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First Drive: 2012 Chevrolet Sonic

Chevy finally gets in the game with American-made subcompact.

by on Oct.20, 2011

The 2012 Chevrolet Sonic Z-Spec package will add graphics packages, wheels, ground effects and mirror caps to the stock Sonic hatchback.

When it comes to small cars, let’s face it, Detroit has had a history of rolling out some pretty forgettable products, nowhere more so than at Chevrolet, which has dumped on a trusting public such unremarkable and sometimes crude offerings as the Nova, Storm, Cavalier, Cobalt and Aveo.

Which is a good reason why General Motors’ largest division decided to abandon the latter nameplate when it came time to launch an all-new subcompact — one that finally gives reason to Buy American even if there’s more on your mind than a rock bottom price tag.

Yes, the 2012 Chevrolet Sonic does still sport a pleasantly affordable bottom line but the fact is it’s also a reasonably fun car to drive – and one that delivers a surprising amount of features and value for the money.

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Sonic is the new name chosen for the replacement for Chevy’s B-segment car.  And starting fresh makes sense.  Get rid of the old, dated design and uncompetitive engineering – and move production over to the U.S.  The outgoing Aveo was assembled in South Korea by what used to be known as Daewoo.  While the Koreans, now part of GM’s global product empire, played a critical role in engineering the 2012 Sonic, the new car is being assembled at a plant in suburban Detroit.

We got our chance to take the new Chevy subcompact out on the road during a blustery autumn day near Hell, Michigan – an ironic name for a place that provides some of the best roads in the state for testing out a car’s mettle.