2021 Chevrolet Spark

2021 Chevrolet Spark Review: City Slicker

by Sebastian Cenizo

These days it seems like cars are just getting bigger and bigger, with the exception of city tykes like the Chevy Spark. The current BMW 3 Series is bigger than the first 5 Series was, and with the masses flocking to crossovers and SUVs, it's only natural for manufacturers to produce even bigger cars in order to keep up with the competition. However, some people still need something small, light, and easy to park, and the Spark fits the bill perfectly. It's got a 1.4-liter naturally aspirated engine that produces a mere 98 hp and 94 lb-ft; but, in a subcompact that just needs to be easily maneuverable in the city and light on gas, this is perfect. Still, it's difficult to ignore slightly bigger alternatives, especially considering their higher performance. So, is the Spark a relic or does it still belong with us? There's only one way to find out.

2021 Chevrolet Spark Changes: 🚙What’s the difference vs 2020 Spark?

The Spark was last refreshed comprehensively in 2019, but, for 2021, you're still not really getting the same car as last year's Chevrolet Spark or the year before, as the new model does have some small updates. Among these are changes to the color palette, both inside and out. Last year's 15-inch black alloys are gone, too. No other significant changes are evident.

Pros and Cons

  • Affordable price
  • Easily maneuverable
  • Light on gas
  • Striking styling
  • Options are cheap
  • All but top trim are seriously under-equipped
  • Engine is underpowered
  • CVT is indecisive

2021 Chevrolet Spark Trims

Trim Engine Transmission Drivetrain Price (MSRP)
LS
1.4-liter Inline-4 Gas
5-Speed Manual
Continuously Variable Automatic (CVT)
Front-Wheel Drive
$13,400
1LT
1.4-liter Inline-4 Gas
5-Speed Manual
Continuously Variable Automatic (CVT)
Front-Wheel Drive
$15,300
ACTIV
1.4-liter Inline-4 Gas
5-Speed Manual
Continuously Variable Automatic (CVT)
Front-Wheel Drive
$16,400
2LT
1.4-liter Inline-4 Gas
5-Speed Manual
Continuously Variable Automatic (CVT)
Front-Wheel Drive
$16,800

Chevrolet Spark Hatchback Exterior

The Chevrolet Spark is one of those cars that just looks fun. Its small footprint combined with those oversized halogen headlights makes for a comical appearance, while the hidden rear door handles save costs and add a hint of sportiness to the profile. Speaking of, 15-inch wheels are standard across the range, but the base model gets steel rims with wheel covers, while all others get proper alloys. Every model gets a roof-mounted rear spoiler though, and the Activ, a faux off-roader, has black plastic panels and a unique grille, while other trims play with chrome, body-color, and black accents. Most models feature DRLs, but you only get LEDs from the 1LT and up. The Activ is the exception, with no DRLs and no projectors in the headlamps.

2021 Chevrolet Spark Front Angle View Chevrolet
2021 Chevrolet Spark Front View Driving Chevrolet
2021 Chevrolet Spark Side View Chevrolet
See All 2021 Chevrolet Spark Exterior Photos

Dimensions

As you can guess, the Spark doesn't take up a lot of space. The whole thing measures just 143.1 inches in length, while the width is 62.8 inches with the mirrors folded. The wheelbase is a scant 93.9 inches, while height is 58.4 inches. On the Activ, however, the height measures 58.8 inches. Curb weight varies depending on the trim, with the base manual version tipping the scales at just 2,246 pounds and the auto weighing in at 2,278 lbs. All other manual models weigh 2,266 lbs while autos weigh 2,312 lbs. With dimensions like these, parking is a breeze.

  • Length 143.1 in
  • Wheelbase 93.9 in
  • Height 58.4 in
  • Max Width 62.8 in
  • Front Width 54.5 in
  • Rear Width 54.5 in

Exterior Colors

There are plenty of standard colors available for even the base Chevy Spark, although we doubt any look as good in photos or in reality as the available premium paints. These cost $395 each and are made up of Cayenne Orange, Mystic Blue, and Caribbean Blue. If you don't want to spend extra, don't fret - there are seven no-cost options on offer: Silver Ice, Summit White, Mosaic Black, Red Hot, Passion Fruit, Nightfall Gray, and Toasted Marshmallow. Fortunately, all trims have the same color choices with the same pricing. Last year's Orange Burst and Raspbery have fallen away for 2021.

Spark Performance

The Chevy Spark isn't exactly an undercover racer, and as such, you won't find any 0 to 60 mph times below double digits, nor a top speed rating. However, if you're looking to be as quick as possible, get the five-speed manual as the CVT is about a second slower to 60 mph. The grunt, as minimal as it may be, comes from a 1.4-liter naturally aspirated Ecotec four-cylinder that produces 98 hp and 94 lb-ft of torque, all of which goes to the skinny front tires. Unsurprisingly, there are no other drivetrain options available, since this is nothing more than a runabout. Whichever trim you opt for, performance remains the same, but should you ever line up next to a base LS model with a manual, you'll find that you're racing the lightest, and therefore quickest, production Chevy Spark ever!

2021 Chevrolet Spark Front Angle View 1 Chevrolet
2021 Chevrolet Spark Rear View Driving Chevrolet
2021 Chevrolet Spark Front Bumper Chevrolet

Engine and Transmission

All trim variants come with the same 1.4-liter Ecotec four-banger that develops a grand total of 98 hp and 94 lb-ft of torque. Competitors offer more power from similar or smaller engines, but this one has no forced induction and that seems kinda right for a simple, pure, city slicker like this. Although you don't get the option of a bigger or more powerful engine, you can at least choose your gearbox. All trims are available with either a five-speed manual or a Continuously Variable Transmission. As we said in our 2020 review of the Chevy Spark, the manual is the better option, proving a little more motivated when it comes to accelerating away from the lights and also when exploiting the rare overtaking opportunity that the little 1.4 affords. The CVT, however, feels slow to react and is difficult to predict. If you're always confined to congested city streets, then the slightly more frugal CVT, with its more comfortable operation would be ideal, but for everyone else, we recommend the manual.

  • Engine
    1.4-liter Inline-4 Gas
  • Transmissions
    5-Speed Manual, Continuously Variable Automatic (CVT)
  • Drivetrain
    FWD

Handling and Driving Impressions

What the Chevy Spark lacks in power and torque, it makes up for with low weight and a short wheelbase. The steering is light at low speeds - which, let's be honest, is always - but well-weighted, with surprisingly high levels of feedback and communication, making it great for parking and inspiring confidence on the freeway. The brakes are also full of feel and easy to modulate and stopping power is adequate for the weight of the car. But what about ride quality? The suspension is comfortable and compliant enough, but because this is a small car with tiny tires, mid-corner bumps can unsettle it. Overall, it's comfortable enough, smooth enough, and agile enough for the city. However, at highways speeds, there's plenty of drone from the little motor. That is more down to the cost-saving, narrow, lightly insulated door panels and cabin than an overly harsh engine, but it's the only real complaint to note - it's also to be expected for a car that is more suited to city driving than high revs. Thus, if you're going to do a lot of freeway stuff, it's worth going for a test drive in this little automobile to see if you can live with the intrusive noise.

Spark Gas Mileage

The manual Chevy Spark is remarkably impressive with its gas mileage. All but the Activ trim return the same 29/38/33 mpg on the city/highway/combined cycles. The CVT is even better, returning 30/38/33 mpg on the same cycles. The Activ scores identically, except on the highway cycle where it drops one mpg, while the manual drops one on the combined cycle. However, the gas tank is minute, storing just nine gallons of gas. This means that the Spark will return a total of around 297 miles between fillups with mixed driving practices, a figure which has been verified in numerous Spark reviews.

  • Fuel Tank Capacity
    9.0 Gallons
  • Fuel Economy
    City/Hwy: 29/38 mpg
* 2021 Chevrolet Spark LS Manual

Spark Interior

The Spark's interior is almost as funky as its body, and it's perfect for the type of car it is. The cabin boasts a mix of hard plastics, faux aluminum, and fabrics, although upper trims will swap cloth upholstery for a leatherette finish. There's a seven-inch touchscreen infotainment display recessed into the center of the dash, while chunky knobs in the middle of the dash control the single-zone automatic climate control system. There's a bright and useful instrument cluster too, that balances a central speedometer with flanking rev counter and driver info displays. Naturally, the overall feel is cheap and low-grade, but that's what a car that costs as little as this one will always be like. Despite these cheaper materials, the cabin looks good because the design is fresh and modern.

2021 Chevrolet Spark Dashboard Chevrolet
2021 Chevrolet Spark Interior Overview Chevrolet
2021 Chevrolet Spark Infotainment System Chevrolet
See All 2021 Chevrolet Spark Interior Photos

Seating and Interior Space

Although most hatchback cars and small sedans offer seating for five, the Spark is a lot more realistic in its ambitions and rather seats four. This means that rear passengers are as comfortable as can be, although taller individuals will find the cabin slightly claustrophobic no matter where they sit with only 33 inches of legroom. There is enough headroom and legroom to get by, but on longer journeys, it gets tight. In front, there are manual adjustments for the seats and a tilt-only steering wheel, but pretty much anyone can find a relaxed driving position, and visibility in all directions is excellent.

  • Seating capacity
    4-seater
  • Front Leg Room 41.7 in
  • Front Head Room 39.0 in
  • Rear Leg Room 33.0 in
  • Rear Head Room 37.0 in

Interior Colors and Materials

As mentioned earlier, there are plenty of hard plastics and some imitation aluminum in the cabin, with the base LS model featuring Jet Black fabric upholstery. Stepping up to the 1LT nets you Jet Black fabric with Dark Anderson Silver Metallic patterning. The Activ features the same color scheme, but this time it's finished in faux leather. This is the same sort of color scheme and material finish you'll find in the top 2LT trim. Both of these also get a leather-wrapped steering wheel. If you opt for the Premium Caribbean Blue exterior paint option on the 2LT, you'll get matching interior accents and unique upholstery, too.

Spark Trunk and Cargo Space

If you own a Spark, your friends are unlikely to ask you to help them move house. Whether this is a good thing or a bad thing is up to you, but the cargo area's 11.1 cubic feet of volume is minimal by any standard. Still, it's enough for your weekly shop or a couple of carry-on suitcases. If you do get roped into helping with the move, the rear seats fold in a 60/40 split to open up a space of 27.2 cubic feet.

In the cabin, the rear center seat is taken up by a plastic storage tray and a pair of cupholders. In the front, another pair of cupholders are fitted and there's a spot below the dash for your phone and keys plus a few other pocket sundries. There's also a decently-sized glovebox and door pockets on all four access points.

2021 Chevrolet Spark Side View 1 Chevrolet
2021 Chevrolet Spark Trunk Space Chevrolet
2021 Chevrolet Spark Trunk Space 1 Chevrolet
  • Maximum Cargo Space
    27.2 ft³

Spark Infotainment and Features

Features

There aren't many things to talk about in terms of standard features for the base LS model of the new Chevy Spark, as the windows and doors are manually operated and locked/unlocked, while the front seats offer only four-way manual adjustment. At least you get a TFT driver info display, hill start assist, air-conditioning, and the obligatory rearview camera. On the 1LT, you get heated power wing mirrors, LED daytime running lights, cruise control, a set of foldable car keys, a multifunction steering wheel, and power windows and door locks. The Activ trim steps things up with heated front seats, fog lamps (which aren't available on any other trim), and roof racks, while the 2LT does without the roof rails and rather gets keyless entry and ignition along with rear parking sensors. A sunroof is available along with forward collision alert with low-speed automatic emergency braking and lane departure warning.

Infotainment

Chevrolet's Infotainment 3 system is fitted to all car models in the Spark range, and we can't find much fault with it. The seven-inch touchscreen display is attractive and easy to operate and boasts Android Auto and Apple CarPlay functionality, along with Bluetooth audio streaming and a 4G LTE WiFi hotspot. Upper trims are further enhanced with SiriusXM satellite radio, but the base model does without it. However, you do get a pair of USB ports and a four-speaker sound system. On the 1LT and higher trims, that system is supplemented by an additional pair of speakers. Naturally, the audio quality isn't going to rival a Burmester setup or even come close, but in a small car like this, it's more than adequate to help drown out outside noise.

Spark Problems and Reliability

Thus far, neither the 2021 nor the 2020 versions of the Chevrolet Spark have been subject to any recalls in the US. However, the 2019 model did suffer one in late 2018 for an incorrect setting on the airbags.

If you have any doubts about reliability based on this part of the review, the Chevrolet Spark is covered by a new vehicle bumper-to-bumper warranty for three years/36,000 miles. The powertrain is covered for five years/60,000 miles, and roadside assistance is offered for the same period, while one complimentary scheduled maintenance visit is included in the first year of ownership.

Warranty

  • Warranty Note:
    Preliminary 2021 Warranty \ 
  • Basic:
    3 Years \ 36,000 Miles
  • Drivetrain:
    5 Years \ 60,000 Miles
  • Drivetrain Note:
    Qualified Fleet Purchases: 5 Years \ 100,000 Miles
  • Rust-Through:
    6 Years \ 100,000 Miles
  • Corrosion:
    3 Years \ 36,000 Miles
  • Roadside Assistance:
    5 Years \ 60,000 Miles
  • Roadside Assistance Note:
    Qualified Fleet Purchases: 5 Years \ 100,000 Miles
  • Maintenance Note:
    1 Year \ 1 Visit

Spark Safety

If you've ever seen any photos of a Spark crash at highway speeds, you'll understand that it really isn't geared for taking risks at high speeds; it fares better in the city where speeds are more pedestrian. The NHTSA has not yet given the Chevrolet Spark a review or rating and the IIHS review has only a partial evaluation, testing the 'moderate overlap front' test and its 'side test'. Still, it did at least get the best possible score of Good in these rankings.

Key Safety Features

While the Spark is a little low on safety features, it does at least boast a complement of ten airbags including knee airbags for both front occupants and rear-seat side airbags. You also get dual frontal, seat-mounted side-impact front and rear bags, and side curtain airbags. Naturally, all models get a rearview camera, but not much else besides that and a tire pressure monitoring system. The 2LT boasts rear parking sensors, but forward collision alert with low-speed autonomous emergency braking and lane departure warning are optional and are limited to this top trim only.

Verdict: 🏁Is the 2021 Chevrolet Spark a good car?

Considering the Spark's pricing, it's not a bad car and does exactly what it's meant to. It's ideal for student drivers and those residing in congested cities, but for pretty much anyone else in the USA, the Spark is outclassed by most of the competition. It's possibly a little too small to be anything more than a runabout, the CVT is frustratingly annoying and indecisive, and the engine is severely underpowered. The car's low curb weight helps, but the tin-can feeling never really leaves you, especially when the car hasn't been fully rated by any local crash-test agency. Another drawback is the lack of advanced driver aids and the nonsensical decision to limit those that are available to the most expensive trim. It's not bad to drive, it looks cool, and the infotainment system is pretty good. But for anyone looking for something more than just self-propelled transportation, the Spark falls short. However, there's not much else in this segment, and considering the Mitsubishi Mirage is similarly priced, the Chevy Spark gets a rating as the best of a bad bunch.

🚘What's the Price of the 2021 Chevrolet Spark?

The cheapest model in the lineup is the manual LS, which has an MSRP of $13,400 before a $995 destination charge. The next trim, the 1LT, has a base price of $15,300. The Activ retails for $16,400 while the top 2LT trim has an asking price of $16,800. Opting for the CVT over the five-speed manual adds $1,100 to any trim. Fully loaded, the most expensive Chevrolet Spark has a price of around $22,000.

2021 Chevrolet Spark Models

The 2021 Chevy Spark hatchback is available in four trims. All new Sparks are equipped with a 1.4-liter naturally aspirated four-pot that produces 98 hp and 94 lb-ft of torque, all of which is sent to the front wheels via a five-speed manual gearbox. A CVT is available on every trim if three pedals aren't your thing.

As the base model, the LS comes with a set of 15-inch steel wheels, fabric upholstery, heated power mirrors, black plastic mirror caps and door handles, halogen projector headlights, single-zone climate control, manual windows and door locks, and a seven-inch touchscreen infotainment system.

The 1LT adds 15-inch silver alloys, heated power mirrors, LED DRLs, a six-speaker sound system, cruise control, power windows and doors locks, a multifunction steering wheel, and SiriusXM satellite radio.

In the middle of the range, the Activ trim features unique bumpers and rocker panels along with a unique front grille and a pair of fog lights. The Activ also features gunmetal alloy wheels, a leather steering wheel, power windows, and leatherette upholstery with heated front seats.

The top 2LT trim builds on the 1LT by adding keyless entry and ignition, numerous chrome accents, an enhanced driver info display, heated front seats, leatherette upholstery, and rear parking sensors. It also gains access to the Driver Confidence Package.

See All 2021 Chevrolet Spark Trims and Specs

Additional Packages

The abovementioned Driver Confidence Package is the only addition worth considering on a car like this, and at just $295, it's certainly an easy sell. However, this package is only available on the top 2LT trim. Nevertheless, it features lane departure warning and forward collision alert with low-speed autonomous emergency braking. If you'd like aluminum sport pedals, this will cost 150 bucks while matching aluminum sill plates cost $85. Nothing else - besides the thousand-dollar power sunroof - is worth spending on.

🚗What Chevrolet Spark Model Should I Buy?

If you're going to get a cheap car like this, you may as well maximize safety and comfort by opting for the top trim. Obviously, this requires more than just paying for the standard configuration, as the abovementioned assistance package is optional. However, as a bonus, you get leatherette upholstery, proper alloy wheels, keyless entry and ignition, heated power mirrors, SiriusXM satellite radio, an upgraded driver info display, and LED running lights when you spec the Driver Confidence Package. Along with rear parking sensors, this is the best version of the Spark.

2021 Chevrolet Spark Comparisons

Honda Fit
Chevrolet Sonic Hatchback Chevrolet
CompetitorHorsepowerMPGPrice (MSRP)
Chevrolet Spark98 hp29/38 mpg$13,400
Honda Fit 130 hp29/36 mpg$16,190
Chevrolet Sonic Hatchback 138 hp26/34 mpg$17,220

2021 Chevrolet Spark vs Honda Fit

The Honda Fit is one of our favorite cars in this segment. It starts at a base price of $16,190, so it's pricier than the Spark, but with that extra outlay comes a 1.5-liter engine with 130 hp and 114 lb-ft of torque. This is mated to a six-speed manual as standard and a CVT only adds 800 bucks to the equation. Despite the added power and weight of the Fit, it returns very similar gas mileage figures and, thanks to a larger 10.6-gallon tank, greater range too. Other things it offers more of include seating, with enough room for five in greater comfort. There's also a bigger cargo area measuring 16.6 cubes that can expand to a whopping 52.7 cubic feet. Furthermore, the cabin feels of much higher quality and there are far more standard and available comfort and safety features. The Honda is simply better in every way, but as it's not returning for 2021, you'd have to find a run-out 2020 model.

See Honda Fit Review

2021 Chevrolet Spark vs Chevrolet Sonic Hatchback

The Sonic is a pricier but similarly sized alternative to the Spark, starting at $17,220. It has a similar engine to the Spark too, but produces 138 hp and 148 lb-ft of torque, and it doesn't come with a CVT, but rather a proper automatic. It also seats an extra person and offers far more space, with 19 cubic feet behind the rear seats and a total of 47.7 cubes with those seats folded down. In addition, the Sonic has a much better safety rating and a sportier cabin, not to mention the cute yet aggressive exterior styling. Standard features are also more plentiful in comparison, with remote ignition, a leather-wrapped steering wheel, and a six-speaker sound system. Unfortunately, the driver aids that gave it a good safety score are optional here too. Still, it's clearly easier to live with and outperforms the Spark in every metric but price. Like the Fit, the Sonic has been discontinued as of 2021, but if your budget allows, a run-out 2020 Sonic is better than the Spark.

See Chevrolet Sonic Hatchback Review

Chevrolet Spark Popular Comparisons

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Photos
Chevrolet Spark