2020 Chevrolet Sonic Hatchback

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2020 Chevrolet Sonic Hatchback Review: Too Little, Too Late

by Gabe Beita Kiser

While there has been no official confirmation of the Chevy Sonic's demise in the US as yet, the mechanical vultures are certainly beginning to circle. With the familiar six-speed manual gearbox completely removed from the lineup for the 2020 model year, it's clear that Chevy has begun cutting down on costs, a possible sign that the Sonic won't see the 2021 model year. The front wheels of the Sonic Hatch are once again powered by a 1.4-liter turbo Ecotec four-pot engine with outputs of 138 horsepower and 148 lb-ft of torque, now serviced purely by a six-speed automatic gearbox. The Sonic has never really managed to measure up to its competition, with the Kia Rio offering better fuel efficiency, and the Honda Fit boasting superior practicality overall. Even with the Sonic's many updates over the past few years, it's clear, when compared to its rivals, that it has all been too little, too late.

Read in this review:

  • Exterior Design 8 /10
  • Performance 7 /10
  • Fuel Economy 9 /10
  • Interior & Cargo 8 /10
  • Infotainment & Features 8 /10
  • Reliability 8 /10
  • Safety 10 /10
  • Value For Money 7 /10
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2020 Chevrolet Sonic Hatchback Changes: What’s The Difference vs The 2019 Sonic Hatchback?

The Sonic Hatchback carries over predominantly unchanged for the new model year, only having the six-speed automatic gearbox made standard with the removal of the manual gearbox from the Sonic Hatch lineup altogether. Two new exterior color options join the palette for the 2020 model year as well, labeled Oasis Blue and Cayenne Orange Metallic, the latter replacing the prior year's Orange Burst Metallic.

Pros and Cons

  • Nimble city commuter
  • Winning cargo capacity
  • Decent passenger room
  • Top-notch safety scores
  • Full smartphone integration
  • Ten airbags is class-leading
  • Middling cabin quality
  • No manual gearbox option
  • Below-average fuel economy

What's the Price of the 2020 Chevrolet Sonic Hatchback?

The Sonic LT carries an MSRP of $19,420, while the more luxurious Sonic Premier comes in at $21,520, which prices the 2020 year model Sonic Hatches identically to the automatic-equipped models of last year. Chevrolet does charge a destination fee of $895 and does not include tax, registration, or any licensing fees in the recommended prices for the Chevy Sonic. That makes the Sonic Hatch one of the more expensive vehicles in the class, though dealerships often offer cash allowances and incentives.

Best Deals on 2020 Chevrolet Sonic Hatchback

2020 Chevrolet Sonic Hatchback Trims

See trim levels and configurations:

Trim Engine Transmission Drivetrain Price (MSRP)
LT Hatchback
1.4L Turbo Inline-4 Gas
6-Speed Automatic
Front-Wheel Drive
Premier Hatchback
1.4L Turbo Inline-4 Gas
6-Speed Automatic
Front-Wheel Drive
See All 2020 Chevrolet Sonic Hatchback Trims and Specs

Handling and Driving Impressions

Equipped with a standard suspension and with its fairly taut chassis, the base Sonic LT strikes an impressive balance between handling poise and ride quality. The steering feedback and road feel are clearly communicated through to the driver, and the Sonic exhibits no significant levels of body roll when flung around corners. At the same time, the setup absorbs most road imperfections and typical undulations reasonably well, altogether making for a vehicle that offers impressive agility and suitable levels of comfort for pleasurable daily driving.

The Premier model, however, is equipped with a tighter-sprung sport suspension. Although it delivers a lot more stability and control as opposed to the standard suspension, it drastically diminishes ride comfort. Lesser road imperfections and bumps are felt more prominently through the cabin, making for a notably harsher ride then warranted from the everyday commuter. The appeal of this model will rely on how much comfort you're willing to sacrifice for added sportiness.

Overall, the Sonic is a vehicle that's easy-going and rather fun-to-drive; it's a pleasure to trundle around town with its nippy attitude and nimble maneuverability. Getting around traffic couldn't get any easier than in the Sonic Hatch, and every parking spot is made a trouble-free option.

Verdict: Is the 2020 Chevrolet Sonic Hatchback A Good car?

While the Sonic Hatchback is a very modern, capable, and comfortable vehicle, it's beaten in all of those areas by almost all of its rivals. Many offer more contemporary interiors, way better performance and fuel-efficiency, and greater practicality overall. The one area we could argue that the Sonic has the upper hand in is in terms of infotainment, offering one of the only systems fully inclusive of smartphone integration as standard. It's stylish, too, but that's something that only runs skin deep. With no more manual gearbox on offer, there isn't all that much enjoyment offered anymore, with driver engagement limited to enjoying the Sonic's nimbleness and communicative steering. The Sonic Hatchback is otherwise an easy-going, easy-to-drive daily commuter offering what any routine everyday family car should. There are many better alternatives available, though, such as the Honda Fit and Kia Rio, offering all of the above and a little more.

What 2020 Chevrolet Sonic Hatchback Model Should I Buy?

We suggest opting for the range-topping Premier as, at only $2,000 more than the LT, it comes comprehensively outfitted with additional features and upgraded materials, such as the leatherette seating, which improves the Sonic's otherwise bland cabin impression substantially. It also gets push-button start and heated front seats, which are nice touches to the interior, too, along with the enhanced driver information display. With this model, we recommend including the optional Driver Confidence Package to equip park assist, forward collision warning, as well as lane departure assist.

Check out other Chevrolet Sonic Styles

2020 Chevrolet Sonic Hatchback Comparisons

Nissan Versa Note Nissan
Kia Rio5 Kia

2020 Chevrolet Sonic Hatchback vs Nissan Versa Note

The Nissan Versa is a lot cheaper than the Sonic Hatch, with a base price of $14,730. It comes with a slightly less powerful naturally aspirated engine with outputs of 122 hp and 114 lb-ft. It's slower with that engine, but significantly more fuel-efficient, returning 27/35/30 mpg with its five-speed manual gearbox and 32/40/35 mpg with its Xtronic CVT. That's right, the Versa offers a manual, already a winning element for some, as the Versa becomes the more enjoyable vehicle to drive. It does offer far less cargo capacity, however, at 14.7 cubes in the trunk. The Versa is also a sedan-only offer as of the 2020 redesign, so if its a hatchback you want, the Sonic is the only bet. But with it being an all-new model, the Versa is the more refined option in modern comfort. The Sonic takes the cake in terms of its standard safety consignment and infotainment, though, but at the Versa's pricing point, it's a tough one to beat in terms of value. Overall, the Versa would be our pick from the two, as the model that offers a more enjoyable drive with its manual gearbox, a more efficient powertrain overall, and the refinements of a brand new design for 2020 at a lower price.

See Nissan Versa Note Review

2020 Chevrolet Sonic Hatchback vs Kia Rio5

Not only does the Rio5 come in at $2,730 less than the Sonic Hatchback, but it also comes with a class-leading ten-year/100,000-mile powertrain warranty, which dwarfs the Sonics five-year/60,000-mile coverage, in comparison. Arguably, the Rio carries a sportier, more appealing aesthetic than the Sonic as well, and on the inside, the Rio also offers a far more premium impression than most vehicles found at its price point in the segment. The Rio comes standard with a few more appealing features, too, like a USB charge port located in the rear cabin, remote keyless entry with trunk release, and bi-function LED headlights. The Sonic's engine is slightly more powerful than the Rio's, but a lot less fuel-efficient, with the Rio's naturally aspirated four-cylinder returning an impressive 33/41/36 mpg. Though the Rio offers marginally less cargo capacity, with 17.4 cubes offered behind the rear seats, it one-ups the Sonic in every other regard and is the more sensible, higher value, and superior car overall.

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