The Sonic achieved “good” scores in all four types of tests performed, including frontal offset and side impact. It also has standard StabiliTrak electronic stability control, which the institute requires of all vehicles receiving a Top Safety Pick designation.
The IIHS tests vehicles to determine how well they protect occupants in front and side crash tests, in rollovers via a roof strength test, and in simulated rear impacts to evaluate seat and head restraints for protection against neck injuries.
“Only vehicles that perform with the highest level of safety in their class earn the Institute’s top accolade,” said IIHS President Adrian Lund.
In addition to 10 air bags, the Sonic offers a body structure incorporating a single welded side ring unit. More than 60 percent of the vehicle safety cage consists of high-strength steel.
“We developed Sonic to exceed our customers’ expectations of the subcompact market, both in the fun-to-drive performance characteristics and the segment-leading safety features,” said Joaquin Nuño-Whelan, Sonic vehicle line director and vehicle chief engineer. “This designation by IIHS confirms that Chevy customers can buy a subcompact with top safety performance.”
Other Sonic safety features include LATCH system (Lower Anchors and Top tethers for Children);six months of complimentary OnStar Directions and Connections service, including stolen vehicle assistance and automatic crash response, and power-assisted front disc and rear drum brakes with panic brake assist technology.
Sensors that control the deployment of 10 standard airbags are mounted into Sonic’s structure. The sensing and diagnostic module receives data from the car’s sensors and establishes the severity of the impact and whether to deploy the airbags. The additional driver and passenger knee airbags can help reduce injury to lower extremities.
Another standard feature is Sonic’s hill-hold technology, which makes navigating hilly terrain with a manual as effortless as automatic. It’s a luxury-level feature that helps drivers maintain braking control on hills.
With this rating, the Sonic joins the Chevrolet Volt and the Chevrolet Cruze, two other small cars that recently received a 2011 IIHS Top Safety Pick.