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The Chevrolet Sonic delivers spritely acceleration performance with the standard 1.8-liter engine. Power from the 1.8-liter engine is sufficient off the line, but we found throttle tip-in to be overly sensitive and that made for jumpy standing starts until we got used to it.
We sometimes had trouble choosing the right gear over hills and through windy roads. With the automatic, we needed to manually shift to get the optimum power. With the manual, we felt like a driving Goldilocks: second gear was too short, yet third was much too tall. This suggests torque from the 1.8-liter engine might not be sufficiently broad and robust for the gear ratios. In layman's terms, more power would be useful for motoring around town.
We found the 1.4-liter turbo models a tad zippier.
Steering was surprisingly responsive. While the Sonic lacks the go-kart handling of a Mini Cooper Clubman, it offers enough sportiness to feel engaged on the road. The suspension was compliant enough to handle bumps and railroad tracks, yet still firm enough to let us round corners with minimal body roll.
Braking is responsive; the pedal bites down quickly enough for those who like instant feedback, but is perhaps a little too bitey for those who like a more progressive pedal feel.
Fuel economy for the Chevrolet Sonic regardless of body style is an EPA estimated 26/35 mpg City/Highway with the 1.8-liter engine and 5-speed manual transmission, 25/35 mpg with the automatic. Official government figures for the 1.4-liter turbo were not available at press time.