2015 Chevrolet Sonic RS 5-Door

2015 Chevrolet Sonic RS 5-Door Review

Inexpensive without feeling too cheap.

By: Richard Noel

Web2Carz Contributing Writer

Published: January 16th, 2015

The 2015 Chevrolet Sonic RS seemed appropriate to drive to the 2015 North American International Auto Show. After all, the vehicle's final assembly point is Lake Orion, Michigan, only 40 miles north of the "D." The small 5-door hatchback, screaming in Dragon Green Metallic paint, would be easy to spot and easy to navigate through the busy, snow-covered streets of Detroit. Turning onto I-94, we set our sights on the Motor City.

What was supposed to be a short (4.5-hour) drive from Chicago became a 7-hour slalom. The road was blanketed with a thick layer of fresh powder. Visibility was nonexistent. The only way to tell where you were on the road was to ride the shoulder until you felt the jarring of the rumble strips. At one point, the little green car decided to break loose, its ass-end swinging sideways.

As we finally pulled into the Holiday Inn Express, I breathed a slight sigh of relief. The large front grille of the Sonic had become completely encased in ice, giving it the appearance of a pissed off Yeti - but the little car had performed surprisingly well given the conditions.

  • Interior

    The interior of the Chevy Sonic is what you'd expect from a Chevy with an RS designation. The steering wheel is leather-wrapped. The seats are upholstered in black leather and microfiber with the obligatory red accent stitching, to show how sporty it is - Chevy's way of beating you over the head with the car's sportiness.

    The car's gauge cluster with its single circular gauge, which I found vaguely reminiscent of the Mini, is tucked right behind the steering wheel. It would be easy to see if I cared to use it, but it's small enough that it's easily forgotten about when you're driving. There's a driver's armrest, but the passenger is out of luck.

    The most obvious flaw of the car's interior is its lack of sunroof. Its absence was disappointing. But everything else meshes well. The car's infotainment system wasn't overly complicated - although the steering wheel controls lacked forward and reverse buttons to skip unwanted tracks. It could be that I suffer from that "always wanting what you can't have" disorder, but I don't think these things are too much to ask.

  • Exterior

    It's hard to tell where the Sonic RS lies. It seems a bit big to be considered a subcompact hatchback, but the lack of real storage space behind the backseat will make you think otherwise. The rear door handles are situated up behind the door glass, high above the beltline. It gives the car a cutesy streamlined appearance but can be a bit awkward when you find yourself searching for the door handle.

    I did like the Sonic's big aggressive front grille. It's a look I hope sticks around for a while.

  • On the Road

    The Sonic earns its RS designation, presumably, from the 1.4-liter turbocharged four-cylinder engine. But the turbo is hardly ever noticeable and it lacks the pickup I've grown accustomed to in a turbocharged ... anything. This particular vehicle was equipped with a 6-speed automatic which was also disappointing. But the car handled the arctic snow flurry and freezing temperatures like a little green champ. Even when we found ourselves drifting down a dark interstate, completely disoriented by the enveloping snow, the Sonic was never scary. Its small stature makes it ideal for city living. The car was easy to park and easy to maneuver.

    It stops and goes like a car should. The lane departure warning system still managed to randomly pick up lane changes as we drifted across the freeway. How the car knew where the lane lines were is still a mystery.

    But the forward collision alert system, part of the Advanced Safety Package, was annoying at times. It would abruptly beep whenever someone up ahead would so much as hit the brakes. I eventually turned it off. That minor quibble aside, the Sonic was pleasant to drive.

  • Specs & Price

    Engine: 1.4L turbocharged inline-4

    Transmission: Six-speed automatic

    Drivetrain layout: Front-engine, front-wheel drive

    Power output: 138 horsepower / 125 lb-ft

    Fuel Economy: 25 city / 33 highway

    Base Price: $21,945

    As Tested: $23,630 (incl. $825 destination)

    Available Features:

    Advanced Safety Package: Forward collision warning, lane departure warning

    Individual Options: Power sunroof, oil pan heater, all-weather floor mats, forward collision warning, lane departure warning, interior ambient lighting, performance exhaust

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