Quick Spin: 2012 Chevrolet Sonic LTZ 1.4 Turbo – More Power and Efficiency

Earlier this year we had a chance to get our hands on the new 2012 Chevy Sonic hatchback. At the time, Chevrolet only offered a 1.8-liter naturally aspirated 4-cylinder engine. As we noted in our review, Chevrolet played their cards well in the small car game with the introduction of the new Sonic, somewhat of a large-proportioned subcompact. Recently, we had the chance to take a spin in the newly introduced Sonic with a 1.4-liter 4-cylinder Turbo engine, proving to give the new Sonic a performance and efficiency edge.

Although the new 1.4-liter Turbo Chevy Sonic isn’t exactly a thrill ride, having the same horsepower figure as the 1.8-liter engine, it does stack on an extra 23 ft-lbs. of torque to the equation for a total of 148 ft-lbs. With the added torque, the Sonic has a noticeable improved eagerness to scoot the 2,800 pound sub compact around.

During my time with the new 2012 Chevy Sonic Turbo, I was surprised at its agility and stable ride for a sub compact. Even though the Sonic carries some extra heft to it when compared to other sub compacts, it tends to mange it very well. The Turbocharged engine has very little lag and tends to surge just enough power to the front wheels barely breaking the loose on pavement.

Having 138 horsepower, in both the 1.8-liter NA and my 1.4-liter turbo, torque steer is not much of an issue even when the turbo kicks in its 148 ft-lbs. at just 1,850 rpm. The turbocharged engine, however, does give you an extra bit of confidence in overtaking other cars on the highway. Not to mention, the 1.4-liter turbo is a much better mate for the Sonic than when equipped in a heavier Chevy Cruze. In acceleration tests, the new Sonic Hatchback Turbo 6-speed manual mustered out a 0-60 mph time in 8.1 seconds, almost a full second quicker than the 1.8-liter naturally aspirated engine Sonic.

With Chevrolet now offering the 1.4-liter Turbo engine with a choice of a 6-speed manual or 6-speed automatic transmission, it really adds an attraction for consumers in the market for a subcompact. Fuel consumption is also another shining point of the new Sonic Turbo getting as much as 40 mpg on the highway and 29 mpg city with the manual transmission. During my week’s time pushing the Sonic considerably hard in heavy traffic, I saw 29 mpg on average with my best figure of 37 mpg with my automatic transmission Sonic LTZ turbo. As a direct comparison, the 1.8-liter engine gets 25 mpg city and 35 mpg highway. My automatic Sonic LTZ has an EPA estimated 27 mpg city and 37 mpg highway.

The new Chevy Sonic virtually eliminates any preconceived notions consumers and enthusiasts once had about the Chevy Aveo, the vehicle that the Sonic proudly replaces. Offering up a comfortable cabin, enough space for 6-foot-plus adults up front, decent space in the rear seats, and just enough cargo space, the Sonic hatchback proves to be quite versatile.

The Chevy Sonic hatchback is currently available with the original 1.8-liter or 1.4-liter turbo engine. Three trim levels are offered, LS, LT and LTZ. The LS trim only comes with the 1.8-liter engine while the LT and LTZ trims offer the 1.4-liter Turbocharged engine as a $700 option. If you ask me, the $700 bill is definitely worth the price of admission considering the performance and efficiency gains. All trims can be had with the standard 6-speed manual or 6-speed automatic transmission.

A base 2012 Chevy Sonic LS manual transmission starts off at just $14,765 including $795 destination charge. My Sonic LTZ automatic climbed to a base price of $18,625 landing an as-tested price of $20,445 including the options of the 1.4-liter turbo engine and Crystal Red metallic tintcoat paint. Entering into the $20K figure for a subcompact may be a hard pill to swallow, but you can easily consider that the Sonic ventures into the bigger compact segment with its decent interior space, excellent efficiency and agile road-going manners.

Copyright: 2012 AutomotiveAddicts.com


  • Price: Base Sonic LS Hatchback  $14,635 As-Tested Sonic LTZ Turbo Hatchback $20,445
  • Engine: 1.4-liter Turbocharged 4-cylinder DOHC Ecotec 16-valve 138 horsepower @ 4900 rpm / 148 ft-lbs. torque @ 1850 rpm
  • Wheelbase: 99.4in.
  • Total length: 159.0in.
  • Total width: 68.3in.
  • Total height: 59.7in.
  • Fuel tank: 12.2 gallons
  • Headroom: f/r-38.7/38.1in.
  • Shoulder room: f/r-53.4/53.0in.
  • Curb weight: 2,804 lbs. (6-speed automatic)
  • 0-60mph: 8.1 seconds
  • EPA mileage: 27mpg/city, 37mpg/highway (automatic transmission)