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2021 Chevrolet Spark Review

The 2021 Spark is Chevrolet’s smallest and least-expensive vehicle. In fact, its $13,400 starting price makes the Spark hatchback the least-expensive new car available. The Spark’s affordability, tiny size and high fuel efficiency make it alluring to those on a strict budget and younger drivers. As you might expect, there are caveats. Base models don’t even have power windows or power door locks, and modern safety systems like automatic emergency braking are reserved for the most expensive trim — as an option. Competitors like the Nissan Versa and Toyota Yaris offer more car and more features for not much more money. They can also seat five passengers, whereas the Spark is restricted to four. We do like that the Spark fits anywhere and comes with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto integration.

What’s New?

Aside from new paint colors, the 2021 Chevrolet Spark carries over unchanged. See the 2021 Chevrolet Spark models for sale near you

What We Like

  • Standard Apple CarPlay/Android Auto
  • Easy to park
  • Fuel-efficient
  • Least expensive new car available

What We Don’t

  • Paltry power
  • No power windows on the base model
  • Active safety features only optional on the priciest trim

How Much?

$13,400-$17,900 (plus $995 destination charge)

Fuel Economy

The Chevy Spark uses a small 1.4-liter inline 4-cylinder engine that makes 98 horsepower and 94 lb-ft of torque. That isn’t much power, but the Spark isn’t much car. The Spark’s standard 5-speed manual transmission delivers 29 miles per gallon in the city and 38 mpg on the highway. The optional and more popular continuously variable automatic transmission (CVT) is marginally better, earning 30 mpg city/38 mpg hwy. The ACTIV trim with its slightly raised height and less aerodynamic roof rails drops those figures by one mpg.

Standard Features & Options

The Spark comes in four trim: LS, 1LT, ACTIV and 2LT.

The base LS ($13,400 manual, $14,500 automatic, plus $995 destination fee) is very basic but does have some surprising tech for the money. This is one of the few new cars left with crank windows and manual door locks. The mirror adjustments are also manual, and you won’t be getting cruise control, either. All Sparks must make do with a steering wheel that only tilts and doesn’t telescope and a driver’s seat that only adjusts four ways. This makes is harder to find the perfect driving position. You will, however, get a 7-in touchscreen display with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto integration, plus a 3-month trial of General Motors’ OnStar system with 4G LTE connectivity and a Wi-Fi hot spot.

More recommendable is the 1LT ($15,300 manual, $16,400 automatic) that adds power windows, power door locks and power mirror adjustment, plus remote keyless entry and cruise control. The audio system features six speakers and adds SiriusXM capability with a 3-month trial subscription included. The steering wheel gets redundant audio controls.

The ACTIV ($16,400 manual, $17,500 automatic) has a slightly raised suspension, roof rails, rugged-looking bumpers and side body cladding, 15-in alloy wheels and heated leatherette front seats.

The 2LT ($16,800 manual, $17,900 automatic) model adds keyless entry with push-button start, rear parking sensors, LED daytime running lights and chrome exterior trim. Like the other models, it can be had with a CVT automatic transmission. A sunroof is available on 1LT and 2LT models.

Safety

Beyond federally mandated safety features like traction control, tire-pressure monitoring system and a backup camera, the Spark also has 10 airbags.

While rivals like the Nissan Versa and Toyota Yaris come standard with automatic emergency braking, you have to buy the topline 2LT model with a CVT to get that here. It is bundled in the Driver Confidence Package ($295), which also adds lane-departure warning. That top trim also includes rear parking sensors.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has not released crash-test ratings for the 2021 Spark. Last year, the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety rated the Spark Good in the moderate-overlap front crash test but did not test for front-crash protection and mitigation with the optional driver assists.

Behind the Wheel

With less than 100 hp, the Spark won’t be winning many drag races. If there’s any good news, it’s that the Spark doesn’t weigh much. At around 2,300 pounds, the Spark is a featherweight. Paired with a 5-speed manual transmission, you might even sense a hint of liveliness.

Most buyers will opt for an automatic transmission, and the Spark is saddled with a CVT that isn’t all that responsive and can drone. Noise in general can be an issue in the Spark, be it wind buffeting from its high sides to tire and cabin din at higher speeds.

As the Spark is a tiny car, the freeway isn’t exactly its friend. It can keep up with traffic, but this Chevy’s short wheelbase can make it feel twitchy. Remember what you’re paying and keep expectations in check.

Around town, however, the Spark comes into its own. If you live in a place where it’s a daily fight for a parking space or the roads are weirdly narrow, the Spark is ready and willing to fit where you need it. It’s also quite efficient, with most models earning 33 mpg combined.

Other Cars to Consider

2020 Honda Fit — The Honda Fit is a masterclass in smart interior design. Despite its diminutive size, the Fit boasts 52.7 cu ft of cargo room with rear seats that can flip and fold numerous ways. The Fit is also fun to drive and has excellent records of reliability and resale value.

2020 Nissan Versa sedan — All new for 2020, Nissan‘s Versa brings more safety systems, great technology and grown-up driving manners. Moreover, it doesn’t cost that much more than a Spark.

2020 Toyota Yaris — The smallest and least-expensive Toyota brings great looks, standard active safety features and surprisingly agile manners.

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.

Questions You May Ask

Is the Chevrolet Spark a good car?

Even among small economy cars, the Spark is just marginal. Its sub-$14,000 starting price is appealing, but you can get a bigger and fresher car for not much more money.

Is Chevrolet discontinuing the Spark?

Not yet, as it’s at least around for the 2021 model year. As for whether the Spark will join the Cruze, Impala and Volt in getting the ax is unknown at this point.

Is the 2021 Chevrolet Spark the cheapest new car on the market?

Yes. Formerly the Nissan Versa held that spot, but with the all-new Versa comes a higher price.

Where is the 2021 Chevrolet Spark built?

The Chevrolet Spark is made in South Korea.

Autotrader’s Advice

The Spark no doubt has a bargain starting price, but you’ll have to make plenty of compromises if you get the least-expensive LS model. A 1LT or higher trim is a better bet. Even then, be aware of the Spark’s shortcomings. Among them are limited seating for four, a weak powertrain, lack of advanced safety systems and considerable road noise. If these tradeoffs aren’t worth it to you, know you can get more car for not much more money — like a new Nissan Versa — or less, such as a gently used compact like a Chevy Cruze, Honda Fit or Kia Rio. Find a Chevrolet Spark for sale

Where You Can Buy

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