By Joe Santos
Cars seem to be downsizing in the name of price, fuel efficiency, and perhaps, novelty. But while cars like the Scion iQ and the Smart Fortwo may be undersized afterthoughts for many car shoppers in the market for a small car, a real 5-seater like the 2013 Chevrolet Spark could be on the radars of anyone looking for an inexpensive sub-compact that can comfortably fit more than 2 people. The Spark's tiny 1.2-liter engine, eye-catching aesthetics and low price make it a gem in the new-car market, but what also makes this micro-cruiser stand out is that it's available with high-tech features that ride along with the ever-growing wave of technology.
In addition to stylish looks, the all-new Chevy Spark has a very attractive starting price and a surprising amount of storage capacity. City-dwellers will like the Spark's ability to fit into the smallest of parking spaces.
Tiny cars can get jittery at higher speeds. If your commute involves a significant amount of freeway driving, you might want to step up to a slightly larger vehicle like the Ford Fiesta, Kia Rio 5-door or Chevy Sonic, which are all more high-speed stable than the Spark.
The 2013 Chevy Spark is the latest entry into the A-segment market of micro-compacts. Although it's new to the U.S. market, Chevy has actually been building the Spark in South Korea for the Asian and European markets over the past few years. America's rising gas prices have made this model more relevant. That being said, the Spark's miniscule size, edgy styling and smart packaging are what really make it stand out.
Driving Impressions On the road, the Spark drives like a glorified motorcycle: It's quick and nimble, but also loud and buzzy. The 1.2-liter engine adequately moves the sub-2,300-pound car through and around...traffic and although 83 horsepower doesn't seem like a lot, it's enough to adequately power the car up steep hills. As far as handling, the micro-car is tossable, but body roll is present thanks to the headroom-creating high roofline. We also detected a lot of wind and road noise in the cabin, but still found it easy to carry on conversations with other passengers. The Spark has a very short wheelbase, so don't expect comfortable highway cruising. If the bulk of your commute is done on busy inner-city streets where tight parking spaces and traffic merges are prevalent, however, then the Spark's diminutive size will outweigh its jumpy ride.
We like the Chevy MyLink with its 7-inch touch screen, Sirius satellite radio, Bluetooth streaming audio and telephone with voice recognition. But what we like even more is that the system doesn't have a CD player but instead seamlessly connects to the owner's smartphone for personalized integration.
MOTORCYCLE-INSPIRED INSTRUMENT PANEL
Complementing the Spark's futuristic design is the motorcycle-inspired instrument panel that displays a digital tachometer and trip odometer as well as a large, blue-illuminated analog speedometer.
The Spark's interior is small, but it's roomier than you might think. It has enough room for four adults and the rear seat is easier to get into than those in the Fiat 500 and Scion iQ. In addition to a surprising amount of space, the Spark's interior is as modern as the outside thanks to the body-colored trim pieces and motorcycle-inspired instrument panel. There are plenty of plastics and cloth surfaces in the base Spark, but things get more interesting when stepping up a trim level and opting for the available 7-inch touch screen in the center console area and leatherette upholstery. There's not much cargo room with the rear seats up (11.4 cubic feet), but with the seats folded, the Spark offers 31.2 cubic feet of volume – much more than its rivals.Exterior
The 2013 Chevrolet Spark has a lot in common with its Chevy Sonic stablemate. In fact, it's almost hard to tell the difference between the two, until closer inspection. Aside from the similar hatchback shape, the Spark delineates itself from its sibling with its sharply angled headlights and taillights and even smaller size. For the Spark, opting for higher trim levels includes a few exterior enhancements, including chrome trim pieces, body-color front and rear bodywork, fog lights, and unique 15-inch aluminum-alloy wheels.
Considering the economy-minded class it competes in, even the base 2013 Chevrolet Spark comes with a host of convenience features. Some of the most notable include air conditioning, power windows, 15-inch alloy wheels, an AM/FM stereo system with 4 speakers, OnStar, and a 60/40 split/folding rear seat. And since an extremely small car calls for extreme small-car safety features, the Spark has 10 airbags (including a driver-side knee airbag), hill start assist and Stabilitrak stability control with brake assist to keep help you panic-stop quicker.
Some of the most notable options for the 2013 Chevy Spark include a 7-inch color touch-screen radio with Chevrolet MyLink, leather seating, Bluetooth connectivity for select smartphones, a 6-speaker audio system, cruise control, and steering-wheel audio controls. These features are available when the higher trim levels are selected.
The 2013 Chevrolet Spark is powered by a 1.2-liter 4-cylinder engine good for 84 horsepower and 83 lb-ft of torque. While one might harbor low expectations for such a low-power engine, we found that it propelled the minicar with ease and was much quieter and smoother than we initially expected. Power is sent to the Spark's front wheels via a standard 5-speed manual transmission, but a 4-speed automatic is also available.
84 horsepower @ 6,400 rpm
83 lb-ft of torque @ 4,200 rpm
EPA city/highway fuel economy: 32/38 mpg (manual), 28/37 mpg (automatic)
The 2013 Chevrolet Spark holds a base Manufacturer's Suggested Retail Price (MSRP) price of around $12,200, while opting for the highest trim 2LT version costs around $16,700. Adding an automatic transmission to any trim level tacks on an additional $925. For comparison, the Spark's price tag is about $3,000 less than both the Scion iQ and a base Fiat 500 and on par with that of a Smart Fortwo. And as far as residual values, we expect that the Chevy Spark will retain its value better than all other tiny cars in its class, except for the Scion iQ.
By Lfmwaffles on Thursday, February 13, 2014
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 3,600overall rating 9 of 10rating details
Pros: "Gas milage, can park anywhere."
Cons: "Really struggles with hills."
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 10
"Bought this car about six months ago as my daily commuter for work. I have been very impressed with how much this has saved me in gas every week. I sit in traffic going home, and have to go uphill (which it struggles with) going to work, and I still average 36.5 to 39.2 MPG every tank. It's very comfortable for my 6'4" frame to fit in, I have the seat as high as it can go and I still have plenty of headroom. As to be expected, its not great with acceleration or going up hills. However, if you are looking for a car that will get incredible gas mileage and can park almost anywhere, I would highly recommend this car."
4 people out of 4 found this review helpful
By arc360 on Wednesday, January 22, 2014
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 8,800overall rating 10 of 10rating details
Pros: "Price, fun to drive, fuel economy, easy to park"
Cons: "no CD, no USB"
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 10
"I bought this car on March 2013. I drove 45 miles round trip daily from home to work in I-35 highway. The manual transmission gives you more power than automatic. I enjoy it very much. Easy to park, no blind spot, very fuel economy because my full tank of gas will give me 10 days (depends on the way you drive). If you asked my how I get 10 days before I refuel, the answer is drive smart and you can put it in Neutral gear and switch back to 5th or 4th or any gear you want as long you know what gear would it be and just enjoy the ride. I used the vehicle mainly for work every weekdays and the cost of full tank is around $20 to $25 the 89 grade fuel. The wind is not a problem at all in the highway even when big Truck is passing by, as in no problem at all (there is a trick when driving and following a truck and save more fuel, it's an aerodynamics). Snow, no problem because I never stock during the snow day, all you need is just shake your steering wheel to get a grip on your wheel and just put it on gear 1. Safety, lot's of AirBag and just be alert because even if you drive very safe, some drivers don't. Just recently while watching the news, only Chevrolet Spark is acceptable in IIHS compare Fiat 500, Ford Fiesta, Honda Fit, Nissan Versa, Toyota Prius C and Toyota Yaris. Wow, I couldn't believed it. I never expect the best purchased I've done. The price is way cheaper than any small car competitor. If you're looking for an enjoyable ride and fun, try Spark and it gives you more bang for your buck. The only thing that I don't like is No CD and No USB because I didn't bought the top model. I bought the Manual and Base but you there is an Audio slot where you can connect an Stereo Audio Cable from your phone."
6 people out of 7 found this review helpful
By BMB0825 on Tuesday, January 21, 2014
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 11,000overall rating 8 of 10rating details
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 10
"I have a 2013 Spark 1LT. She's an automatic, and she's lemonade yellow. I absolutely love her! It doesn't have a lot of power, but I mainly do city driving so it doesn't really matter. I've had it about a year now and I have around 11,000 miles. I keep it in the garage a lot and drive my daily car. I am determined to keep my Spark looking nice a new. Honestly my only complaint is the stereo. It doesn't really get that loud. And doesn't have much power, it really needs to have a better stereo. I get so many compliments on the my car. People asking what is that or wow that's a sweet little ride."
2 people out of 2 found this review helpful
By MNMAN on Sunday, January 19, 2014
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 12,000overall rating 9 of 10rating details
Pros: "Good gas mileage, convient, lots of storage."
Cons: "Long distance bad, shakes over 65 mph"
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 6
"While I have ben driving this car for almost a year, I now wish I had chosen a better vehicle. It's great in warm weather, flat surfaces, low speeds, and no wind. But I live in rural MN where weather is a significant daily life. Winters are harsh, winds are strong, and the Spark has much to be desired in adverse conditions."
3 people out of 3 found this review helpful
By Sushiboy on Monday, January 06, 2014
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 4,000overall rating 9 of 10rating details
Pros: "Good Gas Mileage, Cup Holders Plus Bottle Holders"
Cons: "Needs A Little More Pick-up"
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 9
"For The Price I Was Surprised By The Way It Handled. Yes, The Pick-up Is A Little Slow But It Isn't A Sports Car. I Traded My Lexus SUV, $65.00 Week Fuel Bill For $21.00 Every 10 Days. I Find It Hold's It Own On The Freeways. 4 Adults Fit Nicely In It Without Feeling Like A Can Of Sardines. The Interior Doesn't Look Like A Cheap Car. I Like Driving It Daily. If You Have A Teen I Would Highly Recommend It."
By Economic on Thursday, January 02, 2014
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 400overall rating 10 of 10rating details
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 10
"This has been one of the best vehicles I have ever owned. The mileage is seemingly more than what has was advertised. We got about 320 miles to a tank and only fill up for $21. The best mileage in a car that I have seen thus far, and it pays for itself (in a monthly payment) in about 3 months in gas savings alone in comparison to other cars. The car hugs the road with ease, and as a newer driver this vehicle is super easy to pick up. I was very impressed with the driving performance overall. I have seen some complaints about "slow" acceleration, but the perceived latency is pretty lost on me. The blind spots are super minimal unlike other cars I have driven like the Kia Rio and Forte. I very much enjoy the free 6 months of Onstar that were offered as well. It is such a luxury, and I am contemplating keeping the program. For the price it just cannot be beaten. This has been a splendid car so far! I would recommend this vehicle to anyone that drives in the city and on highways."
1 person out of 1 found this review helpful