2012 Chevy Sonic with 1.4 Liter Turbo to Get 40 MPG Highway


The magic number automakers seem to be striving to hit is 40 mpg highway. It is a nice, around number, and apparently very achievable with today’s technology, given the rapid growth of this group. And today it has a new member; the 2012 Chevy Sonic with the 1.4 liter turbocharged engine.
The Sonic, a replacement for the ugly and underwhelming Aveo, will be GM’s new entry into the subcompact market. It faces strong competition from cars like the Ford Fiesta and Hyundai Elantra, both of which offer 40 mpg on the highway. But with the 1.4 liter turbo engine backed by a six-speed manual transmission, the Sonic will get a very respectable 29 city/40 mpg highway, for a combined mileage of 33 mpg. However, if you opt for the automatic transmission (which 90% of Americans do) then the fuel economy rating drops to 25 city/35 highway, which is worse than the base 1.8 liter non-turbo engine that’s rated at 26 city/35 highway.
In other words, get the manual.
I like this new trend where premium engines no longer deliver just more power, but better fuel economy as well. In the case of the Chevy Sonic, the 1.4 liter turbo engine pumps out a healthy 148 horsepower and 138 ft-lbs of torque, whereas the non-turbo produces 138 horsepower and a whimpy 123 ft-lbs of torque. Yet another reason to go for the turbo, which is packed with fuel-and weight-saving ideas like an integrated exhaust manifold, piston oil jets, and variable valve timing.
Still, the Sonic faces an uphill battle in the heated battle for subcompact sales, especially within Generation Y. Maybe a video game tie-in is in order?
Source: GM
Chris DeMorro is a writer and gearhead who loves all things automotive, from hybrids to HEMIs. You can read about his slow descent into madness at Sublime Burnout or follow his non-nonsensical ramblings on Twitter @harshcougar.

About the Author

A writer and gearhead who loves all things automotive, from hybrids to HEMIs, can be found wrenching or writing- or else, he’s running, because he’s one of those crazy people who gets enjoyment from running insane distances.

  • Good heavens, what an improvement over the Aveo! I’m really liking the Sonic, the Cruze and the Ford Fiesta. I think those three cars are going to dominate the small-car market for the next few years (unless Nissan, Toyota, Honda, etc. really step it up).

    On a related topic:
    We need to get more people driving manuals. I understand those driving in daily city traffic may not want them (I wouldn’t either), but for rural areas, manuals are fun! If you’ve never learned to drive a stick (I didn’t learn till I was 32), try it, conquer that fear and you’ll never want to go back.

  • Ian

    From the angle in the picture, this Sonic looks a lot like a VW Golf.
    It’s impressive that the 1.4T can do 148/138 HP/TQ. That’s plenty of power for such a small car, especially with the 6-speed.
    Nice point about more powerful engines finally getting better gas mileage.
    I would still prefer a 50mpg VW TDI though…

    • I think you’re talking about a pretty big price difference, though. I’m assuming the Sonic is going to take the place of the Aveo as the entry-level car.

  • ryan

    i just bought one and am pretty pleased with it. i took a trip from riverside to san diego and averaged 44.6 mpg with speeds of 70 to 80. love the interior as well. im 6’5 and i fit comfortably… i tried out the nissan versa, honda fit, and toyota yaris… all hatchack versions. the sonic won handsdown for comfort style and power. so i bought it… worth the couple thousand extra.