The Chevy Sonic, an all-new compact model from GM, made its debut at the 2012 North American International Auto Show in Detroit last month. We were so busy covering all the hybrid and electric car reveals that we couldn’t pay it much attention, but a week-long test drive in the little wonder has made us feel remiss about that. After all, it fulfills the demands of many younger drivers in the States: it's small, efficient, well-appointed, and it features a turbocharger on its tiny engine to really give you some kick. The Sonic actually feels a lot like the old Ford Festiva from the early 90s, which is to say simple and down to earth but with a lot of get up and go. Remember that lurchy feeling you got learning to drive in a small manual-transmission car with more power than its tiny frame needed? It’s just like that, without the cigarette burns in the seats.
The Chevy Sonic is simple in design: just a small hatchback (or there is a sedan version) with a lot of road noise coming through the floor. But the Sonic has heated leather seats, a nice spacious hatch, a Hyundai Veloster-style integrated rear door handle for a streamlined body, sporty headlights, and a chrome accented front door handle that punches above its weight for style. The Sonic offers up to 40 mpg highway, but this depends on the model and how you use that feisty turbo. We would expect sportier drivers to get high 20s from the Sonic, but more careful folks could eke out the top numbers while still enjoying their little car. The Sonic comes with a 1.4- to 1.8-liter engine matched with a 5- or 6-speed manual, and starts at only $14,635. We say buy this little guy in grandmother white (the vehicle color of the year, apparently) and rock it.