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2012 Chevy Sonic with 1.4L Turbo delivers 40 mpg on highway
2012 Sonic. Click to enlarge.

The 2012 Chevrolet Sonic with the Ecotec 1.4L turbo delivers an EPA-estimated 40 mpg US (5.9 L/100km) on the highway with a six-speed manual transmission and city fuel economy of 29 mpg (8.1 L/100km), resulting in 33 mpg US (7.1 L/100km) combined.

The Sonic’s highway fuel economy makes it one of the most fuel-efficient small cars in the market, with fuel economy equivalent to the 2012 Ford Fiesta SFE and on a par with the 2012 Hyundai Accent. (The Accent is EPA rated at 30 mpg city and 40 on the highway). Along with achieving 40 mpg, the 1.4L turbo Sonic can reach 60 mph in 8.2 seconds.

The Sonic’s 1.4L Ecotec turbocharged engine is SAE certified at 138 horsepower (103 kW)—18 hp (14 kW) more than Ford Fiesta and is essentially the same engine used in the Chevrolet Cruze in a smaller, lighter package designed for a greater feeling of performance. The turbo engine is also rated at 148 lb-ft (200 N·m) of torque between 2,500 and 4,900 rpm.

The wide rpm range for the maximum torque—a specific trait of turbocharged engines—helps the engine deliver a better driving experience and performance. Premium design elements give the engine smoothness and durability. Features include:

  • Low-mass hollow-frame cast iron block;
  • Dual overhead camshafts with continuously variable valve timing;
  • Chain-driven cams;
  • Roller-finger camshaft followers;
  • Piston-cooling oil jets and integrated oil cooler;
  • Variable-flow oil pump; and
  • Electronically controlled thermostat.

The 1.4L’s turbocharger is integrated within the exhaust manifold, for reduced weight and greater packaging flexibility. A reinforced crankshaft and stronger connecting rods deliver additional strength to support the engine’s pressurized power and torque over a wide rpm band.

The Sonic’s 1.8L manual delivers fuel economy of 26 mpg city (9.0 L/100km) and 35 mpg highway (6.7 L/100km) and the automatic gets 25 mpg city (9.4 L/100km) and 35 mpg highway.

The Sonic is the only sub-compact car currently built in the US. Production began earlier this summer at General Motors Orion Assembly facility in Lake Orion, Mich.

The suggested retail price of the Sonic begins at $14,495 including destination but excluding tax, title, license and dealer fees.



Why does this car make it to GCC? If we compare this car (the 1.8 automatic would have driving characteristics of a Prius) gets 25mpg city, pffffffff, come on, the Prius is 7 years old!

On a sidetrack : i had to switch form Prius (after 6 years of joy) to Renault Laguna 1.5TD 6-speed, and it is a complete disaster in terms of driving convenience: no torque at take-off, and the continuos shifting is a real distraction in city driving.......


If only everything was agnostic of cost....

The Prius starts at almost $24k (and you won't find one at that price at any dealer), while this new Sonic starts almost $10k LESS ($14k). A lot of people don't have the extra $10k for the better city fuel economy. For some people who do a lot of highway driving, this could wind up being a much better value.

Hopefully, it's inevitable that the GM starts to roll out their latest eAssist mild hybrid to vehicles like the Sonic and Cruze soon. When that happens, fuel economy will get much closer to the Prius than the price.


This is nothing to write home about. Many existing small cars do as good and better.

Mike Urseth

Could someone please explain. Way back in the dark ages of 1980, my girlfriend had a Dodge Omni Miser. This was a 2-door hatchback equipped with a 4-cylinder engine (VW Rabbit short block with Chrysler-designed head and induction - carburetor) that displaced less than 2 liters. The wide-ratio 4-speed manual transmission gave low rpms at highway speeds. She could get nearly 50 mpg.

Where has the progress been?


My wifes 1997 Audi A6 2.5TDi can get over 60mpg (UK Gallons) on the highway at motorway speeds (70 mph) and its much bigger than the Daewoo...erm Chevy!


I'll give you two reasons:

1. Small car manufacturing in North America. A lost art, and great that it returns. Remember, it's US gasoline consumption that skews worldwide averages.

2. A small sporty car that gets 40MPG at an affordable price. This car outperforms a Honda Fit/Jazz, and gets better mileage. This is a great datapoint in how the TFSI engine downsizing movement will be the bridge between the current 22MPG US average and the 54.5MPG average we will have to achieve in 20 years.

And Mike Urseth, I would regularly get 44MPG in my mom's 1979 Honda Accord. It weighed 1900 lbs and the speed limit was 55 back then. I would have died in any accident with a pickup truck, and its emissions were 20X what this car emits. We all know that the US vehicle size/vehicle safety arms race was a huge mistake, but we can't reverse it unless we export 40% of all Republicans to whatever libertarian Utopia (Somalia?) we can find. Until then, idiots rule our world and we have to use technology to overcome lack of common sense.

Nick Lyons

Obviously, additional $$ added to MSRP could pay for direct injection plus other proven techniques to improve efficiency. This car is built to a price.

Roger Pham

You cannot compare the small-size Sonic to the larger Prius, with much larger rear-seat leg room. The Prius should be compared to the Chevy Cruise Eco, which has comparable interior dimensions.

I tried to match the options on the Cruise Eco 1.4-liter turbo automatic in order to come closest to the features offered by the base Prius offered at $23,500, and the sticker price of the Cruise Eco comes close to $21,000, even thought he Cruise Eco is still short on a lot of things that the base Prius has: Automatic AC, electric AC compressor, automatic entry, upgraded sound system and 6-CD changer with Satellite radio, No drive belt for accessories to fail, etc.

So, at $23,500, the Prius III is an unbeatable deal indeed, when compared to any other cars matched to its size, options, and speed & handling performance. I think that this is still one of the best-kept secret in America!


I assume you meant "we can't reverse it unless we export 40% of all Democrats".

Obama is a Democrat".

The house and senate were controlled by Democrats" for 2 years

The senate is still controlled by Democrats".

If you assume that the politicians are making US vehicles too big and too safe ("US vehicle size/vehicle safety arms race "); blame them.

But to say the politicians are making US vehicles too big makes no sense".
[ Too safe maybe ]

Nick Lyons


American cars are overweight because gasoline has been cheap here historically, and car companies found it easier to make profits selling glorified trucks, especially since the CAFE requirements for them were lower. Low gas prices have been supported by public policy for years, because change can be painful and no one gets elected by promising to make painful but necessary changes (such as raising gas taxes). To the contrary, politicians feed people's wishful thinking, e.g.: M. Bachmann promising $2 gas if she gets elected. So in a sense, politicians, (or the nature of our politics, if you will) do help make our vehicles too big.



"You cannot compare the small-size Sonic to the larger Prius...."

You are absolutely right....the Prius is a much larger vehicle on the OUTSIDE. For all your concerns about efficiency, you seem to be ignoring packaging efficiency. The fact of the matter is that Sonic is VERY close in interior space. The Prius has a slight edge in both passenger (90.6 vs. 93.7) and cargo space (19.0 vs. 21.6), but that's pretty close for a vehicle over 16 inches shorter. In fact, the Sonic beats the Prius in a few important measurements as well, such as rear seat headroom.

You can deck out the Sonic LTZ hatchback with nearly every option (and more features than the Prius III) and come in less than $20k. Not only are you likely to get a Sonic for less than MSRP, you'd be LUCKY to get a Prius for less than $1k over MSRP. You are easily talking about a $6k difference. That's a lot of money for a lot of people.

The Sonic is a more practical car for the masses. Not only that, but the driving dynamics of the Prius would not even come close to that of the Sonic. Don't get me wrong, the Prius is a fine and very efficient commuting appliance, but there are many people who actually enjoy the driving experience and thus are not interested in a Prius.

As I mentioned before, I hope it's inevitable that the Sonic gets the eAssist mild hybrid system. Even if that adds $2k to the cost, in this vehicle, you'll probably get close to 30/45 at around $4k less than the Prius. That should be even more appealing.

Roger Pham

The Sonic is fine, but I see that the rear seat in the Sonic is quite close to the front seat...leg room for rear passengers is much more limited than that of the Prius or the Cruze. Adults or teenagers won't feel comfortable sitting in the rear seats of the Sonic, and that makes all the difference in the world. The rear legrooms of the Corolla or the Civic are comparable to that of the Sonic, still too small for the Prius. That's why the Prius is rated one class larger than subcompact.
Why don't you compare the Cruze to the Prius instead, which makes for a more fair comparison.

For the Sonic, compare it to the Honda Insight 2 hybrid instead, since they are closer in size, and the different between HEV and non-HEV is still quite close, since the Insight costs less than the Prius.


This is quite an improvement in fuel economy. My 2006 Honda Civic without all the "advanced technolgy" 2012 Chevrolet Sonic with the Ecotec 1.4L turbo bells and whistles gets 38 miles/US gal on the highway. These clowns are to be congratulated for a job well done.



If the Repubs have their way the FAA , FDA, EPA, roads, bridges, Social Security, Medicare, etc. would be privatized. It goes without saying that should these private entities go into bankruptcy these same Repubs would insist on a taxpayer financed bail out. Been there done that, thank you very much!


You have a poor understanding of the constitution, what the government is for, and what constitutes reducing government intrusion into the peoples rights.

The EPA should probably be reined in; privatization is nonsense.

I am not sure even a strict libertarian would advocate elimination of the FAA and the FDA, much less privatization of such regulating agencies.

I think privatization of roads and bridges usually means revenues that should be used were misspent on entitlements.

As to the bailouts, both parties supported them, apparently to preserve the world as they liked it.

But, while both parties supported the bailouts and, to a lesser extent, the Iraq invasion,
Obamacare is all democrat.


Americans need to be defended from: government survalance, the wealthiest 400 US families, lawyers, and gouging US healthcare charges. Terrorists are chickensh*t.

American's murder more American's than 9/11 MONTHLY through unaffordable(twice the GPD% expense) of world average universal healthcare.

Ex: A type 2 diabetic veteran I know had a infected toe. Before any tests, the surgon said he would amputate. ALL tests, before and after, said there was NO bone infection(the only reason to amputate). The surgon withheld antibiotics and, a month later amputated - at $100's/minute charges - which resulted in the patient's bankruptcy.

This clear malpractice case, with ALL DOCUMENTATION, was given to several different lawyers. EACH stated that five figures(under $100,000) wasn't worth their time and nothing signicant would be left for the patient after their 'legal' fees. So much for US justice..

FOREIGN terrorists are the least of a typical American's fears.


When the morale values of the majority in a country go below the tipping point, society starts breaking down. When too many do not want to pay their fair share for common services, the national debt goes sky high. The lower class grows in number and starve, the middle class moves one step down to the lower class and the top class accumulates more and more wealth. That has been going on for about one full decade and the results are visible. One more decade of the same will hurt millions. Warren Buffet is 100% correct. The top class has to pay more taxes and the lower and middle classes have to pay less. The sooner the better.


GM 40 mpg is about time.

HD, my mother lost her every 110v appliance, TV, .. when the power utility transformer neutral corroded. Linemen admitted their maintenance negligence and pix of metered wild voltage swings were distributed.

'Legally', settlement can only be through arbitration. The 'arbitrators' office is in the utility building.

She lost thousands.

Because of legal complexities, individual medical insurance expense, IRS fear - I took a programming contract with benefits(vacation, group med,..), rather than a weekly lump sum as a business. The company reneged on over $10,000 in year end contract pay.

A lawyer told me he could win the case, the $10,000+ would be his fee, and he would abandon me if it were appealed.

A kid is jailed for shoplifting food. The armed police demand $10 parking tickets be paid.

But there is no viable legal recourse should $10,000(s) be stolen from a US citizen. I'm sure there are millions of similar examples.

The Feds trained over ten million Americans in the most efficient ways to kill and get away with it during Vietnam, the Oil Gulfs, ...

Now those same Vets are being told there's no(or token) VA, SS, unemployment, .. insurance $benefits.

Training is a terrible thing to waste and some of these guys may not start living under a bridge..

Roger Pham

I understand your frustration with the current health care system in the USA. However, ObamaCare will not make it better.

Let's consider an alternative to ObamaCare:
My idea of a Free-market HealthCare system with Universal Coverage, (I call it the MacKey-Pham Plan, in honor Mr. John Mackey, CEO of Whole Foods, who first proposed the idea of Free-market health care in the Wall Stree Journal. The Universal coverage part is my contribution!)

1) Give every state resident a health Credit Account (HCA), let's say, having a basic $xx credit limit, whether he/she works or not.
2)Allow each working resident to voluntarily contribute to a Health Saving Account (HSA), the higher the monthly contribution, the higher the credit limit will be extented to, also dependent on income. For example, for every $100 contributed to the HSA, the credit limit of that person will be raised to $2xx, and so forth.
3) Those with debt on their HCA will have to pay off that debt with monthly deductions from their pay check until the debt will be paid off, before they can contribute to the HSA. 15-20% of contribution to the HSA will be deducted to cover for those who can't pay off their HCA debts. Let's say, when you contribute $200 a month to your HSA, only ~$170 will be credited to your account after the ~15% deduction to cover for those that can't pay off their HCA debts.

4) There will be no need for Health Insurance. People will pay for their health care with a Health Credit/Debit card. Groups of 20-100 people can pool their accounts together to form a risk-sharing pool, so that if one person has a catastrophic illness costing a lot of money, he/she can deduct ~20% off of the HSA/HCA accounts of each member in the risk-sharing pool to pay for the extended cost.

5) Everyone will be motivated to shop for the most cost-effective health care. Data-mining computer algorithms can detect which doctors or hospitals or clinics can deliver the best health care for the least cost, FOR EACH SEPARATE AILMENT, in order to help the patient to choose the most qualified doctor for their condition, according to their budget. Health Care Advisors can help those computer-illiterate to choose the right doctors. Health-care billing FRAUDS will largely be prevented.

Voila, Affordable and high-quality health-care described in 2-3 paragraphs, and NOT in 2400 pages of ObamaCare that will bankrupt the USA. My Health Care Plan is self-funded and will NOT require a single dime of government's or Taxpayer's money!

Do not see a surgeon if you have an infected toe. A surgeon only knows how to cut, he/she does not know medicine as well as an internist.


RP, the surgeon referenced was a podiatrist(foot doctor). The patient was forced to see this doctor by his primary care physician.

America's military 'defense' spending would best defend the country through healthy citizens. Europe, Britain, Canada, have decades of proven universal healthcare at a faction of US cost.

US 'for profit'(pay or die, a care "you can't refuse") is the perhaps the most inhuman system of murder since "Arbeit macht frei".

US healthcare is several times the cost, a fraction the coverage, and the cause the majority of US bankruptcies - and not one Republican senator voted to change this.

Clearly, you didn't challenge the US lawyer examples - US healing is even worse..

Roger Pham

The Vet's primary care physician (PCP) should go back to medical school. In my Universal Health Care proposal with centralized payer, computer data mining based on billing patterns of each health provider can distinguish between Dr's who are cost-effective, Drs. who are expensive but good, or down-right incompetent or fraudulent quacks, so that patients can have a choice of who to see, forcing those incompetent quacks out of practice. Right now, we can't.

Depending on the condition of the Vet's foot at the time, the PCP could have done an X-ray on the spot to check for bone infection. If the infection is mild and no obvious bone infection on X-ray, give antibiotics and send home. If infection is too severe, send the Vet to the hospital ER. Whether the Vet carries ins. or not, the hospital is forced to take care of him due to the EMTALA law. BTW, it's the EMTALA law that is escalating our health care cost out-of-sight. The EMTALA law is a band-aid approach for a much-needed Universal Health care coverage that is desperately needed.

My Free-market Health Plan with Universal Access gives coverage for every residents of the State. The basic Heath Credit limit is dependent on how much money the State Health Fund can accumulate, without dipping into the Taxpayer's fund. Unlike the current Third-party Payer system, this Health Plan can never go insolvent, and will be funded only on pay-as-you-go basis.

Please feel free to discuss this idea to your local representatives and favorite candidates of your choice. Election season is coming. Complaining about the system won't do much to solve the problem. Active solutions and active participation is the Key.

Please kindly adopt Mr. MacKey's Free-market Health CAre initiative, with the Pham's Universal Coverage extention!

Roger Pham

Regarding the lawyer and $10,000 dispute, buy yourself a Nolo self-help law book and file the claim yourself in small claim courts, or even bigger courts, and represent yourself. Contact Judge Judy (on TV) or other TV judges willing to hear your case. When it comes to lawyers, I plead the Fifth!

With my Health Plan, you always carry with you your Health Saving Account (HSA) and your Health Credit account (HCA) once the HSA is exhausted. So, wherever you'll work next, or even if you're out of a job, you'll still have full health care coverage up the limit of your HSA + HCA + extended coverage from your risk-sharing pool with others in your group (extended family or church group or alumni group or professional association etc.).
This health care coverage will go with you til the day you leave this life, and then your survivors will inherit your health care coverage, or you can make a living will and donate it to whoever you want.

An elderly person faced with a terminal illness can decide to forgo wasteful heroic cares and donate his health care savings to his children, thus saving a lot of wasteful drain on current Medicare budget or private insurance to provide for End-of-Life care. The health care dollars spent on a person's last 6 months of life can exceed many folds his/her whole lifetime health care expenditure.


RP, I've been 7 wins, 0 ties, 0 losses in small claims years ago, but the cases were rental(Judge, "Did you pay Kelly the rent?" Tenant, "No". Judge, "Pay Kelly") and limited to $3,000.

There is ~no medical malpractice in small claims. Were there, a person sits liable for costs of a 'legal' ambush by dozens of the doctor's insurance lawyers.

Since Nixon OK'ed HMO's, affordable US healthcare collapsed.

Lawyers are the only legal path, yet charge magnitudes beyond minimum wage. Charging $100's per hour for as many hours as lawyers wish leaves justice impossible.

It's not even the pretense of honesty or equity.


“Warren Buffet is 100% correct. The top class has to pay more taxes and the lower and middle classes have to pay less.“

#1. Berkshire Hathaway CEO Warren Buffett, the third-richest person in the world, openly admits his own company still owes taxes for years 2002 through 2004 and 2005 through 2009, according to the New York Post.

#2. The Top 1% earners pay ~40% of all income taxes, the same as the entire bottom 95%.

Obama claims a millionaire pays less than someone with $100k income.

I don’t think millionaires even pay a lower percentage of their income.
But either way, they typically pay MUCH more, typically over $100k; that's equal to the other guy’s total income.

What IS their fair share ? 100%?
Let's make Warren pay at least 30%

Everyone should pay SOME taxes ? ?

You mean the 50% of the population that pay no taxes ?

The people are not supposed to work for the government. No really, they aren’t.

#3. Back to autos
If the 2012 Chevy Sonic gets 40 mpg on highway, will Obama ?
Let's find out.

Roger Pham

The progressive tax rates in the Reagan era was a lot more progressive than now, and the economy grew quite well. Let's do a System Restore, and re-instate the previous tax rates that worked. The deep tax cut of GWB did not work!

Tax rates is like Air:Fuel ratio in a combustion engine. It has got to be just right to promote clean and vigorous combustion. Otherwise, the engine will stall.
Ditto for the Economic Engine and the Job Creation Engine! They will need "just-right" progressive tax rates. No theory can tell you what tax rates would be best for the economy, only empirical evidences can...Stick with what worked under Reagan and Clinton!

Why did Warren Buffet claimed that he paid lower tax rates than his secretary? It is because the capital gain tax rate currently is only 15%, down from 28% before, thanks to the genius of GWB, the most successful GOP president of all time! If a significant percentage of Buffet's income came from capital gain, then, indeed, he paid a lower tax rate than all the salaried people who are working for him.

Back to autos: GM's current success is owed to Obama's bail out, so yes, Obama can also claim the credit. Better yet, the Sonic is made in the USA, perhaps under the New Deal, unlike the Chevy Aveo is made by Daewoo in Korea. So, let's cheer for the Sonic and wish the best for its success.

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