2013 Chevrolet Sonic Walk Around

Although it's made in America, the 2013 Chevrolet Sonic was sketched and modeled in Korea by designers who are avid motorcycle enthusiasts. As such, the Sonic contains many design cues borrowed from two wheelers.

The five-door hatchback model has a younger, more aggressive, boxy shape with hidden rear door handles and exposed rear taillights. The four-door sedan's profile, meanwhile, is sleeker and more refined.

On both body styles, the Sonic uses round, exposed headlamps, chrome trim around Chevy's trademark dual-port grille and honeycomb-shaped grille inserts. Steel wheels with wheel covers are new this year on the base model, and they result in a cheaper look. Alloy wheels are available in 15, 16 or 17-inch diameters, and they look far more sophisticated.

Large gaps between body panels were one tell-tale sign of cheap cars of the past. But the Chevrolet Sonic manages to pare down body gaps to 3.5 millimeters or less. Also, a special welding technique was used to make for a cleaner, more flush fit.

The Sonic RS model gets several tell-tale exterior cues. The ride height that has been lowered 10 millimeters and satin-finish aluminum wheels give it a sportier stance. The lower front fascia is also more aggressive and the lower portion of the grille appears to be more open. In addition, the lower rocker moldings and rear fascia are more aggressive, the exhaust outlets are bright, and the rear spoiler features a center dip that suggests a dual-cockpit design.


The cabin of the Chevrolet Sonic carries over the motorcycle-inspired design with a large, round tachometer front and center. A large LCD speedometer to the right of the tach glows a pleasant blue color and is easy to read, though the red dial glows too brightly at night.

Audio and climate controls are simple, logical and easy to read and reach. The tall, narrow slots on either side of the center stack add extra storage, but they look out of place.

The cloth seats are comfortable and easily adjustable. We especially like the tilt-and-telescoping steering wheel, which is often tough to get as standard equipment on more luxurious cars. Dash and trim materials are mostly plastics, but that's expected in this class, and the plastics are substantial, fit together well, and feature well-executed colors and textures.

The Sonic RS has some sporty touches. You expect to find a flat-bottom steering wheel in an Audi TT, not an entry-level Chevy. The aluminum pedals are cool, as so is the red contrast stitching in the seats and shifter. The synthetic seat inserts also add a bit more grip to keep you in place during aggressive maneuvers.

In the rear, there is enough headroom and legroom, even for adults to fit behind adults. Most subcompact cars have tighter rear seats.

Cargo space comes in at an average 14 cubic-feet for the sedan and a decent 19 cubic feet for the hatchback. A shelf in the rear of the hatch stows away to make room for tall items and is completely removable for more space. Fold down the 60/40 rear seats, and cargo space expands to 30.7 cubic feet. That's small for a hatchback, but quite useful.

For 2013, Chevrolet is adding its new MyLink Color Touch radio to the Sonic. It offers the connectivity that young buyers desire. It consists of a 7-inch touchscreen that links with your smartphone to provide access to apps, pictures and movies (when stopped). Available apps include Pandora and Stitcher internet radio, as well as a new navigation app called BringGo. BringGo costs $50 and offers such functionality as point of interest search, Google local search, and real-time traffic information.

We tried BringGo in Chicago and found that it worked quite well. It requires a cell phone signal to work, but a full navigation system for $50? Sounds great. Kudos to Chevy for bringing this type of connectivity into such an affordable car.

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