New & Used Chevrolet Spark: In Depth
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The Chevrolet Spark is the smallest car currently sold by General Motors in the U.S. This city-friendly hatchback is more than a foot shorter than the next-smallest Chevy—the Sonic—making it a rival for vehicles like the Fiat 500, the Mitsubishi Mirage, and the truly tiny Smart ForTwo and Scion iQ.
The Spark is powered by an 84-horsepower, 1.2-liter four-cylinder engine, with a five-speed manual gearbox standard and a continuously variable transmission (CVT) as an option. Chevy also offers an electric version of the Spark (get it?) in limited markets.
As the only five-door in its size category, the Spark wins the practicality war against cars like the Fiat 500 and MINI three-door hardtop. (The slightly larger Mitsubishi Mirage five-door is a competitor as well, but sits somewhere between the minicar and subcompact classes.) It's much easier to get people and things in and out of the back seat with the Spark's extra doors, even if the interior is just about as tight as in those rival models. Four adults can fit inside, but they'll likely want to keep the journeys short since their elbows will be touching. The Spark is also taller than its main competitors, giving both driver and passenger a better view out, which aids visibility when ensconced in a sea of SUVs.
Chevy made one important change after the Spark's first year on the market. In 2013 only, a four-speed automatic was available for an extra $925; that transmission was slow-reacting and didn't do the small car many favors. From 2014 on, however, the two-pedal option has been a continuously variable transmission, which is a better match for the car. The standard five-speed manual makes for the most fun in a Spark, however, and also requires no added investment.
Chevy offers the gas-powered Spark in three trim levels, starting at about $13,000. The base LS model comes standard with air conditioning, power windows, a rear wiper, a trip computer, 15-inch alloy wheels, a flip-forward 60/40 split folding rear seat, and OnStar built in.
The dashboard is simple, with a large speedometer flanked by a digital gauge with extra information. All Sparks come standard with a version of the Chevrolet MyLink connectivity system, offering apps for Pandora internet radio and Stitcher Smart Radio.
The mid-level 1LT model includes power locks, power mirrors, cruise control, an audio system with a 7-inch color touch screen, steering-wheel audio controls, Bluetooth pairing, and satellite radio. The top-of-the-line 2LT trim level adds different alloy wheels, trim upgrades, and even heated seats. Chevrolet also added the GogoLink embedded navigation and real-time traffic application later in the Spark's first model year.
The Spark is one of the smallest cars on sale with four doors, which helps distinguish it from other extra-compacts like the Scion iQ and Smart ForTwo. It's a minimalist's car with modern amenities, and a happy little car to boot. It also comes in an interesting palette of colors, including several pastels—sky blue, lime green, pink, yellow—for those who want to really stand out from the big-car crowd.
The 2014 Chevy Spark EV is what our sister site Green Car Reports calls a "compliance car"--an electric car built to satisfy coming California clear-air regulations that require automakers to sell battery-powered electric cars in order to continue doing business in the state. That means that while you may see a disproportionate volume of media and advertising on the all-electric Spark, you shouldn't pay it a great deal of attention. It's by far the most powerful Spark, and its lack of a transmission delivers the electric power in one single rush of acceleration, but volumes are very low--only about 100 cars a month.