For starters, buyers can choose between a 5-door hatchback or a 4-door sedan, with LS, LT, LTZ and RS trims available. Two engine options power the lineup: a naturally aspirated 1.8L 4-cylinder is standard and produces 138 horsepower and 125 pound-feet of torque, while a turbocharged 1.4L 4-cylinder is available on LT and RS and standard on LTZ trims. It produces the same number of horses, but a healthy 148 ft-lb of torque. Both engines come from the larger Chevy Cruze, and in the smaller, lighter Sonic, they are decidedly sprightly. The 1.8L is paired with a 5-speed manual, while the 1.4L sends its power through a 6-speed manual. A 6-speed automatic is optional for both engines but is the only transmission available on the LTZ.
The Sonic benefits from an incredibly stiff steel chassis, with MacPherson struts up front and a torsion-beam axle in the rear. Stability control and traction control are standard, but can be switched off.
Standard amenities include 15-inch alloy wheels, air conditioning, power locks and keyless entry, as well as a 60/40 split-folding rear seat. LS trim adds heated side mirrors and special exterior appointments, while LTZ trim includes 17-inch wheels, fog lamps, perforated leatherette seating surfaces with heated front seats and a leather-wrapped steering wheel with stereo controls. An infotainment system with 7-inch display, a rear backup camera, cruise control and Bluetooth hands-free connectivity are also included.
The Sonic RS has a unique front fascia, unique 17-inch wheels and turbo badging compared to other Sonic trims. The car is also lower than the standard Sonic and features sport-tuned suspension. Performance is further enhanced by shorter gear ratios and four-wheel disc brakes. Other features on the RS include leather seating, a leather shift knob and a unique flat bottom steering wheel.
Many of the features of the LTZ are options in the Connectivity Plus Cruise Package and are available on LT-equipped Sonics. A power sunroof is optional on LTZ models. A new Advanced Safety Package brings forward collision alert and lane departure warning.
Standard safety features include ten airbags, StabiliTrak electronic stability control with rollover sensor and traction control, anti-lock brakes with electronic brake force distribution and panic assist, OnStar and hill-start assist.