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New for 2012

  • Available Ecotec 1.4L turbo engine rated at 138 horsepower (103 kW) that delivers competitive fuel economy
  • Standard Ecotec 1.8L engine paired with five-speed manual or six-speed automatic transmissions
  • Ecotec 1.4L turbo available with a six-speed manual transmission and six-speed automatic
  • Standard electronic power steering and StabiliTrak electronic stability control with rollover sensing
  • Sedan model offers outstanding trunk capacity, larger than many vehicles one segment larger
  • Connectivity includes OnStar with six months of Turn-by-Turn navigation. Available Sirius XM Satellite Radio, USB and Bluetooth functionality
  • MyChevrolet mobile application with vehicle connectivity
  • Remote start, heated front seats and sunroof available
  • Safety features include 10 standard air bags, anti-lock brakes, electronic brake force distribution, brake assist and OnStar with Automatic Crash Response


The all-new 2012 Sonic is a small car with a large array of amenities. It is offered in two body styles: a four-door sedan and a five-door, each with distinctive design elements, including motorcycle-inspired round headlamps. Sonic also delivers class-leading rear-seat roominess and connectivity features that enhance the driving experience.

The Sonic is equipped with power-dense four-cylinder engines, including an Ecotec 1.4L turbo, and it is designed to be one of the safest vehicles in the segment, with 10 standard air bags.

Production of the Sonic takes place at the General Motors Orion Assembly Center in Michigan, making it the only subcompact built in the United States. The plant received a $545-million investment in upgrades and retooling, and will help restore approximately 1,000 jobs in the metropolitan Detroit area.

Sonic design

  • Two distinct body styles: four-door sedan and five-door.
  • A wide, planted stance, with wheels-at-the-corners proportions, conveys performance. Progressive, raked body lines suggest movement even when the car is stationary.
  • Motorcycle-inspired round headlamps and taillamps.
  • Rear door handles on the five-door are located in a C-pillar area, suggesting the style of a three-door hatch.
  • Chrome grille surrounds and matte black honeycomb grille inserts on all models.
  • A range of large wheel sizes, including 17-inch alloy wheels.

Sonic interior

Sonic’s cabin complements the motorcycle-inspired exterior with a detailed instrument cluster featuring a large, round analog tachometer set within an asymmetrical LCD readout, with a large digital speedometer display.

  • The mid-instrument panel surface is available in two colors (dark titanium and brick) and flows seamlessly into the upper doors, with premium low-glass finishes.
  • The automatic shift knob has a “cobra head” design, while the manual shifter has a chrome-finished knob.
  • Tubular outboard climate outlets protrude from the instrument panel surface.
  • The interior includes storage compartments in the center stack and doors.
  • The rear seats fold virtually flat for carrying larger items.
  • Front bucket seats are standard and heated front seats are available.

Sonic powertrain

Chevrolet Sonic models are powered by efficient, power-dense, small-displacement engines, including the Ecotec 1.4L turbo and the Ecotec 1.8L – the same engines used in the Chevrolet Cruze. Several transmissions are available: a five-speed manual and six-speed automatic with the 1.8L , along with a six-speed manual and six-speed automatic with the 1.4L turbo.

  • The Ecotec 1.4L turbo’s power ratings are 138 horsepower (103 kW) and 148 lb.-ft. of torque (200 Nm) between 1,850 rpm and 4,900 rpm.
  • The wide rpm range for the maximum torque – a specific trait of turbocharged engines – helps the engine deliver a better driving experience and performance. 
  • Premium design elements give the engine world-class smoothness and durability, including a low-mass hollow-frame cast iron block, dual overhead camshafts with variable valve timing, chain-driven cams and roller-finger camshaft followers, piston-cooling oil jets and integrated oil cooler, a variable-flow oil pump and an electronically controlled thermostat.
  • The 1.4L’s turbocharger is integrated within the exhaust manifold, for reduced weight and greater packaging flexibility in small vehicles. A reinforced crankshaft and stronger connecting rods deliver additional strength to support the engine’s pressurized power and torque over a wide rpm band. 

The naturally aspirated Ecotec 1.8L engine has many of the same features of the Ecotec 1.4L turbo.

  • It is a compact and durable four-cylinder engine designed for low maintenance, low emissions and fuel efficiency.
  • Its two-stage variable intake manifold allows approximately 90 percent of peak torque to be available from 2,400 rpm to 6,500 rpm.
  • It is rated at 138 horsepower (103 kW) along with 125 lb.-ft. of torque (170 Nm) at 3,800 rpm.

Sonic chassis and suspension

Engineers who also work on the Corvette tuned the Sonic’s ride and handling, giving it a more direct feel, while balancing the vehicle for the broad range of driving conditions in North America.

  • All models feature a MacPherson strut front suspension with coil springs and stabilizer bar.
  • The rear suspension consists of a semi-independent, torsion beam axle-mount compound link-type design – featuring a 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.
  • Electronic power steering is standard, and eliminates the need for steering fluid and a pump needed with hydraulic systems. It 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’s body structure is designed to be one of the stiffest in the segment and its rigidity enabled engineers to tune the ride and handling more precisely.
  • A unique “flat top frame” cradle assures optimal stiffness in the front chassis portion of the vehicle.
  • The rear axle is essentially a straight axle without contour for packaging restraints and reduced noise, vibration and harshness.
  • A range of wheel sizes is available, including 17-inch wheels and sport tires.

Sonic safety and crash-avoidance features

The Sonic is designed to help drivers avoid crashes, while protecting the occupants in the event a crash occurs.

  • Ten standard air bags include side curtain air bags, which provide head protection for outboard passengers in the event of a side-impact or rollover crash.
  • StabiliTrak electronic stability control system helps reduce the risk of rollover crashes by keeping the vehicle in the driver’s intended path by applying throttle, braking or a combination of both.
  • Power-assisted front disc and rear drum brakes are standard.
  • Four-channel anti-lock braking is standard and incorporates electronic brake force distribution, which balances braking performance based on such factors as road conditions and the weight of passengers and/or cargo.
  • Pretensioners minimize forward movement during a collision, and are standard on the front safety belts. Load-limiting retractors cinch the belt more tightly.
  • LATCH (Lower Anchors and Tethers for CHildren) child seat attachment system, which is included in all second-row seating positions.
  • Tire pressure monitoring system is standard on all models.
  • Strong body structure to absorb crash energy and provide a protective “safety cage” around occupants. More than 60 percent of the body structure is composed of advanced steels.

OnStar details

All Sonic models are equipped with OnStar. It uses GPS and cellular phone technology to automatically call for help in the event of crash. OnStar subscribers also can use the service to be Good Samaritans by sending help to other motorists, and to call for help in other non-crash emergencies.

  • OnStar is the leading provider of in-vehicle safety, security and information services in the United States and Canada.
  • Six months of complimentary OnStar Directions and Connections service with Turn-by-Turn Navigation for easier route guidance on all Sonic models. The feature is easy to use because all directions are sent to the car by an advisor, without the need to stop. Turn-by-Turn can be cost-effective, since map updates and aftermarket navigation systems are not needed.
  • Stolen Vehicle Assistance helps police track the vehicle.
  • MyChevrolet mobile app gives owners remote access to vehicle OnStar features including door unlock, vehicle diagnostics, emergency assistance and more.


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