By Matt Degen
KBB Expert Rating: 7.8
The 2016 Spark is Chevrolet's smallest, least expensive vehicle. All-new for 2016 and now in its second generation, this tiny 4-passenger hatchback has more mature looks than its predecessor, fuel economy that reaches 41 mpg, and improved drivability thanks to a more powerful engine. While the latest Spark trades some interior space for sleeker design, Chevy's minicar is now better equipped with technology such as a 7-inch touch screen, built-in Wi-Fi, rearview camera, and CarPlay and Android Auto compatibility. Distraction-preventing safety options include lane-departure warning and forward-collision alert. Like the Fiat 500, Smart Fortwo and Mitsubishi Mirage, the Spark's diminutive size is best suited for shorter commutes, though the Chevy feels the most substantial of the group. The limited-availability, all-electric Spark EV carries over unchanged.
Chevy’s 2016 Spark minicar appeals with its sub-$14,000 price, high fuel economy and commendable tech features. The new, more mature design is sleeker and less cartoonish than the previous model. The Spark EV offers low-cost, all-electric driving with an 82-mile range.
KBB Expert Ratings
Entering its second generation for 2016, the Spark comes with revamped exterior design, more interior amenities and fresh convenience and safety features. The engine gains size and power while returning better fuel economy. The 2016 Spark EV carries over but is now available in Maryland along with California and Oregon.
The 2016 Chevy Spark feels like a different car compared with the former model, for all the right reasons. It's zippier, handles better and feels more planted. These improvements are...
... directly related to the Spark's longer wheelbase, more powerful engine and lower, more dynamic profile. With only 98 horsepower, Chevy's smallest car still takes time to get up to speed, but we prefer the Spark's 4-cylinder engine and CVT automatic transmission to rivals such as the 3-cylinder Mitsubishi Mirage. And while we don't recommend the Spark for long-haul commutes, our freeway jaunts didn't leave us scarred. The Spark's real benefits come thanks to its tight turning radius and tidy size that allow it to maneuver into spots that larger cars would have to pass. The Spark EV offers swift acceleration (0 to 60 mph in just over seven seconds) thanks to its 140 horsepower/327 lb-ft of torque via its electric powertrain.
No doubt many of the Spark's buyers will be younger drivers on a budget. But those drivers are tech-savvy, and so is this small Chevy. It comes with a large touch screen to control audio and smartphone functionality like Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, plus 4G LTE wireless connectivity with Wi-Fi hotspot.
ACTIVE SAFETY FEATURES
Distracted driving is a major issue today, so we welcome active safety features like alerts when a vehicle drifts lanes or will potentially collide with another vehicle. Both lane-departure warning and forward-collision alert are part of the Driver Confidence Package available on top-line models. For $195, we couldn't recommend it more.
The 2016 Spark's layout remains the same with seating for four and a small space for groceries and gear behind the two rear seats. Those seats can be folded to expand cargo capacity from roughly 11 cubic feet to over 27. That's more than enough to hold a few suitcases, but not quite as much as the outgoing model. Blame the lower roofline and shorter length. Rear-seat legroom has also shrunk, but other aspects, like hip and shoulder room, have grown. All Spark models are improved with a 7-inch touch screen in the center stack, with better organized climate-control dials.
The outgoing Spark was a nice attempt by Chevy to get into the minicar game, but it didn't do itself many favors in the style department with its tall profile and exaggerated headlights. The new Spark has been tamped down and matured. While still diminutive -- at around 143 inches in length it's actually shorter than the 2015 model -- Chevy's little hatchback appears more proportional thanks to a lower roof and longer wheelbase. It features a larger grille and handsome headlight housings. Integrated handles high in the rear doors give the Spark a svelte, coupe-like profile. The 2016 EV remains unchanged.
The least expensive Chevy Spark, an LS with manual transmission, comes with air conditioning, a 7-inch capacitive touch screen, and a 3-month trial of GM's OnStar system with 4G LTE connectively with Wi-Fi hotspot. Audio entertainment is provided by a 4-speaker AM/FM system with USB input and Bluetooth streaming. You will have to crank your own windows on this base model, though. Safety features include 10 airbags, rearview camera and 6-month trial of OnStar Guidance with automatic crash response and roadside assistance. The Spark EV comes with improved audio system, power windows, three years of OnStar Guidance and remote vehicle starter.
If you can swing the higher price, we recommend stepping up to at least the mid-grade Spark LT, which adds power windows, keyless entry, cruise control, steering-wheel-mounted audio buttons, theft-deterrent system and SiriusXM satellite radio. Top-line 2LT models have a leather-wrapped steering wheel, chrome exterior trim and rear-park assist. A power sunroof is offered on mid and top trims, while the top trim offers the Driver Confidence Package. An automatic transmission is available on all versions of the Spark except the EV, where it's standard. On the Spark EV side, the 2LT model includes Leatherette seating and leather-wrapped steering wheel.
The 2016 Spark’s new, larger 4-cylinder engine is good for just under 100 horsepower. That isn't much, but neither is the Spark's weight at less than 2,300 pounds. The standard transmission is a 5-speed manual. Most buyers will want an automatic, and for that the new Chevy Spark uses a continuously variable transmission (CVT). Both return good fuel economy that reaches 41 mpg on the highway. The Spark EV electric vehicle has an 82-mile range. Recharge times range from 20 hours on a standard 120-volt line to under seven for a 240-volt line. Most optimal is the SAE Combo DC Fast Charge, which juices the Spark EV's battery to 80 percent in 20 minutes.
98 horsepower @ 6,200 rpm
94 lb-ft of torque @ 4,400 rpm
EPA city/highway fuel economy: 30/41 mpg (manual), 31/41 mpg (automatic)
Electric motor (Spark EV)
19 kWh lithium-ion battery pack
327 lb-ft of torque
Projected range per charge: 82 miles
Part of the Spark's appeal is its Manufacturer’s Suggested Retail Price (MSRP) just over $13,500. Most buyers will spend more, though. A mid-trim, automatic-transmission Spark 1LT starts at $16,660. A fully loaded Spark 2LT still notches under $20,000. The Spark EV, available in California, Oregon and now Maryland, starts just under $26,000, a couple thousand less than last year. After incentives, the Spark EV can be had for less than $20,000. The standard Spark costs less than the Fiat 500 and Smart Fortwo microcar, and is close to that of the Mitsubishi Mirage. The least expensive new car remains the Nissan Versa Sedan at under $13,000. Before buying, check the KBB.com Fair Purchase Price to make sure you're getting the best deal in your area. The Spark's resale value isn't predicted to be strong, lagging behind the albeit larger and pricier Honda Fit and Toyota Yaris.