Although the Chevrolet Sonic will cease production in 2021, you have plenty of used models to buy.
The Chevrolet Sonic is a subcompact that offers typical small car qualities—nimble handling, decent storage, and high-tech features.
At under $18,000, the Sonic is a cost-effective way of navigating the big city. In this article, we look at the car’s longevity.
Here is the short answer about how long the Chevrolet Sonic last:
Multiple mileage reports suggest the Chevrolet Sonic can last for 150,000 to 200,000 miles. If you drive like every other American (15,000 miles annually), your new Chevrolet Sonic can run for 10-13 years. This shows the Sonic is a relatively well-built vehicle that will serve you for long.
How Many Miles Can You Expect from A Chevrolet Sonic?
Various mileage reports suggest you can get anywhere between 150,000 and 200,000 miles from a Chevrolet Sonic. We even found high-mileage Sonics with close to 400,000 miles!
The Chevrolet Sonic may lack fancy features found on rivals, but it can provide you with miles of trouble-free driving. The only caveat is that you must care for your Sonic or else it won’t last.
How Soon Should You Expect Rust on A Chevrolet Sonic?
Rust may appear on a Chevrolet Sonic within the first two to five years. This may depend on where you live and your rust prevention efforts.
Sonics in the Salt Belt have a higher chance of rusting than those in, say, California. If you don’t protect your car against corrosion, it will rust sooner. Regular washes and spraying fluid film, Rust Check or Krown on rust-prone areas on your Sonic will reduce its chances of rust.
Here are some places that can rust on your Chevrolet Sonic:
- Exhaust muffler
- Wheel wells
- Rocker panels
- Front mudflaps
- Hood lip and edge
- Fender edge
Please also read our article on how long Chevrolet Corvette last.
How Long Do Chevrolet Sonic Last Compared to Similar Car Models?
That the Chevrolet Sonic has decent reliability isn’t questionable. But there are about five other models in the subcompact segment, all of them as great as the Sonic. How does Chevrolet’s subcompact compare to these rivals, especially in terms of longevity? Let’s find out.
Chevrolet Sonic vs. Hyundai Accent
The Hyundai Accent has more bells and whistles than the Chevrolet Sonic. But does it last longer than the Sonic? Not really.
According to owners, the Chevrolet Sonic can reach 200,000 miles on its original engine. The Hyundai Accent is hardly different and will go about 200,000 miles on the original engine.
Nevertheless, the Hyundai Accent represents the better deal of the two models. Compared to the Sonic’s asking price of $17,595, the Accent costs merely $16,000—that’s a $1,595 difference. Buying an Accent gives you the same mileage as a Sonic, but at a lower price.
Chevrolet Sonic vs. Honda Fit
Honda, manufacturer of the Fit, has always been ahead of Chevrolet in terms of reliability. Thus, it’s not surprising that the Honda Fit beats the Chevrolet Sonic convincingly in the reliability department.
The best you’ll get from a Sonic is 200,000 miles; but the Fit can take you 300,000 miles.
Chevrolet Sonic vs. Kia Rio
The Kia Rio will last you longer than the Chevrolet Sonic. Owners report getting up to 250,000 miles from a Kia Rio, a 50,000-mile improvement on the Sonic’s lifespan.
The 200,000 miles the Chevrolet Sonic offers means it lasts three years lesser than the Kia Rio.
Chevrolet Sonic vs. Nissan Versa
Based on our research, we believe the Chevrolet Sonic and the Nissan Versa have the same lifespan. A new Versa will run for another 200,000 miles, which is the same with the Sonic.
However, the Nissan Versa wins out against the Chevrolet Sonic in terms of value. At $15,755, the Versa costs $1,840 lesser than the Chevrolet Sonic, yet it is as durable as the latter. Therefore, if you want value for your money, the Nissan Versa is a better option.
Make sure you also read our article on how long the Toyota Yaris lasts.
How Reliable Is a Chevrolet Sonic?
For a subcompact, the Chevrolet Sonic is decently reliable. However, owners suggest this may vary based on the model in question. For example, models with turbo engines are thought to be less reliable than those with regular engines.
The reason is that turbo engines have more moving parts, which makes them more susceptible to failure. This doesn’t affect many Sonics, though; and newer models rarely experience such issues.
Meanwhile, the Chevrolet Sonic receives relatively good ratings for reliability. J.D. Power and Associates gave the 2020 Chevrolet Sonic a stellar 4/5 Predicted Reliability Rating. Similarly, RepairPal gives the Sonic an above average 4.0/5.0 rating for reliability.
The Best and Worst Years for Chevrolet Sonic
To get the best and the worst years for the Chevrolet Sonic, we scoured the database of CarComplaints.com, a site that curates vehicle complaints. From our search, the 2012 Chevrolet Sonic takes the crown for the worst model year.
Now, what is wrong with this model year? A lot, to put it frankly. If you plan to buy a 2012 Sonic, here are some problems you may have to deal with:
Faulty interior accessories: In-vehicle accessories are designed to make driving easier, more enjoyable, and more pleasurable. But owners of the 2012 are not getting any of these benefits from their interior accessories.
Instead, they report several problems including seat discomfort, malfunctioning heated seats, and ignition switch failure. Some also say the shifter button does not work and may, in fact, shatter.
i. Malfunctioning transmission: The transmission is important to a vehicle’s movement, and it’s disheartening that this key component has issues on the Sonic. Owners say the transmission hesitates and grinds when shifting and slips on occasions.
Hard gear changes and transmission leaks are also common on the 2012 Chevrolet Sonic.
ii. Erratic engine performance: Another important part on these models that’s prone to issues is the engine. According to owners, the engine may misfire, shake roughly, and produce poor horsepower.
Failure of engine parts like the head gasket and air intake manifold is also common. There are even a few reports of catastrophic engine failure.
Since 2017, the Chevrolet Sonic models have become quite the reliable models—few recalls, little or no reported problems, and so on. If you’re looking for any used Sonic, any of the 2017-2019 models should fit the bill.
What About Recalls for These Models?
Here are the number of recalls for the Sonic since inception:
- 2012: 7 recalls
- 2013: 5 recalls
- 2014: 4 recalls
- 2015: 3 recalls
- 2016: 2 recalls
- 2018: 1 recall
- 2017: 0 recalls
- 2019: 0 recalls
Chevrolet Sonic Model Year List
Here are all model years for the Chevrolet Sonic:
- 2012 Chevrolet Sonic
- 2013 Chevrolet Sonic
- 2014 Chevrolet Sonic
- 2015 Chevrolet Sonic
- 2016 Chevrolet Sonic
- 2017 Chevrolet Sonic
- 2018 Chevrolet Sonic
- 2019 Chevrolet Sonic
- 2020 Chevrolet Sonic
You should also learn about how long the Ford Focus lasts.
Are Chevrolet Sonic Expensive to Maintain?
According to YourMechanic.com, annual maintenance on a Chevrolet Sonic can range from $80 to $4,297.
However, barring any extensive repairs, servicing a Sonic shouldn’t cost past $241 on average. Based on this, we can say the Chevrolet Sonic is cheap to maintain.
How Long Do the Brakes Last?
The brakes on your Chevrolet Spark are designed to last about 20,000-30,000 miles under heavy use and 40,000-60,000 miles under regular conditions.
Heavy use refers to driving situations that require braking frequently, e.g., stop-and-go traffic. Regular conditions may be those highway drives where you brake minimally.
How you use your brakes will determine their lifespan. If you frequent stop-and-go driving, the brakes will likely wear out faster. Alternatively, more highway drives mean less wear on the brakes and longer brake life.
How Long Do the Tires Last?
Like the brakes, your tires’ lifespan depends on how use them. On the average, Sonic owners report getting 30,000 to 60,000 miles from the OEM tires. Car makers recommend 5,000-mile tire rotations if you want your tires to last long.
How Long Does the Transmission Last?
The transmission on the average Chevy vehicle lasts between 120,000 to 180,000 miles. Based on this, you can expect a minimum of 120,000 miles from your Chevy Sonic’s transmission.
How Long Do the Spark Plugs Last?
The spark plugs on a new Chevrolet Sonic wouldn’t probably need replacement for another 100,000 miles. Signs of worn plugs include engine stalling, hard starts, and so on.
What About Insurance Cost?
The average Chevrolet Sonic costs about $2,008 to insure in a year. This translates to $174 in monthly insurance expenses.
Tips to Prolong the Life of Your Chevrolet Sonic
Here are ways to prolong the life of your Chevrolet Sonic:
- Flush the transmission and change the transmission filter regularly
- Drive your car gently and avoid putting it under excess strain
- Perform all maintenance activities as suggested in the maintenance manual. Also, fix problems as you detect them. “But it still works” is no valid excuse and will probably lead to serious damage to your car.