Although it's made in America, the 2012 Chevrolet Sonic was sketched and modeled in Korea by designers who are avid motorcycle enthusiasts. As such, the Sonic contains many design cues borrowed from two wheelers.
The five-door hatchback model has a younger, more aggressive, boxy shape with hidden rear door handles and exposed rear tail lights. The four-door sedan's profile, meanwhile, is sleeker and more refined.
On both body styles, the Sonic uses round, exposed headlamps, chrome trim around Chevy's trademark dual-port grille and honeycomb-shaped grille inserts. Alloy wheels, available in 15, 16 or 17-inch, look far more sophisticated than the plastic wheel covers or steel wheels found on some cars in this segment.
Large gaps between body panels were one tell-tale sign of cheap cars of the past. But the Chevrolet Sonic manages to pare down body gaps to 3.5 millimeters or less. Also, a special welding technique was used to make for a cleaner, more flush fit.
The cabin of the Chevrolet Sonic carries over the motorcycle-inspired design with a large, round tachometer front and center. A large LCD speedometer to the right of the tach glows a pleasant blue color and is easy to read.
Audio and climate controls are simple, logical and easy to read and reach. The tall, narrow slots on either side of the center stack add extra storage, but they look out of place.
The cloth seats are comfortable and are easily adjustable. We especially like the tilt-and-telescoping steering wheel, which is often tough to get as standard equipment on more luxurious cars. Dash and trim materials (mostly plastics) are attractive and the colors and textures are well-executed.
In the rear, there is enough headroom and legroom, even for taller passengers.
Cargo space tops out at an average 14 cubic-feet for the sedan and a decent 19 cubic feet for the hatchback. A shelf in the rear of the hatch stows away for tall items and is completely removable for more space when the 60/40 folding rear seats are down, for a total of 30.7 cubic feet.
The audio system is average for the segment. We'd order the iPod and USB port, which allows music streaming via Bluetooth with Pandora or music files stored locally on a mobile phone.