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The Corolla Hybrid 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 Hybrid 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 Hybrid 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.
To help make backing safer, the Corolla Hybrid’s optional cross-path warning system uses wide-angle radar in the rear bumper to alert the driver to vehicles approaching from the side, helping the driver avoid collisions. The Sonic doesn’t offer a cross-path warning system.
The Corolla Hybrid’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 Hybrid and the Sonic have standard driver and passenger frontal airbags, front side-impact airbags, driver and front passenger 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 all IIHS frontal, side, rear impact and roof-crush tests, and its standard front crash prevention system, the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety grants the Corolla Hybrid the rating of “Top Pick” for 2017, a rating granted to only 183 vehicles tested by the IIHS. The Sonic was last qualified as a “Top Pick” in 2016.
The Corolla Hybrid’s corrosion warranty is unlimited miles longer than the Sonic’s (unlimited vs. 100,000 miles).
Toyota pays for scheduled maintenance on the Corolla Hybrid 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.
The Sonic’s redline is at 6500 RPM, which causes more engine wear, and a greater chance of a catastrophic engine failure. The Corolla Hybrid has a 4000-RPM redline.
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 Hybrid’s reliability 33 points higher than the Sonic.
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.
On the EPA test cycle the Corolla Hybrid gets better fuel mileage than the Sonic (53 city/52 hwy vs. 26 city/34 hwy).
Regenerative brakes improve the Corolla Hybrid’s fuel efficiency by converting inertia back into energy instead of wasting it. The Sonic doesn’t offer a regenerative braking system.
In heavy traffic or at stoplights the Corolla Hybrid’s engine automatically turns off when the vehicle is stopped, saving fuel and reducing pollution. The engine is automatically restarted when the driver gets ready to move again. (Start/Stop isn’t accounted in present EPA fuel mileage tests.) The Sonic doesn’t offer an automatic engine start/stop system.
In its Green Vehicle Guide, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) rates the Toyota Corolla Hybrid higher (7 out of 10) than the Chevrolet Sonic (5). This means the Corolla Hybrid produces up to 8 pounds less smog-producing pollutants than the Sonic every 15,000 miles.
The Corolla Hybrid 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 Hybrid’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 Hybrid has more braking power available.
The Toyota Corolla Hybrid 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.
For superior ride and handling, the Toyota Corolla Hybrid 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 Hybrid has standard front and rear stabilizer bars, which help keep the Corolla Hybrid 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 Hybrid’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 Hybrid is .9 inches wider in the front and 1.6 inches wider in the rear than on the Sonic.
For excellent aerodynamics, the Corolla Hybrid has standard flush composite headlights. The Sonic has recessed headlights that spoil its aerodynamic shape and create extra drag.
The Corolla Hybrid has .2 inches more front legroom, 2.5 inches more front hip room, .6 inches more front shoulder room and .2 inches more rear legroom than the Sonic Sedan.
A low lift-over trunk design makes loading and unloading the Corolla Hybrid easier. The Corolla Hybrid’s trunk lift-over height is 25.5 inches, while the Sonic’s liftover is 27.25 inches.
The Corolla Hybrid’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 Hybrid’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 Hybrid’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 Hybrid 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. (Your Toyota service department must activate this window function.) 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 Hybrid detect other vehicles which could be blinded and automatically switch to low beams. The Sonic doesn’t offer automatic dimming high beams.
To shield the driver and front passenger’s vision over a larger portion of the windshield and side windows, the Corolla Hybrid has standard extendable sun visors. The Sonic doesn’t offer extendable visors.
The Corolla Hybrid’s standard outside mirrors include heating elements to clear off the mirrors for better visibility. Chevrolet only offers heated mirrors on the Sonic LT/Premier.
The Corolla Hybrid 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 Hybrid’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 Hybrid 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 Hybrid 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.
Consumer Reports® chose the Toyota Corolla Hybrid 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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