2014 CHEVROLET SPARK IGNITES WITH DESIGN AND MILEAGE
By Tom Crosby
Small cars with great mileage are in vogue right now with those who seek savings at the pump, don’t mind some space limitations in the rear seats and want to have enough profile panache to ignite second glances from passersby.
The 2014 Chevrolet Spark, the first mini-car made by General Motors, is perfect for navigating crowded urban streets, squeezing into tight parking spaces and has been successful with more than a quarter of million global sales since 2012.
Aside from its wallet-loving price, it is also surprisingly roomy – four adults can fit although rear seating isn’t for long trips – and shows nice pluck on the highway, handling well at 70 mph on the Interstates.
However, it isn’t quick with only 84-horsepower and double-digit seconds needed to reach highway speeds.
The quest for power comes with corresponding engine whine and wind noise that can overcome radio volume settings.
However, the front wheel drive Spark can hold its own on slick roads at slow speeds. The ride befits a smaller car with attention needed for road imperfections.
There are four models LS, 1LT, 2LT (manual or continuous variable automatic transmission) and EV (electric vehicle currently sold only in California and Oregon).
We test-drove the 2LT with eye-catching lime-green skin (funky colors also include Grape Ice and Salsa). Interior touches included lime-green flowing trim and a motorcycle-inspired speedometer.
Tech-friendly features included hands-free MyLink Smartphone integration that can be hooked up with Siri Eyes Free voice recognition for texting and communicating with contacts, available BringGo in-dash navigation app on the seven-inch dashboard screen, Bluetooth, videos and Tunein global radio.
With its low price and high-tech, the hatchback Spark is a natural first car option for twenty-somethings. Heated front seats helped stave initial interior chill and climate controls were nicely robust. Rear seat access is easy with sunken door handles next to the C pillar; rear seats fold flat, and a small cargo for groceries, etc. is behind the rear seats.
Knick-knack spaces are average. In addition to standard safety features like anti-lock brakes and stability control, there is a Hill Start Assist to allow time to take your foot off the brake on inclines and onto the accelerator.
Federal cash safety ratings rank the Spark with four out of five stars overall. In addition to 6-months free of OnStar, Spark has a five-year, 100,000-mile powertrain warranty. Spark is made in South Korea.
LIKES: Looks, mileage, tech features, price, handling
DISLIKES: Noisy, power
BOTTOM LINE: Great on mileage, design and behind-the-wheel, rear seats limiting
- Base price w/destination charge $17,210
- Vehicle curb weight 2,368 lbs.
- Wheelbase 93.5 inches
- Length 144.7 inches
- Width 62.9 inches
- Engine specs 1.2-liter, Inline 4 cylinder, DOHC, VVT
- Horsepower 84-hp at 5,750 rpm
- Torque 83-ft-lbs at 4,20000 rpm
- Transmission Continuous variable transmission
- EPA Rating 30 mpg city and 39 mpg highway
- Range 9.2-gallon tank, regular unleaded
- Performance 0 to 60 seconds in just over 10 seconds