2013 Chevrolet Spark Electric - FROM $
The diminutive 2013 Chevrolet Spark is a solid choice for first-time buyers and city dwellers thanks to all-around economy, plentiful features and a youthful spirit.
What's New for 2013
The 2013 Chevrolet Spark is an all-new model.
Delivering accessible, affordable transportation to the masses is a cornerstone of some of the most successful cars. These days, this sort of thing means a small city, and quite a number have arrived on the scene lately. General Motors has entered the game with the all-new 2013 Chevrolet Spark.
Built in South Korea, the new Chevy Spark is one of the least expensive cars on the market. It's also one of the smallest. The Spark is 14 inches shorter than the Chevrolet Sonic, the next smallest car in Chevy's lineup. And while the Spark might look peculiar with its big body and small wheels, it packs enough personality and available features to fend off any perception as an econo-pod. As a fun palette of unconventional exterior colors suggests, the Spark is cheap but cheerful.
Inside its cabin, the Spark displays a simple, clean design with enough chic sculpting and color flourishes that help you overlook the hard plastic surfaces. And while the base model is somewhat spartan, it comes standard with power windows, air-conditioning and a radio. Higher trim levels offer additional electronics and conveniences niceties, although they come at price points that are within striking distance of more desirable hatchbacks.
In price and personality, the 2013 Chevrolet Spark is one of the best subcompact choices. The base model costs far less than the Fiat 500 and Scion iQ, and the Spark's four-door body style adds a bit of extra practicality. It lacks the Fiat's style or the Scion's parking ease, however. We'd also suggest looking at more traditional hatchbacks, since the Ford Fiesta and Kia Rio are more substantial and appealing to drive. But the 2013 Chevrolet Spark is tops at the bottom line and refined enough to make you proud of your new ride.
Body Styles, Trim Levels, and Options
The 2013 Chevrolet Spark is a small, four-door hatchback offered in LS, 1LT and 2LT trims. Features from the upper trims are not available as options on supporting models.
Standard LS features include 15-inch alloy wheels, air-conditioning, power windows, 60/40-split-folding rear seats, a height-adjustable driver seat, a tilt-only steering wheel, a trip computer, OnStar telematics and a four-speaker radio with an auxiliary audio jack.
Opting for the 1LT trim adds power-adjustable mirrors, cruise control, remote keyless entry, floor mats, the MyLink touchscreen interface, Bluetooth phone and streaming audio, steering-wheel-mounted audio and phone controls, a six-speaker audio system with USB/iPod integration, satellite radio and Internet radio from integrated smartphones.
The 2LT top trim adds foglights, roof rails, sporty front and rear fascia treatments, chrome exterior trim, faux leather upholstery, front heated seats and a leather-wrapped steering wheel.
Powertrains and Performance
Powering the 2013 Chevrolet Spark is a 1.2-liter four-cylinder engine that produces 84 horsepower and 83 pound-feet of torque. Power is sent to the front wheels through a standard five-speed manual or optional four-speed automatic transmission.
Chevrolet estimates a Spark with a manual transmission will accelerate from zero to 60 mph in 10.5 seconds, while the automatic will require more than 12 seconds. Compared to average subcompacts, the Spark trails them to 60 mph by 1-2 seconds. The EPA estimates fuel economy at 32 city/38 highway and 34 mpg combined for the manual and 28/37/32 mpg for the automatic.
Standard safety features on the 2013 Chevy Spark include four-wheel antilock brakes (front discs, rear drums), hill-hold assist, stability and traction control, front and rear side airbags, full-length side curtain airbags and front-seat knee airbags. OnStar is also standard and includes automatic crash notification, on-demand roadside assistance, remote door unlocking, stolen vehicle assistance and turn-by-turn navigation.
Interior Design and Special Features
The 2013 Chevrolet Spark features a simple, modern interior accented by body-colored dash and door panels. Hard plastic surfaces are about what you'd expect in an affordable hatchback, but the Spark offers some well-textured elements that suggest otherwise. Sporty gauges add further visual interest, featuring both a traditional speedometer and a digital multifunction display.
The available MyLink touchscreen also adds to the Spark's modern vibe with sharp graphics and intuitive menus, although it's not without faults. The screen sometimes fails to register inputs and requires repeated taps, but it's far better than the MyFordTouch interface. The hollow, flat sound quality from either the base or MyLink audio systems leaves much to be desired.
The upright position of the front seats might foster the impression that you're sitting on the car rather than in it. The seats also lack any worthwhile lateral support, although most body types will find them comfortable enough for long stretches of time. The rear seats are better suited to smaller passengers, however, as low seat cushions and headrests will likely draw complaints from average-sized adults.
Behind the rear seats, only 11.4 cubic feet of cargo can be crammed into the narrow space. Flipping the seat cushions forward and folding the seatbacks provides a flat cargo floor and a more accommodating 31.2 cubes. For larger items, the 2LT trim provides a functional roof rack.
With only 84 hp -- less than many motorcycles -- it's clear that the 2013 Chevrolet Spark is not intended to excite or inspire. To its credit, there's adequate acceleration for merging onto freeways when the manual transmission is in place. The shift throws are unusually long in order to reduce effort, yet the well-spaced gates make for precise gearchanges.
On appearance alone, the Spark's tiny wheels and big body give the impression of a European cargo van left too long in the clothes dryer. This impression is reinforced behind the wheel, as it drives with a top-heavy feel on both the open highway and around tight corners. Road and wind noise are likewise noticeable, but no more intrusive than in other cars at this price. Although far from a sport sedan, this small Chevy still manages to deliver well-mannered driving characteristics overall.