Test Drive: 2012 Chevrolet Sonic LTZ sedan videos car test drives chevrolet
2012 Chevrolet Sonic LTZ sedan. Click image to enlarge
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Manufacturer’s web site
General Motors of Canada

By Grant Yoxon; photos by Chris Chase

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2012 Chevrolet Sonic

One of several cars that is redefining the subcompact class, the 2012 Chevrolet Sonic can be outfitted with enough luxury options to make you feel you owned a luxury car, but with a price of $20,495, without the luxury car price-tag.

All new for 2012, the Sonic starts at just $14,495 for the base Sonic LS 4-door sedan ($15,495 for the 5-door hatchback) with cloth seats, 15-inch steel wheels and1.8-litre engine and 5-speed manual transmission and relatively basic equipment – manual roll-up windows, four-speaker audio system and no air conditioning. To the Sonic’s and GM’s credit, Bluetooth telephone connectivity is standard, even in the base model. So too is a tilt and telescopic steering wheel, keyless entry, intermittent windshield wiper and OnStar capability.

Next up the social ladder are LT models – $16,495 for the sedan and $17,495 for the hatch – which ups the content level considerably. Power remote control mirrors, air conditioning, cruise control, power remote trunk release and power windows with driver’s side auto up and down are all added to the standard list of amenities.

Test Drive: 2012 Chevrolet Sonic LTZ sedan videos car test drives chevrolet
2012 Chevrolet Sonic LTZ sedan. Click image to enlarge

But equipped like our LTZ sedan tester, the Sonic adds a considerable amount of luxury appointments and takes top-of-the-line to an unexpected level in the subcompact class.

Wheels are 17-inch aluminum shod with P205/50R17-inch all-season tires. Chrome is added to the decklid, beltline and trunk handle. Fog lights are standard.

Inside, the seating is perforated leatherette with heated driver and front passenger seats and there is a three-spoke, leather wrapped steering wheel with integrated Bluetooth, cruise and audio controls and a leather wrapped shifter on top of the 6-speed manual transmission.

The LTZ audio system includes six speakers, MP3 playback, XM Satellite Radio, Bluetooth audio connectivity, USB port and an additional auxiliary audio input jack.

Passenger safety gets a big kick up as well, with ten air bags and tire pressure monitoring system. Six airbags are standard, but the front knee airbags and rear passenger seat mounted side impact airbags and TPMS can be optionally added to both the LS and LT lines.

At $20,495, the Sonic LTZ sedan is pretty well fully loaded. Only a sunroof, a feature rarely found in this class, is optionally available at $1,100. However, power seats and the increasingly common navigation system are not available.

Test Drive: 2012 Chevrolet Sonic LTZ sedan videos car test drives chevrolet
2012 Chevrolet Sonic LTZ sedan. Click image to enlarge

LTZ models also receive a more fuel efficient, but also more aggressive 1.4-litre turbocharged engine. The standard 1.8-litre naturally aspirated engine provides 136 horsepower and 125 lb.-ft. of torque, while the 1.4-litre turbocharged engine generates 138 hp and 148 lb.-ft. of torque.

The latter is mated with a 6-speed manual transmission only. An automatic is not available. However, if you really must have an automatic, all creature comforts standard on the LTZ can be added to the LT with the exception of leatherette seating (yes, heated front seats as well).

But I’m guessing that if you opt for the manual-equipped LTZ, you won’t be disappointed as a light clutch and precise gear changes make manual shifting easy.