You might think a vehicle given the minicar designation wouldn’t have much to offer the average driver, but the 2018 Chevrolet Spark proves good things do come in small packages. As a big-city commuter, the Spark offers comfort, safety and economy at a rock-bottom price, plus unexpected features like Apple CarPlay, a Wi-Fi hotspot and forward-collision alert.
You'll Like The 2018 Chevrolet Spark If...
If you’re trying to keep your next car purchase under $15,000 but refuse to consider buying used, the 2018 Chevrolet Spark may be the logical solution. Offering the right tech and safety features, the Spark makes a great first car for kids, or second commuter car for mom and dad.
You May Not Like The 2018 Chevrolet Spark If...
The Spark is truly a minicar, so if you need more room for passengers and cargo, a larger vehicle like the Nissan Versa offers more interior space for about the same price. Subcompacts such as the Honda Fit, Kia Rio and Ford Fiesta offer more room and power, but cost significantly more.
Other than two new colors, there are no major changes to the 2018 Chevrolet Spark minicar.
Inside, the 2018 Chevy Spark's layout consists of seating for four and a small space for groceries and gear behind the two rear seats. Those seats can be folded to expand cargo capacity from roughly 11 cubic feet to over 27. That's more than enough to hold a few suitcases, but not quite as much as the 1st-generation Spark. Blame the lower roofline and shorter length. Rear-seat legroom has also shrunk, but other aspects, like hip and shoulder room, have grown. All Spark models include a 7-inch color touch screen in the center stack and logically arranged climate-control dials.
The original Spark was a nice attempt by Chevy to get into the minicar game, but it didn't do itself many favors in the style department with its tall profile and exaggerated headlights. For 2018 the Spark displays a more refined profile. While still diminutive -- at around 143 inches in length it's actually shorter than the 2015 model -- Chevy's little hatchback appears more proportional thanks to a lower roof and longer wheelbase. It features a large grille and handsome headlight housings. Integrated handles high in the rear doors give the Spark a svelte, coupe-like profile.
For 2018 the Chevy Spark’s 1.4-liter engine musters only 98 horsepower, which may not seem like much unless you’re in a drag race with a car like the 3-cylinder Mitsubishi Mirage. Ask your dad how many horsepower his 1974 Mustang II had and he’ll tell you 10 less than the Spark in a car that weighed significantly more. Advances in engine and electronic technology allow 98 ponies to do a lot more today, giving the Spark snappy acceleration off the line, but still struggling to pass or merge at higher speeds. The Spark’s optional CVT automatic boosts fuel efficiency but saps power and fun at an equal ratio; go with the 5-speed manual if you want to enjoy the ride. The diminutive size and tight turning radius that make the Spark so enjoyable in city traffic make it a bit less comfortable when sharing a highway with 18-wheelers or strong wind gusts.
Part of the 2018 Chevrolet Spark's appeal is its Manufacturer’s Suggested Retail Price (MSRP) of $13,925, including destination. Most buyers will spend more, though. A mid-trim, automatic-transmission Spark 1LT starts at $16,850. A fully loaded Spark 2LT still notches under $20,000. The standard Spark costs less than the Fiat 500 and Smart Fortwo microcar, and is close to that of the Mitsubishi Mirage. The least expensive new car remains the Nissan Versa Sedan at under $13,000. Before buying, check the KBB.com Fair Purchase Price to make sure you're getting the best deal in your area. The Spark's resale value isn't predicted to be strong, lagging behind the albeit larger and pricier Honda Fit and Toyota Yaris.
The least expensive Chevy Spark for 2018, an LS with manual transmission, comes with air conditioning, a 7-inch capacitive touch screen, and a 3-month trial of GM's OnStar system with 4G LTE connectively with Wi-Fi hotspot. Audio entertainment is provided by a 4-speaker AM/FM system with USB input and Bluetooth streaming. You will have to crank your own windows on this base model, though. Safety features include 10 airbags, rearview camera and 6-month trial of OnStar Guidance with automatic crash response and roadside assistance.
If you can swing the higher price, we recommend stepping up to at least the mid-grade Spark LT, which adds power windows, keyless entry, cruise control, steering-wheel-mounted audio buttons, theft-deterrent system and SiriusXM satellite radio. Top-line 2LT models have a leather-wrapped steering wheel, chrome exterior trim and rear-park assist. A power sunroof is offered on mid and top trims, while the top trim offers the Driver Confidence Package that brings forward-collision alert and lane-departure warning. The ACTIV trim adds unique 15-inch wheels, rugged-looking front and rear bumpers and Leatherette heated front seats.
The cardinal rule of selling any product is to know your buyer, which is why Chevy wisely equips the 2018 Spark minicar with youthful features like a 7-inch touch screen, Wi-Fi hotspot and the ability to accommodate both Android Auto and Apple CarPlay.
ACTIVE SAFETY FEATURES
Tech-savviness and distracted driving often go hand-in-hand, which is why it’s nice to have an extra set of electronic eyes to warn you of an impending collision, when drifting from your intended lane or showing you objects hidden out of sight behind the car.
Under the Hood
Chevrolet’s 2018 Spark minicar is powered by a 1.4-liter, 4-cylinder engine good for just under 100 horsepower. That isn't much, but neither is the Spark's weight at less than 2,300 pounds. The standard transmission is a 5-speed manual. Most buyers will want an automatic, and for that the new Chevy Spark uses a continuously variable transmission (CVT). Both return good fuel economy that reaches 41 mpg on the highway.
98 horsepower @ 6,200 rpm
94 lb-ft of torque @ 4,400 rpm
EPA city/highway fuel economy: 31/38 mpg (automatic), 29/39 mpg (manual), 30/37 mpg (automatic, Spark ACTIV), 29/38 mpg (manual, Spark ACTIV)
You might think a car given the label “minicar” wouldn’t have much to offer the average American driver, but the 2018 Chevrolet Spark proves good things do come in small packages. With a larger dealer network than the Mitsubishi Mirage, Fiat 500 and Smart Fortwo, the Spark is easy to find and service. Its 1.4-liter engine delivers impressive fuel economy and surprisingly spry bursts of acceleration, at least at lower speeds. Inside, the Spark offers many of Chevy’s best features, like a 7-inch touch-screen audio system with built-in Wi-Fi, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto compatibility, forward-collision alert (but not prevention), a rearview camera and lane-departure warning. As a big-city commuter, the Spark offers comfort, safety and economy at a rock-bottom price.