Longevity Chevy Sonic

I have alway bought Subaru or Toyota, good reliable cars that last forever with a little care. But, I am interested in the Chevy Sonic, it sounds like a well made car, good fuel economy, fun to drive. I am also interested in supporting the US auto industry, but only where they make a product that is in fact as good as or better then the foreign competition. My worry is that deep in my heart I believe that the current US models just are not designed to last into the 200K mile world that the Asian cars easily make. Do I go out on a limb in a fit of patriotism, or continue to play it safe and buy Japanese/Korean?

There are a few factors to consider, IMHO.

First–Is the Chevy Sonic an “American” car or not?
While it is indeed built in Michigan, it is actually a Korean design–from GM’s Daewoo division.
Is the origin of its design a good thing or not?
Well, if you recall the other cars that came to us from Daewoo (including the late, unlamented Chevy Aveo, which the Sonic replaces), its origin may not be a good thing.

All of that being said, the auto magazine tests on the Sonic are relatively positive, and that is a HUGE improvement over the test results on all previous Daewoo designs. It is not “the best in class”, by any stretch of the imagination, but it appears to be a decent value with acceptable driving dynamics. However, since this is a new design with no track record in the US, in reality nobody can tell you whether this car will be a long-lived, reliable vehicle or not.

So–will this car make to to 200k miles?
Nowadays, any car should be able to make it to that number of miles, as long as it is maintained properly.
What does vary considerably from one make to another is how many repairs might be needed along the way, and unfortunately, nobody can predict that with any certainty on this new-to-the-US design.

There was a Warranty Week article referenced in another thread recently (it’s available on line) that showed the warranty cost per vehicle and as a percentage of sales. The order in recent years (best first) was Honda, Ford, GM and then the others. I have 3 GM vehicles (1998, 2003, and 2009) along with a Honda, and I have not had excessive problems with any of the GM cars.

And the Sonic has received many kudos from auto analysts as finally being comparable with its competitors. I suggest you test drive one if you are interested. Nothing any of us say about its design is as important as your impressions when you get familiar with it. I suggest you consider a Ford Fiesta as well.

Or Mazda 2

Time will tell. Remember GM has never built or sold a good small car in the USA. In fact most Big Three efforts have been half-hearted and dismal products. Ford Pinto, Chevy Vega, Dodge Omni, Neon, Cavalier are but a few examples. The main reason was always cost and cutting corners.

The Sonic will be better than the Aveo, which was an UNIMPROVED, mediocre Korean design only made to meet US government requirements.

However, the new Ford Fiesta, Mazda 2 and Honda Fit are proven cars and and well received. My own choice would be the Mazda 2 a blast to drive. The Toyota Yaris is very reliable but lacks many comfort features and does not drive as nicely.

I would not buy a US car just to be nice; remember GM still has billions of your tax dollars and gratitude is not in their nature.

I would add that some of the Suzuki small cars sold by GM under the GEO name were not bad. They were totally designed and built by Suzuki, small car specialists, and many were built in a joint venture plant in Ingersoll, Canada which produced both nameplates, much like the Chevy Nova/Corolla plant in California.

“… GM has never built or sold a good small car in the USA.”

What about Cobalt and Cruze?


By small I meant subcompact. The Cobalt was acceptable, but did not set the world on fire. The Cruze remains remains an unknown quantity so far. But the indications are it will probably be as good as the Ford Focus.

IMHO, I would not venture far from that you have had suddess with.

New model to US. No real data on longevity as yet. You have to either trust GM or not on this one as far as longevity is concerned. Time will tell.

Docnick, you forget the Chevy Chevette and the Ford Escort, both good sellers and durable. Not so pretty or comfy as their asian counterparts I will admit. But a cheap car is…a cheap car.

I bought a Sonic. It’s a cheap car that feels and drives like a more expensive car and has lot’s of bells and whistles. At 1000 miles I love it exept that the 6 speed auto tranny gets confused in traffic. It’s a sedan not a hatchback (=station wagon). Although the styling is the contemporary “tall and aero” It won’t scare children like the Yaris or be mistaken for a minivan (Fit).

There are a few factors to consider, IMHO.

First–Is the Chevy Sonic an “American” car or not?
While it is indeed built in Michigan, it is actually a Korean design–from GM’s Daewoo division.
Is the origin of its design a good thing or not?

All fair questions, and I believe there are MANY vehicles that you could call more “American”…

But you’re oversimplifying the Sonic’s heritage…

Europe led the design of the chassis then Korea led modification to the new design. It was styled in Korea. Its engine development was led in Germany. Its transmission was developed in the US as a variant of a joint GM/Ford design.

When it comes to jobs, styling provides very few - it is the engineering of the chassis and powertrain that matter. Clearly it isn’t that “American”… but arguably it is just as American as vehicles like the Camry, Corolla, or Civic.

I really like the Sonic’s dimensions and styling, but think doubts about its reliability are warranted. It shares engines and a good deal more with the Cruze, a car Consumer Reports won’t recommend because its reliability is far below average. They aren’t all that excited about the reliability of the Focus, either, but Ford has a decent record of working out the kinks in its recent cars. GM doesn’t. It will also be interesting to see how the new Dodge Dart holds up as it is Fiat’s first attempt at an “American” car. (based on an Alfa and built in Mexico, but enlarged and restyled for US tastes.) I hope it’s a winner as it looks like good value and any Dodge Dart makes me smile.

I bought a 2013 Sonic 11/29/2012. I have had no problems at all. It drives great and has all the tech stuff I like. I think it will last a long time. Give it a test drive and buy it. You’ll love it.

@PistonPuss The Escort, a FORD!!, was a mediocre car, and became better when Mazda took over the design. The Mercury Tracer was all Mazda, and built in Mexico.

The Chevette by today’s standards was a real dog. The design was from GM in South America. Both Brazil and Argentina built this car. GM USA, without any enthusiasm, just modified it for US production as a gap plugger. The diesel option was an Isuzu unit.

My sister had a Chevette and even for a frugal accountant this was a “marginal car” according to her.

My oldest daughter has a Cruze LS and likes it a lot. She hasn’t had problems, but it isn’t yet a year old. BTW, just about all major car brands go around 7 years before there are 100 problems reported for every 100 cars. CR reported that, too. Just about anything you buy today will be a reliable car. In 1998 and 2003 I bought GM cars that would were called unreliable compared to the equivalent Honda or Toyota models. I never made up the difference in cost through repairs on either car. As far as I’m concerned, CR reports their reliability in a way that adds urgency to sell magazines. They don’t lie, and they do present all the information. But you have to dig for it.

I wouldn’t worry about the Sonic’s reliability. But the Cruze is a better car IMO and not that much more expensive. Drive them both and see which one you like best. Drive the Mazda2, Mazda3 sedan, Corolla, Fit, and anything else in the small car group. Except for the MINI, they should all provide reasonable reliability.

I’m way late to this discussion and thought I’d add my two cents on the Sonic as I have a 2013 Sonic RS bought brand new and I now have 18,000+ miles on it.

I have had no issues with the car in the ten months I’ve owned it. There are a few things I’d like a little different on it, but they are little issues and do not reflect on the car’s reliability or performance so far. It’s only been to the dealer for an accessory order and I’ll be going there next week for a software update for the MyLink radio.

Questions? Feel free to ask?

Jesup, it’s your money. But I’ll add that the days of “American” cars vs. “Japanese” bars are forever gone. The “Japanese” names make more cars in the continental U.S. now than the “American” names. To its credit, the automotive industry is one of the most “global” industries in the world.

Get what you feel you’ll enjoy and be comfortable with. Stop by the local bookstore and read some consumer ratings magazines like Consumer Reports for reliability information. While not perfect, that’s the best way to improve your odds of reliability and longevity.

@cdaquila please put this thread to bed again

OP hasn’t responded since April 2012 . . . !

In fact, this thread was dead and buried since May 2013, until somebody decided to revive it today

Nice catch.
And I agree. Folks, please watch the dates on posts that you’re pulling up.

I realize this is an old (dead?) thread, but I’ve got to put my 2 cents in…

1st of all, I tend to look at where the vehicle is assembled - i.e., where they’re creating “blue collar” jobs. For the Sonic, it’s Lake Orion, MI, near my current hometown. For many of the compact Fords, it’s Mexico. Food for thought if you’re interested in that sort of thing, but I agree, with the global supply chain, there’s really no such thing as an “American”, “Japanese”, “German”, etc. car. Look at the window sticker for the breakdown by country of origin.

2nd, we have a 2012 Sonic LTZ turbo hatch (top trim, fully loaded) that we bought new in July of 2012. At our first oil change we had a valve cover gasket replaced under warranty since it was leaking oil. No problem; these things happen. A bigger concern is that we thoroughly rinse our cars (including the undercarriage) within a week of driving in snow, and in our second winter, the car is developing bubbles and rust spots in the paint on the rear hatch. Since we’ve kept our cars clean, to me that suggests a bad quality paint job. Also, the transmission (automatic) is sealed - no way to even check the fluid level, much less change it (GM seems to be doing that on a lot of their vehicles now, and it’s disconcerting). Other than that, no problems so far.