2013 Chevrolet Spark

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$4,376–$10,228 Inventory Prices
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Key Specs

of the 2013 Chevrolet Spark. Base trim shown.

  • Body Type:
  • Combined MPG:
    32-35 Combined MPG
  • Engine:
    84-hp, 1.2-liter I-4 (regular gas)
  • Drivetrain:
    Front-wheel Drive
  • Transmission:
    5-speed manual w/OD
  • View more specs

Our Take

From the Cars.com Vehicle Test Team

The Good

  • Spacious cabin
  • Responsive automatic transmission
  • Intuitive multimedia system
  • Relatively large cargo area

The Bad

  • Rough highway ride
  • Hard-to-read gauges
  • Cumbersome backseat folding
  • Techno Pink paint color

Notable Features of the 2013 Chevrolet Spark

  • New minicar slots below Sonic
  • Four doors, four seats
  • Available touch-screen multimedia system
  • 10 airbags
  • 1.2-liter four-cylinder

2013 Chevrolet Spark Road Test

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David Thomas

First it was BMW with its Mini, then it was Mercedes-Benz with its Smart: vehicles that packed style into a small package.

Now we've got small cars from Fiat (the 500) and Scion (the iQ), but the relevance of microcars as a segment may rely mostly on the new 2013 Chevy Spark.

It's hard to imagine a domestic automaker developing a well-rounded, affordable and shockingly roomy microcar with top-flight technology, but that's what Chevrolet has done with the 2013 Spark.

The fact that it's a very small car can't be escaped, though. The laws of physics are impossible to defy, even with great engineering, and the Spark's performance is certainly not for every shopper.

Micro Packaging
The beauty of the 
Chevrolet Spark is really in its deceptive size.

On the outside, the 144.7-inch-long hatchback is just 2 inches smaller than a Mini Cooper hardtop and more than 15 inches shorter than a Ford Fiesta hatchback. Chevy's own subcompact Sonic hatch is 14 inches longer.

Inside, though, passenger volume is rated at 86.5 cubic feet, versus the Fiesta's 85 cubic feet. The Sonic is rated at 91 cubic feet.

It's this spaciousness that drivers will appreciate when behind the wheel. The tall roof and ample headroom especially resonated with me; I've always felt cramped in the Fiesta, though it's otherwise good in many ways.

Even more shocking is that rear passengers won't have to practice their contortionist skills just to get in the car, ...

First it was BMW with its Mini, then it was Mercedes-Benz with its Smart: vehicles that packed style into a small package.

Now we've got small cars from Fiat (the 500) and Scion (the iQ), but the relevance of microcars as a segment may rely mostly on the new 2013 Chevy Spark.

It's hard to imagine a domestic automaker developing a well-rounded, affordable and shockingly roomy microcar with top-flight technology, but that's what Chevrolet has done with the 2013 Spark.

The fact that it's a very small car can't be escaped, though. The laws of physics are impossible to defy, even with great engineering, and the Spark's performance is certainly not for every shopper.

Micro Packaging
The beauty of the 
Chevrolet Spark is really in its deceptive size.

On the outside, the 144.7-inch-long hatchback is just 2 inches smaller than a Mini Cooper hardtop and more than 15 inches shorter than a Ford Fiesta hatchback. Chevy's own subcompact Sonic hatch is 14 inches longer.

Inside, though, passenger volume is rated at 86.5 cubic feet, versus the Fiesta's 85 cubic feet. The Sonic is rated at 91 cubic feet.

It's this spaciousness that drivers will appreciate when behind the wheel. The tall roof and ample headroom especially resonated with me; I've always felt cramped in the Fiesta, though it's otherwise good in many ways.

Even more shocking is that rear passengers won't have to practice their contortionist skills just to get in the car, thanks to the four full doors — the hidden door handles outside almost make the Spark look like a two-door — and there's even decent knee room for full-sized adults.

Look at the 11.4 cubic feet of trunk volume with the rear seats in place, and again the Spark holds up well, falling between the Fiesta, at 15.4 cubic feet, and the Mini Cooper, at 5.7 cubic feet. I hit the home improvement store for a 30-pound bag of grass seed and one of fertilizer, and both fit flat on the floor. A large potted plant didn't quite make it; I had to fold the seats down.

And that is not an easy task. To maximize space, the Spark requires the seat bottoms to flip forward before the seatbacks can fold flat. This was common in SUVs in the past, but I never saw one that allowed the seat belt buckles to fall out of place and be entirely covered when putting the seat bottoms back in place. You'll need to hold onto the Spark's belt receptacles as you complete the maneuver.

Despite that issue, the Spark doesn't feel that cheap inside, even with the heavy use of clearly fake leather — vinyl — and lots of plastic. Geometric patterns are ingrained in both types of materials to add some "edge," and some models bring the exterior paint color inside.

I didn't like the small display that's mounted next to the speedometer. The readout includes most information you'll need in a very tight space, so it's hard to see trip information or gas level with a quick glance.

Performance
Eighty-four is a decent basketball score or temperature for the beach, but it's not a great horsepower rating, even if the car it's powering weighs less than 2,300 pounds.

Luckily, when teamed to the four-speed automatic transmission, acceleration around town comes in the fashion you'd expect from a typical compact. Getting on the highway, however, takes a long time, with a slow build-up to get to cruising speeds.

I also tested the Chevrolet Spark with the base car's five-speed manual transmission. The long shifter had somewhat rubbery throws, and the clutch popped in and out in a perfunctory manner, but I found it to be about what you'd expect from a car in this price range. The four-speed automatic stood out among our editors as being surprisingly efficient.

Mileage is rated at 32/38 mpg city/highway and 34 mpg combined with the manual, 28/37/32 mpg for the automatic. That's behind the iQ, which is rated 36/37/37 mpg with its standard automatic, but similar to the Fiat 500, at 31/40/34 with the manual and 27/34/30 with the automatic — but the Fiat requires premium gas to get those figures. You can compare the three models here.

While the Chevrolet Spark's size is meant to be an advantage for city dwellers, a car this size will always have inherent problems. Despite a rather lengthy wheelbase for its size, the Spark was obnoxiously choppy on the highway. Every expansion joint or undulation in the pavement had the entire car pitching up and down. After one particular commute home, I was thrilled to see my exit because I was getting queasy from being tossed about.

Over pothole-strewn city streets, including a stretch in the meatpacking district where the term "road" is used loosely, the Spark did a better job than I expected. The suspension takes the bumps fairly well, and at slow speeds the jostling isn't as severe as those smaller imperfections felt at highway speeds.

Because the Spark gains so much interior volume by making the car tall, I was expecting a tipping sensation during tight cornering, like on highway off-ramps. But the Spark — which comes with standard 15-inch alloy wheels — is quite stable, exhibiting little body lean.

It also stays well-planted at highway speeds. During severe rain, I felt very secure piloting the tiny car down the road.

Unlike many subcompact cars that deliver just an average experience in all situations, the Chevrolet Spark definitely excels in one and lags greatly in another. Shoppers looking for a car to complete a short commute or daily runs around town will find the Spark alluring. Anyone who commutes or spends much time on the highway should look elsewhere.

Features & Pricing
If life isn't a highway for you, the 
Chevrolet Spark delivers on content and value. At a base price of $12,995 including a $750 destination charge, you get a five-door vehicle with standard alloy wheels, air conditioning, cloth seats, power windows, an AM/FM stereo with four speakers and a manual transmission. An automatic adds $925 to any model.

Move up a higher trim, and the Chevrolet Spark 1LT ($14,495) is outfitted with the new MyLink multimedia system with six speakers, steering-wheel audio and phone controls, and cruise control.

The Chevrolet Spark 2LT adds vinyl seating, a leather-wrapped steering wheel, unique wheels and exterior tweaks like fog lights, roof rails and more for $15,795. You can compare the trim levels here.

The multimedia system is really cool, and I'd guess most buyers will opt for the 1LT because of it alone. The 7-inch touch-screen looks like a high-end smartphone, not an outdated piece of technology. GM promises software updates to keep it fresh.

It has the features of very expensive units in other cars, including iPod integration, voice control, Bluetooth for phone and music streaming, and apps like Pandora radio. Later this year a navigation app will be available. So instead of having built-in navigation, owners will pay approximately $50 for a navigation app via the iPhone or Android app store and download it to their phone. Plug the phone into the car's USB port, and the navigation app displays in full on the 7-inch screen.

I saw a demo of the beta version and its functionality was good, but the graphics weren't as stunning as what you get when using the system's phone or music functions.

Safety
As of publication, the 
Chevrolet Spark had not been crash-tested by either the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration or the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety.

It comes with 10 standard airbags, including seat-mounted side airbags for front and rear outboard passengers and knee airbags for the driver and front passenger.

Spark in the Market
The microcar segment is expanding, but it's unknown how much demand is out there for these cars as a whole. Ones like the Fiat that play to style-conscious buyers make sense because the small size is hard to sell on a practical basis.

If there were a practical microcar, though, it would be the Chevrolet Spark.

Send David an email  

 


2013 Spark Video

Consumers might shy away from Chevy’s tiny Spark because of its compact dimensions (and awful pink color, in our case), but looks are deceiving, says Cars.com reviewer David Thomas.

Latest 2013 Spark Stories

Consumer Reviews

Exterior Styling
(4.4)
Performance
(3.7)
Interior Design
(4.3)
Comfort
(3.9)
Reliability
(4.0)
Value For The Money
(4.3)

What Drivers Are Saying

(5.0)

A Sassy Lime Green Car

by WishUponAStar13 from Worcester, MA on August 14, 2018

I "upgraded" to the Spark after my SUV was totaled in an accident. This car is fun to drive and gets the job done with little to no frills (which is fine with me). I've owned my Spark since 2014 and ... Read full review

(4.0)

Best first car

by Mkapad01 from Redwood City, California on July 18, 2018

I drive this to college and it is very reliable. However, hot days can take a toll on the engine so try to run the heater on hot days to keep the engine cooler. Read full review

Safety & Recalls

Recalls

The 2013 Chevrolet Spark currently has 4 recalls

Crash and Rollover Test Ratings

The 2013 Chevrolet Spark has not been tested.

Manufacturer Warranty

  • Bumper-to-Bumper

    36 months / 36,000 miles

  • Powertrain

    60 months / 100,000 miles

  • Roadside Assistance

    60 months / 100,000 miles

CPO Program & Warranty

Certified Pre-Owned by Chevrolet

Program Benefits

Two Factory-Backed Warranties, CPO Scheduled Maintenance Program, Vehicle Inspection & Reconditioning, 3-Day/150-Mile Vehicle Exchange Program, 24/7 Roadside Assistance and Courtesy Transportation, OnStar & SiriusXM Satellite Radio Trial Offers, and a Carfax Vehicle History Report

  • Limited Warranty

    Two Factory-Backed Warranties

    6-Year/100,000-Mile, Powertrain Limited Warranty and a 12- Month/12,000-Miles, Bumper-to-Bumper Limited Warranty, both with $0 deductible
  • Eligibility

    Under 5 years / 75,000 miles

    Vehicles receive a 172-Point Inspection & Reconditioning.

    See inspection details.

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Cars.com Car Seat Check

Certified child passenger safety technicians conduct hands-on tests of a car’s Latch system and check the vehicle’s ability to accommodate different types of car seats. The Spark received the following grades on a scale of A-F.*
* This score may not apply to all trims, especially for vehicles with multiple body styles that affect the space and design of the seating.

Warranty FAQs

What is a Bumper-to-Bumper warranty?

Often called a basic warranty or new-vehicle warranty, a bumper-to-bumper policy covers components like air conditioning, audio systems, vehicle sensors, fuel systems and major electrical components. Most policies exclude regular maintenance like fluid top offs and oil changes, but a few brands have separate free-maintenance provisions, and those that do offer them is slowly rising. Bumper-to-bumper warranties typically expire faster than powertrain warranties.

What is a Powertrain warranty?

Don't be misled a 10-year or 100,000-mile powertrain warranty doesn't promise a decade of free repairs for your car. It typically covers just the engine and transmission, along with any other moving parts that lead to the wheels, like the driveshaft and constant velocity joints. Some automakers also bundle seat belts and airbags into their powertrain warranties. With a few exceptions, powertrain warranties don't cover regular maintenance like engine tuneups and tire rotations.

What is included in Roadside Assistance?

Some automakers include roadside assistance with their bumper-to-bumper or powertrain warranties, while others have separate policies. These programs cover anything from flat-tire changes and locksmith services to jump-starts and towing. Few reimburse incidental costs like motel rooms (if you have to wait for repairs).

What other services could be included in a warranty?

Some automakers include free scheduled maintenance for items such as oil changes, air filters and tire rotations. Some include consumables including brake pads and windshield wipers; others do not. They are typically for the first couple of years of ownership of a new car.

What does CPO mean?

A certified pre-owned or CPO car has been inspected to meet minimum quality standards and typically includes some type of warranty. While dealers and third parties certify cars, the gold standard is an automaker-certified vehicle that provides a factory-backed warranty, often extending the original coverage. Vehicles must be in excellent condition and have low miles and wear to be certified, which is why off-lease vehicles feed many CPO programs.

See also the latest CPO incentives by automaker