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Remember the Geo Metro? Chevy does, and it’s been on a mission ever since that car died to incorporate its few good qualities – low price, maneuverability, reliability and fuel-efficiency – into a car that isn't quite so easy to poke fun at. Has GM accomplished its mission? If its claim of the Spark being the best-selling car in its segment is true, it would certainly seem so.

What's New for 2018

Changes are few, amounting to slightly higher prices across the board and the introduction of “Sorbet” (orange) and other comically-named paint colors to the Spark’s palette, bringing the total number of offerings to an even 10.

Choosing Your Chevrolet Spark

The base Spark is the LS with the standard five-speed manual transmission, and it stickers at $13,925 (including $875 Destination Charge), making it the cheapest car GM offers, period. And while that means buyers should temper their expectations accordingly, that doesn’t mean the level of standard and optional equipment one can order on even the lowliest Spark as limited as the Metro’s.

The biggest break from Geo convention is that all Sparks are front-wheel-drive, four-seat, five-door hatchbacks equipped with the same 1.4-liter DOHC inline-four that produces 98 horsepower and 94 pound-feet of torque, regardless of trim level. Eking any performance out of that few ponies isn’t easy, but at least with the standard five-speed stick it can get out of its own way (not quite so much with the $1,100 optional continuously-variable transmission).

There are four Chevy Spark trims:


Convention holds that vehicles with MSRPs this low are stripped-out fleet or rental car specials, utterly devoid of anything that’s not specifically required to make it function. But Chevy has taken a different tack with the Spark. In this, the basest trim, it’s true that some rudimentary features show up – including 15-inch steel wheels with plastic covers, rear drum brakes, and manually-adjusted everything – it also includes Chevy’s MyLink Radio with a seven-inch diagonal color touchscreen, four-speaker AM/FM stereo with Bluetooth, Android Auto and Apple CarPlay functionality plus Siri Eyes Free controls, a USB port and auxiliary audio jack. There’s even an OnStar 4G LTE wifi for up to seven devices and a standard rear-vision camera system fitted range-wide.

And for those leery of driving such a “fun size” (Chevy’s term) vehicle in today’s SUV-heavy traffic, Chevy squeezed into the Spark ten airbags covering everything from the expected to driver/front passenger knee air bags and thorax/pelvic bags built into the seats plus automatic seatbelt pretensioners.

Also included are a grab-bag of other standard features that belie the LS’s low price, including automatic headlamps, air conditioning, hill start assistance, and a Driver Information System that’ll tell drivers about the car’s health plus things like average speed, fuel economy, and range to empty.

Customizing a Spark LS starts and ends with choosing from among seven free and two $395 exterior colors (though all are paired with Jet Black cloth upholstery). There are a range of dealer-installed accessories, although we recommend avoiding most of them.


The second rung on the “regular” Spark ladder is the $15,750 1LT. In addition to all the LS’s standard gear, the 1LT gets 15-inch silver-painted alloy wheels, foglights, chrome grille and foglight trim, a theft-deterrent system, and steering wheel-mounted controls and SiriusXM capability (and three-month free trial) for its now six-speaker audio system. And while we don't normally mention them thanks to their ubiquity on most cars, the 1LT is the first Spark trim that comes standard with power windows and locks, heated power side-view mirrors, and cruise control.

The only real difference on the options front is that there is now a $1,000 sunroof and the new-for-2018 “Sorbet” (orange) paint color makes its first appearance.


No offense to 1LT buyers, but the $1,500 extra it takes to buy a 2LT instead is beyond worth it. This $17,250 trim level offers leatherette seat trim (in black, beige or blue, depending on exterior color), heated front seats, a leather-wrapped steering wheel, perimeter locking with push-button start, rear parking sensors, an enhanced – but still monochromatic – Driver Information Center, and chrome trim on the interior and exterior door handles, beltline molding, and liftgate.

And yet again, the options roster stays pretty much the same apart from what’s standard on the 2LT already. But one troubling choice Chevy’s made is to require buyers to put up the $18,350 its costs for a 2LT with the CVT in order to make the $195 Driver Confidence Package (forward collision alert and lane departure warning) available.

That aside, for those playing at home, even skipping over the myriad trim jazzer-uppers and dealer-installed doodads, this priciest of Sparks – the 2LT CVT – in either extra-cost paint color with its two options packages and 13 functional individual options rings the register at $21,845, which is $6,820 more than an LS CVTor more than 45 percent of that model’s MSRP.


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.

CarsDirect Tip

If you’re looking for a Spark with CUV looks, the ACTIV trim is the only game in town. And even if you’re not, if you don’t mind the look, the ACTIV strikes an excellent balance between what’s offered on the 1LT with many 2LT goodies thrown in and access to almost everything else in the form of options. All that it’s missing is the Driver Confidence Package, and if that’s a must-have, so is a Spark 2LT CVT.

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