Chevy Sonic Gets 40 MPG on the Highway, Is Less Impressive in the City

General Motors has announced that the 1.4-liter turbo edition of its forthcoming Chevy Sonic subcompact will achieve fuel economy of 29 mpg in the city and 40 mpg on the highway, for an expected combined EPA rating of 32 mpg. Automatic and manual transmission 1.8-liter, non-turbocharged versions of the Sonic will also be available when it goes on sale this fall, with efficiency for those models expected at 25/ 35/ 28 and 26 /25 /29, respectively.

The Sonic replaces the poorly-received Aveo in the Chevrolet lineup, and is expected to be a considerable improvement within the subcompact segment, both in terms of fuel economy and overall quality. But as Green Car Reports pointed out earlier this week, it actually achieves inferior fuel economy to Chevy’s larger Cruze Eco compact, which gets 42 mpg on the highway and a 33 mpg overall rating.

Pricing for the Cruze Eco and the Sonic turbo model is also similar, with the Sonic hatchback starting at $18,130, just a few hundred dollars less than the $18,425 Cruze Eco. (The non-hatchback Sonic sedan is somewhat cheaper, coming in at $17,235.)

For Chevy shoppers considering their small, fuel efficient gas car options, the choice between the Sonic and Cruze won’t be all that stark. Both cars are similarly priced and offer similar fuel economy, with the main arguments for the Sonic being that it comes in a hatchback variant, or, that for drivers not worried about losing a little space, the sedan comes in at a discount of about $1,200 compared to the Cruze.

Subcompacts from other carmakers like the Toyota Yaris and Ford Fiesta also follow the same pattern in terms of their efficiency: city fuel economy in the high-20′s, highway fuel economy in the high-30′s or low-40s. One small car that does differentiate itself from the field is the new Scion iQ—not because its overall fuel economy is dramatically higher than that of competitors, but because of how those numbers are balanced between city and highway mileage.

The Scion iQ is a small, “3+1”-seat minicar with fuel economy balanced more toward urban driving. At 36 mpg in the city and 37 mpg on the highway, the iQ stands out from pack of sub-$20,000 efficient gas cars. (Only the Smart ForTwo comes close on city fuel economy, at 33 mpg.) The trade-off with the iQ is that it’s a two-door and only seats three adults and one child.

For drivers who spend a lot of time on the open road, there are plenty of inexpensive fuel-efficient new car options like the Chevy Sonic and Cruze Eco. Urban commuters looking to maximize their MPGs have significantly fewer choices though, and may want to consider either downsizing to a minicar or paying a little bit more for a hybrid.


  • Max Reid

    Sonic Hatch may have as much space as Chevy Cruze and also the functionality of folding down rear seat for bigger boxy things.

    Its also much cheaper than Cruze.

    Meanwhile Scion IQ is 2+2 concept and not 3+1. Normally its a 2 seater car, when needed, we can unfold the rear seat and use it as 4 seater.

  • Michael Hartman

    this is why I’m stoked for the new Kia Rio coming out. It’s base 30 mpg EPA coupled with ISG (idle stop go) technology and 40 mpg highway may make it the perfect little care for both city and highyway drivers. And I bet it matches the sonic in terms of room, and more than beats it on price.

  • MrEnergyCzar

    Not seeing anything near the 100 mpg Volt. The mini Prius C should come in around 60 mpg, separating it from this pack….

    MrEnergyCzar

  • James Davis

    That’s typical of GM…always disappointing and letting people down except in China.

  • standardhybridcar

    its not fair to compare a plug-in hyrbid to a standard hybrid (although the volt MPG starts to drop dramatically once the first 30 miles are up)

    same goes to comparing a gasoline to hybrid

    gasoline, diesel, hybrid, plugin hybrid, and EV are all classes of their own

  • Jacob

    There is a post and video of the Sonic going skydiving over the Arizona desert at: wheelandmotor.blogspot.com. Check it out!!!!

  • sliverado

    Everybody is gay now.

  • London

    Finally, GM is offering something comparable to the golf. I had 2, one diesel, the other 1.8 liter GTI. I loved both.

    Remember the Chevette? I had 2 of those as well. Not reliable, no power, built at least it was a compact four door hatchback with a standard shift. But I could fix them and they were cheap to maintain. Basic utility car.

    At least this is a contender and they can build on it. I would buy it. It looks cool. It is reasonably priced and does not look like an Asian, fish faced car. It is robust looking and has a stout, aggressive aesthetic. This does not mean it is European styling. Get over that script. Also, finally a 1.8 liter turbo, standard five speed.

    What took so long.

    How does it perform? Is it fun to drive?
    Can it run up mountains fully loaded. My old Golfs could.

  • Roger

    Chevy let us down again. I have a HURT and love it. Was thinking about trading for a Volt, but not for $40+ grand that they want. It seems that GM over priced it to get their hands on the tax incentive. What a rip off.
    The Cruz was another consideration, but wanted the hatchback model that is only offered in Europe.
    When is GM going to get their act together?

  • rodney derr

    The chevy volt is the biggest joke of all —100 mpg on the first gallon —what is the mileage on the second mile——-If you never drive over 100 miles it is fine other wise it dont justify the additional cost.

  • rodney derr

    DOES ANYONE REMEMBER THE VOLKESWAGON RABBIT DIESEL——A CAR FAR AHEAD OF ITS TIME—–MPG 50 PLUS.

  • Joe

    We have had a Volt for a year now and its great. Our electric bill has barely changed and we have put gas in it once every 3 months 6 to 7 gallons. The ride and functions are great. After filing our taxes with the credit and savings on gas, we have already benefited. Gas keeps climbing, it has been one of our best financial decisions.

  • tapra1

    that for drivers not worried about losing a little space, the sedan comes in at a discount of about $1,200 compared to the Cruze.Web Hosting Reviews

  • MichelleM-M

    I bought the Sonic eco turbo 3/16/12. My other vehicle is a Lincoln Navigator Ultimate, mpg city 8. It was between $180-$210 a week for gas. I have put gas in the sonic on 2 occasions for a total of $46 that will get me to this weekend (a two week total). As far as I am concerned it pays for itself. It is the sedan, the steering is tight and has great pick up… fun to drive! It is manual and I am doing better than projected with the mpg. $16,800 for this car and a 6year/60,000 Warr. as opposed to the close to $10,000 in gas last year, I don’t have to feel like such a gashole.

  • Nathan

    Its not the automakers fault. Blame the U.S. safety nannies for the post 2003 overall higher cost to own. I smell big oil somewhere in all this combined with a little indophobia. The automakers took one look at India and told the nanny politicians lets do this.

  • greg45

    I think this is definitely great MPG. It is not perfect but the number is very high compared to other cars. So much that you can get from the sonic car. Keep up the good work. Telluride Reservations