Small Car Competition: 2016 Chevy Sonic vs. 2016 Ford Fiesta
The fun little car sitting on your local Chevy dealers lot is the 2016 Chevy Sonic. Small cars like this are marketed as fun to drive, with a hip design, zippy performance, and excellent fuel economy. These three elements are key for their targeted audience: younger drivers. However, even if you aren’t fresh out of high school or college, there is no reason you can’t cruise around town in a brand new Sonic.
Naturally, a market that is geared towards younger buyers is going to be rife with competition. For Chevy, it’s no surprise that the primary competition comes from Ford. Their 2016 Fiesta has been around for a while and has received various upgrades over the years.
When these two small cars go at it, some big sparks start flying. Who will prevail – the 2016 Chevy Sonic or the 2016 Ford Fiesta?
A Hip Design
As far as design goes, both cars follow the same idea from an engineering standpoint: small and with available hatchback or sedan trims. Since they are essentially the same on an engineering level, presentation is a key distinction. So, let’s take a look at these vehicles on an aesthetic level.
The Sonic hatchback is an impressive little car. It’s one of the more eye catching hatchbacks out there and it’s also unique. Most hatchbacks have a slim front-end to make them look sleek, but Chevy didn’t conform to that idea.
This design all starts with Chevy’s knack for creating bold and powerful front-ends. They kept the standard split-grille and threw their daytime running lights on the bottom of it. They also made sure the Sonic had some big headlights set deep into the front-end of the car, and the Chevy bowtie is sitting large and in charge in the center of it all. Even the hood is sweeping and the rest of the design is by no means slim.
The back of the Sonic sits provides the car with an athletic feel. This is no doubt because the rear-tires are set further back, almost directly underneath the hatch, which is unusual for this type of design. But it looks good. It also appears to sit wider in the back than you typically see, also contributing to it’s strong stance.
The verdict? Even at first glance, you can tell the Sonic is different from the rest; the headlights and bold split-grille make sure of that. How is the Fiesta going to compare?
If the Sonic and Fiesta were parked next to each other, the difference would be immediately apparent. On an engineering level, both hatchback models are the same, but the Fiesta looks completely different.
The front-end is that of your average run-of-the-mill sedan, slim and pointy. The split-grille design is kept as small as possible, and the Ford emblem is placed (almost discreetly) just above it. The headlights are sleek and windswept, and reach at least halfway back the hood. The daytime running lights are small and look like they couldn’t even cut through a wisp of fog. It also fell into the rut of having tiny mirrors, and the generic hatch and tail light combination.
Aerodynamically, it may be a tiny bit better. As far as looks go, however, it can’t compare to the Sonic.
The standard hatchback shape has remained relatively unchanged, and in my personal opinion, it’s overused and boring. Instead of Fiesta, Ford should have called this car the Buzzkill. Does the design look good? Sure, if you like your car taken from a cookie-cutter mold.
Aesthetically, it all boils down to personal opinion. But, Chevy has something Ford doesn’t in the small car market – a fresh outlook on what a hatchback should look like.
Small cars like the Sonic and Fiesta won’t win any drag races, but they bring a whole new level of fun to the road. Instead of rumbling horsepower that make the windows on a house shatter, these cars rely on their combination of small size and spirited engines in order to provide a car that zips around tight corners with ease.
The Sonic comes with two engine options: an ECOTEC 1.8-liter 4-cylinder engine, and an ECOTEC turbo 1.4-liter engine. The ECOTEC 1.8-liter engine is the standard one for the Sonic, and it puts out 138 horsepower and 125 lb.-ft. of torque. That might not seem like much, but keep in mind what size car it’s powering. Therefore, it provides the Sonic with a fun and sporty ride, and is sure to get you from point A to B with a smile on your face.
Or, if you don’t mind sacrificing a little fuel economy, you could grab the ECOTEC turbo 1.4-liter engine. This engine gets the same horsepower, but provides more torque. Because of this, it packs more punch when compared to the standard engine option.
The Ford Fiesta has three different engine options: the 1.6-liter 16-valve Ti-VCT I-4 engine, the 1.0-liter EcoBoost I-3 engine, and the 1.6-liter 16-valve Ti-VCT Turbocharged Direct Injection EcoBoost I-4 engine. The first two engine options put out the same 120 horsepower and 112 lb.-ft. torque, and the 1.6-liter engine puts out 197 horsepower and 202 lb.-ft. of torque.
Which means the Fiesta beats out the Sonic, right? Well, that depends on how you look at it. Performance is much more than just horsepower and torque, and fuel economy is a big portion of that.
As far as fuel economy goes, the Sonic beats the Fiesta hands down. Why? Because with the Sonic, the stronger engine has better fuel economy than the base one. For the Fiesta, that 1.6-liter runs on premium fuel, which is going to cost some big bucks at the pump.
The Sonic’s 1.4-liter turbo gets 29 mpg city, 40 mpg highway, and 33 mpg combined with a manual transmission (it varies depending on trim). The Fiesta’s 1.6-liter only gets 26 mpg city, 35 mpg highway, and 29 mpg combined. This, coupled with the fact the Fiesta’s turbo engine is only available on the highest trim, is why the Sonic is the more fuel-friendly vehicle.
Would the Fiesta win in a race? Most likely, simply because the turbo engine from Ford gets more horsepower and torque. But, the Sonic is going to win at the pump every time.
The starting MSRP of the 2016 Chevy Sonic is $14,345, and the Ford Fiesta starts at $14,090. Naturally, as the trim increases so do the goodies, which means the price climbs. The Sonic’s top-tier trim is $21,495, and the Fiesta’s is $20,970.
While the Fiesta is cheaper, albeit only a little, the Sonic’s price is saved by one simple fact: the price of fuel. The premium fuel the Fiesta’s performance engine requires is an added expense that can’t be taken lightly. Paying that little extra for the top-trim Sonic will save you a lot of money in the long run when it comes to fuel.
Even if you don’t want a performance-oriented small car hatchback/sedan, the Sonic is still a more appealing option. The design is unique in the hatchback world, and it’s refreshing to see a stout looking one floating around on the market. Plus on the lower level trims, the Sonic’s standard engine beats the other two engines offered by the Fiesta. Therefore, if you want to get more value for your dollar (and save money on fuel if you opt to get a higher trim level), then the Sonic is your go-to small car.