When production begins on the 2012 Chevrolet Sonic in late 2011, General Motors will offer the only subcompact manufactured in the United States. GM invested $545-million in the Orion Assembly Center in Michigan. Importantly, the upgraded and retooled plant will bring 1,000 manufacturing jobs back to the greater Detroit area.
Sonic is Chevrolet’s replacement for the Aveo subcompact produced by Deawoo in South Korea. It will be offered in two body styles; a four-door sedan and a five-door hatchback. General Motors says both models will deliver class-leading rear seat room and cargo space. The interior features a very unique instrument panel, that has a “motorcycle inspired” pod mounted on the steering column. The pod contains a round analog tachometer on the left and a rectangular digital speedometer and multi-function display on the right.
EPA fuel economy numbers for the new Sonic have not been released, but we expect highway mileage will put it in the 40 mpg club. The Sonic will feature Chevy Cruze based powertrains. The standard engine is a 1.8-liter DOHC Ecotec four-cylinder that produces 135 horsepower at 6,300 rpm and 125 lb-ft of torque at 3,800 rpm. A smaller, but more powerful turbocharged 1.4-liter Ecotec four will also be offered. It produces 138 horsepower at a lower 4,900 rpm and 148 lb-ft of torque is available between 1,850 and 4,900 rpm. The 1.8-liter Ecotec will be offered with either a 5-speed manual, or a 6-speed automatic. Select the turbocharged 1.4-liter Ecotec and you get a 6-speed manual gearbox.
The Sonic looks like it will be fun to drive. It can be ordered with 17-inch alloy wheels with performance radials. GM says the ride and handling tuning on the car was done by Chevy Corvette engineers. Sonic utilizes electronic power steering and will have StabiliTrak electronic stability control with rollover sensing. Safety features include 10-standard air bags, OnStar with automatic crash response, electronic brake force distribution, and brake assist.
At the Sonic’s North American International Auto Show introduction this past January, GM showed a customized version of the car called the Sonic Z-Spec. The racy Z-Spec shows the Sonic should be a popular platform for vehicle personalization.