2018 model after the major redesign in 2017 model. The Hatchback sits wider and lower than the competition, except the Honda Fit, giving it an aggressive look. The only downside is the much heavier chassis. The Honda may look sleeker and more menacing, but you can’t really judge a book by its cover.

Model Chevrolet Sonic LT Ford Fiesta S Kia Rio LX Honda Fit LX
Curb weight (lbs.) 2848 2537 2564 2568
Length(in) 159.8 159.7 159.4 161.4
Width(in) 68.3 67.8 67.7 67
Height(in) 59.7 58 57.3 60
Ground clearance (in) 5.0 6.1 5.5 4.4
Wheelbase (in) 99.4 98 101.2 99.6
Track width (in) F/R 59.4/59.4 57.7/57.7 59.8/60.0 58.3/58

 

Ford has made sure that all their variants stand out, they have different styled front grilles and body shapes. The Sonic fails to stand out in any way. It’s common looks and mediocre fascia blends into the background and won’t turn any heads cruising down a highway.

2018 Chevrolet Sonic Hatchback Rear View
2018 Chevrolet Sonic Hatchback Rear View

Exterior Features

  • Power sunroof available
  • 17″ painted Black aluminum wheels
  • Automatic on/off headlamps
  • Fog lamps
  • Outside heated power-adjustable, body-color mirrors

2018 Chevrolet Sonic Hatchback Interior

2018 Chevrolet Sonic Hatchback Interior
2018 Chevrolet Sonic Hatchback Interior

The Sonic’s 5-passenger interior is eye-pleasing, roomy for its size and has an air of sophistication thanks to the standard 7-inch touchscreen that dominates the center front of the cockpit. ­– Kelley Blue Book

Seating and Comfort

The roomy cabin has comfortable seating for 5. Premier trims are also available with 6-way adjustable power seats. The leather-wrapped tile and telescopic steering wheel can be adjusted according to your height. Even tall adults can sit comfortably in the spacious rear seats, but it feels crammed with 3 people in the rear.

Equipping the RS package adds red stitching on the wheels and black accents. The Front seats get replaced with leather-trimmed, heated bucket seats with suede-like microfiber inserts, sporty enough to almost make you forget the underpowered engine.

Model Chevrolet Sonic LT Ford Fiesta S Kia Rio LX Honda Fit LX
Passenger capacity 5 5 5 5
Front (Head/Shoulder/Leg) (In.) 38.7/53.4/41.8 39.1/52.7/42.2 40.0/53.1/43.8 39.5/54.8/41.4
Second

(Head/Shoulder/Leg) (In.)

38.1/53.0/34.6 37.1/49.0/31.2 37.6/52.1/31.1 37.5/52.6/39.3
2018 Chevrolet Sonic Hatchback Rear Seating
2018 Chevrolet Sonic Hatchback Rear Seating

Infotainment System

Inside the Sonic’s cabin, you can find an intuitive 7-inch touchscreen display with Apple CarPlay and 4G LTE connectivity as standard, making it feel classy and sophisticated, give the price tag. Basic controls for Audio and Cruise Control can be found on the steering, within a thumb’s reach. You can opt for either a 4-speaker or 6-speaker audio setup.

Interior Features

  • Keyless Ignition
  • Electric Power Steering
  • Rear View Camera
  • Heated Passenger Seat
  • Audio And Cruise Controls On Steering Wheel

Trunk Volume

Despite the looks, the small subcompact hatch has great storage space and trunk volume, and rivals even the Honda Fit marketed as the benchmark of practical hatchbacks. The trunk is low and easy to load. The foldable rear bench creates a huge storage to carry your furniture from IKEA or your bicycle for a ride.

Model Chevrolet Sonic LT Ford Fiesta S Kia Rio LX Honda Fit LX
Cargo Volume (ft.3) with seats up 19 14.9 15 16.6
Cargo Volume (ft.3) with seats down 47.7 25.4 49.8 52.7

 

2018 Chevrolet Sonic Hatchback Safety and Reliability

To make your daily urban commute safe, Chevrolet has loaded the subcompact with a long list of safety features. NHTSA has given the vehicle a 5-star rating for Frontal Crash safety and side Crash tests because of the Dual Front Side-Mounted Airbags. Other Safety features include:

  • Traction Control
  • Tire Pressure Monitoring
  • Stability Control
  • Dusk Sensing Headlamps

NHTSA rating

Overall Rating 5 Star
Overall Frontal Crash Rating 5 Star
Frontal Crash Rating Driver Side 5 Star
Frontal Crash Rating Passenger Side 5 Star
Overall Side Crash Rating 5 Star
Combined Side Barrier and Pole Rating Front Seat 5 Star
Combined Side Barrier and Pole Rating Front Seat Rear Seat 5 Star
Side Barrier 5 Star
Side barrier Driver 5 Star
Side barrier Rear Passenger 5 Star
Overall Side Pole Star Rating 5 Star
Rollover Rating 4 Star

 

Safety Ratings by IIHS

Small overlap front driver side Not Rated
Small overlap front Passenger side Not Rated
Moderate overlap front Good
Side Good
Roof strength Not Rated
Head restraints & seats Not Rated

 

CRASH AVOIDANCE & MITIGATION

Front crash prevention Basic
Headlights Not Rated
CHILD SEAT ANCHORS (LATCH)
EASE OF USE
Acceptable

2018 Chevrolet Sonic Hatchback Head-To-Head Competition

Ford Fiesta S

The Fiesta S is a low-strung, more affordable version of the feisty Fiesta ST. Even with a smaller 120 hp four-banger, the subcompact feels fun and responsive to drive around the urban landscape. Compared to the competition, the standard manual transmission has a much better driving feel and definitely feels like a car aimed at driving enthusiasts. However, the only disappointment is the trunk space, which is disdainfully small even for a subcompact.

Kia Rio

Best described as ‘almost there, but not quite there yet’, the Kia Rio lags behind the Chevy Sonic in almost every possible aspect. Kia has de-tuned 2017 model’s engine for the benefit of a few more miles per gallon, making the ride feel sluggish and dull on highways. Overall the Kia Rio is a mediocre, but the value-for-money car, if the Sonic feels beyond your budget.

Honda Fit

The Honda is tempting providence by sacrificing such a good engine and seeking redemption with fuel economy while justifying it as “versatility”. But that’s where the bad news ends, the Fit has cleverly designed interior cabin, which is roomy and larger than any of the competitors. It is great at retaining its value for resale and the updated infotainment system surpasses all others. If you’re willing to spend a few more bucks, you might as well go for the Civic SI, with a much better engine.

Final Verdict

The 2018 Chevrolet Sonic is an exceptional bang-for-your-buck subcompact hatchback. The exterior is stylish and sporty, but not overdone. The interior is practical and spacious, but still comfortable and premium feeling. The Infotainment has excellent connectivity and feels appropriate for a 2018 car.

The hatch lacks a few high-end tech features which Honda has made available in the Fit. It blends into the sea of cars, nothing really makes it stand out unlike the Fiesta or the Fit. You may feel the urge to spend a little more and enter the realm of the Civic hatches with the iconic i-VTEC engine.

Premier variant with the RS package is the best combination of sporty and practicality. Even the more affordable LT variant also feels adequate for people looking for small subcompact as their daily driver.