• 2014 Chevrolet Spark adds CVT
  • New transmission will be quieter, quicker
  • Automatic gas mileage up to 30 mpg city and 39 mpg highway

The subcompact Chevrolet Spark is receiving several revisions for the 2014 model year. While a few changes focus on equipment, the biggest upgrade comes to the tiny Spark's available automatic transmission.

According to Chevrolet, the 2014 Spark ditches last year's 4-speed automatic for an all-new continuously variable transmission (CVT). The benefits are significant. For one, the new transmission improves acceleration. It also decreases wind noise. But most importantly, the CVT increases gas mileage in both city and highway driving.

Chevrolet says 2014 Spark models with the new CVT will return 30 miles per gallon in the city and 39 mpg on the highway. That's a major improvement over last year's 28 mpg city/37 mpg hwy. The latest figures also create a bigger gap between the Spark and the larger Chevrolet Sonic, which returns 26 mpg city/35 mpg hwy.

Chevrolet also changed the Spark's manual transmission. The updated manual, still a 5-speed, now returns 31 mpg city/39 mpg hwy. That's a slight tweak from last year's 32 mpg city/38 mpg hwy.

Beyond revising the drivetrain, Chevrolet also tweaked the Spark's equipment levels. Automatic-off headlights, for example, are now standard on all Spark models. And the upscale Spark 2LT is gaining new power-adjusted heated exterior mirrors for the new model year.

Chevrolet also added two colors to the Spark's range for 2014: Lime, a green-yellow mix, and Grape Ice, which is mostly red. The two colors -- and the remainder of the 2014 Spark lineup -- will begin arriving at dealerships this summer.

While Chevrolet has not announced pricing for the 2014 Spark, we don't expect things to change much from today's model. The 2013 Spark's base price was just under $13,000 with shipping, with the automatic transmission adding around $1,000. All Spark models come with a standard 84-horsepower, 1.2-liter 4-cylinder engine.

What it means to you: Thanks to several revisions to the 2014 Chevrolet Spark, automatic versions now boast improved fuel economy and a better driving experience.

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Doug DeMuro has a wide range of automotive industry experience, from work at a Ferrari dealership to a manager for Porsche North America. A lifelong car enthusiast, Doug's eclectic vehicle purchases include a Porsche 911 Turbo, an E63 AMG wagon, an old Range Rover and a Mercedes Benz G-wagen.

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