2015 Chevrolet Spark EV Hatchback Review & Ratings | Edmunds
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2015 Chevrolet Spark EV Hatchback Review

2015 Chevrolet Spark EV Hatchback
Summary

Edmunds Summary Review of the 2015 Chevrolet Spark EV 1LT Hatchback

  • Stout performance and competitive pricing make the 2015 Chevrolet Spark EV an intriguing option for an urban runabout, provided you can work around its long recharging times.

  • Pros

    Energetic acceleration; lots of standard features for a relatively low price; eager handling; quiet interior.

  • Cons

    Takes a long time to recharge, even at a 240-volt charger; no telescoping steering wheel; small backseat; only available in California and Oregon.

  • What's New for 2015

    The 2015 Chevrolet Spark EV has had adjustments made to the drivetrain that bring quicker acceleration while keeping the same mileage range. Also, OnStar with 4G LTE and standard built-in Wi-Fi will be added as a late-availability item.

Review

The benefits of owning an electric vehicle are pretty obvious: never having to buy gas, a lower carbon footprint for the planet and the financial perks that come with government tax credits. But the downsides of EV ownership are also pretty obvious. If you've balanced these pros and cons and still think an EV is for you, the 2015 Chevrolet Spark EV is one you'll want to look at.

Undoubtedly, one of the first concerns with any electric car will be its range. So how far can the Spark EV go on a full charge? The EPA rates the Spark EV as having an 82-mile range, which is pretty close to what you get from other EVs. Performance is another chief concern among electric-vehicle shoppers. Pleasingly, the Spark EV is one of the quicker electric cars we've tested, and it should be even quicker this year thanks to new powertrain enhancements The Spark also comes well equipped with features, and its MSRP is typically thousands less than those of rival EVs.

The Spark EV is less competitive when it comes to charging times, though. It has a 3.3-kilowatt onboard charger, while most competitors have double that (a 6.6 kW charger) onboard. It's not necessarily a deal breaker for the Spark EV -- its approximate 7-hour full charging time with a 240-volt power source is still well within the typical time window of recharging at home overnight -- but it's something to consider nevertheless. There is available equipment that allows you to connect to a DC charger to quicken that pace, but finding the correct charging port is difficult.

Another downside is that the Spark EV is sold in only two states: California and Oregon. If you live elsewhere, you should check out the 2015 Nissan Leaf. It's slower but offers a roomier cabin and similar range, along with well-established reliability. We also recommend the sporty Ford Focus Electric, the nimble (but California-only) 2015 Fiat 500e and the new Volkswagen e-Golf. Overall, though, we think the Edmunds.com "B" rated 2015 Spark EV has pros that certainly outweigh the cons.

Body Styles, Trim Levels, and Options

The 2015 Chevrolet Spark EV is an all-electric, subcompact, four-door hatchback with seating for four. There are two trim levels, 1LT and 2LT, differentiated only by minor upgrades in interior trim.

Standard equipment for the 1LT includes 15-inch alloy wheels, EV-specific aerodynamic bodywork, keyless ignition and entry, remote start, cruise control, air-conditioning, power accessories, a height-adjustable driver seat, heated front seats, a 60/40-split-folding rear seat and a tilt-only steering wheel. Electronic features include a 7-inch touchscreen, OnStar telematics (late availability for 4G hotspot functionality), Bluetooth phone and audio connectivity, smartphone app integration, Siri Eyes Free voice-recognition capability and a six-speaker sound system with satellite radio, an auxiliary audio jack and a USB/iPod interface.

The 2LT trim adds leatherette premium vinyl upholstery.

A DC quick charger is optional for any Spark EV. Connected to the proper power source, a Spark EV fitted with this option can recharge its batteries to 80 percent of capacity in 20 minutes, Chevy says.

Powertrains and Performance

The 2015 Chevrolet Spark EV is an electric vehicle powered by a 105-kilowatt electric motor (140 horsepower and 327 pound-feet of torque). Power for the motor comes from a 18.4 kWh lithium-ion battery pack. It takes the Spark EV seven hours to recharge at 240 volts, which is considerably longer than other similarly priced EVs. If you're only able to plug into a 110-volt outlet, the process could take as long as 20 hours. An optional SAE combo charger promises quicker turnaround times (up to 80 percent charge in 20 minutes and a full charge in 45 minutes) but only if you have easy access to a faster DC charger.

The EPA rates the 2015 Spark EV for 82 miles of driving range on the combined city/highway driving cycle. This is just a few miles shy of the range estimates on the Fiat 500e and the Nissan Leaf. The EPA also rates the Spark EV's energy consumption at 28 kWh used per 100 miles (the lower the kWh number here, the better), which is slightly more frugal than most rivals.

We last tested a 2014 Spark EV, and it accelerated from zero to 60 mph in a quick 7.5 seconds against Chevrolet's estimate of 7.2 seconds.

Safety

Standard safety features for the 2015 Chevrolet Spark EV include antilock disc brakes, traction and stability control, front-seat side airbags, side curtain airbags, rear-seat side airbags and front-seat knee airbags. OnStar's services include automatic crash notification, roadside assistance, remote door unlocking and stolen vehicle assistance.

In Edmunds testing, a 2014 Spark EV stopped from 60 mph in 122 feet, which is a shorter than average distance for an electric car.

Interior Design and Special Features

The interior of the 2015 Chevrolet Spark EV is minimalist at best, but there's a refreshing simplicity to the dashboard's clean lines, the motorcycle-like instrument cluster and the large central touchscreen.

The Spark EV's gauges are altered from the conventional Spark's to better provide the data unique to electric propulsion: Simple graphics keep you up to speed on the battery pack's state of charge and remaining driving range. The standard MyLink touchscreen infotainment system features sharp graphics and intuitive menus. It also boasts strong smartphone app integration, including Internet radio, text message translation, voice commands and available navigation. Still, like a lot of similar systems, the screen sometimes fails to register touch inputs, which can be frustrating.

Thanks to the Spark's tall roof, there's a general impression of roominess, particularly for those up front. The front seats are comfortable enough for the distance you're able to travel in one sitting, and the only real negative is the lack of a telescoping steering wheel.

Those in the two-passenger rear seat also enjoy a refreshing amount of headroom, but there isn't an abundance of leg- and hiproom. The rear seatbacks offer a 60/40 split, but because of battery packaging constraints, the seats don't fold fully flat. The Spark EV offers 9.6 cubic feet of cargo space behind the rear seats, and folding them provides 23.4 cubic feet of capacity -- down from 31.2 in the gasoline Spark.

Driving Impressions

Quick acceleration is one of the first things you'll notice with the 2015 Spark EV. Almost all EVs can feel snappy around town thanks to the nature of their electric powertrains, but other than some luxury-branded EVs, you're not going to find anything quicker than the Chevy.

The Spark EV feels nicely planted when going around turns. It has a relatively composed highway ride with minimal choppiness and road noise over seams and ruts -- unusual for a car with such a small footprint. The Spark's regenerative braking system is also more receptive than most rivals' systems to range-increasing driving techniques like cruising with your foot off the accelerator pedal.

Reviews from owners of the 2015 Chevrolet Spark EV 1LT Hatchback

Average Consumer Rating (See all 7 reviews) Write a Review

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

Most fun i've ever had with a car

by on
Vehicle: 2015 Chevrolet Spark EV

I leased my car 1 year ago and still love it. I've said for some time that my only regret is that I only got one of them. So, about a month ago I got 2 more, one for my wife and one for my daughter, and they both love them too. My only complaint is that it has too much power and you can get into trouble if you aren't careful. It rides okay for a small car, but not great like a long heavy car. The range is much more than I normally need (up to about 100 miles) and I do have a gas powered vehicle for longer trips, but it rarely gets used now. The cost of the electricity is about 2 cents per mile.



1 of 1 people found this review helpful

Little dynamo!

by on
Vehicle: 2015 Chevrolet Spark EV

You can't beat the performance of this car for the price. Especially if you live in CA where you can get an extra $2500 rebate. I love the acceleration on this thing and the instant torque. I must say it encourages aggressive driving because you know you have the power on tap to pass others where you couldn't with your typical Corolla/Civic/Sentra. The interior screams budget car, but it feels surprisingly spacious for the front passengers given its claustrophobic appearance from the outside. The car stands tall so it gives you the feeling of being in a small SUV. I like how it gives great forward visibility (rear visibility is pretty lousy though due to the large rear pillars and it's too bad it doesn't have a rear view camera).



2 of 2 people found this review helpful

A whole lot of fun!

by on
Vehicle: 2015 Chevrolet Spark EV

Just pick up our leased Spark 1LT EV for my daughter $119/39 mo lease absolutely zero down ....I think I pay more for our phones... It's our first EV and we are loving it. We already stuck 5 people in it to see if it could handle the load, not bad at all. The price is outstanding for what you get and it's perfect for out situation, about 20 miles round trip per day. Nothing to shout about in terms of comfort compared to other vehicles but did I mentioned the price.... We have purchased new or nearly new vehicles in the past and tend to keep them for a long time. It was a surprise to find so much tech in this car compared to our existing vehicles (2000 & 2003). For us, it was purely a tech play on the lease, because I figure that the mileage will double in three years like it has in the past three years. So in three years if most of the EV's are pushing 200 miles than we might buy one and keep it for a longer time. In the mean time my kids get to start off their driving experience in a zero emissions car and hopefully will stay with EV's their whole life.



2 of 2 people found this review helpful

I loved my spark.....until

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Vehicle: 2015 Chevrolet Spark EV

The car is great once you get the hang of managing the charge. I get about 80-90 miles per full charge. It is cute and zippy, pickup is fine, love parking the tiny thing, and like the Tardis it is bigger on the inside than on the outside. But don't take it to the drive in, just saying, I did and it is not quite up to the task. The lease price was great and I also got a rebate which is way awesome. Driving in the HOV lane is great too. HOWEVER. Somehow after only 4 months a tire blew and now for 3 weeks I have been unable to get a replacement tire. Apparently the tires are very special, and the manufacturer hadn't planned on making any more, and they can't get any for 4 months, at least that is what the dealer says, which sounds crazy to me. I went online and bought a tire and am waiting for it to arrive. Thankfully I hadn't gotten rid of my gas guzzler! I also was offered a free home charger but since then, months ago, I haven't gotten it and no one responds to my emails. Service departments of dealers don't know much about these cars and don't always want to. No one else knows anything at all. I hope this won't be a problem as the car ages. It's not a good deal if you can't use it!



8 of 8 people found this review helpful

The more i drive it...

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Vehicle: 2015 Chevrolet Spark EV

... the more I like electric vehicles. I am currently under a three-year lease for the Spark EV. I have had the vehicle for almost three months and I have been driving it everyday for the past 30 days. I live in California and the Spark EV allows me to use the carpool lane after I paid DMV $8 for the carpool lane stickers. It is a very economical vehicle to use. See below for more information: The good- It costs me less than $2 to fully charge the car. This gives me 82-87 miles range. I am saving around $3.50 a day by not driving my gasoline powered car. At the end of three years, I expect to save at least $2730 on gas alone. The car is incredibly fast. The acceleration is very fast. The Sports Mode is awesome for merging into the highway at the on ramp. Most vehicles cannot keep up with me during the first three seconds of acceleration. The carpool lane sticker is the best part! I am cutting a minimum of 30 minutes off commute time daily. This is priceless and I am spoiled. The car gets even better range when you are stuck in stop and go traffic. It was costing me only $0.10 to travel 16 miles. Braking and coasting will recharge the battery. It is entirely possible to get more than 100 miles of driving range if you are in stop and go traffic. The free On Star navigation is great! I use it all the time. I love the great warranty and the free roadside assistance program from Chevy. The car is tiny. This makes it very easy to park in a tight space. In big cities, this is invaluable. I am getting a $2500 check from the CA government for using the EV. If I had bought the car, the fed will also let me take $7500 off my income tax. I received a $500 charger credit from Bosch. I ended up only paying $30 for a $500 Bosch charger. I love the ability to remotely turn on the AC after parking the car. What's the big deal? I would park my car, turn on the AC and go to the store. When I am done shopping, the car will be nice and cool waiting for me to drive. Keep in mind the engine is not running. A car thief cannot just break into the car and drive away. Due to the heavy battery, the car has low center of gravity and it is very stable to drive this car. No need to warm up the engine. Just drive. No need to change oil. Pure electric. Free first two years service included (rotate tires and fluid checks). Fluids for brake, windshield, and coolant. Charging at a Direct Charging Station really charges a car to 80% in less than 20 minutes. The DC charging station puts out 125 amps! But it is not cheap to use it right now as gas is only $3 a gallon. Now the bad- The stereo system SUCKS!!! The sound quality is awful. I am not sure why Chevy chose to do it this way. It does not have a CD player. It says six speakers but I am only able to find four speakers. The UI for the phone and stereo is awful. I wish I could use Siri to assist me. Bluetooth connection is a bit slower than Toyota vehicles. The rear seats are extremely uncomfortable. Even my kids complained about them and that's a first. The rear cargo space is very limited. Best to fold the seats down for more space. There is a blind spot in the rear passenger side. Must be careful for lane changing. Long charging time. The standard charger which came with the vehicle at 8 amps takes 20 hours to fully charge the car. When I changed the charging setting to 12 amps, it took much less time. Having said that, my Bosch charger operating at 16 amps (220 V) typically charges 10 miles in an hour. In other words, it will take four hours to charge 40 miles with a 240V charger. 240 V chargers are strongly recommended. 110 V at 12 amps will also work. The steering only goes up and down. It is not a telescopic steering wheel. At 70 to 80 MPH, the car gets very noisy. At 70 to 80 MPH, the battery drains much faster. Best mileage if the speed is less than 50 MPH (per manual). The load capacity is limited. It is less than 650 lbs. Don't expect to fit four big people in the car. Bottom line- this is a great commuter and easy on the wallet everyday car if you keep track of the travel distance needed. I have three other vehicles but I only drive this car in the carpool lane to work. Even without the carpool lane stickers, I would buy (not lease) my next electric vehicle. The Spark EV replacement is called Bolt and it is supposed to have a 200 mile driving range. Although the 2015 Spark EV has a limited driving range (less than 87 miles) and the stereo is just terrible, I love this car and I am thinking about leasing another Spark EV for my mother.



2 of 2 people found this review helpful

Great little car!

by on
Vehicle: 2015 Chevrolet Spark EV

I bought this car on an excellent lease deal. The reviews pretty much nail it right on. It is very fun to drive. Dealers, you need to figure out how to actually execute the purchase faster. If there is no haggling, or haggling has resulted in an agreed upon price, should it really take 2 hours to prepare the paperwork so I can take 2 minutes to sign it? Why give customers more time to get cold feet and tie your sales staff up with entertaining what are essentially closed deals when that staff could be courting other customers? Figure out how to get the purchase done faster, make more money, and make more happy customers.



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