Primarily an appearance package, this faux-CUV trim level – called (or yelled) “ACTIV” – adds $1,245 to the 1LT’s MSRP for unique 15-inch alloy wheels, roof rails (the only trim to have them), a unique front fascia incorporating larger round fog lamps and mid-bumper-to-bottom black trim with a fake silver “skid plate” at its base. In the case of the rear bumper, it’s all black save for another silver do-nothing faux skid whatever. Black wheel arch trim and silver-painted rocker panel pieces complete the look.
Though it’s a major styling departure from the rest of the line, Chevy shoehorned the Spark ACTIV between its two LTs price-wise at $16,995 with the manual gearbox. And while it certainly jazzes up the look of the Spark, whether those styling gewgaws make it a CUV parody or pastiche is up to the beholder.
Inside it offers many features that would otherwise be under the purview of the $255 pricier 2LT, including heated front seats, leatherette upholstery, a leather-wrapped three-spoke steering wheel with silver accents, and more, but it lets its 1LT roots shine through by not having the 2LT’s shiny chrome trim or rear parking sensors.
The ACTIV's main – and basically only – mechanical difference is the paradoxically-named “Soft Ride Suspension System,” which adds 0.4 inches of ground clearance and (unsurprisingly), softens up the ride. That comes at a cost, though, with EPA fuel economy estimates for the Spark ACTIV lagging one highway and combined mpg behind the rest of the line’s 29 mpg city/38 highway/33 combined ratings with the manual transmission and just one highway mpg behind the 30/38/33 mpg with the CVT.