2012 Chevrolet Sonic LTZEnlarge Photo
When Chevy launched its Sonic hatchback and sedan with the 1.4-liter turbocharged four-cylinder engine last year, it made one potential marketing error: the car was only available with a six-speed manual transmission.
As the number of drivers who can successfully operate a manual transmission is dropping faster than the price of gas is rising, an automatic transmission version of the Sonic Turbo was inevitable.
While turbocharging is usually associated with enhanced performance, it also allows automakers to use smaller engines to save fuel. In the case of the Sonic hatchback, the 1.4-liter turbocharged engine gets nearly 12-percent better fuel economy in the city and over 14-percent better fuel economy on the highway than a manual-equipped 1.8-liter car.
The new automatic-gearbox Sonic Turbo will return an EPA-estimated 27 mpg city and 37 mpg highway, which is down by 2 mpg city and 3 mpg highway compared to the manual transmission car. Acceleration is a tick slower, too, with the run from 0-60 mph taking “about eight seconds” with the automatic, compared to 7.8 seconds with the manual.
For drivers uncomfortable rowing their own gears, none of that matters, and we suspect the automatic-transmission-equipped Sonic Turbo will be an instant success. Gas prices, it seems, aren’t coming down any time soon.