Subcompact car; Built in South Korea
  • 4-door hatchback
  • 4-door hatchback
  • transverse front-engine/front-wheel drive
Good condition price range: $5,700 – $13,800*

Chevrolet Spark
2014 Chevrolet Spark

Chevrolet Spark
2014 Chevrolet Spark EV

Chevrolet Spark
2014 Chevrolet Spark EV

Chevrolet Spark
2014 Chevrolet Spark

Pros:
  • Maneuverability
  • Front passenger room
Cons:
  • Cargo room: Front seats must be well forward to allow rear seats to fold flat
  • Noise

The likable Spark is something more than the sum of its unexceptional parts. For city dwellers who rarely venture onto the highway, Spark’s satisfying low-speed throttle response, tidy turning circle, and tiny-parking-spot friendly dimensions should appeal. Highway manners aren’t bad, but engine and traffic noise could make long trips tiring. Compared to other mini cars like the Scion iQ and Smart ForTwo, Spark really shines. But we reckon most shoppers will probably be happier in the long run with a larger (albeit pricier) subcompact such as Chevy’s own Sonic.

Overview

Spark was Chevrolet’s entry into the niche “sub-subcompact” market, which is comprised of the Smart ForTwo, Scion iQ, and, to a lesser extent, the Fiat 500. This Chevrolet was a 4-passenger 4-door hatchback that slotted below the brand’s Sonic in size and price. It came to the US from GM’s South Korean manufacturing plant.

Though Spark has been on sale for a while in other markets worldwide, model-year 2013 marked its debut for North American audiences.

Spark followed Chevrolet convention in that it came in base LS and uplevel LT trims. It broke from its brethren by not offering a top-line LTZ version.

Standard equipment was a bit odd. Air conditioning, power windows, and General Motors’ OnStar assistance were included across the board, but power locks and remote keyless entry were only included on the LTs.

All Spark models were front-wheel drive and used an 84-horsepower 1.2-liter 4-cylinder engine. Transmission choices included a 5-speed manual or 4-speed automatic.

The Chevrolet Spark included a standard complement of expected and federally mandated safety features. In addition, rear-side airbags, front knee airbags, and OnStar assistance were standard on all models.

A Spark EV electric car was added for 2014.

Yearly Updates

2014 Spark
In 2014, Chevrolet added an electric version of the Spark. The gasoline Spark traded its 4-speed automatic transmission for a continuously-variable transmission (CVT). Also, automatic headlights became standard on all models.
2015 Spark
For 2015, the Chevrolet Spark got 4G LTE Internet connectivity with a built-in Wi-Fi hotspot for the OnStar communication system. Spark was redesigned for 2016.

Engines

transverse front-engine/front-wheel drive

All Spark models were front-wheel drive and used an 84-horsepower 1.2-liter 4-cylinder engine. Transmission choices for 2013, included a 5-speed manual or 4-speed automatic. In 2014, the 4-speed automatic was replaced by a continuously-variable transmission (CVT). Also in 2014, the conventional Spark was joined by an electric powered Spark.

electric1
Engine Size (liters/cubic inches)
Engine HP 140
Engine Torque (lb-ft) 327
Avail. Trans. EPA MPG (city/hwy) MPG avg. as tested
single-speed 128/109
dohc I4
Engine Size (liters/cubic inches) 1.2/76
Engine HP 84
Engine Torque (lb-ft) 83
Avail. Trans. EPA MPG (city/hwy) MPG avg. as tested
5-speed manual
4-speed automatic
CVT automatic
32/38
28/37
30/39
34

1. MPG is MPGe.

Road Test

With automatic transmission, Spark has surprising pep from a stop and sufficient reserve power for negotiating urban traffic. Highway merging and passing muscle are limited, but the transmission downshifts quickly to make the most of the engine’s available power. Spark’s manual transmission has smooth shift action and a light clutch; first and second gears are located a bit closer to the driver’s right leg than expected, resulting in occasional hand/leg contact while shifting.

In Consumer Guide testing, a 2LT automatic averaged 33.5 mpg with slightly more highway than city driving. No opportunity to measure with the manual transmission. Spark uses regular-grade gasoline.

Ride quality is a strong point, given the car’s size. Spark does a decent job handling modest road imperfections, and despite a short wheelbase, resists choppiness as speeds increase resulting in a surprisingly stable and relaxed highway ride. Deep potholes and bigger bumps can register with a surprising jolt that is inconsistent with Spark’s otherwise noteworthy composure.

Its size, light steering, and tight turning circle work well towards making short work of cutting through city traffic. Though Spark has no sporting intentions, it is agile and balanced enough to confidently handle twisty two-lane roads. Highway travel can be disconcerting at times because, like many small cars, Spark is susceptible to crosswind wander.

Road noise and wind rush aren’t too bad around town, but the engine responds to full-throttle requests with an unrefined roar. It quiets down somewhat at a cruise, though. Additionally, traffic noise at highway speeds is prevalent.

For the most part gauges and controls are clearly marked, easy to find, and simple to use. A pod mounted atop the steering column includes the speedometer and tachometer. Some testers found the layout to be odd initially, but quickly grew accustomed to it. Simple knobs control the climate functions. The “MyLink” radio that’s standard in LT models uses touch-sensitive pads and virtual buttons on the touchscreen to govern its functions. The touch-sensitive pads require a deliberate “push” to activate, and even then they don’t always register on the first try. Note that Chevrolet does not include a CD player on any Spark models. Chevrolet is to be applauded for the incorporation of an app-driven “BringGo” navigation system. It requires an owner to purchase an app and download it onto their smartphone. Once the phone is linked to the car’s MyLink radio, the map and navigation information is then displayed on, and controlled by, the car’s touchscreen. In our testing, the system worked nearly as well as built-in units but at a fraction of the price. The BringGo app will likely sell for just $50.

Spark’s cabin is tastefully appointed and nicely assembled. While modest materials and hard plastics are employed throughout, nothing looks cheap or feels flimsy. Brightly painted metallic trim is unexpected, but it really livens up the interior. LS and 1LT models have attractive cloth upholstery, while 2LTs get nice looking vinyl and front seat heaters. The cargo area, however, is less impressive. Especially disappointing is the flimsy cargo cover and low-grade carpet liner.

Generous front headroom and decent side-to-side space make for a pleasant driving environment. Really tall folks may find that they don’t have quite enough legroom, though. Large door openings mean easy entry/exit. Opinions are mixed on visibility; some think it is good in all directions, while others bemoan the thick roof pillars.

Rear comfort is a little disappointing given Spark’s upright seating and overall space-efficient packaging. Adults will not fit easily behind taller drivers, though pre-teens should have no problems. The rear doors aren’t as wide as the fronts are, but entry and exit remain reasonably easy.

There’s room for a week’s worth of groceries behind the rear seat, but not a lot more. Folding the seat backs is a multi-step process. It requires removing the headrests and moving the front seats well forward of their rearmost position, that’s if you want the seat back to fold flat. However, if the front seats are set too far to the rear, the back of the rear seat rests at an angle that ramps up about 45 degrees from the floor. In-cabin storage is quite good. There’s a decently large glove box, open trays on either side of the dash, nice front door pockets with bottle holders, and a bin and two cupholders in front of the shifter. There’s also a single cupholder at the back of the console for rear-seat passengers. Some of these storage places are integrated into the interior’s brightly painted trim areas which makes it easy to see what’s in them.

Ratings

Model Tested: 2013 Spark 1LT automatic

Ratings values are on a 1-10 scale, with 10 being the best. With the exception of Value, these numbers reflect how the vehicle compares against the universe of vehicles, not just against rivals in its class.

Performance

Acceleration - 3
30%
Fuel Economy - 9
90%
Ride Quality - 4
40%
Steering/Handling - 5
50%
Quietness - 4
40%

Accommodations

Controls/Materials - 6
60%
Room/Comfort Front - 6
60%
Room/Comfort Rear - 3
30%
Cargo Room - 6
60%

Other

Value - 5
50%

Total: 51

Specifications

4-door hatchback
Wheelbase (in.) Length (in.) Width (in.) Height (in.) Weight (lbs)
93.5 144.7 62.9 61.0 2269
Cargo Volume (cu/ft) Payload Capacity (cu/ft) Fuel Capacity (gal.) Seating Capacity
31.2 9.3 4.0
Headroom Legroom
Front Rear Front Rear
39.4 37.3 42.0 35.2
4-door hatchback
Wheelbase (in.) Length (in.) Width (in.) Height (in.) Weight (lbs)
93.5 146.5 64.0 62.6 2967
Cargo Volume (cu/ft) Payload Capacity (cu/ft) Fuel Capacity (gal.) Seating Capacity
23.4 4.0
Headroom Legroom
Front Rear Front Rear
39.4 37.3 42.0 35.2
Safety Ratings

Model Tested: 2014 Spark 4-door hatchback

NHTSA

(5 is the highest rating)

Front Impact Test

Driver Injury - 4
80%
Front Passenger Injury - 5
100%

Side Impact Test

Driver Injury - 5
100%
Rear Passenger Injury - 5
100%

HLDI

(A score of 100 is average. Lower is better)

Collision N/A
Injury N/A
Theft N/A

Trouble Spots

Oil consumption
Description: Premature wear of PCV valve can cause excessive oil consumption and foul spark plugs. (2013-14)
Windows
Description: Power windows may be misaligned and move slowly or not at all. (2013-14)
Brake lights
Description: Brake lights may remain on after vehicle has been turned off and drain the battery. (2014)

Recall History

2013 Spark
Description: An improper weld on passenger-side front airbag may prevent the airbag from deploying.
2013-15 Spark
Description: The secondary hood latch may prematurely corrode at the latch pivot. If the primary latch were not engaged, the secondary latch might not prevent the hood from unexpectedly opening.
2013-15 Spark
Description: Faulty software may cause radio to cease functioning. Because of this, there would be no warning chimes to buckle seat belt or remove key from ignition when exiting vehicle.
2014 Spark
Description: The lower control arm bolts in the front suspension might not be tightened to specification. The lower control arm could separate from the steering knuckle, causing a loss of steering.

Equipment Lists

Equipment lists are only viewable on larger screen sizes.

Pricing

Used-car pricing varies widely depending on local market conditions. Therefore, we recommend visiting websites that list used cars for sale to get a better idea of what a specific model is selling for in your area.