By Joe Tralongo, Contributing Editor
KBB Expert Rating: 7.7
Fresh from its remake last year, the 2017 Chevrolet Spark minicar continues to compete well with the likes of the Mitsubishi Mirage, Fiat 500 and Smart Fortwo. Although the electric version is dropped this year, the Spark’s 41 mpg and peppy 1.4-liter engine make it the perfect miserly commuter car. From a technology standpoint, the affordable Spark minicar for 2017 offers a 7-inch touch-screen audio system with built-in Wi-Fi, a rearview camera and both Android Auto and Apple CarPlay compatibility. The Chevy Spark is also up to date on the latest safety equipment, with options including forward-collision alert (but not prevention) and lane-departure warning. Though no long distance cruiser, the Spark is ideal for quick around-town runs and the occasional 2-person road trip.
If you’re looking to spend less than $14,000 and don’t mind the tiny dimensions and lack of power afforded by a minicar, Chevy’s 2017 Spark should definitely be on your shopping list. Younger buyers will appreciate the high tech, while mom and dad will like the Spark’s safety features.
KBB Expert Ratings
Fresh from a complete overhaul last year, Chevy’s 2017 Spark minicar carries over with a few new colors and the deletion of the Solar Red package. The Spark EV is dropped from production.
With only 98 horsepower on tap, the 2017 Chevrolet Spark minicar isn’t quick, but it’s fairly peppy especially when compared to other sub-100-horsepower cars such as the 3-cylinder Mitsubishi Mirage....
... The Spark’s relatively long wheelbase contributes to its stability and smooth ride, as well as nimble handling. When equipped with the CVT automatic, acceleration is modest at best. If you’re looking for the best performance, the manual transmission may be the way to go. Speaking of going, you’ll likely want to limit long trips in the Spark to a minimum. While our occasional freeway jaunts didn’t leave us shaking in terror, this minicar can get pushed around by wind gusts and obnoxious 18-wheelers. In the city, however, the Spark excels with its tight turning radius and very parking-space-friendly size.
Chevy wisely knows that the bulk of Spark buyers will be younger drivers, so they’ve equipped their little minicar with some big features. From the 7-inch touch screen to the Wi-Fi hotspot to its ability to accommodate both Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, the 2017 Spark’s got it going on.
ACTIVE SAFETY FEATURES
With so many people easily distracted by cell phones and other devices, it’s nice to know the 2017 Chevy Spark can warn when the car is drifting from its lane or about to experience a front-end collision.
The 2017 Chevy Spark's layout consists of 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 1st-generation Spark. 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 include a 7-inch color touch screen in the center stack and logically arranged climate-control dials.
The original 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. For 2017 the Spark displays a more refined profile. 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 least expensive Chevy Spark for 2017, 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.
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.
Chevrolet’s 2017 Spark minicar is powered by a 1.4-liter, 4-cylinder engine 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.
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)
Part of the 2017 Chevrolet Spark's appeal is its Manufacturer’s Suggested Retail Price (MSRP) of $13,875, including destination. Most buyers will spend more, though. A mid-trim, automatic-transmission Spark 1LT starts at $16,800. A fully loaded Spark 2LT still notches under $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.