By KBB.com Editors
The Spark is Chevrolet's U.S. entry into the minicar market, a niche that's slowly growing as more buyers look for high-mileage, low-cost vehicles that feel at home in crowded cities. Though it only debuted in 2013, Chevy has enhanced the Spark for 2014 with a new automatic transmission that increases fuel economy to 39 mpg in an effort to top rivals such as the Scion iQ, Fiat 500, and Smart Fortwo. For those never wanting to visit a gas station, there's the all-electric Spark EV initially for sale in California and Oregon. With two rear seats and slightly larger dimensions than its rivals, the Spark is easier to live with. It's at home in the city, but those who log many highway miles should look to something larger.
Numbers are appealing here, specifically a sub-$13,000 starting price and 39-mpg highway fuel-economy rating. Equally appealing are the Spark's style and a size that's big enough to hold four passengers yet tiny enough to park where other cars can't.
Tiny cars often get nervous at higher speeds. If you spend a lot of time on the highway, take a look at slightly larger but still budget-friendly and fuel-efficient cars like the Ford Fiesta, Kia Rio, or the Spark's larger sibling, the Sonic. All feel more stable on freeways.
A more efficient CVT (continuously variable automatic transmission) replaces the 4-speed in models with an automatic transmission, and all Spark minicars gain automatic headlight control. Navigation is now available through a smartphone-enabled app. The all-electric Spark EV is new for 2014 and has a range of 82 miles.
Driving Impressions Thanks to its small size and low weight, the Chevy Spark feels zippy and nimble. The Spark's 83 horsepower from its tiny 1.2-liter engine may not sound like much, but...it's enough to move this sub-2,400-pound car in and around traffic. The Spark is tossable in corners, but body roll is present. Wind and road noise are apparent in the cabin, but we didn't have to shout to carry on conversations. At higher speeds such as freeway driving, the Spark can feel jumpy. The Spark EV packs a powerful punch with a whopping 400 lb-ft of torque coming from its electric motor. That kind of oomph is enough to make the electric car zip to 60 mph in just 7.6 seconds, while its heavier curb weight and sport-tuned suspension make it feel more planted.
Chevy's MyLink telematics system boasts a 7-inch touchscreen, SiriusXM satellite radio, Bluetooth streaming audio and telephone with voice recognition. Those with iPhones can even use a specialized version of Siri voice command with it.
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 analog speedometer illuminated by a blue glow.
The Spark's cabin is small, but there is enough room for four adults. The rear seats are easier to access and offer more legroom than those of the Fiat 500 and Scion iQ (the Smart Fortwo seats just two). The 11.4-cubic feet of cargo room behind the rear seat isn't vast, but it's more than what's offered in the 500 and iQ. Fold the 60/40-split seats, and that space nearly triples. Style-wise, the Spark aims for hip with a motorcycle-like instrument panel and luminescent dials. Plastic and cloth are the materials of choice in base models, but visual and tactile pop can be gained with colorful trim kits, a 7-inch touchscreen display and faux leather seating. EV models have an additional high-resolution screen in front of the driver to show range and other pertinent info.Exterior
From a distance, you may have trouble telling the Chevy Spark apart from its Sonic hatchback sibling. Like that also-diminutive car, the Spark is has a wedge-like design and unique details such as hidden handles in the rear doors. Step closer, though, and you'll notice the Spark's taller profile, larger headlight housings, and even-smaller dimensions. We think the Sonic has the edge in aesthetics among Chevy's subcompacts, but it's also over $2,500 more. Spark EV models have a chrome 2-tier grille that is closed to reduce airflow, a rear spoiler, and aero-optimized mirrors for the greatest efficiency.
The 2014 Chevrolet Spark isn't as Spartan as some may surmise. Even a base Spark minicar comes with air conditioning, power windows, a 4-speaker AM/FM radio with auxiliary input, and 15-inch wheels. Higher trims add a 7-inch touch-screen command center, cruise control, power door locks and mirrors, and leatherette on top trims. Missing in action on all forms of Spark is a telescoping steering wheel. And sadly for those among Gen X or beyond, a CD player isn't even an option as younger drivers store music on devices, not discs. Spark EV models have a DC fast charging unit that allows an 80 percent charge in 20 minutes. Safety features include 10 airbags, traction and stability control, and OnStar emergency services.
The options list is rather short for the 2014 Spark, with major additions linked to the car's six trim levels. Add-ons available are an engine block heater and dealer-installed accessories such as fog light kit, sport grille, and colorful interior trim kits. Navigation is now available in the Spark, purchasable via the downloadable BringGo app that works with smartphones.
2014 Spark models use a 1.2-liter inline 4-cylinder engine that makes 84 horsepower and is linked to a 5-speed manual transmission or a new CVT automatic. All Spark models are front-wheel drive and can run on regular unleaded gasoline. Spark EV models use an electric motor that makes 130 horsepower and a prodigious 400 lb-ft of torque. On a full charge it has a rated range of 82 miles. Charging times range from a mere 20 minutes using a scarce (for now) DC Fast Charging unit, to 20 hours on a standard 120-volt outlet. In between is a more reasonable 7 hours on a 240-volt line.
84 horsepower @ 6,400 rpm
83 lb-ft of torque @ 4,200 rpm
EPA city/highway fuel economy: 31/39 mpg (manual), 30/39 mpg (automatic)
21kWh lithium-ion battery pack
400 lb-ft of torque
Projected range per charge: 82 miles
The 2014 Chevrolet Spark has a tantalizing Manufacturer's Suggested Retail Price (MSRP) price starting just under $13,000. That's not the very lowest price for a new car, but it's close. (The 2014 Nissan Versa sedan wears the budget crown with a starting price of $12,780.) Go for a top-line Spark with automatic transmission, and you're still looking at a number just over $17,000, which enters the territory of the larger Chevy Sonic. The Spark's starting price is a couple hundred less than that of the Smart Fortwo and about $3,000 less than the Fiat 500 and Scion iQ. A Spark EV also looks like a bargain among electric vehicles, with a starting price of $27,497 that drops to $19,995 when factoring in the $7,500 federal income tax credit. The Spark's resale value is expected to be slightly above that of the Fiat 500, but below the leader in this tiny class, 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