The 2014 Chevrolet Spark is super-affordable, easy on gas, has plenty of interior room for four fully-grown adults and can be parked in places most other cars would never fit into. Even though it’s more than a foot shorter than a subcompact Ford Fiesta or Chevrolet Sonic hatchback, the Spark has four doors. Other minicars, such as the Fiat 500 or Scion iQ, have just two doors and the Smart Fortwo only two seats. When it comes to cargo capacity, the Spark can swallow 11.4 cu ft. of cargo through the rear hatch — about twice that of a Mini Cooper’s. Fold down the rear seat and that jumps to 31.2 cu ft., about the same as the foot-longer Chevy Sonic hatch.
With only 84 horsepower under the short hood, the Spark is no hot rod, but because the mini-Chevy’s 1.2-liter 4-cylinder only has to move 2,300 pounds, performance is tolerable. An edgy interior design, 10 standard airbags and available Chevrolet MyLink infotainment pack a lot of personality into a small package. For 2014, Chevrolet replaces the 2013 model’s optional 4-speed automatic transmission with a more fuel-efficient continuously variable automatic.
Also new for 2014 is a fully electric version of the Spark. The EV is the hot rod of the Spark lineup, able to accelerate from rest to 60 miles per hour in less than eight seconds. Its driving range is 82 miles. It offers slightly less cargo room than the gas Spark due to the large underfloor lithium-ion battery.
The Spark is a good used-car choice for first-time buyers on a budget and urban dwellers short on space. It offers an impressive amount of interior space in a very compact package.
What We Like
Roomy interior; good outward visibility; easy-to-use MyLink infotainment system; easy parking and maneuverability; good fuel economy; 10 standard airbags; EV has peppy performance
What We Don’t
Jouncy highway ride; small fuel tank; rubbery manual transmission shifter; leisurely acceleration; complicated rear seat folding; tiny secondary gauges; hard plastic door armrests
Fuel Economy & Engine Specs
The gasoline version of the 2014 Chevy Spark is powered by a 1.2-liter dual-overhead-camshaft (DOHC) 4-cylinder with four valves per cylinder and continuously variable valve timing. It makes just 84 horsepower and 83 lb-ft of torque, but keep in mind that the Spark weighs less than 2,300 pounds, about half that of the typical Ford Explorer or other midsize SUV. The Spark burns regular unleaded gas and its fuel tank holds just 9.2 gallons, so cruising range is short but fill-ups don’t break the bank. The Spark has EPA fuel-economy estimates of 31 miles per gallon in the city and 38 mpg on the highway with the standard 5-speed manual transmission, and 30 mpg city/37 mpg hwy with the optional CVT.
The Spark EV is equipped with a 21 kWh lithium-ion battery which powers a permanent-magnet drive motor rated at 140 hp and a potent 400 lb-ft of torque. The battery can be fully charged in 17 hours using 120-volt house current or less than seven hours with a 240-volt setup. With the optional SAE Combo DC fast charge feature, the Spark can achieve 80 percent charge in 20 minutes. The Spark EV is EPA rated at a gasoline-equivalent estimated 119 MPGe combined.
Standard Features & Options
The 2014 Chevrolet Spark is available in LS and LT trims.
LS equipment includes air conditioning, power windows, cloth-and-vinyl upholstery, a tilt steering wheel, a height-adjustable driver’s seat, fold-down center driver’s armrest, a 60/40-fold-down rear seat, OnStar with turn-by-turn navigation, a 4-speaker AM/FM stereo with internet access and Pandora and Stitcher apps, 15-inch alloy wheels, a rear cargo cover, variable intermittent wipers, automatic headlamps, a trip computer, outside temperature and clock displays, stability and traction control, anti-lock brakes, dual front airbags, front-seat side airbags, overhead airbags and front knee airbags.
LT adds cruise control, MyLink infotainment with a 7-in touchscreen, uplevel 6-speaker voice-activated AM/FM/MP3 stereo with SiriusXM Satellite Radio and steering-wheel audio controls, Bluetooth phone connectivity and audio streaming, remote keyless entry and auto-locking doors. Also available for LT models are heated front seats, faux leather upholstery, power mirrors, roof rails, a leather-wrapped steering wheel, fog lamps and a chromed exhaust tip.
Spark EV equipment includes an efficiency gauge, EV range gauge, low rolling-resistance tires, drag-reducing aerodynamic panels, remote start and a Normal/Sport drive mode selector on the console.
Chevy didn’t sell a ton of these minicars in the first place, but when gas is cheap, small car sales suffer, and the Spark can be a real bargain — especially in the more outlandish colors such as pink and lime green. Because these are generally used as city cars, most used examples will have relatively low miles on the odometer.
To get an idea of the 2014 Spark’s price range, check out the Kelley Blue Book used-car values at KBB.com. You can also search the Autotrader Classifieds to see what models are for sale in your area.
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) has announced the following recalls for the 2014 Spark:
Due to a software issue with the airbag sensing and diagnostic module, the front airbags and seatbelt pretensioners may not deploy during a crash, increasing the risk of injury to interior occupants.
Corrosion of the secondary hood latch may prevent full engagement, allowing the hood to open while driving and increasing the risk of a crash.
On models equipped with the Bring Your Own Media radio, the audio speakers may not sound a warning chime if the driver fails to latch the seatbelt when driving or leaves the key in the ignition switch when exiting the car. If the seatbelt is not latched, the injury risk in a crash is increased and if the key is left in an unattended car, the risk of theft increases.
On models with the base radio and OnStar, a software issue may cause the radio to lock up, black out the display and cease audio functions, eliminating warning chimes if the driver leaves the key in the ignition or fails to fasten the seatbelt.
The front suspension lower control arm attaching bolts may have been undertightened at the factory, potentially causing a steering knuckle separation and a subsequent loss of steering control, increasing the risk of a crash.
Recall repairs are required by law even if the vehicle is out of warranty. Your dealer can check to see if the repairs were performed, and if not, will fix the car at no charge to you.
Safety Ratings & Warranties
NHTSA gave the 2014 Spark four stars overall with four for frontal impacts and rollover resistance and five for side impacts.
The independent Insurance Institute for Highway Safety gave the 2014 Spark an Acceptable rating for small-overlap front impacts and a Good rating for moderate-overlap front impacts, side impacts, roof strength and for head-restraint and seat crash performance. It was a 2014 IIHS Top Safety Pick.
General Motors covered the 2014 Spark with a 3-year/36,000-mile bumper-to-bumper warranty, a 5-year/100,000-mile powertrain warranty with roadside assistance and a 6-year/100,000-mile corrosion-perforation warranty. Spark EV also includes an 8-year/100,000-mile lithium-ion battery warranty.
Chevrolet certified pre-owned (CPO) cars cannot have more than 75,000 miles on the odometer and must be five years old or less. Every CPO Spark undergoes a 172-point inspection. Those that pass receive a 12-month/12,000-mile bumper-to-bumper warranty, plus whatever remains on the transferable, original 5-year/100,000-mile powertrain coverage. Also included is a 2-year/30,000-mile maintenance plan with roadside assistance.
Other Cars to Consider
2014 Ford Fiesta — The subcompact Fiesta actually has less room inside than Chevy’s 4-seat minicar. The Fiesta is available as a stylish 4-door sedan or 5-door hatchback, delivering sporty handling and good fuel economy from its 120-hp 1.6-liter 4-cylinder or 123-hp 1.0-liter 3-cylinder turbo (up to 43 EPA hwy mpg). A hot Fiesta ST performance version also debuts with a 197-hp 1.6-liter turbo 4-cylinder.
2014 Fiat 500 — Smaller and significantly less roomy than the Spark, the Fiat 500 3-door hatchback emphasizes sportiness and retro Italian styling flair over practicality. The rear seat is useful only for pets and shopping bags. There is also a convertible version. Engine choices include a 1.4-liter tuned to either 101, 135 or 160 hp, the latter two turbocharged. Premium fuel is required. There is also a battery electric 500e with a 111-hp electric motor and 87-mile driving range.
Just because you’re thinking of downsizing to a minicar doesn’t mean you need to forego all amenities. Our recommendation is to at least step up to a Spark LT, which comes with the MyLink infotainment system, 7-in touchscreen, SiriusXM Satellite radio, cruise control, remote keyless entry and Bluetooth connectivity. When possible, choose a Chevrolet certified pre-owned Spark, especially if you’re thinking about the much more complex and expensive-to-fix Spark EV. But if none are available in your area, seek out a Spark that’s low on miles and one that’s received obvious care and maintenance. And check with the dealer to make sure the car you’re considering has had all applicable safety-recall items resolved.