Have you ever walked through a car rental parking lot with your rental agreement in hand and the instructions from the agent ringing in your ears, "pick anything you like in Aisle B"?
In some car groups there are often 5 or more makes and models available for you to jump into and drive away. Do you wish you knew what each one had to offer? Comfort, power, handling, features, leg room, luggage space, Bluetooth, GPS, Cruise Control?
These are just a few of the things that I am going to cover in this series. Sit back while I take you on a tour of the inside and outside features of each car and then put you behind the wheel, narrating and drawing on my experience as a competitive racing and drifting driver.
Episode 2 – Here, we take a look at the 2014 Chevrolet Sonic LS. It’s a base model car with not a lot of bells or whistles, but we get the impression that a car like this isn’t rented for any of that. It does, however, have the Chevy MyLink system (an interesting addition to say the least) so that may change things up for us. Read on to find out. If you prefer you can also read a transcript of the video. You'll also find a one page summary for download or printing of my conclusions on the car as well as a list of all the features of the model.
If there are any features that you'd like us to cover or specific makes and models that you'd like me to review in future episodes, let us know in the comments and we'll see what we can do.
Review of the 2014 Chevrolet Sonic LS
Car Group: Compact Size 4 Door Automatic Sedan - CDAR
|Width (w/o Mirrors):||68.3 inches |1.74 m|
|Length:||173.1 inches |4.40 m|
|Height:||59.7 inches |1.52 m|
|Weight:||2727 lbs |1237 kg|
|Transmission:||6 Speed Automatic|
|Engine:||ECOTEC 1.8L Unleaded 4 Cylinder|
|Fuel Tank Capacity (Approx.):||12.2 Gallons |46.2 Litres|
|Fuel Economy – City/Highway:||25/35 Miles Per Gallon |11.3/8.1 Litres Per 100km|
|Range City/Highway:||317.2/427.0 Miles | 510.5/687.2 KM|
|Front/Rear Head Room:||38.7/37.8 inches |98.3/96.0 cm||Front/Rear Shoulder Room:||53.4/53.0 inches | 135.6/134.6 cm|
|Front/Rear Leg Room:||41.8/34.6 inches | 106.2/87.9 cm||Front/Rear Hip Room:||51.4/51.6 inches | 130.6/131.1 cm|
This lightweight modern econobox is everything you need from a car, if only just. It gives you four doors, plenty of room for you AND your family (more than we could say for the Impala reviewed previously) and it does all of this while delivering nearly 40MPG! It seems the Americans are actually trying nowadays and it shows that, with a little bit of effort, they can give us what we’re needing from our weekend rental.
It handles surprisingly well for a car that can only be described as an appliance for driving, and the engine delivers it’s 138hp in a surprising and not-at-all underwhelming way. They’ve managed to put the power right where you need it so that you never ever feel as if you’re the slow kid on the block. You might even pass a driver or two.
The cabin is where you see the corners cut. The dashboard is there and it’s not made out of Tic Tac plastic, the gauges read nice and pretty but the overall aesthetic is Spartan at best. It’s not so much what you get, with this car, but what you don’t.
What you DON’T get, is a lot of weight. Unfortunately that comes at the cost of having, manual seats, manual windows, manual mirrors and manual locks. You don’t even get cruise control! The only thing automatic is the gearbox. A gearbox that is biased towards economy but will actually shift when you tell it to.
Cargo space is a premium option with most economy cars, but this vehicle gets it from the factory. The boot is huge, surprisingly so, and you can fit you and three other rather tall people in the car. This means that the back seats are actually usable. In a car this small, that’s quite surprising.
At the end of the day, if you’re looking for a car to impress a client; you should pass on this one. But if you’re driving around town or between your hotel and business conference or are looking for a car to get you from the airport to your hotel, then this just may be the car for you! Safe travels.
Download Summary and Features: 2014-Chevrolet-Sonic-LS-Summary.pdf
It’s a car. Nothing more. Nothing less.
Hey everybody out there in internet land. David Adams here with Rental Car Reviews brought to you by GT Channel and today we’re taking a look at this. It’s a 2014 Chevrolet Sonic LS. It’s a base model but it does have Chevy MyLink so let’s check it out.
On the outside the Chevrolet Sonic is basic General Motors with a little Euro twist. It does a really good job of making you feel like you’re driving something cooler than you actually are.
With engines you have 2 options. A naturally aspirated 1.8L and a Turbo charged 1.4L. We have the 1.8L NA which gives us about 138 horse power and, you know we’re really not going to get into the torque because what you care about is efficiency and this car gets that job done. 40 miles to the gallon highway, 25 miles to the gallon city. That’s going to be an observed of about 32 miles to the gallon.
Those figures come to us in small part thanks to the 6 speed automatic transmission, but mostly because of this cars extremely feather light weight. 2,700 pounds on the scale this thing tips in at. It’s not heavy. Now that 2,700 pounds is in current trim so let’s talk about that and see what you get, or rather what you don’t get.
For starters you don’t get power mirrors, you don’t get power seats, you don’t get power windows. Everything is manual except for the gearbox and I find that actually quite entertaining. Instead of rolling your window down by pressing a button and simply having it fall into the door, you rotate this little lever here to the right and the window slowly and majestically comes down. Move it back to the left and it comes back up. It’s genius. And then you have this thing (points to the knob that adjust the wing mirror positioning). This little black knob here actually moves the mirror. I don’t know what Chevy Corsica they saved that from (Chevy Corsica was a compact car from Chevrolet that was produced from 1994-1996) or what decade they had to go to to get that but the question that comes to mind immediately is why? Why in the world would they do that? You would think it would be cheaper to just source over all power windows and mirrors from other cars into this one but I guess not because, here it is. I actually sat here and laughed at this for about 15 minutes as I fiddled with this know. I can’t remember the last time I’ve had fun with a black knob. Wait.
This cool dashboard is set up very simplistic but it still gives you all the information you want. You have these LED readouts which give you all the basics, whether or not your seatbelt’s fastened, if you have a check engine light which GM cars are notorious for, but you also get a really cool digital speedo with a tachometer right on the side of it. I like that, I think that’s really cool. At night that blue readout is a little bit harsh on the eyes but for the most part you don’t notice it, and it actually puts everything out there in big letters and numbers that jump out right at you so you only have to glance down one time. Kudos on that one as well GM.
Now let’s talk about the stereo which is a Chevy MyLink system. This is not the standard head unit and it shows. You get into a car this Spartan with this particular layout and then you get this head unit (close up shot of head unit), you’re blown away instantly. It’s got a widescreen 7 inch display which is touch screen and actually very responsive. Everything happens your first touch every single time. You don’t have to touch anything twice, you don’t have to do anything over and over again to get it to actually respond to your input. I like that, good job Chevy.
It’s got your basic sources. AM/FM and Satellite as well as Bluetooth streaming which the last car, that Chevy Impala that we reviewed a week ago did not have. You also get smartphone link with this particular head unit which gives you Pandora, Stitcher, TuneIn and BringGo apps. In a car at this level, why do you need these apps? I don’t know but I’m glad that they put it in there. That’s really awesome. I’m blown away. This stereo is definitely the highlight of this vehicle. Everything about it is just absolutely amazing.
While we’re talking about this unit, I want to go ahead and point out that you do not get a backup camera with this thing which is a serious omission for something of this level of tech. You would think that they would just go ahead and throw it in considering they’re throwing this radio in here, but I guess that’s an option that the dealer did not want to go for.
Anyway, that’s enough talking about the car. Let’s put this thing on the road and see how it does.
So when you first start driving this car the initial impression is wow, this is a car, and that’s pretty much it. You don’t get the sensation that you’re in a small car, and you don’t get the impression that you’re in a large car. You just get the impression that you’re in a car and that’s really all it is. That said it is very spacious in here. I can actually sit behind myself which is more than I can for the Impala that we reviewed last week. I don’t know how they did it in a car this tiny but you do not feel cramped. There’s plenty of head room, there’s plenty of leg room front and rear. The passenger’s going to be comfortable. It’s just a good car. It’s a well set up, well thought out car. Good job.
Just driving along in traffic which is mostly what you’re going to be doing in this thing, power delivery comes on surprisingly well. It is only 138 horse power but you never feel like you don’t have enough power to pass a vehicle. It’s not blindingly fast, this isn’t going to blow any Ferraris out of the water but it’s going to get the job done. Poking around traffic you never feel like you need or that you’re missing any power. You can pass people at will and you can keep up with traffic just fine. You’re never going to be the slow person.
The steering wheel does a good job of communicating the road surface and conditions to your hands, which we’re going to see the importance of in a few seconds when we hit the handling course, right about…..now.
So as we approach our handling course I’m going to try something here. We’re not really going to go so much for performance and time. I’m going to reset the fuel economy – it’s at 3 dashes – we have no fuel economy reading right now, and we’re going to see how this thing does because like I said, that’s really what we’re going to care about in this car. We’re going to push it still but we’re going to see what kind of gas mileage we can get. Place your bets now.
Like I said this engine, though it’s not making a ton of power, it does a good job of delivering the power when you want it. I have to give it to them on that one. GM does know how to do engines really well. Unlike that Impala, 2,700 pounds makes this car extremely tossable. I can just throw this thing into every single corner and not have to worry about it. It’s just, it’s so predictable. The steering wheel does a good job like I mentioned before of communicating exactly what the road has underneath you. I could feel this leaf I just ran over. I could feel that but through the steering wheel, not through the chassis. That’s a good thing. Let’s turn this thing around and do that again. Hehehe
Another thing I want to mention is brakes. The brakes on this car are actually pretty good. They’re not going to put any Porsches to shame but for what it is, it slows the car down really well. It’s like they took the same brakes they use on their larger cars and just put them on a smaller car. That’s a good idea. More manufacturers should do that. Big brakes, small car.
Alright, for our final test here we’re going to use selective shift and we’re going to wind the gears out a bit. Once again I’m expecting about 9 miles to the gallon once I’m all said and done here. I’m not looking down at that, I’m just watching the road. Wow this thing does hold on though. This car actually handles rather well. It’s almost European. It doesn’t feel American at all. The only time it feels American is when you really get into the body roll section. Wow, that actually grips (laughs), that grips really well.
So, go ahead and place your bets, I’ve got it memorized, I just looked at it. If you said 16 miles to the gallon, you’re correct. It just goes to show you that it’s not what you’re driving, it’s how you drive it. You could be driving a Prius and if you pound on it, you’re going to get gas mileage in the teens.
I will give this vehicle one major demerit. Something I just noticed now as we’re cruising on the highway here at 75 miles per hour. It doesn’t have cruise control. (Yelling) Why wouldn’t you include cruise control. My God. What were you thinking?
So I guess I have to ask the question now, the question that’s on your mind, would I rent this car again, and should you?
Well cash is king and money talks so let’s pull it over and price it out.
Alright so since this vehicle was a loaner we’re going to have to use Enterprise as our reference. That gives us about a $30 a day average for a weekend rate which is usually when you guys are renting cars. Right here in Atlanta was $16 – you actually save the most money out in LA which is a big surprise for me. It’s only $14 a day out there. JFK absolutely destroyed our average with $70 a day so, for that price, for $30 a day and all you have to do is drive around town, I guess this is a pretty good car. But if you plan on going any significant distance, I wanted to say get this car, I really really really wanted to say get this car especially considering that awesome, awesome stereo this thing has but I have to say once again, you’ve got to skip this GM car and get yourself something foreign (laughs). At least this one….no cruise control, that’s a big no no. Do not give us cars without cruise control, I don’t care if it’s just a rental.
Anyway ladies and gentlemen for Rental Car Reviews, I’m David Adams and we’ll see you guys next time. This many.
To learn a bit more about me, have a look at this article. If you'd like to connect: