The Chevrolet Spark made its American debut in 2013, but the subcompact model's history begins with the 1998 launch of the Daewoo Matiz on which it is based. Like many "city cars" the hatchback has one main function: to carry passengers around as cheaply as possible. Despite this singular goal, however, a well-optioned Spark offers some unexpectedly nice features.
An 84-horsepower 1.3-liter four-cylinder engine powers all Sparks, which come in six trim levels: LS Manual, LS Automatic, 1LT Manual, 1LT Automatic, 2LT Manual and 2LT Automatic. Trim level names indicate whether the Spark has a five-speed manual or four-speed automatic transmission.
Sparks aren't built for speed. The manual version creeps to 60 mph in 10.5 seconds, and the automatic version posts a snail-like 12.2-second run to 60 mph. However, subcompact buyers are more interested in fuel economy, and the Spark delivers good numbers: 32 mpg city and 38 mpg highway with a manual, and 28 mpg city and 37 mpg highway with an automatic.
The base LS Manual has a five-speed manual transmission; body-color exterior mirrors and door handles; 15-inch wheels; a rear spoiler; a four-speaker AM/FM audio system with an auxiliary jack; air conditioning; a tilt steering wheel; and power windows.
The 1LT Manual adds to the LS Manual: power mirrors; a Chevrolet MyLink Touch Radio with AM/FM/CD capabilities, Bluetooth audio streaming, six speakers, a USB port and SiriusXM; steering-wheel-mounted audio and smartphone controls; cruise control; power door locks; and remote keyless entry.
The 2LT Manual features: 15-inch machined-face aluminum wheels; sport front and rear fascia; body-colored rocker moldings; a chrome beltline and liftgate trim; silver roof rails; leatherette seating; heated front seats; and a leather-wrapped three-spoke steering wheel.
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More horsepower, unique body style and higher mpg, but more expensive and standard steel wheels
Great mpg, more powerful and stylish, but higher base price and only two doors
Much more power, sportier driving and great mpg, but higher base price and standard steel wheels
More horsepower, higher mpg and available with two or four doors, but pricier and lacks style