Chevrolet Spark vs. Chevrolet Sonic

By

Automotive Editor

John Diether has been a professional writer, editor, and producer since 1997. His work can be found on TV, radio, web, and various publications throughout the world.  He is a graduate of Northwestern University and has a 1992 Cadillac Brougham d’Elegance in his garage. 


, Automotive Editor - March 15, 2017

Chevrolet offers bargain hunters a choice of two agreeable economy cars. The Spark lays claim to the lowest price in the entire General Motors stable, a benefit that needs no explanation, while the slightly larger Sonic isn't quite so easy on the wallet, but provides more performance and style for the money.

Which small Chevy is a better fit for buyers on a budget?

See a side-by-side comparison of the Spark & Sonic »

What the Spark Gets Right

The Spark gets the smallest engine installed in any GM product, a 1.4-liter four-cylinder engine with a modest 98 horsepower. A five-speed manual transmission comes standard, and buyers can upgrade to a continuously variable automatic transmission. The Spark earns an EPA-estimated 34 mpg in combined driving with the manual, and 35 mpg with the optional CVT. Acceleration is no better than passable, but the Spark's handling is sharp enough to keep the driver engaged.

Inside, the Spark is more inviting than we expected for the price. Most materials have a pleasant feel, and everything fits together reasonably well. All models use Chevy's MyLink infotainment interface, a nice standard touch.

What the Sonic Gets Right

Although it's still a subcompact, the Sonic feels grown-up from behind the wheel. The steering is nicely weighted responds with confidence. Drivers can be forgiven for thinking that the Sonic is more substantial than it really is.

The Sonic certainly doesn't skimp on technology. Every example gets a 7-inch infotainment touchscreen, Bluetooth phone and audio, and Apple CarPlay and Android Auto compatibility.

The standard 1.8-liter four-cylinder produces 138 hp and is EPA-rated at 30 mpg in combined city and highway driving. Buyers can upgrade to a 1.4-liter turbo that delivers more torque and slightly better fuel efficiency. Equipped with 1.4-liter, the Sonic can hit 60 mph in 8.8 seconds. That makes it one of the quickest subcompacts on the market.

Price or Performance?

The Spark is a pleasant little commuter with more quality to its name than its rock-bottom price suggests. The Sonic is a half-step up in the automotive caste system. It performs with distinction while holding its own in the value department.

Our Verdict: Chevrolet Sonic

The Sonic's confident performance is worth the extra investment.

Take a closer look at the Chevrolet Spark »

Take a closer look at the Chevrolet Sonic »

Side-by-side comparison of features, pricing, photos and more!

, Automotive Editor

John Diether has been a professional writer, editor, and producer since 1997. His work can be found on TV, radio, web, and various publications throughout the world.  He is a graduate of Northwestern University and has a 1992 Cadillac Brougham d’Elegance in his garage.