I make no attempt here to compare the 2013 Nissan Sentra, a subcompact economy car, with something from the ranks of substantially more expensive, bona fide luxury automobiles. But there are samples of the new Sentra, notably the upscale Sentra SL sedan driven for this column, that make you wonder what “luxury” means anymore.
The Nissan Sentra line — including the base S, the popularly equipped SV, the sporty SR and the surprisingly well-appointed SL — has been reworked for 2013.
The front-wheel-drive cars are two inches longer than their predecessors. Interior space has been increased, and the cabins have been made more appealing and comfortable. The top-of-the-line SL, driven for this column, is so loaded it raises the question: Why access luxury at a higher price?
The SL, also the most expensive of the lot, has a starting price of $19,760 — deliberately set below $20,000 to bait more buyers. The idea: If I get all these goodies in a car starting under $20,000, surely I can add a few thousand dollars more in options.
Of course you can. Nissan has Sentra options aplenty. This column’s SL, which included optional onboard navigation with high-definition backup camera, premium leather seat coverings, a power sliding glass roof and a premium sound system, came with a manufacturer’s price of $23,430.
Still, that is not a bad deal for a well-made commuter car (in terms of fit and finish) that is also safe, luxuriously outfitted and engineered to get 30 miles per gallon in the city and 39 mpg on the highway using regular gasoline.
(I wrote “engineered to get.” I should’ve written “advertised to get.” My real-world mileage was okay, but several miles per gallon less than advertised.)
But the new Nissan Sentra line is made to address growing consumer worries over fuel economy and pump prices. That is largely why Nissan has jettisoned — at least for the time being — its high-performance Sentra SE-R and SE-R Spec V models. The current corporate thinking is that consumer concerns about fuel economy nullify demand for more consumptive high-performance models in what was supposed to be an economy-car line in the first place.
Nissan is likely to get criticism for that decision from recalcitrant throttle jockeys, whose need for speed frequently outpaces their incomes. But the company is likely to do well among drivers who just want a small, affordable, well-tailored car with at least decent miles-per-gallon numbers.
The new Sentra offers all that and more in the SL version. There is none of the bland styling and use of subpar cabin materials of predecessor Sentras. Everything is nice and tight. Exterior styling flows in attractive lines front to rear. Cabin leather feels rich. The design of the car’s instrument panel, replete with a handsome center console that is also easy to use, is first-rate. This is a very likable little car quite capable of competing with anything in its size and price class.
“FE” (fuel economy) versions of the new Sentra S and SV are designed to get slightly better mileage. Their enhancements in that endeavor include a rear aerodynamic spoiler (to help mitigate wind resistance), underbody aerodynamic deflectors, and low-rolling-resistance tires (to help reduce fuel-sapping tire-road friction).
For those of you who define luxury as power and crisp handling, you are hereby advised to look elsewhere. Despite its seductive trimmings, the new Sentra SL is what it was designed and engineered to be — an economy car. Like all its Sentra siblings, it comes with a 1.8-liter in-line four-cylinder engine (130 horsepower, 128 foot-pounds of torque). Add to that a continuously variable automatic transmission that continues to leave many drivers (me included) in its transmission of power to the front drive wheels.
But, in the pursuit of more miles per gallon with no loss of safety, style or comfort, I’m willing to accept those deficits. On most highly regulated roads in the United States, I can only go so fast anyway. I might as well settle back and enjoy the drive in what is without a doubt the best Sentra sedan that Nissan has ever made.
**A special thank you to Warren Brown from The Washington Post for this article!**
Yes, Chevrolet is very proud of the all-new 2012 Sonic. And why not? This is one amazing compact car. From looks to fuel economy to performance, you’ll see that we have reason to get a little excited…
It’s small, packs a big punch and has finally arrived at Bob Maguire Chevrolet. Introducing the all-new 2012 Chevrolet Sonic. The Sonic is the only small car assembled in the United States1. Available in Hatchback or Sedan. And is ready for some fun. Are you game?
Both Sonic Sedan and Hatchback achieved 0-to-60 mph in 8.2 seconds on the test track with the available ECOTEC® 1.4L turbocharged engine and its 6-speed manual transmission. Sonic is storming ahead with the only turbocharged engine in its class, which offers the most available torque in its class.
In addition to delivering a crisp, quick steering experience and traction control, Sonic offers an EPA-estimated 40 MPG highway2. It’s also the first and only car in its class3 with 10 standard air bags4 along with the support of OnStar®5 standard for the first six months. No wonder it’s a IIHS 2011 “Top Safety Pick”.
Are we going overboard with hype? Not really. More like over a 100-foot high platform built with shipping containers. Check out the video at http://letsdothis.com/. While you’re there sign up for “The Game of Firsts” for your chance to win a Sonic by competing in cool challenges. Score points, earn badges and you might win one of 8 Sonics given away from December through March.
So stop by Bob Maguire Chevrolet and check out the all-new Sonic. The most fun-to-drive small car, now seeking owners.
- Small car with aggressive, youthful design in five-door and sedan models
- Available Ecotec 1.4L turbo with an estimated 138 hp (103 kW)
- Engineered for agile, athletic ride and handling
- Smart connectivity features including MyChevrolet smartphone app
- Only small car built in America
- On sale now at Bob Maguire Chevrolet !!!
The all-new 2012 Sonic, available now at Bob Maguire Chevrolet, is a small car with a large array of features and amenities – with a starting price of only $14,495 (including destination charge). Its youthful, aggressive design is backed by turbocharged performance and agile ride and handling, combining to deliver an efficient and fun small car.
The Sonic is offered in two body styles: a stylish four-door sedan and a sporty five-door. Each delivers class-leading, rear-seat roominess and cargo space. A variety of connectivity features enhance the driving experience.
“The all-new Chevrolet Sonic will offer our customers both practicality and fun,” said Michael Maguire, President of Bob Maguire Chevrolet. “The great design, latest connectivity features and performance ability of the vehicle are sure to make the Sonic a fast favorite among New Jersey drivers.”
Sonic’s highlights include:
- Available efficient Ecotec 1.4L turbo engine rated at an estimated 138 horsepower (103 kW) – 18 horsepower (14 kW) more than Ford Fiesta – that delivers competitive fuel economy. It’s the same engine used in the Chevrolet Cruze in a smaller, lighter package for a greater feeling of performance
- Standard Ecotec 1.8L engine paired with five-speed manual or six-speed automatic transmissions
- Ecotec 1.4L turbo available with a six-speed manual transmission
- Ride and handling tuned for the North American market; standard electronic power steering and StabiliTrak electronic stability control with rollover sensing
- Sedan offers trunk capacity that is greater than most compact cars; hatchback and sedan offer better rear-seat roominess than Ford Fiesta. With a rear seat that folds nearly flat, the Sonic hatchback has greater cargo capacity than Fiesta
- Connectivity includes OnStar with six months of Turn-by-Turn navigation. Available features include XM Satellite Radio, USB and Bluetooth functionality and MyChevrolet mobile application
- Remote start, heated front seats and sunroof, all rarities in the segment
- Comprehensive safety features include 10 standard air bags, anti-lock brakes, electronic brake force distribution, brake assist and OnStar with Automatic Crash Response.
Chevrolet has finally gotten the subcompact receipt right. With the intent of creating a world car to be sold in different countries across the globe, GM needed to prove that they could build a competitive product.
Fast forward to the fall of 2011 and watch as Chevrolet begins rolling out an all-new B-segment vehicle, the 2012 Sonic. Starting with a global architecture and the goal of designing and engineering a global vehicle, designers and engineers across the globe helped create a winning subcompact formula. We were blown away by how competent, competitive, comfortable, and most importantly, fun, the Sonic was.
The team behind the Chevy Sonic wanted to focus on what younger buyers would want. The current automotive market is chock-full of subcompacts that have standout features or achievements, but they all seem to have an identity crisis. There are so many options, packages, trim levels, editions, and suspension setups that trying to pick one can actually be more challenging than ever could have been imaginable.
Chevrolet made it clear that the millennials were their target, and they hit it better than anyone else with an eye-catching design, unique features, top safety equipment, and a vehicle that not only looks sporty, but acts it in each of their three trim levels, LS, LT, and LTZ.
On the topic of trim levels, three models of the Sonic are available; LS, LT, and LTZ. Propelling them is a 1.8-liter four-cylinder producing 138 horsepower and 125 lb-ft of torque; available on LT and LTZ is a 1.4-liter turbocharged engine producing the same horsepower but 148 lb-ft of torque at early RPM. A 5-speed manual is standard on 1.8L engines and a 6-speed automatic is available. The automatic combination is rated at 25 city, 35 highway mpg, with the manual doing 1 mpg better in the city cycle.
The sporty 1.4 turbo will only be available with a six-speed manual until later next year, and brings the Sonic to that golden 40 mpg highway number. The city cycle still benefits though and earns an impressive 29 mpg, and as you’d expect, both engines require 87-octane gasoline.
We found the 1.4 turbo engine to be quite a bit zippier around city driving, and especially at higher speeds when passing had to be done. The engine breathes quietly with the turbo barely noticeable; GM engineers did an excellent job controlling NVH for the passenger compartment. Part of this can be attributed to a well-tuned engine and the rest of the credit can be taken from extra sound deadening material used in the upcoming Buick Verano.
Sonic engineers including John Buttermore worked tirelessly in the tuning of the suspension and steering to ensure it responded in a manner that young drivers with an eagerness to push the limits expect. Coming from a history of passion for racing, Buttermore recently won the SCCA Touring 1 Class gold medal, and drove a lot of that passion into the development of the Sonic.
“The Sonic has excellent handling, steering, and allows the driver to get the most enjoyment and performance from their vehicle,” Buttermore said.
We found the Sonic‘s precise steering and lack of body roll a welcome change in this segment. The suspension setup isn’t anything unique, MacPherson front struts with a torsion beam in the back, but with a 99.4-inch wheelbase, it handled apex turns admirably and felt hunkered down in the corners.
The stick provides short throws, but the clutch pedal was a tad on the light side, with the friction point barely perceptible when it engages early on. We found the six-speed automatic to work well, quickly downshifting when more “oomph” was needed, but we noticed it sometimes hunted for the right gear during hilly city driving.
The Sonic comes to a stop with assurance, with good pedal resistance and little fade during our spirited driving runs. Chevrolet had to cut some costs somewhere, and we don’t mind the front disc, rear drum setup. It worked well in our various driving routes, and we especially enjoyed the Hill Hold Assist feature that comes standard on the Sonic so that gas-clutch modulation is no longer needed on inclines.
Inside, Chevrolet continues with the “dual-cockpit” design seen in the Cruze and Malibu. The interior of the Sonic is a place we enjoyed spending time in; it felt comfortable, roomy in the front and back, and the number of storage areas was unbelievable.
The first cool factor about the Sonic‘s interior is the gauge cluster. GM’s Kathy Servio talked about the inspiration coming from motorcycles, an analog tachometer and digital speedometer. Though we weren’t too fond of this setup in other vehicles where it is typically an afterthought, the Sonic’s speedometer was crystal clear, large, and simply put, it works.
The rest of the Sonic‘s interior is a mix of nicely finished plastics and fabrics. All switchgear felt solid and we especially liked the contrast stitching on LTZ trim levels.
Standard equipment includes a tilt/telescoping steering wheel, remote keyless entry, air conditioning, power windows and locks, a driver information center, and a stereo with auxillary input. Moving up to the LT adds a six-speaker system with satellite radio, rear floormats, better cloth seat material, and power heated mirrors.
Those aiming for the top of the line LTZ get leatherette heated seats, USB input, Bluetooth streaming audio and phone connectivity, cruise control, remote start, and 17″ wheels.
Sonic interiors are available in jet black and dark titanium trim with light stitching, jet black with brick trim and stitching, and a dark pewter with dark titanium trim and stylish blue stitching.
Gone are the days of “optional ABS on upper trim levels” as the Sonic offers all safety equipment standard. Most competitive vehicles meet today’s safety standards, but the Sonic surpasses them by meeting 2014 safety requirements.
The usual six airbags are in place, but the Sonic offers two additional airbags in the front for the driver and front passenger’s knees, as well as side thorax airbags for each of the rear outboard occupants.
All of the active safety systems are in place, including Anti-lock Brakes (ABS), Brake Assist (BAS), Electronic Brake Distribution (EBD), and the aforementioned Hill-Hold Assist which continues applying brake pressure while on a hill, even after the driver releases his foot, for two seconds or until the throttle is applied.
In addition to offering all of the latest safety equipment, what truly gave the Sonic its 2011 IIHS Top Safety Pick Award is the strong Gamma platform that consists of 60% high strength steel.
The renowned OnStar system is also standard for six months.
With driving dynamics superior to its competitors, a useful and spacious interior, competitive fuel economy, and top safety and tech features, the 2012 Chevy Sonic is a clear winner in our books. The Sonic continues GM’s momentum of creating compelling vehicles that are one step ahead of the competition. Best of all, it’s the only subcompact built here, in GM’s Orion Township, Michigan facility and starts at a low $14,995.
****A special thanks to Zeid Nasser who wrote this article, “First Drive: 2012 Chevrolet Sonic, for thecollegedriver.com on October 2, 2011 @ 5:16pm.****
Chevrolet introduced the first production Z-Spec accessories for the 2012 Sonic, available soon at Bob Maguire Chevrolet in Bordentown, NJ, an all-new small car hitting the streets this fall. The Sonic Z-Spec portfolio– which will be showcased at the New York International Auto Show – includes “Color Out” accent packages with contrasting-color exterior parts and graphics that express the car’s performance characteristics.
The Sonic, available soon at Bob Maguire Chevrolet in Bordentown, NJ, combines a youthful, aggressive design with turbocharged performance and agile ride and handling. When equipped with an available, efficient 1.4L turbo, it is expected to achieve an estimated 40 mpg highway.
“The new Z-Spec accessories reinforce Sonic’s fun, youthful spirit,” said Rick Scheidt, vice president, Chevrolet marketing. “Customization is particularly important with the customers we believe will gravitate toward the Sonic, and we want to help them make their vehicle look exactly the way they want as easily as possible.”
The Z-Spec accessories will initially include body-color ground effects (with a silver exhaust tip), contrasting mirror caps and roof spoiler, contrasting upper and lower grille surrounds and a body graphics package, along with 16- and 17-inch painted alloy wheels. The ground effects kit features a front fascia extension, rocker panel extensions, rear fascia extension and silver exhaust tip.
Interior upgrades include aluminum sport pedals and sill plates.
Z-Spec also includes color accent packages in “Black Out” or “White Out.” These “Color
Out” packages, displayed on vehicles at the New York Auto Show, feature black accents on a Summit White Sonic and Summit White accents on an Inferno Orange Sonic.
“Sonic is a great canvas for customization, and Z-Spec offers a cohesive design with a family of factory-engineered accessories and graphics,” said Scheidt.
Z-Spec parts can be purchased individually, to suit customer tastes and budgets, or can be purchased as a complete package. When the parts are purchased with the Sonic and installed by the dealer, customers can roll the cost into their monthly payments.
Additional accessories will be available for the Sonic, ranging from the fashionable to the functional, such as chrome mirror caps and door handles to cargo nets and trunk trays.
Additional graphics packages also will be available in the future.
The accessorized Sonics on display in New York share traits with the Z-Spec concept versions of the Cruze, Spark and Volt shown at the 2010 SEMA show. For example, each wore ground effects kits, rear spoilers and Z-Spec-specific grilles, as well as ZSpec graphics.
Sonic (available soon at Bob Maguire Chevrolet in Bordentown, NJ) at a glance…
The Sonic, available soon at Bob Maguire Chevrolet in Bordentown, NJ, is offered in two body styles: a four-door sedan and a sporty five-door. Each delivers class-leading rear-seat roominess and cargo space. A variety of connectivity features enhance the driving experience.
Sonic is offered with an efficient Ecotec 1.4L turbo engine rated at an estimated 138 horsepower (103 kW) – 18 horsepower (14 kW) more than Ford Fiesta – and 148 lb.-ft. of torque (200 Nm), between 1,850 rpm and 4,900 rpm. It is expected to deliver 40 mpg on the highway (EPA estimates pending).
A standard Ecotec 1.8L engine is paired with a five-speed manual or six-speed automatic transmission, delivering an estimated at 135 horsepower (101 kW) and 123 lb.-ft. of torque (167 Nm) at 3,800 rpm.
The Sonic, available soon at Bob Maguire Chevrolet in Bordentown, NJ, will be built at the Orion Assembly Center in Orion Township, Mich., making it the only subcompact to be built in the United States.
The 2010 Chevy Aveo is offered in two body styles: a four-door sedan and a five-door hatchback known as the Aveo5. Both styles are available in three trims: the base LS, the mid-range LT1 and well-equipped LT2.
Just as in 2009, the 2010 Aveo comes with a 1.6L Ecotec DOHC 4-cylinder engine with variable valve timing, which helps it make 108 horsepower and 105 pounds-feet of torque. It is mated to a standard 5-speed manual gearbox, while an optional 4-speed automatic transmission is available on the LT trims. The automatic transmission features a hold-control mode to hold a higher gear and to aid traction on slippery roads. All trims are front wheel drive.
All Aveos utilize a MacPherson strut front suspension with coil beams and a stabilizer bar and a compound-link independent suspension with torsion beam and gas-charged shocks in the rear.
On the base LS trim, standard features include a tilt steering wheel, rear defogger, air conditioning and an AM/FM stereo with auxiliary input. The LT1 trim comes standard front and rear floor mats, heated outside mirrors and a 6-speaker CD/MP3 sound system. The LT2 gets cruise control, alarm, keyless entry, power doors and windows, power heated mirrors, fog lamps and performance tires.
Available options on all trims include anti-lock brakes (ABS), leather-wrapped steering wheel, steering wheel controls, an anti-theft system, woodgrain interior trim, trip computer, aluminum wheels, vinyl seats, sunroof and wireless cell phone integration.
Standard safety features include front driver and passenger airbags with dual-stage deployment, and seat-mounted side airbags for front row occupants. A tire pressure monitoring system is also standard. One year of GM’s OnStar Safe and Sound plan is standard all Aveos.
Starting as early as this September you will be able to get your hands on Chevy’s newest and hottest car: the 2011 CRUZE. Derived from the Cobalt (which was derived from the Cavalier…so, by process of elimination, the CRUZE is derived from the Cavalier), the CRUZE is one of the few Compact-cars that can create a Midsized-car presence, but stay priced in the Compact-car range. As of now, you can pick up a CRUZE for as little as $16,995. Prices do vary by trim level, with the highest trim level starting at $22,695, but for the most part the 2011 Chevy CRUZE will stay priced between $16,995 and $18,895.
“We believe the CRUZE can redefine the expectations for Compact-car owners and shoppers who are new to the segment, ” said Chevy’s Vice President of Marketing, Jim Campbell. “For the price of a compact car, CRUZE offers styling, safety features, roominess, amenities, and refinement of a much more expensive car.”
The base 2011 Chevy CRUZE features:
- 1.8 Ecotec engine
- Six-Speed manual transmission
- Ten airbags
- StabiliTrak electronic stability control with rollover sensing
- Traction control
- Anti-lock brakes
- Collapsible pedal system
- Power rear-door safety locks
- Air Conditioning
- Power windows and locks
- Keyless entry
- Driver information center
- XM Radio
Some of the plethora of options the CRUZE offers:
- In-dash navigation system
- 40-gigabyte hard drive
- Pause and Play radio
- Downloading of audio CDs
- Transferring MP3 files from a USB memory device
- Pioneer Audio System
- Nine speakers
- 250-watt amplifier
- Heated leather seats
- Ultrasonic rear park assist
- RS appearance package
- Rocker moldings
- Rear spoiler
- Front fog lamps
Be on the look-out for this new, eco-friendly Compact-car! The arrival date for the 2011 Chevy CRUZE will be early September of this year, so stop by your local Chevy dealer to ask a Salesman about all of the CRUZE’s details.
The 1.6 Base model is only offered with a 5-speed manual transmission, and the top-of-the-line 1.8 SL comes only with a continuously variable automatic transmission (CVT), Most of the other models come with the choice of a 6-speed manual gearbox or conventional 4-speed automatic.
A MacPherson strut front suspension and torsion beam rear suspension, with stabilizer bars front and back, is tuned for a comfortable ride while also maintaining maneuverability. All Versas have a front disc, rear drum brake arrangement; anti-lock brakes are included with 1.8 models but optional on the 1.6. Hatchback models are a little more versatile, with seats that fold forward easily to expand cargo space; the back seats don’t fold in most Versas, but top SL sedans get a split-folding back seat and trunk pass-through.
With either engine, the Versa performs reasonably well; 1.6 models are considerably lighter, so they don’t feel any slower. The manual transmissions shift easily and smoothly, and as for automatics, shoppers should take both versions-the CVT along with the conventional 4-speed-out for a spin and decide which one they like best; the CVT allows faster acceleration and offers the best EPA ratings, at 28 mpg city, 34 highway, but invites more engine noise.
The 1.6 Base model is about as simple as new cars come today, with no power windows or locks, no air conditioning and no radio either. The upgraded standard 1.6 model adds air conditioning. Meanwhile 1.8 S models include a 4-speaker sound system, cargo area lamp and adjustable rear headrests. On 1.8 SL models, there’s a 180-watt sound system with iPod interface, cruise control, keyless entry, power locks and windows, larger alloy wheels and electronic stability control. All Versas get front side-impact airbags and full-length side-curtain bags. The Versa 1.8 can be equipped with a Bluetooth hands-free interface, XM Satellite Radio and the Intelligent Key entry and ignition system and a Navigation/Satellite package will add an in-dash navigation system with 5-inch screen, to arrive late in the model year.