2013 Chevrolet Spark: First drive review
A stripper by any other name — this is the most basic of basic transports.
Chevrolet's small-car history isn't one the automaker would like you to remember, nor should you. It includes a laundry list of vehicles only a mother could love: the Chevette, Aveo, Metro and Cavalier, all poorly built and ill-conceived models best forgotten.
However, Chevrolet has turned over a new leaf in the small-car arena over the past few years. Its Cruze is refined and efficient, and the Sonic is sharply styled and nimble, with generous interior space and ample feature content. Bottom line: The Sonic feels more substantial than its modest price and dimensions would suggest.
For 2013, Chevy is adding a third small car to its lineup, the entry-level Spark. Starting at just over $12,000, the Spark is certainly affordable, and like the Sonic it offers some unexpected features for the price. Unfortunately, the Spark looks and drives like a rolling compromise, something you buy because you can't afford anything better. It's a truly basic vehicle at a bargain price that nobody will remember fondly.
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The 2013 Chevrolet Spark is offered in LS, 1LT and 2LT trims, each with either manual or automatic transmission. The LS, which starts at $12,245, is fairly well equipped for such a cheap car. It comes standard with air conditioning, power windows, cloth upholstery, AM/FM radio, 10 airbags and 15-inch alloy wheels. The $13,745 1LT adds power locks, remote keyless entry, cruise control, satellite radio, a USB port, Bluetooth cellphone connectivity and the Chevrolet MyLink infotainment system. The $15,045 2LT gets vinyl upholstery, heated front seats and fog lights. No options are offered, but the automatic transmission costs an additional $925.
Under the hood
The 2013 Chevrolet Spark comes with only one engine: a tiny 1.25-liter 4-cylinder that ekes out 84 horsepower and 83 lb-ft of torque. It is mated to a 5-speed manual transmission or a 4-speed automatic. Environmental Protection Agency fuel-economy ratings are 32 mpg city/38 mpg highway with the manual and 28 mpg city/37 mpg highway with the automatic.
The Spark is basic. Really basic. Things like sound-deadening material, sculpted seats with numerous adjustments, a telescoping steering wheel, and soft-touch surfaces aren't found here. Hop inside and the first thing you notice is the tinny clanging sound the door makes when it closes. Next you note the hard-plastic dash. Neither attribute screams quality. However, Chevy embraces the use of plastic by giving it a molded design flourish and body color accents. Both add visual interest to an otherwise Spartan cabin.
The control layout on the base trim is quite simple, with the radio controls set high and three climate control dials placed low. That's it. Opt for an LT trim, though, and you get Chevy's innovative MyLink touch-screen radio. Developed with LG, this system offers the connectivity young buyers want but usually can't get in such an affordable car. A 7-inch touch screen on the dash links with your smartphone to provide access to apps, pictures and even movies. It also includes a USB port for music streaming. The available apps include Pandora and Stitcher Internet radio, and a new navigation app called BringGo. This app costs $50 and works with iPhones and Droids to provide full navigation functionality, including point-of-interest search.
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The writer is speaking of the Cavalier with limited knowledge and wrong conclusions. My family has owned 3 Cavaliers including a '94 Z24 that went 300,000 problem free miles with only brakes, tires, and two sets of spark plugs needed. I currently have a '92 RS wagon, and a '94 RS wagon. The 92 has 240,000 miles, and the 94 has 140,000 miles. Both have the original engines and transmissions. They have the 3.1 V6 and average an all-around 25 mpg. They also have very quick steering and great handling and can carry a large load. The 92 just had new shocks and struts at 225,000 miles. Would buy a new one in a heartbeat.
I own a 2012 Sonic 1LT Turbo sedan with auto. I really can relate to what they say in this article about the Sonic. I have not driven the Spark, but I also like it for looks. Love that yellow color they offer. For the price, I think the more basic Spark is good and much better than buying most used cars! Heck, you would pay the same price for a 3 year old Honda Fit with 50K! Why?
With that said, if you go with the higher priced Spark you might just as well go with the Sonic. Both are good, but the Sonic is much more car for the $15K to $19K.
My daughter bought a Cruz because of the milage. Liked the looks, sporty, but was disappointed with the 22 mpg she got. Took it back to the dealer several times and there remedy was let it go through the "break in" period. Never did top the 22 mpg. Traded it this year for a Malibue! Dealer said that she would get better then 22 mpg with the malibue. She is getting 18 now. Only thing is she NOW has more room,bigger car! I advised her not to Buy GM cause of the lies I went through. Its been 26 years since I bought a GM and am very happy with the Fords and Toyotas I have bought since! They last longer and the companies stand behind there products! My 2012 F-350 Diesel 4x4 gets 23 mpg and my 06 Tacoma has 230k and gets 26 mpg. Why cant GM make a product that gets what they promise?