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40 MPG, Check. Top Safety Pick, Check. Made In USA, Check.

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On: Mon, Sep 19, 2011 at 10:11AM | By: Chris Salamone

40 MPG, Check. Top Safety Pick, Check. Made In USA, Check.
Needless to say, there is a lot of buzz surrounding Chevrolet’s new subcompact. Although much of the hype is probably based on remnants of Chevy fans which remain quivering in frustration from the former Chevy subcompact Aveo, the Sonic stands all on its own as a tiny car worthy of big talk. After months of teasing strong fuel economy and safety, Chevrolet has announced that the Environmental Protection Agency rated the Ecotec 1.4L turbo Sonic at 40 mpg on the highway and 29 mpg in the city. And, the IIHS granted the Sonic their Top Safety Pick status.

The Sonic’s list of strengths doesn’t end with safety and efficiency, though. It just so happens that the Ecotec 1.4L turbo is paired with a six-speed manual transmission and is capable of reaching 60 mph in 8.2 seconds.  

“Sonic changes the sub-compact stereotype and puts an end to the term econobox,” noted Joaquin Nuno-Whelan, Sonic model line director and chief engineer. “The 1.4L turbo saves money at the gas pump and is a ridiculously fun car to drive. So, our buyers are getting a safe, exciting and fuel efficient car at a great price with the 1.4L turbo.”

MSRP starts at $14,495 and the Sonic includes many premium features more commonly found on expensive cars, such as: manual transmission hill-hold braking control, an electronically controlled thermostat, and an integrated turbocharger/exhaust manifold for weight savings. And, of course, the Sonic is the only subcompact vehicle currently manufactured in America. Production started earlier this summer at the GM Orion Assembly plant in Lake Orion, Michigan.

In 2011, we can say with some certainty that subcompacts are here to stay. With extremely popular options like the Honda Fit, people are starting to expect a lot in small packages. So far the Sonic looks solid on paper—based on the EPA’s recent 40-mpg rating and the IIHS’s Top Safety designation. However, whether or not the Sonic can compete with the Fit’s cavernous interior storage capacity or brilliant ergonomics remains unknown.

What we can say, with some certainty, is that the official model website is irritatingly obnoxious to deal with. Because of the website’s scarcity of information and obvious layout impracticalities, it only serves to bolster the idea that the Sonic may just be exactly what Aveo critics are most afraid of: hype. Let’s hope the Sonic’s latest safety and fuel ratings are a reflection of more good news to come and not the last flares of hope before heartbreak.

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