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The Corolla has standard Whiplash Injury Lessening Seats, which use a specially designed seat to protect the driver and front passenger from whiplash. During a rear-end collision, the Whiplash Injury Lessening Seats system allows the backrest to travel backwards to cushion the occupants and the headrests move forward to prevent neck and spine injuries. The Sonic doesn’t offer a whiplash protection system.
The Corolla has standard Pre-Collision System, which use forward mounted sensors to warn the driver of a possible collision ahead. If the driver doesn’t react and the system determines a collision is imminent, it automatically applies the brakes at full-force in order to reduce the force of the crash or avoid it altogether. The Sonic offers an available collision warning system without the automated brake feature that would prevent or reduce the collision if the driver fails to react.
The Corolla has a standard Secondary Collision Brake, which automatically applies the brakes in the event of a crash to help prevent secondary collisions and prevent further injuries. The Sonic doesn’t offer a post collision braking system: in the event of a collision that triggers the airbags, more collisions are possible without the protection of airbags that may have already deployed.
The Corolla’s driver alert monitor detects an inattentive driver then sounds a warning and suggests a break. According to the NHTSA, drivers who fall asleep cause about 100,000 crashes and 1500 deaths a year. The Sonic doesn’t offer a driver alert monitor.
Both the Corolla and the Sonic have standard driver and passenger frontal airbags, front side-impact airbags, driver knee airbags, side-impact head airbags, front seatbelt pretensioners, front wheel drive, height adjustable front shoulder belts, plastic fuel tanks, four-wheel antilock brakes, traction control, electronic stability systems to prevent skidding, daytime running lights, rearview cameras and available blind spot warning systems.
For its top level performance in IIHS driver and passenger-side small overlap frontal, moderate overlap frontal, side impact, roof strength and head restraint tests, its standard vehicle-to-vehicle front crash prevention system, its standard vehicle-to-pedestrian front crash prevention system, and its available headlight’s “Acceptable” rating, the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety grants the Corolla the rating of “Top Pick” for 2020, a rating granted to only 30 vehicles tested by the IIHS. The Sonic last would have qualified as a “Top Pick” in 2016.
The Corolla’s corrosion warranty is unlimited miles longer than the Sonic’s (unlimited vs. 100,000 miles).
Toyota pays for scheduled maintenance on the Corolla for 2 years and 25000 miles. Toyota will pay for oil changes, lubrication and any other required maintenance. Chevrolet only pays for the first scheduled maintenance visit on the Sonic.
A reliable vehicle saves its owner time, money and trouble. Nobody wants to be stranded or have to be without a vehicle while it’s being repaired. Consumer Reports rates the Corolla’s reliability 27 points higher than the Sonic.
J.D. Power and Associates rated the Corolla second among compact cars in their 2019 Initial Quality Study. The Sonic isn’t in the top three in its category.
J.D. Power and Associates’ 2019 survey of the owners of three-year-old vehicles provides the long-term dependability statistics that show that Toyota vehicles are more reliable than Chevrolet vehicles. J.D. Power ranks Toyota second in reliability, above the industry average. With 7 more problems per 100 vehicles, Chevrolet is ranked fourth.
From surveys of all its subscribers, Consumer Reports’ December 2019 Auto Issue reports that Toyota vehicles are more reliable than Chevrolet vehicles. Consumer Reports ranks Toyota third in reliability. Chevrolet is ranked 25th.
The Corolla SE/XSE’s standard 2.0 DOHC 4-cylinder produces 31 more horsepower (169 vs. 138) and 3 lbs.-ft. more torque (151 vs. 148) than the Sonic’s 1.4 turbo 4-cylinder.
As tested in Motor Trend the Corolla SE/XSE 2.0 DOHC 4-cylinder is faster than the Chevrolet Sonic:
Zero to 60 MPH
Speed in 1/4 Mile
On the EPA test cycle the Corolla SE/XSE SE CVT 2.0 4 cyl. gets better fuel mileage than the Sonic (31 city/40 hwy vs. 26 city/34 hwy).
The Corolla has a gallon more fuel capacity than the Sonic (13.2 vs. 12.2 gallons), for longer range between fill-ups.
The Corolla offers a manual transmission for better acceleration, control and fuel economy. The Sonic doesn’t offer a manual transmission.
The Corolla has a standard continuously variable transmission (CVT). With no “steps” between gears, it can keep the engine at the most efficient speed for fuel economy, or keep it at its peak horsepower indefinitely for maximum acceleration. The Sonic doesn’t offer a CVT.
The Corolla’s brakes have 127% more swept area (the area covered by the brake pads) than the Sonic (376 vs. 165.3 square inches), so the Corolla has more braking power available.
The Toyota Corolla has standard four-wheel disc brakes for better stopping power and improved directional control in poor weather. Only rear drums come on the Sonic. Drums can heat up and make stops longer, especially with antilock brakes that work much harder than conventional brakes.
The Corolla stops much shorter than the Sonic:
70 to 0 MPH
Car and Driver
60 to 0 MPH
For better traction, the Corolla SE/XSE’s tires are larger than the largest tires available on the Sonic (225/40R18 vs. 205/55R16).
The Corolla SE/XSE’s tires provide better handling because they have a lower 40 series profile (height to width ratio) that provides a stiffer sidewall than the Sonic’s optional 50 series tires.
For better ride, handling and brake cooling the Corolla SE/XSE has standard 18-inch wheels. The Sonic’s largest wheels are only 17-inches.
For superior ride and handling, the Toyota Corolla has fully independent front and rear suspensions. An independent suspension allows the wheels to follow the road at the best angle for gripping the pavement, without compromising ride comfort. The Chevrolet Sonic has a rear torsion beam axle, with a semi-independent rear suspension.
The Corolla has standard front and rear stabilizer bars, which help keep the Corolla flat and controlled during cornering. The Sonic’s suspension doesn’t offer a rear stabilizer bar.
For a smoother ride and more stable handling, the Corolla’s wheelbase is 6.9 inches longer than on the Sonic (106.3 inches vs. 99.4 inches).
For better handling and stability, the track (width between the wheels) on the Corolla is .9 inches wider in the front and 1.4 inches wider in the rear than on the Sonic.
For better maneuverability, the Corolla’s turning circle is .4 feet tighter than the Sonic LS/LT’s (34.1 feet vs. 34.5 feet). The Corolla’s turning circle is 2 feet tighter than the Sonic LTZ/RS’ (34.1 feet vs. 36.1 feet).
For excellent aerodynamics, the Corolla has standard flush composite headlights. The Sonic has recessed headlights that spoil its aerodynamic shape and create extra drag.
The Corolla has .5 inches more front legroom, 1.6 inches more front hip room, 1.4 inches more front shoulder room, .2 inches more rear legroom and 1.8 inches more rear shoulder room than the Sonic Sedan.
The Corolla’s power parking brake sets with one touch and releases with one touch or automatically. The Sonic has a lever-type parking brake that has to be strenuously raised to engage properly. It has to be lifted up more and a button depressed to release it.
The Corolla’s standard power windows allow the driver or passenger to lower and raise the windows without leaning over or being distracted. Power windows are only available on the Sonic LT/Premier.
The Corolla’s front and rear power windows all open or close with one touch of the switches, making it more convenient at drive-up windows and toll booths, or when talking with someone outside of the car. The Sonic LT/Premier’s rear power window switches have to be held the entire time to close them fully.
If the windows are left open on the Corolla the driver can close them all at the outside door handle. On a hot day the driver can lower the windows at the outside door handle or from a distance using the keyless remote. (This window function must be activated by your Toyota service department.) The driver of the Sonic can only operate the windows from inside the vehicle, with the ignition on.
While driving with high beams on, sensitive light sensors standard on the Corolla detect other vehicles which could be blinded and automatically switch to low beams. The Sonic doesn’t offer automatic dimming high beams.
To help drivers see further while navigating curves, the Corolla XLE/XSE offers optional adaptive headlights to illuminate around corners automatically by reading vehicle speed and steering wheel angle. The Sonic doesn’t offer cornering lights.
To shield the driver and front passenger’s vision over a larger portion of the windshield and side windows, the Corolla has standard extendable sun visors. The Sonic doesn’t offer extendable visors.
The Corolla LE/XLE/SE/XSE has a standard center folding armrest for the rear passengers. A center armrest helps make rear passengers more comfortable and it can provide a boundary between children. The Sonic doesn’t offer a rear seat center armrest.
The Corolla LE/XLE/SE/XSE’s standard automatic temperature control maintains the temperature you set, automatically controlling fan speed, vents and temperature to maintain a consistent, comfortable environment. The Sonic doesn’t offer automatic air conditioning.
For greater rear passenger comfort, the Corolla has standard rear heat vents to keep rear occupants more comfortable. The Sonic doesn’t offer rear vents.
To keep a safe, consistent following distance, the Corolla has a standard Dynamic Radar Cruise Control, which alters the speed of the vehicle without driver intervention. This allows the driver to use cruise control more safely without constantly having to disengage it when approaching slower traffic. The Sonic doesn’t offer an adaptive cruise control.
The Corolla XLE/XSE’s available GPS navigation system has a real-time traffic update feature that plots alternative routes to automatically bypass traffic problems. (Service not available in all areas.) The Sonic’s available navigation system doesn’t offer real-time traffic updates.
To quickly and conveniently keep personal devices charged without cables tangling and wearing out, the Toyota Corolla XLE/XSE offers an optional wireless phone charging system (Qi) in the center console. The Sonic doesn’t offer wireless personal charging.
According to The Car Book by Jack Gillis, the Corolla is less expensive to operate than the Sonic because typical repairs cost much less on the Corolla than the Sonic, including $110 less for a water pump, $286 less for a muffler, $160 less for front brake pads and $140 less for a power steering pump.
Consumer Reports® chose the Toyota Corolla as its “Top Pick,” the highest scoring vehicle in its category, based on reliability, safety and performance. The Chevrolet Sonic isn't recommended.
The Toyota Corolla outsold the Chevrolet Sonic by almost 22 to one during 2019.
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