2017 Chevrolet Spark Review
Edmunds expert review
It's easy to understand the appeal of a subcompact car, especially if you are one of the tens of millions of Americans living in or near a crowded city center. These cars are easy to park, inexpensive to own and will easily get you from point A to point B. A great example of the breed is the 2017 Chevrolet Spark.
Coming off a full redesign last year, the 2017 Spark primarily stands out for its technology-forward cabin at an affordable price. Each Spark comes standard with a rearview camera, a 4G LTE hotspot (via General Motors' OnStar service) and a 7-inch touchscreen with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto smartphone integration. On the Spark 2LT, you can also order an optional package to get lane departure warning and forward collision alert, two safety features not commonly found in this class of car.
The subcompact car class is well stocked by a number of appealing competitors, though. The Spark comes up a bit short in rear legroom and cargo capacity, so if space is a priority, you'd probably enjoy the roomy and versatile Honda Fit more. We're also fond of the sporty Ford Fiesta and well-rounded Hyundai Accent. Overall, though, we find the Chevrolet Spark to be a compelling model to look at, especially if you're searching for something that won't strain your bank account.
Standard safety features on the 2017 Chevrolet Spark include four-wheel antilock brakes (front discs, rear drums), a rearview camera, hill-hold assist, stability and traction control, front and
rear side airbags, full-length side curtain airbags and front-seat knee airbags. The OnStar service also provides automatic crash notification, on-demand roadside assistance and stolen-vehicle assistance. Forward collision alert and lane departure warning are available on the 2LT model equipped with the automatic transmission.
In safety tests conducted by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, last year's Spark earned the top rating of Good in the moderate-overlap frontal-offset impact collision and side-impact tests.
In Edmunds brake testing, a Spark LT stopped from 60 mph in 121 feet, which is average for the class.
What's new for 2017
Trim levels & features
The 2017 Chevrolet Spark is a four-passenger, four-door subcompact hatchback offered in four trims: LS, 1LT, 2LT and Activ.
In addition to the safety features listed in the Safety section below, standard features on the LS trim include 15-inch steel wheels, automatic headlamps, a rear spoiler, a rearview camera, air conditioning, a 60/40-split folding rear seat, a height-adjustable driver seat, a tilt steering wheel, a trip computer, outside temperature display, carpeted floor mats, Chevy's OnStar telematics system with a 4G LTE WiFi hotspot, and the MyLink infotainment system.
MyLink includes a 7-inch touchscreen display, Bluetooth phone and audio connectivity, a USB port, smartphone app integration, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto smartphone integration, and a four-speaker audio system with an auxiliary jack.
Opting for the 1LT trim adds 15-inch alloy wheels, foglights, heated, power-adjustable mirrors, cruise control, remote keyless entry, power windows and door locks, steering-wheel-mounted audio and phone controls, a theft-deterrent system, satellite radio and a six-speaker audio system.
Moving up to the 2LT adds premium vinyl upholstery, a leather-wrapped steering wheel, keyless entry and ignition, heated front seats, rear parking sensors and chrome exterior trim.
The new Spark Activ is similar to the 2LT but has roof rails, special 15-inch wheels and bodywork, and a raised suspension that provides 0.4 inch of additional ground clearance.
A sunroof is available on all LT trims, and the Driver Confidence package (forward collision warning and lane departure warning) can be ordered on the 2LT with the continuously variable transmission (CVT).
The 2017 Spark equipped with the manual transmission returns an EPA-rate 33 mpg in combined driving (29 city/38 highway). The CVT model also yields 33 mpg combined (30 city/38 highway). For the Activ trim level, the manual-equipped returns 32 mpg combined and the automatic-equipped is good for 33 mpg combined.
In Edmunds testing, a CVT-equipped Spark accelerated from zero to 60 mph in 11.3 seconds, making it one of the slower cars in its class.
Because of its modest power output, the Spark's small four-cylinder engine is best suited for around-town use. A CVT-equipped Spark takes a bit more than 11 seconds to reach 60 mph from a standstill, so highway on-ramp runs require some advance planning. Although we haven't yet tested a Spark equipped with the five-speed manual transmission, we expect it to be slightly slower than the CVT-equipped model.
The Spark's tallish body fosters the impression of a European cargo van left too long in the clothes dryer. Thankfully, the Spark doesn't drive like a van. Although far from a sport sedan, this petite Chevy remains surprisingly agile around turns and delivers a well-mannered ride overall. There's noticeable road and wind noise, but it's no more intrusive than in other cars at this price point. It's also impressively easy to park, even in tight spaces.
Up front, the 2017 Chevrolet Spark surrounds you with a simple, clean and modern interior, but it's difficult to ignore the vast expanse of painted plastic bits, admittedly a common sight on cars in this price range. The color-accented dash and door panels, well-textured trim pieces and swoopy sculpting help you overlook some of the hard plastic surfaces. Sporty gauges featuring both a traditional speedometer and a digital multifunction display add visual appeal.
The MyLink touchscreen infotainment system adds to the Spark's modern vibe. It has intuitive menus, sharp graphics and a 7-inch touchscreen that supports smartphone-imitating gestures like pinching and swiping. Apple CarPlay lets you run your iPhone from the touchscreen in a familiar manner, while Android Auto does the same for smartphones using the Google-based operating system.
Considering its small size, the Spark provides spacious seating for most adults to get comfortable, even on longer drives. Still, the upright position of the front seats gives the impression that you're sitting on the chairs rather than in them, and there's no real lateral support. While the Spark's rear seats are larger than many in the subcompact segment, they're still best suited to smaller passengers. Average-size adults will likely complain about the low seat cushions and headrests.
Cargo capacity checks in at 11.1 cubic feet behind the rear seats and 27.2 cubic feet with the rear seats lowered. Both figures are below average for the class. For comparison, the Honda Fit boasts 52.7 cubic feet of maximum space.
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.