Chevy Sonic, and Mercedes S350 Diesel
By Kelly Foss, MyCarData.com
CHEVY SONIC 5 DOOR
Mercifully, the Chevy Aveo is history. Though many were sold, it was not GM’s best work. The new Chevy Sonic is the replacement subcompact and is worlds better than its predecessor. The Sonic competes with vehicles like the Ford Fiesta, Toyota Yaris, Honda Fit and the Hyundai Accent. The Sonic is a modern car that is both appealing and competitive in today’s market.
Trying to accommodate full-size people in a subcompact car is a challenge. The new Sonic seems to do that with style and efficiency.
My test vehicle was a 1LS 5 door. That means it’s a pretty basic vehicle that only had one option, the upgraded audio system which costs $350. This model is so basic that it offers no cruise control, came with a 5-speed manual transmission and even has hand-crank windows. I haven’t seen hand-crank windows in years but in an effort to keep the cost down, they’re back. The MSRP of $15,745 did include the all-important air conditioning and power door locks.
The Sonic’s interior is roomy, the seats were very comfortable and the driver’s seat had a nifty fold-down armrest. The gauge cluster is unique and attention getting. A huge tachometer is paired with a useful and clear digital display.
The rear seat area is utilitarian and roomy for this class of vehicle. The cargo area is accessed though the rear lift gate and has space for lots of stuff. The rear seats fold flat and the storage area behind the seats has a cargo well so your grocery bags don’t roll around on the drive home. The Sonic is really very quiet inside and it drives quite nicely.
Chevrolet offers two engines in this car: the base 1.8 liter four cylinder and the optional 1.4 turbo, both rated at 138 horsepower. The 1.4 is more fun, is only available with the 6-speed manual transmission and gets an EPA economy rating of 29 city and 40 highway. The 6- speed automatic transmission is only available with the 1.8. That combination offers a good drive and a 25/35 EPA rating. My test 1.8 with the 5-speed manual averaged about 30 mpg in daily driving.
All Sonics are equipped with the same standard suite of safety equipment. This includes 10 airbags, 4 wheel antilock brakes, brake force distribution, stability control and traction control.
In all, the Sonic is totally competitive in this automotive segment. It is a substantial small car and will ably fill the needs of many buyers.
MERCEDES S350 DIESEL
Whenever a new test vehicle arrives, I try to guess the price before looking at the Monroney sticker. Sometimes I’m within $100, which is very good! With the S350, I wasn’t even close. Due to a variety of factors, European vehicles have become very pricey, but the reality is that for buyers who want this vehicle — and many will — they’ll get it anyhow.
The S Class is the large luxury sedan from Mercedes. It’s big, substantial, has presidential presence and is full of technology. This is the class of vehicle that the Mercedes engineers lavish their attention on. All the great new whiz-bang innovation shows up here.
Here are some of the items that are offered in this S Class Mercedes: Airmatic air suspension with both soft and sport ride controls, plus 4Matic all wheel drive. Super ventilated and cross drilled brakes, anti-squat suspension, Harman/Kardon Logic 7 surround sound audio, active adaptive bi-xenon headlamps, 14-way heated and active ventilated front seats with massage and panorama sun roofs. Even the rear seats are 8-way powered, heated and ventilated and each passenger position has its own independent climate control. The back seat is huge, the trunk is massive and even has a power closing trunk lid.
As further proof, this vehicle also had the $2,950 Driver Assistance package which had some good features, but also included an Active Lane Keep Assist technology. If the car senses (thinks) that you have wandered over a line on the road, it will, on its own, apply hard braking and turn the car in the opposite direction, all rather abruptly. Though the intention is good, sometimes the cure is worse than the perceived disease.
The vehicle drives like a dream and floats like a cloud, yet has responsiveness and road-holding that you’d never expect from a vehicle of this size.
The S350 is unique because it’s powered by a new high-tech, ultra clean turbo diesel. In Europe diesels are very common and popular. They deliver a torquey satisfying driving experience and get great fuel economy.
This new engine is so smooth that you can’t tell from the sound that it is a diesel. The engine produces only 240 horsepower but dispenses a huge 455 ft lbs of torque. That, connected to its 7-speed automatic transmission, meant that the large S Class effortlessly accelerates and cruises down the road.
The EPA fuel economy rating is 21 city and 31 highway miles per gallon. The reality is even better than that, however. This vehicle had over 2,400 miles on the odometer and the overall mpg number was 29.6, which is huge for a vehicle of this size. I drove it from Dallas to Houston and averaged 33.4 mpg. Even after arriving here, the car calculated that it still had a 450-mile driving range left.
Not only is the S350 an efficient Mercedes, it’s also very pleasant to drive and is totally in keeping with the brand’s tradition.
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