Chevrolet Sonic In Snow & Winter Driving? (Explained)

Production of the Chevrolet Sonic will stop by 2021, but until then you can still purchase this great subcompact car. Buying a Sonic gets you a car that handles nicely, has decent storage space, and is affordable. Let’s find out how the Sonic drives in winter.

Here is the short answer to whether the Chevrolet Sonic is good for snow and winter driving:

Despite being a subcompact, the Chevrolet Sonic is ideal for winter driving because it has Stability Control, Traction Control, and ABS. The car also comes with Electronic Brakeforce Distribution and heated steering. These features make the Sonic stable and safe for moderate snow.

Is a Chevrolet Sonic Good in the Snow?

The Chevrolet Sonic is rather average in snow. It can handle mild snowfall, but heavy snow can present problems to its mobility. However, this is hardly peculiar to the Sonic–almost all subcompacts are bad in thick snow.

The reason subcompacts such as the Chevrolet Sonic are poor in deep snow is their low ride height.

As they sit close to the pavement, their wheels may stall when driven in thick snowfall. Many hapless subcompact owners have had to tow their vehicle after getting stuck in snow.

Does this mean the Sonic cannot handle snow driving at all? Even with its low ground clearance, a small vehicle such as the Sonic can still drive in snow.

For what it’s worth, the Sonic has features that improve safety in snowy conditions. An example is the Traction Control system that curtails uncontrolled wheelspin in snow and stops loss of traction.

What Features Will Improve Winter Driving?

The Chevrolet Sonic won’t drive like an AWD-equipped SUV or 4WD-equipped truck in winter. Still, with careful driving, you can safely navigate treacherous winter conditions.

Below are some Sonic features that can aid you in getting through winter without problems:

Stability Control

The Sonic has a Stability Control system that protects it from losing stability on slippery winter surfaces. If you drive on ice or snow, you know how difficult keeping your vehicle stable can be on those roads.

The Stability Control makes your work easier by making sure your car remains stable always.

The Sonic’s Stability Control system monitors different aspects of your vehicle’s behavior to determine its stability.

Supposing Stability Control notices possibility of losing stability, it will activate the stabilizing mechanism. This does two things:

  • Apply brake pressure to specific wheels
  • Choke the engine and reduce power output

These two actions will help keep the vehicle from becoming unstable mid-transit and keep you safe.

Traction Control

The Traction Control system is part of the Stability Control mechanism that maximizes vehicle stability. On your Sonic, the Traction Control restrains the wheels from spinning, as they could lose traction that way.

Traction Control is essential for winter driving because it lets you drive on slippery surfaces without your wheels losing their grip.

When active, Traction Control will observe the rotation of your wheels, especially in slippery conditions. This way, the system can pick up excessive wheel rotation, which signals loss of traction.

Assuming Traction Control determines one or more wheels are slipping, it will send brake pressure to the affected wheels. This will increase contact between the wheels and the pavement, increasing traction.

In some situations, Traction Control can limit torque in the wheels–this minimizes wheelspin and curbs loss of traction.

Electronic Brake Force Distribution

Braking on winter roads is significantly more hazardous than on dry roads. Why? The need to brake harder (due to low traction) often translates into higher chances of wheel lockup. A ‘wheel lockup’ is a situation where your wheels stop rotating mostly because of application of excessive brake force.

Wheel lockups are dangerous because they could force your car to skid. You could collide with another car, or worse, end up in a nasty crash.

The Electronic Brake Force Distribution system prevents wheel lockup situations by controlling application of braking force on the wheels. This reduces the risk of your wheels locking up when you brake hard.

Antilock Braking System

The Antilock Braking System shares the same mission with the Electronic Brake force Distribution: curbing wheel lockup.

Under normal braking situations, all wheels will decelerate and halt at the same pace. However, in extreme braking situations, some wheels may stop rolling abruptly, even while other wheels have not fully decelerated. Those wheels are said to have “locked up”.

The ABS on your Sonic is there to stop wheels from locking up, particularly in hard braking situations.

The ABS has sensors that continuously measure wheel speed. If these sensors detect that some wheels may lock up, ABS will decrease brake force on the wheels. The result is that wheels keep moving and you don’t have to deal with wheel lockup.

Heated Steering Wheels and Seats

Subject to what trim you buy, the Sonic comes with heated front seats and heated steering wheels. These two features help you stay warm in frigid temperatures and make driving in winter more comfortable.

Please also read our article on how long the Chevrolet Sonic lasts.

Does a Chevrolet Sonic Have Snow Mode?

The Snow Mode is the latest in a long line of innovations that improve the safety of drivers in snowy terrain. Activating Snow Mode will minimize the torque wheels need to accelerate, which contributes to reduced wheelspin.

Excessive wheelspin often results in traction loss, so Snow Mode is a great feature for snow driving.

The Chevrolet Sonic doesn’t come with a Snow Mode feature. Even so, your car will benefit from the presence of similar features such as the Traction Control system.

Like the Snow Mode, Traction Control will drastically reduce your wheel’s spinning in snow and preserve your vehicle’s traction.

Can You Install Additional Snow Gear on Sonic?

You can install snow gear on your Sonic vehicle. Snow gear is additional equipment that offers increased traction in snow and similar winter conditions.

Examples of snow gear you can fit on your Sonic include snow tires, snow chains, snow socks, and studs.

You need to check provisions of the local transportation law that deal with snow gear use in winter. Typically, states have varying laws on what snow gear you can use while driving in their territory.

Make sure to also read our article on driving the Chevrolet Malibu in snow and winter.

How Much Snow Can a Sonic Handle?

With 4.9 inches of ground clearance, the Chevrolet Sonic is hardly the best snow driver around. Sitting so close to the ground makes it easy for your Sonic to stall in snow, particularly after a huge snowstorm or blizzard.

The Sonic can handle traveling in moderate snow, say 1-3 inches, and that’s about it. Driving a Sonic in deep snow is asking to get stuck while driving.

How Do Sonic Handle Low Winter Temperatures?

As most modern vehicles, the Sonic models have fuel-injected engines under the hood. This comes with two benefits:

  • Fuel injection lets engine warm up faster
  • Fuel-injected engines can run in virtually any weather conditions–hot summer, frigid winter, a fuel-injected engine will run fine.

Based on this, you can expect your Sonic to handle driving in low temperatures. If you have to deal with slow starts and failure to start problems when temperatures are low, your vehicle is likely due for servicing.

Components that could be at fault in include:

  • Spark plugs
  • Battery
  • Electrical components
  • Air and fuel filters

Can a Sonic Drive on Ice?

Because of its low ride height and lightweight design, the Sonic is an impressive vehicle to drive in icy conditions.

You need not fear slipping or skidding on icy roads, as the vehicle has Traction Control and Stability Control.

Both features are designed to prevent loss-of-stability and loss-of-traction situations. Additionally, they will make navigating roads covered in wet ice easier and safer.

Does the Sonic Have 4WD?

The Sonic comes standard in a front-engine, front-wheel drive configuration. While the lack of four-wheel drive limits the Sonic’s winter driving ability, this vehicle can still handle most of your winter driving needs.

More so, the lack of 4WD is hardly particular to the Sonic–no subcompact has 4WD capability.

What About Older Sonic Models and Winter Driving?

The Sonic got its US release in 2012 and came standard with Stability Control, Traction Control, Antilock Braking System, and Electronic Brake Force Distribution.

Judging from this, we believe the average pre-owned Sonic should be able to drive confidently in winter.

Do Sonics Need Snow Tires?

Your Sonic comes standard with all-season tires meant for use in all weather conditions–winter, fall and summer. However, all-season tires are average in summer and quite poor in winter.

This is why your Sonic needs snow tires. Snow tires are better suited to driving in wintertime. Here are reasons you should get snow tires for your Sonic:

  • Increased road grip on slippery surfaces
  • Reduced risk of hydroplaning or skidding
  • Safer braking in winter

If you are shopping for quiet tires, please check our article on General Tires.

Can You Mount A Snow Plow on A Sonic?

You’d hardly see a small car, let alone a subcompact with a snowplow.

Subcompacts such as your Chevrolet Sonic don’t have enough power to handle the rigors of plowing. We’d advise you never to attempt putting a snowplow on a Sonic.

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