“You call that a parking space?” – it’s a question that anyone who’s ever driven in a city has asked at some point or another. Many are the drivers who’ve regretted the decision to bring a truck or SUV downtown, or who’ve lamented that their long and low sedan makes it so hard to see and maneuver around urban cores. Enter the 2021 Chevy Spark, one of the smallest cars on the market.
City dwellers often choose to rely on public transportation and forego the expense of a personal vehicle – it’s often not worth spending $25,000 or more on a car you can barely use. In the Spark, however, not only do they find a car that can easily navigate urban streets and parking lots – but they also get a brand new car for well under $20,000. There isn’t any car on the market that is more affordable or better suited for city drivers.
The 2021 Chevy Spark is the 6th year of production for the 4th generation of a model that originated as the Daewoo Matiz “Kei car” in 1998. Since the GM acquisition of Daewoo, the model was developed and sold around the world under different GM monikers; the Chevy Spark finally landed in the USA in 2012. Competing with the likes of the Yaris, the Fit, and the Versa, the 2021 model delivers a surprising list of standard technology for its price point. And with bold color choices and handling befitting of an urban roadrunner, there’s plenty of good reasons why over 2.5 million Sparks have been sold in 131 countries around the world.
All About the Bottom Line
For many people, a car is no more than a tool to safely and quickly transport them from Point A to Point B, and the best car is the car that costs the least to buy and to own. Starting at $13,400, an all-new 2021 Chevy Spark LS is the cheapest way to get a new-car warranty in the United States, meaning that for three years or 36,000 miles, any problems are covered by GM. Sure, you can find used cars for less, but getting the warranty coverage is unlikely and encountering mechanical maintenance issues is a guarantee.
On that point alone, the 2021 Spark is already a great value for anyone shopping with a $15-20,000 budget. With fuel efficiency of 30 MPG in the city and 38 MPG on the highway, the value stretches over the life of the car by keeping fuel expenses low. Additionally, the 1.4L 4-cylinder engine easily propels the lightweight Spark in city driving conditions while barely sipping gasoline so owners can make pump visits an infrequent errand.
All economy-oriented designs compromise certain comforts and features to achieve their target price points, and the 2021 Spark is no different. The base model comes with manual locks, windows, seat adjustment, and transmission (that’s right – all Sparks come standard with a stick shift), all of which is surprising in today’s market.
However, Chevy’s standard infotainment system (Chevy Infotainment 3) sports an impressive suite of features that can be hard to come by with other brands. The 7” touch screen dominates the center of the dashboard, making it easy to navigate through the various pages. Bluetooth connectivity for two compatible devices allows both the driver and passengers to stream music on a whim.
Apple CarPlay and Android Auto compatibilities are also standard, a rarity, especially in this price range, turning your car into an extension of your smartphone. Last but not least, every Spark is 4G LTE Wi-Fi hotspot capable, saving precious cellular data while on the road. When it comes to the Spark, the bottom line is simple: It gives you more for your money.
The Chevy Spark has a small engine. The 1.4L naturally-aspirated (i.e., no turbocharger) 4-cylinder engine only makes 98 hp and 94 lb-ft of torque. Only the Mitsubishi Mirage has a weaker engine in the US market. However, with a base weight just over 2,300 lbs, the Spark is also one of the lightest cars on the road, allowing that engine to easily power it through the urban jungle.
A short wheelbase of 94”, smallest-in-segment 143” overall length, and narrow 54.5” track make the tiny Spark the best on the market for squeezing into tight parking spaces or merging in heavy traffic. Maneuverability is further improved by “light, accurate steering” so drivers can easily take advantage of that small footprint. There will be none of those painfully slow 5-point turns when it comes to the Spark.
Some may think that Chevy would have to compromise cargo space to allow for such a maneuverable, small vehicle. However, the Spark actually offers 11 cu.ft. of space behind the 2nd row, which is enough for a pair of suitcases. And the 2nd-row seats fold to increase space to 27.2 cubic feet overall. This space is much more than what is offered in traditional sedans, allowing this small vehicle to be quite convenient for travel.
A Touch of Personality
Beyond the logistics of performance and features, one thing that a lot of drivers love to have is a personal connection with their car. You’re spending a lot of money on it, after all, you might as well love it! Thankfully, Chevy agrees with this mentality, so while the Spark is limited on styling and fancy materials, it’s available in 10 bold and distinct paint colors so you won’t need to be lost in a sea of gray. Of course, gray, black, and white paints are available, but so are pale purple Passion Fruit, blazing Red Hot, Cayenne Orange, and stunning Mystic and Caribbean Blues.
Plus, different trims offer amenities and extra tech, as well as appearance changes. The base LS and 1LT trims feature cloth seating with patterned upholstery; the ACTIV and 2LT trims have leatherette-appointed seating instead. The ACTIV trim pursues a sportier look, adding roof rails, a 1” lift, and a unique, tougher looking front fascia with fog lamps. The top-trim, the 2LT model, sports chrome highlights on the exterior, and body-color vent surrounds on the dash.
The 2LT trim also offers access to driver assistance features unavailable on any other Spark. Add these and all of the other options like a power sunroof, aluminum and chrome highlights throughout, and painted aluminum wheels for a fully-loaded Spark at just over $21,500. Not bad, even for a “Kei car.”
If You’re Just Looking For That Spark…
Being a driver in a city is hard. Whether you’re an urbanite with a car that’s too big to fit anywhere or one who’s opted for public transit to save the expense, you know the struggles well. The sub-compact car market has developed to target those demographics, and the 2021 Chevy Spark is perhaps the closest to hitting a bull’s eye.
Got a tight budget? It’s the cheapest new car on the market. Got a tight parking lot? It’s one of the shortest and narrowest vehicles money can buy in the USA today. If you’re a city dweller looking for a new car, take one for a test drive to see if the sparks fly. With an efficient, peppy driving experience, a surprising list of standard infotainment technology, and highly customizable personal flair, the 2021 Chevy Spark is a great choice for all city-dwelling drivers.