Here Are the Worst Chevy Sonic Years to Avoid and Best Sonic Cars to Buy

Patrick Oziegbe
Updated On:

Buying a Chevrolet Sonic can be a great choice, but knowing the suitable years to pick is essential.

Why? Because avoiding specific model years can save you from potential issues and frustration. This article will discuss the Chevy Sonic years you should steer clear of and why.

For a hassle-free experience, avoiding the 2012 through 2015 Chevy Sonic models is best.

Though not necessarily unreliable, these years have some known issues that can lead to challenges for owners. Don’t worry; plenty of reliable Sonic models are still available!

Worst Chevrolet Sonic to Avoid

Worst Years to Consider

Knowing which years to avoid is essential when looking at the Chevy Sonic. This section will discuss three model years with the most issues: 2012, 2015, and 2016.

By understanding the potential problems with these vehicles, you can make a more informed decision about purchasing a Sonic.

2012 Chevy Sonic

The 2012 Chevy Sonic is considered one of the worst years for this model. This year had many reported issues, such as:

  • The engine is not starting properly
  • Check engine light staying on for no apparent reason
  • Hesitation when shifting gears

These problems can cause frustration and result in costly repairs. It’s best to steer clear of the 2012 model to avoid these concerns.

2015 Chevy Sonic

While the 2015 Chevy Sonic isn’t as problematic as the 2012 model, it still received several complaints. Some common issues with the 2015 Sonic include:

  • Engine problems
  • Transmission failures
  • Electrical issues

The 2015 model may have fewer problems overall, but it’s essential to consider these potential issues when considering this specific year.

2016 Chevy Sonic

Finally, the 2016 Chevy Sonic is another year to approach with caution. Though it’s considered one of the better years, it did have some problems, such as:

  • Transmission issues
  • Engine troubles

It’s worth noting that the 2016 Sonic had fewer reported problems than earlier years. Nonetheless, it’s essential to be aware of these potential issues and research further if you’re considering acquiring a 2016 model.

By staying informed about the problems associated with these specific Chevy Sonic years, you can make better decisions for your vehicle purchases.

Common Problems

Engine Issues

One of the key concerns you might experience with the Chevy Sonic, particularly from 2012 through 2015 models, are engine issues such as the engine not starting or stalling suddenly.

You might also encounter a persistent check engine light despite no apparent issues, which can be frustrating.

Keeping your engine oil and coolant levels topped up is crucial to prevent these problems.

Transmission Problems

Chevy Sonic has been reported to have transmission issues, with common complaints including hesitation when shifting gears, challenging shifts, and sometimes turbine shaft fractures leading to transmission failure.

If addressed promptly, these problems could result in loss of power, reverse issues, or complete transmission failure. It’s essential to be alert to these issues to maintain your vehicle’s reliability.

Electrical Issues

Another concern with the Chevy Sonic pertains to electrical problems, the most notable being the check engine light staying on for no apparent reason and the ‘key in ignition’ sound not playing.

While these may seem minor, they can irritate the car’s electrical system and indicate more profound issues.

Braking System

While less common than the abovementioned issues, you should also pay attention to your Chevy Sonic braking system.

Some reported brake problems have been reported, although not frequent enough to be considered significant.

However, as brakes are essential for your safety on the road, continuously monitor their performance and promptly address any issues.

By being aware of these concerns and addressing them on time, you can maintain your Chevy Sonic’s overall reliability and enjoy a smoother ride.

Notable Features and Updates

When looking at the Chevy Sonic, it’s essential to consider the features and updates made over the years.

This section discusses critical updates and notable features for various Sonic models, focusing on infotainment and connectivity.

Infotainment and Connectivity

The Chevy Sonic has seen numerous improvements and updates in terms of infotainment and connectivity.

For example, the 2016 Chevrolet Sonic introduced a MyLink infotainment system, enhancing the in-car entertainment experience.

In later models, like the 2018 Chevy Sonic and 2019 Chevrolet Sonic, the infotainment system was further improved with the addition of Android Auto and Apple CarPlay compatibility.

These features allow you to connect your smartphone to the vehicle’s system seamlessly, providing access to your favorite apps, music, and navigation.

Another notable feature added in recent years is the 4G LTE hotspot. Found in models like the 2020 Sonic and 2020 Chevrolet Sonic, this feature offers high-speed internet access, ensuring you stay connected wherever your journey takes you.

Another connectivity feature in many Sonic models is the remote start system, allowing you to start your vehicle from a distance.

With the keyless entry feature found in models like the 2019 Chevy Sonic and 2020 Chevy Sonic, accessing your vehicle without having to fish for your keys has always been challenging.

Finally, let’s talk about comfort. In some Chevy Sonic models, you’ll find a heated steering wheel to keep your hands warm during colder months, adding that extra touch of luxury while also enhancing the driving experience.

To sum it up, the Chevy Sonic has received numerous infotainment and connectivity feature updates over the years, providing a more comfortable and enjoyable driving experience.

Consider these features when evaluating which Chevy Sonic model best fits your needs.

Chevy Sonic Best Models

When purchasing a Chevy Sonic, you’ll want to know which model years are the most reliable and provide the best value.

The best Chevrolet Sonic model years include 2016, 2017, 2018, 2019, and 2020.

2016 Chevy Sonic: You can count on this model for its durability and performance. This year is an excellent choice, as it marked the beginning of the Sonic’s increased reliability, shedding many of the earlier issues seen in previous models.

2017 Chevy Sonic: Improved safety features and a refreshed design make the 2017 Sonic a solid choice. This model offers a comfortable ride and maintains a reputation for dependability.

2018 Chevy Sonic: If you’re looking for a Sonic with up-to-date technology and connectivity features, the 2018 model is ideal. This model also offers a high-quality interior, making it a comfortable option for daily commutes or longer journeys.

2019 Chevy Sonic: Known for its fuel efficiency and performance, the 2019 Sonic provides a smooth driving experience. You can expect high satisfaction with this model with added advanced safety features and a well-appointed interior.

2020 Chevy Sonic: As the last model year before discontinuation, the 2020 Sonic benefits from years of refinement and improvements. You’ll appreciate this final edition’s well-tuned suspension, responsive handling, and overall build quality.

Important Considerations

Long-Term Reliability

When considering a used car like a Chevy Sonic, it’s essential to think long-term reliability.

Some Sonic models are more dependable than others, with the 2012 through 2015 model years being the ones to avoid due to reported issues.

Common complaints for these years include the engine not starting, check engine light staying on, and hesitation when shifting gears.

On the other hand, the 2016 and later models are better options with fewer reported problems and more advanced features.

When assessing long-term reliability, pay close attention to the following:

  • Thermostat and coolant system: Issues with the thermostat can lead to overheating and coolant leaks, which can damage the engine.
  • Hose connections: Leaking hoses can also cause coolant loss and potential damage to the engine and other components.
  • Shifter button: Some owners have reported issues with the shifter button sticking or becoming challenging to engage, especially in models with a stickshift.

Purchase and Inspection

Before purchasing a used Chevy Sonic, it’s crucial to do your due diligence.

Start by researching common problems and repair costs associated with the specific model year you are considering. It will help you make an informed decision and prepare you for potential long-term issues.

During the inspection process, be on the lookout for:

  • Signs of previous repairs: While some repairs are typical for a used car, extensive repair history could indicate ongoing problems.
  • Odometer and maintenance history: Check the odometer reading and maintenance history to ensure the car has been properly maintained and not tampered with.
  • Resale value: Consider the vehicle’s resale value, as some model years may have lower resale values due to their known issues.

A thorough pre-purchase inspection by a trusted mechanic is always recommended. It will help identify any hidden problems and give you a better idea of the overall condition and long-term reliability of the Chevy Sonic you’re considering.

Performance and Driving Experience

Ride and Handling

When driving a Chevy Sonic, especially the models from 2012 to 2015, you might experience some issues that could affect your ride and handling.

However, many models offer responsive handling and practical everyday driving even with these concerns.

There have been reports of a turbine shaft fracture which could lead to a loss of power, affecting your overall driving experience. Despite this issue, the Sonic is known for its fun-to-drive nature and smooth handling.

Efficiency and Power

The Chevy Sonic offers two engine options, a naturally aspirated 1.8-liter engine, and a more powerful turbocharged 1.4-liter engine.

While both engines provide sufficient power for basic transportation, the turbocharged 1.4-liter engine offers a better balance of power and efficiency.

Regarding fuel efficiency, the Sonic delivers competitive numbers for its class. According to EPA estimates, the models with a 1.4-liter turbocharged engine achieve:

  • 29 miles per gallon (mpg) for city driving
  • 40 mpg for highway driving
  • 33 mpg combined

The 1.8-liter engine, on the other hand, is slightly less fuel-efficient:

  • 26 mpg for city driving
  • 35 mpg for highway driving
  • 30 mpg combined

Safety features such as automatic emergency braking are unavailable on Sonic models, which you should remember while evaluating its overall driving experience.

However, it has received decent ratings from the NHTSA regarding crash tests and other safety aspects.

In conclusion, the Sonic might not be perfect, but it still provides an enjoyable driving experience, given its responsive handling, fuel economy, and smooth ride.

What model replaced the Chevy Sonic?

Chevrolet replaced the Aveo with the Chevy Sonic in 2012 as their compact, affordable vehicle.

If you’re considering purchasing a Sonic, it’s crucial to know that it’s best to avoid the 2012 through 2015 model years. These models aren’t necessarily unreliable, but their issues can be bothersome.

For your understanding, here are the primary issues of these years:

  • Transmission problems: The most common issue with 2012-2015 Sonic models.
  • Engine concerns: These affected vehicles might also suffer from engine problems.

While the Chevy Sonic ended in 2020, it’s still important to know which years to avoid when looking at used models. Stick to later models to minimize the hassle and maximize your enjoyment.

Chevy Sonic Competitors

This section explores some of Chevy Sonic’s main competitors, including the Nissan Versa, Hyundai Accent, Honda Fit, and Ford Fiesta.

Nissan Versa

The Nissan Versa is one of your options when considering a compact car. Its fuel-efficient engine and lower price point make it a suitable alternative to the Chevy Sonic.

A key difference is its roomier interior, offering you more passenger space. However, the Versa is known to have some issues with its CVT transmission and less responsive handling compared to the Sonic.

Hyundai Accent

Another competitor is the Hyundai Accent, which offers an attractive combination of affordability and reliability.

It has a similar fuel economy to the Chevy Sonic, but the Accent boasts a more extended warranty. On the downside, the Accent has a slightly smaller total cargo volume and has been reported to suffer from various transmission problems.

Honda Fit

The Honda Fit is popular in the compact car market, packed with versatile cargo space and higher resale value. It offers an engaging driving experience and flexible seating, ensuring you enjoy your rides.

However, one major complaint about the Fit is its uncomfortable seats for some users and the lack of advanced safety features on the Chevy Sonic.

Ford Fiesta

Lastly, the Ford Fiesta is another competitor worth considering. It offers a sportier ride and an optional turbocharged engine, providing more excitement on the road.

The Fiesta also has more available features compared to the Sonic. But, the Fiesta needs to improve in terms of reliability and has a history of transmission issues, especially related to its PowerShift automatic transmission.



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