Used 2015 Chevrolet Spark EV Review

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.




what's new

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.

vehicle overview

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.

trim levels & features

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.

performance & mpg

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.

driving

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.

interior

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.

edmunds expert review process

This review was written by a member of Edmunds' editorial team of expert car reviewers. Our team drives every car you can buy. We put the vehicles through rigorous testing, evaluating how they drive and comparing them in detail to their competitors.

We're also regular people like you, so we pay attention to all the different ways people use their cars every day. We want to know if there's enough room for our families and our weekend gear and whether or not our favorite drink fits in the cupholder. Our editors want to help you make the best decision on a car that fits your life.