With big horsepower and performance dominating the Chicago Auto Show, we really should pay more attention to cars like the entry-level Chevrolet Sonic—GM’s competition for Ford’s Focus and Fiesta—not to mention the Toyota Yaris and Honda Fit. (The even-smaller Chevrolet Spark is due in 2011; I see them already in Mexico.)
This is an enormous market, but as you know, we car writers gravitate toward the expensive, the brutal, the high-horse mules that move our fantasies. No offense, tgriffith, I’m guilty too.
Now, the Sonic is apparently getting good reviews, though few have driven it yet. Which says something about the gullibility of the car media. It replaces the much-maligned Aveo, though Chevy will keep that nameplate on its new cars in most of the world. For North America and Mexico, the car will be called Sonic.
The reason they changed the name is that the Aveo has been flogged by many car reviewers and is, in fact, a pretty lousy car. Over-the-top writers like Justin Berkowitz of Car and Driver can’t resist the temptation to dump on the Aveo. Here is his hah-hah introduction to the Sonic:
The Chevy Aveo never lied to the American people, but it does have other connections to Richard Nixon. The former president was elected twice; the Aveo was sold for two generations. Nixon promoted American trade with Asia; the Aveo was built in Asia. Nixon sucked; the Aveo . . . well, no need to speak ill of the dead. Finally, Americans likely would have been willing to elect anyone after Nixon was gone, and so it follows that any Aveo replacement will be an improvement.
Justin, you’re fired. Others have been less far-fetched and more informative. Kirby’s review in TopSpeed is straightforward, notes the Sonic’s features, and talks briefly about the competition. (Hatchback at right.)
Nathan Adler, in TFLcar, talks about the Focus and Fiesta competition and enumerates actual details of the Sonic’s suspension, among other things: “This is great news for people who long for a quality, American small car. Other than Ford’s Fiesta, our shelves have been bare.”
By all reports, the Sonic is looking good: a standard 135-hp, 1.8-liter four (optional 1.4-liter turbo), 5-speed manual or 6-speed automatic, and prices starting around $13,000. Now, when are we going to get an actual road test?
When those come, you can be sure my compadres in the auto press will go overboard with more praise. That means, if you want to save really big money, you should start looking on DealFinder for a late-model Aveo.
Would you buy a used Aveo from Justin Berkowitz?