2012 Chevrolet Sonic
2012 Chevrolet Sonic. Click image to enlarge

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Review and photos by Grant Yoxon

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2012 Chevrolet Sonic

Montreal, Quebec – Canadians looking for a new subcompact are going to have a lot of choices this Fall. Small cars that have recently arrived, such as the Ford Fiesta, Mazda2, Scion iQ, Fiat 500, Hyundai Accent, Kia Rio5 and Nissan Versa Sedan have upped the ante for small car fun, functionality and features, laying down the challenge for some of the more popular brands in this class.

No longer is the small car just basic transportation. No longer is it necessary to give up luxury touches, sporty driving or safety gear to get a car that is right-sized and fuel efficient (although roll-up windows and roll-down air conditioning are still available if you really want them).

The most recent addition to this list of subcompacts that are rewriting the meaning of “new and improved” is the 2012 Chevrolet Sonic.

2012 Chevrolet Sonic
2012 Chevrolet Sonic. Click image to enlarge

Replacing the Aveo in Chevrolet’s subcompact slot, the Sonic is so completely new and so vastly improved from the outgoing Aveo that a name change seems absolutely necessary (although the Aveo name will continue on in a few markets).

Like many of its competitors, the Sonic is a world car, built in four different locations and sold in 60 countries. North American models are built in GM’s Orion assembly plant in Orion Township, Michigan.

On sale in October, the Sonic will be available as both a four-door sedan and a four-door hatchback. There will be three trim levels: LS, LT and LTZ. Prices start at $14,495 for the LS sedan and $15,495 for the LS hatch. Standard equipment includes the same 1.8-litre 4-cylinder engine found in the Chevrolet Cruze coupled to a 5-speed manual transmission.

While window cranks and roll-down air conditioning are still the norm at the entry level, features like power door locks with remote keyless entry, tilt and telescoping steering wheel, intermittent wipers, driver information centre with compass, outside temperature and fuel economy measures, automatic headlamp control, hill-hold assist and Bluetooth connectivity for your cell phone, are decidedly up-market.

2012 Chevrolet Sonic
2012 Chevrolet Sonic. Click image to enlarge

Active safety technology is also standard. The Sonic, even in base trim, has StabiliTrak electronic stability control and traction control, antilock brakes with electronic brakeforce distribution and panic brake assist, oil life monitoring system and an engine immobilizer theft deterrent system. OnStar with a six-month “Directions and Connections Plan” is free for the first six months.

For the extra $1,000, the LS hatch adds 15-inch aluminum alloy wheels and a rear window washer and wiper.

A six-speed automatic transmission ($1,300) and air conditioning ($1,150) are optional, eliminating open window air, if not the need to crank the windows up and down.

Also optional is a Peace of Mind package ($465) which adds four airbags – driver and passenger knee and rear thorax airbags – to the Sonic’s standard six airbags (dual-stage frontal, head curtain and front seat side airbags). In recent testing by the US-based Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, the Sonic received a top safety pick rating, but the car tested included all 10 airbags, which are standard equipment in the U.S.

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