2018 Chevrolet Sonic Review

2018 Chevrolet Sonic - The 2018 Chevrolet Sonic is a competitive subcompact car.


The Chevrolet Sonic subcompact is essentially unchanged for 2018 because last year it got major redo, which included a new aggressive-looking front fascia, updated dash design and a multi-media system with a 7-inch touchscreen.

Safety features include optional forward collision and lane departure warnings and a backup camera-features once offered only for larger, costlier cars.

The 2018 front-drive Sonic can be had as a four-door sedan or four-door hatchback, with list prices ranging from $15,145 to $21,215. There's either a standard 1.8-liter 138-horsepower four-cylinder engine or a turbocharged 1.4-liter four-cylinder with the same horsepower but more torque. Transmissions include a 5- or 6-speed manual and a decent-shifting 6-speed automatic, which was in my test car.

Models are the LS, LT and Premier. I tested the base LS with the 1.8-liter engine, which was lively in town but lazy above 65 m.p.h. So be careful when passing on an open two-lane roads. The car is no fireball with the turbo engine, but moves out faster.

Fuel economy for a 99-inch-wheelbase subcompact is nothing to text home about, although only regular grade fuel is needed. Estimated economy depends on the engine and transmission combination. It ranges from 25 miles to 28 per gallon in the city and from 34 to 37 on highways. My test car averaged 30 miles per gallon, although I expected less because I did mostly stop-go urban driving.  

Despite a tight wheelbase, the Sonic is comfortably roomy for four adults. If thin, a fifth can squeeze in back because the center of the rear seat is fairly soft. However, rear door openings are rather narrow and back doors lack the storage pockets of the front doors. There aren't many decent-sized cabin storage areas; even the glovebox is especially small.

My test sedan had a moderately large trunk with a wide but rather high opening. Also, the trunk floor is low, so some bending is needed to move certain objects in and out. Rear seat backs easily flip forward and sit flat to greatly enlarge the cargo area, and the pass-through area from the trunk to the backset area is large. But opt for the hatchback version for maximum versatility.

The quick steering is handy for sudden moves in heavy traffic but makes the car somewhat darty when moving fast on freeways or highways. My test car's ride was firm on anything but smooth roads -a few unexpected speed bumps nearly put occupants through the roof at 25 m.p.h. I suspected that the tires were overinflated, making for an unusually stiff ride, but the car was loaned for a relatively brief period so there was no opportunity to check tire pressures. Potential Sonic buyers should take a test drive on even moderately rough roads when considering the car. The brakes worked fine, with good pedal travel.

The red gauge pointers in my test car's speedometer and tachometer were a small touch that nevertheless provided a bit of sporty flair. Front seats were supportive, and controls were within easy reach, although the low set cupholders were a little hard to reach at the front of the console. I especially appreciated the manual dashboard HIV controls, and the touchscreen was easy to use. There is a good amount of plastic in the quiet (for a subcompact car) interior, but it doesn't look cheap.

Pop the hood and you'll see fluid filler areas are within easy reach.

Ford says it will cease production of most of its family cars to make pickups, crossovers and SUVs, so a car such as the Sonic might suddenly become popular if gas prices begin soaring again. Meanwhile, it could be a good choice for those with limited financial means or for use as a second family car.

Dan Jedlicka

Dan Jedlicka's Website

Dan Jedlicka joined the Chicago Sun-Times in February 1968 as a business news reporter and was named auto editor later that year. He has reviewed more than 4,000 new vehicles for the Sun-Times--far more than any newspaper auto writer in the country. Jedlicka also reviewed vehicles for Microsoft Corp.'s MSN Autos Internet site from January, 1996, to June, 2008.

Jedlicka remained auto editor at the Sun-Times until October, 2008, and continued writing for the newspaper's AutoTimes section, which he started in 1992, until February, 2009. While continuing his auto writings at the Sun-Times, he served as assistant financial editor of that newspaper from 1970 to 1973, when he began his automotive column.

He has appeared on numerous radio and television shows, including NBC's "Today," ABC's "20/20" and "The CBS Evening News." He was a host, consultant and writer for Fox-TV Channel 32's 1991 New Car Preview show and that Chicago-based station's 1992, 1993, 1994 and 1995 Chicago Auto Show Previews.

Jedlicka's auto articles have been printed in national magazines, including Esquire and Harper's. His auto columns have been reprinted in U.S. government publications and economic textbooks and he is profiled in the "World's Greatest Auto Show" history book about the Chicago Auto Show. In late 1975, Jedlicka was host and technical advisor for three one-hour television specials, "Auto Test 76," which aired nationally on PBS and were the first nationally televised auto road test shows.

In 1995, Jedlicka was the recipient of the Better Business Bureau of Chicago and Northern Illinois Inc.'s Consumer Education Award, given annually to a person who has gained distinction in the field of consumer education. He received a Lifetime Achievement Award in the Media category and inducted into the Legends of Motorsports Guild at the Carquest World of wheels custom car show in Chicago in January, 2006.

Jedlicka was a member of the North American Car and Truck of the Year jury, composed of a select number of auto journalists from throughout the country, from 1995 until 2009. From 2010 to 2012, he was a member of Consumer Digest magazine's auto experts panel that gave Best Buy new vehicle recommendations.

He is a 1987 graduate of the Bob Bondurant Race Drivers School and later of the BMW "M" and Skip Barber Advanced Driving schools. He was a member of the U.S. team that participated in the 1987 1,000-mile Mille Miglia race/rally in Italy and has been a race winner at the Chicago area's Santa Fe Speedway.

Jedlicka has owned 25 classic cars, including 1950s and 1960s Ferraris and 1950s and 1960s Porsches, a 1965 Corvette, a 1967 Maserati and a 1957 Studebaker supercharged Golden Hawk. Jedlicka resides with his wife, Suzanne, in the Frank Lloyd Wright historic district of Oak Park. They have two children, James and Michele.

For more reviews from Dan, visit Facebook.