Commendable option, albeit confusing. The 2020 Chevrolet Spark offers budget-minded car shoppers a pint-size option that's easy on the wallet but relatively generous with features.

With this tiny hatchback comes some compromise and a little infighting within the brand, as the Chevrolet Sonic offers more space, a more engaging drive, and doesn’t cost a ton more. But with many other automakers offering teeny-tiny models, Chevy deserves some credit for covering all its bases.

A grown-up look with an odd off-road twist. The Chevy Spark went through a restyling a few years back that resulted in it losing its funky design and taking on a more mature and distinguished look. This new look stands out in the sea of busy styling in the subcompact segment, making it an excellent option for buyers who prefer a more basic look.

Buyers who want something more eye-catching will not find this in the Spark. These shoppers may prefer the Toyota Yaris or Fiat 500. There's also the Sonic, which looks more proportional and boasts a sporty RS trim.

An odd twist to the Spark’s design is the faux off-roader known as the Spark ACTIV. This model gets a slight ride-height increase, plastic body cladding, and more to make it look off-road friendly, but it rides on the same front-wheel-drive powertrain, so off-road travel is still a no-go.

Inside, the Spark doesn’t lack style, but it also won’t bowl you over with stunning duds. Instead, its cabin follows the same theme as its body with stylish upholstery patterns and simple plastics. Buyers looking for a more entertaining interior may want to check out the Fiat 500 or Yaris.

Feature-packed cabin, but you’ll want to ride shotgun. Entry-level subcompact cars aren't known for their high-tech features, but the Chevy Spark is an outlier. It comes standard with a 7-inch touchscreen infotainment system that includes Apple CarPlay and Android Auto.

The Kia Rio hatchback matches this standard infotainment system. The Mitsubishi Mirage matches the 7-inch touchscreen, but Apple CarPlay and Android Auto are optional. The Sonic boasts all the same tech features and adds standard 4G LTE wi-fi that turns it into a rolling hotspot.

While it surrounds you in an impressive amount of tech, the Spark is one where riding shotgun can really make a difference. The Spark’s rear seats offer just 33 inches of leg room, which is 1.6 inches shy of the Sonic, 1.2 inches short of the Mirage, and 0.5 inches less than the Rio hatchback.

The Spark also lacks in cargo room at just 11 cubic feet with the rear seats upright, and 27.2 cubes with the rear seats folded. The Mirage offers 17.1 cubes with the seats up and 47 with the seats lowered. The Rio hatchback also beats it with 17.4 cubes with the seats up and 32.8 with the seats folded. The Sonic chimes in with 19 cubes with its seats upright and 47.7 cubes with them folded.


2020 Chevy Spark

Unimpactful performance. The Chevy Spark’s standard 1.4-liter four-cylinder engine wheezes out 98 horsepower through a standard five-speed manual transmission. While this manual feels ripped straight from the 1990s, it's the better option to the loud and scary-slow continuously variable transmission.

While that powertrain pales in comparison the Kia Rio hatchback's 120-hp, 1.6-liter motor and six-speed automatic, which delivers a loud but more enjoyable drive, it's nowhere near as bad as the Mirage’s 78-hp, 1.2-liter three-cylinder engine. We’re still searching for the GEO Metro stamping on the Mirage’s powertrain.

The Sonic plays in a different arena altogether with its 1.4-liter turbocharged four-cylinder delivering 138 hp and 148 pound-feet of torque. This gets the Sonic to 60 mph in a relatively rewarding 8.5 seconds, which beats the Spark by 2.2 seconds and the Mirage by 3.2 seconds.

In thriftiness, the Spark gives up a lot to the competition, as its EPA-estimated 33 miles per gallon combined is three mpg lower than the Rio hatchback and Mirage. The Spark’s combined rating trumps the Sonic by four mpg combined.

Final thoughts. The 2020 Chevy Spark is a sharp subcompact, but it's difficult to recommend when its larger, roomier, and more fun-to-drive Sonic sibling sits at only $2,200 more.

The Sonic offers more leg room, more cargo room, significantly better performance, and a more stylish design. The only logical reasons to opt for the Spark over the Sonic are fuel economy and super-tight parking spaces.

Check prices for the 2020 Chevy Spark »