The 2014 Chevrolet Sonic RS Hatchback Turbo is exciting to drive, comfortable and quiet to ride in and delivers segment leading fuel economy for between $15,000 and $20,000 (MSRP).
Driving the 2014 Sonic for a full week, we came to a conclusion that this nimble and powerful hatchback was not only an excellent entry level car, but it also would easily address the needs and wants of multiple generational levels (including families and even 'boomers') with its features, affordability and stylish looks.
In many locales, cars in this segment are fast becoming desirable in two car garage homes as they provide cost efficient and effective transportation on a day to day basis as part of a family transportation fleet that is very often anchored by a larger SUV or crew cab pickup truck for active families.
The 2014 Chevrolet Sonic Hatchback comes in four trim levels. The base is the LS (MSRP $14,770) with an EcoTec 1.8L four-cylinder engine and a five-speed manual transmission (automatic is available). The second level is the LT (MSRP $16,380) with some available upgrades including the 1.4L turbocharged engine, Chevrolet MyLink infotainment system with six-speaker premium audio, foglamps, spoiler and 16-inch wheels.
Both of these are priced right and offer an excellent price with good performance, top of the segment fuel economy (up to 40 mpg) and high safety marks from both NHTSA (5-STAR) and IIHS (Top Safety Pick) with its steel cabin construction and ten airbags including side air protection front and rear.
For our money, the Sonic gets down right desirable at the LTZ trim level (MSRP $17,990) - adding as standard the MyLink infotainment, Rear vision camera, SiriusXM satellite radio, Bluetooth wireless and Pandora internet radio, 17-inch wheels , heated leatherette front seating and foglamps. The 1.4L turbocharged engine with its six-speed automatic transmission is available on the LTZ.
But, without a doubt, the 2014 Chevrolet Sonic RS Hatchback (MSRP $20,235) is irresistible to both drive and ride in with its solid styling inside and out, generous interior room, comfort, handling performance, considerable array of features and fuel economy delivering a ride experience worthy of much larger cars.
Our test Sonic was in Victory Red with a Jet Black interior with leather seating and sporting its RS specific rear roof-mounted spoiler, front and rear fascias, rocker panel extensions, trapezoidal bright exhaust outlet and RS badges.
With delivery, it priced at $22,280 - a whole lot of car with just the standard features and equipment only.
This 2014 Sonic RS Hatchback Turbo came with the turbocharged engine cranking out 138 horsepower with 148 lb.-ft. of torque mated to the six-speed automatic transmission with driver shift control and sportier gear ratios with a 3.53 final drive ratio delivering power to the five-spoke 17-inch aluminum wheels.
The RS Turbo fuel economy is rated at 25/33 mpg City/Highway with an expected average of 28 mpg. We achieved just under 30 mpg in our week of driving this RS.
The RS Turbo is set up to run fast with its 10mm lowered ride height, performance tuned suspension with tuned dampers, electric power steering and four-wheel ABS brakes with electronic brake force distribution and StabiliTrak electronic stability and traction control.
This Sonic RS handles performance-challenging hills and twisting roads very well based on our usual run of what we call the Volente Hill route which covers about 15 miles of turns, climbs, dips and switch-backs along a two-lane county road near our home.
On a scale of 1-10 with ten being the best, we rate this Sonic RS Turbo an 8-plus on the Volente route. Our only negative on the runs up and down the hill, was that, at speeds above those posted, the high profile and roofline did slightly affect the road ability urging us to lower our run time just a bit to compensate. Other than that, cornering was very good - holding the road well, steering firm and positive, braking solid and effective and, with the turbo, acceleration out of the corners was fast.
The interior of the Sonic RS is exceptionally well crafted for both form and function. The, what we call, retro-industrial styling of the IP and center stack is both attractive in its simplicity and exceptionally functional. The use of materials and around the cabin is very good with fit and finish exceptional.
Did we mention how quiet this Sonic is? Our experience is that this is one of the quietest cabins in this class enhancing enjoyment of the sound system and use of the hands-free phone.
The front seating is very generous with good leg and knee room for a car in this segment. The bucket seating is well engineered for good back support with bolstering placed just right. The high roof and very wide and high doors accommodate us bigger folks with uncommon ease.
Back seat room is a bit smaller, but does the job and, with the seats down, creates a rather generous cargo space of over 47 cubic feet.
For those who consider where the car is built to be important, the 2014 Chevrolet Sonic is assembled in the U.S. at Lake Orion, Mich. Chevrolet says it is the only one in its segment assembled in the U.S.
We do not always mention the availability of the OnStar system that comes standard on all GM vehicles. One of its very good features is the red emergency (SOS) button on the mirror. I hit it inadvertently while adjusting the mirror and, before my hand returned to my lap, the OnStar operator was on asking me what my emergency was. I would challenge that most 911 systems around the country do not respond that fast.
We might suggest adding the available Advanced Safety Package ($395) that includes Forward Collision Avoidance (FCA) and Lane Departure Warning (LDW) along with the Power Tilt Sunroof ($850) to make this Sonic RS Turbo just about perfect.
Lastly, it came to our mind while we were driving the Sonic, having recently given the new 2014 Chevrolet Silverado 1500 Crew Cab (also in Victory Red) a series of test drives, that we could easily see the 2014 Sonic alongside a 2014 Silverado 1500 Crew Cab in our garage or in the garage of active families everywhere.