The 2013 Chevrolet Sonic RS looks to add a dash of spice to what was already the most flavorful and most youthful Chevrolet subcompact ever. 

So, what goes into making a Sonic an RS? Well, actually, there’s no additional power, but there is tighter gearing for the standard manual transmission, a lower final drive ratio if you order the automatic, and a lower and stiffer suspension. So it has the potential to be a tad quicker off the line and more nimble in the curves.    

Exterior tweaks, including an RS-specific grille, new front and rear fascias, and 17-inch alloy wheels complement the already very racy design. The Sonic’s exposed headlights still look more like a mistake than “motorcycle-like”, but on the whole, the car appears modern and aggressive.

And the interior looks even sportier; thanks to a whole new theme that includes lots of black leather with red stitching, aluminum sport pedals, and a new flat bottom steering wheel.

While there is a noticeably firmer ride in the RS, we didn’t find it a whole lot more sportier to drive, which is not a knock, but rather a complement to the enjoyable nature of the standard Sonic. But the RS certainly looks cooler and you do get rear disc brakes, which are not even available on regular Sonics. 

And while the difference in driving dynamics isn’t huge, it does invoke a spirited sense of driving that makes you want to drive harder. It’s very entertaining, as you feel like you’re really hammering the thing around even if your speeds still stay close those posted. In sum, you don’t have to be going fast to really enjoy the RS.   

Indeed, if you’re looking for blistering straight line performance, it’s not here. Despite the tighter ratios, we were unable to beat the 8.1-seconds to 60 time of the LTZ Sonic we tested a while back. Nor the quarter mile of 16.4-seconds at 89 miles-per-hour. Admittedly, our track was cold and slippery. Still, each run did make us smile.

Despite our car’s 6-speed manual’s longish throws, we found it did a great job managing the power that comes from the 1.4-liter turbo I4 engine, with all of its 138–horsepower and 148 lb-ft of torque. If you must, a 6-speed auto is available.   

As expected, the Sonic felt great through our slalom course, with a very predictable nature that allowed you to find both under and over steer if you’re so inclined. It shows just how fun a decent little car can be every day.

Government Fuel Economy Ratings take a slight hit with the new gearing, coming in at 27-City, 34-Highway, and 30-Combined. But, our test loop blew those numbers away netting 36.5 MPG on regular. 

The Energy Impact Score remains very good at 11.0-barrels of oil consumed per year with CO2 emissions of 4.9 tons. 

Pricing for the hatchback-only RS starts at $20,995. Now that’s about 16-hundred bucks over an LTZ with the turbo engine. We’re not quite sure the snazzy new looks are worth that, but then we’re not the target audience.  

The 2013 Chevrolet Sonic RS is sporty looking inside and out, gets acceptable fuel economy, and is oh so much fun to drive. And, it feels even more so. All that and a price that even most Millennials can afford. What more can you want for your daily commute?


  • Engine: 1.4-liter turbo I4
  • Horsepower: 138
  • Torque: 148 lb-ft.
  • 0-60 mph: 8.1 seconds
  • 1/4 mile: 16.4 seconds @ 89 mph
  • EPA: 27 mpg city/ 34 mpg highway
  • Energy Impact: 11.0 barrels of oil/yr
  • CO2 Emissions: 4.9 tons/yr