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2017 Chevrolet Spark: New Car Review

If you’re looking for information on a newer Chevrolet Spark, we’ve published an updated review: 2019 Chevrolet Spark Review

Fresh from a major upgrade last year, the 2017 Chevrolet Spark offers good fuel economy in a tiny package that doesn’t cost much money. However, when it comes to best-in-class awards, the Spark struggles to offer the power or room of rivals like the Honda Fit and Nissan Versa Note.

Although the electric version is no more, the gasoline-powered Spark continues to impress by offering first-time buyers an affordable small car that doesn’t feel like a cheap throwaway. Assembled in South Korea from global parts, this 5-door hatchback is designed for visual appeal with its admittedly tiny dimensions. The second-row passenger doors are camouflaged with a handle that’s integrated into the rear of the window frame, resulting in coupelike styling.

What’s New for 2017?

There are no major changes for 2017. The Spark EV is dropped from the lineup, as is the Solar Red package. See the 2017 Chevrolet Spark models for sale near you

What We Like

Low, low sticker price; clean interior design; tiny footprint

What We Don’t

Excessive road noise; some cheap plastics; limited rear legroom

How Much?

$13,875-$18,200

Fuel Economy

The Spark’s 1.4-liter inline 4-cylinder engine produces 98 horsepower and 94 lb-ft of torque. The standard 5-speed manual transmission delivers 29 miles per gallon in the city and 38 mpg on the highway, while the optional continuously variable automatic transmission (CVT) does slightly better, at 30 mpg city/38 mpg hwy.

Standard Features & Options

The Spark is available in three variants: the base LS, the midrange 1LT and the top-of-the-line 2LT.

The base LS ($13,875 manual; $14,975 automatic) is very basic in some respects and nicely equipped in others. It comes standard with manual crank windows and manual locking doors, which will save you a trip to the car museum to show your kids how difficult life used to be in the old days. The steering wheel adjusts for tilt but not for reach. Fifteen-inch steel wheels hold the rubber, with disc brakes in the front and a drum in the rear. Standard tire-pressure monitoring is included. The LS then surprises you with a bunch of standard technology features, such as a 7-in color touchscreen with Chevrolet MyLink radio and a rear-vision camera. The 4-speaker audio system includes Bluetooth connectivity for smartphones as well as standard Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. OnStar Basic is included for 5 years, and you’ll find a 12-volt charging port, a USB port and an auxiliary input at the base of the center stack.

Step up to the 1LT ($15,700 manual; $16,800 automatic) and you get power windows and remote keyless entry with power door locks. The audio system features six speakers and adds SiriusXM capability with a 3-month trial subscription included. The steering wheel gets redundant audio controls, and cruise control is included. OnStar’s Guidance Plan is included for 6 months, and OnStar with 4G LTE includes a built-in Wi-Fi hotspot for up to four devices on a 3-month/3-gigabyte trial basis. The steel hoops are replaced with 15-in alloy wheels, and standard fog lamps help light the way.

The 2LT ($17,200 manual; $18,300 automatic) model adds some additional exterior chrome trim and makes some added interior bling available as well. The steering wheel gets wrapped in leather, and both front seats are heated. Passive entry and push-button start are included.

Safety

The 2017 Spark has an impressive list of standard and available safety features. The tiny car comes with 10 airbags, traction control, hill-start assist, StabiliTrak stability control with Brake Assist, LATCH connectors for two car seats in the second row, anti-lock braking and a rear-vision camera. Lane-departure warning and forward-collision alert are available on the 2LT, and rear park assist is standard with this trim level.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has not released crash-test ratings for the 2017 Spark. The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety rated the 2017 Spark as good in the moderate-overlap front crash test and basic for front-crash protection.

Behind the Wheel

Despite its compact dimensions, the Spark is surprisingly roomy in the front seat, with plenty of leg, hip, shoulder and headroom, even for taller drivers and passengers. The second row lacks ample legroom, however, and doesn’t even pretend to have a middle seating position. Luggage space in the hatchback is 11.1 cu ft. behind the second row and 27.2 cu ft. with the seat folded. Folding the seat is a little disappointing, as the load floor is not flat, which compromises utility. Big dogs will do better sitting in the second-row seat rather than in the cargo space.

The 1.4-liter engine and the CVT are connected to the front wheels only, but the moderate power means that there’s little torque steer to deal with. The Spark weighs only 2,313 pounds with the automatic transmission or 2,246 pounds with the manual, so acceleration is adequate for most situations. Chevy doesn’t quote top speed or 0-to-60 times for the Spark — it isn’t that kind of car. Around town and on brief freeway jaunts, it’s just fine.

Handling-wise, the Spark’s independent MacPherson strut front and torsion-beam rear suspension does a pretty good job of delivering a controlled ride. Braking is just adequate, with a bit of a mushy feeling and the need for a heavy foot to get maximum effect. Rack-and-pinion steering with column-mounted power assist is a highlight.

The Spark’s downfall is noise. The little engine is pretty quiet, even under full acceleration, but the cabin is an echo chamber for road noise generated while driving, even at city speeds. Standard air conditioning is welcome but also contributes to the unwanted sound in the cabin. The audio-system quality is pretty basic, so cranking up the tunes to cover the noise doesn’t help either. Even though the Spark can travel up to 369 miles on its 9-gallon fuel capacity, it wouldn’t be our first choice for a road trip.

Other Cars to Consider

2017 Fiat 500L — A stylish alternative, the 5-door 500L has panache to go with its efficient powertrain. Unfortunately, the 500L lacks the refinement that the Spark offers, though it does bring a roomier interior.

2017 Honda Fit — The Fit somehow manages to open up 16.6 cu ft. of luggage space and 52.7 cu ft. of room for cargo with the second row folded flat, and it gets up to 33 mpg city/40 mpg hwy.

2017 Nissan Versa Note — The Versa Note’s 1.6-liter engine outdoes the Spark’s 1.4-liter by over 10 percent while still achieving 31 mpg city/39 mpg hwy.

2017 Toyota Yaris — The smallest Toyota is available as either a 3- or 5-door model and comes with Toyota’s Entune infotainment system.

Used Chevrolet Cruze — The Cruze is a bigger, better, more polished compact car, and a certified pre-owned version with just a few miles is about the same price as a new Chevy Spark 1LT.

Autotrader’s Advice

If you’re looking for the most basic transportation with one of the lowest starting prices of any new car, the 2017 Chevrolet Spark fits the bill. Most buyers will seek more comfort and refinement, which can be found in several competitors at competitively low prices. You might want to consider a certified pre-owned option as well. In the end, the Spark does a lot of things well — but others do those things better. Find a Chevrolet Spark for sale

 

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