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2020 Chevrolet Spark

$13,220 - $17,720
Price Range (MSRP)
Chevrolet Spark

2020 Chevrolet Spark Review: Let It Shine

by Roger Biermann

Despite the demise of many of the small-sized vehicles on sale in the USA, the subcompact Chevrolet Spark soldiers on into 2020. Having received no alterations for the new model year, the Spark remains stuck with the previous year's 1.4-liter inline-four engine, which squeezes out a puny 98 horsepower and 94 lb-ft of torque, guided to the front-wheel-drivetrain via either a five-speed manual transmission or continuously variable automatic transmission. Though on the budget-friendly side of the vehicle round-up, the Spark still comes impressively geared for the small modern family at immense value for money, featuring contemporary tech, apt city maneuverability, and decent fuel-efficiency. Though facing off against venerable rivals such as the Honda Fit and Ford Fiesta Hatchback, and - although from the same brand - even the Chevrolet Sonic, its size is more comparable to the likes of the Mitsubishi Mirage and Fiat 500. Either way, competition is tight for the cheery Chevy Spark, and, with buyers moving to the crossover segment rather than subcompact one, the Spark will have to try harder than ever to impress, something it doesn't do naturally with its lack of standard driver aids.

2020 Chevrolet Spark Changes: What’s the difference vs 2019 Spark?

Still forming part of the second Spark generation introduced for 2015, and having received its mid-cycle refresh for the 2019 model year, the 2020 Chevrolet Spark receives no major changes or updates.

Pros and Cons

  • High value for money in terms of features
  • Industry-leading ten standard airbags
  • Modern and user-friendly infotainment system
  • Compact dimensions are great for maneuverability
  • Decent fuel economy estimates
  • Excruciatingly sluggish acceleration
  • Advanced driver aids limited to the top trim
  • Considerably confined rear cabin legroom
  • Below-average trunk capacity

Spark Exterior

The Chevy Spark carries a unique design with its bug-like body, sporting large eye-like headlights that are split by Chevrolet's bow-tie badge and intertwangled with sharply styled chrome trim that merges to the surrounds of the large, lowered grille. All models feature halogen projector headlights, with the exception of the halogen reflectors on the ACTIV, and a high-mounted rear spoiler; LS and ACTIV models are fitted with daytime running lights while 1LT and 2LT models upgrade to signature LED daytime running lights. While LS models ride on 15-inch steel wheels with bolt-on plastic covers, 1LT and 2LT models are equipped with 15-inch silver-painted aluminum wheels. ACTIV models get 15-inch gunmetal silver-painted alloy wheels to befit the rugged model's beefier styling and taller stance. Additionally, the Activ gets black bumpers and rocker cladding and integrated fog lights, as well as a model-specific grille design and roof rails.

2020 Chevrolet Spark Front Angle View
2020 Chevrolet Spark Front View Driving
2020 Chevrolet Spark Side View
See All 2020 Chevrolet Spark Exterior Photos

Dimensions

The Spark is considerably small, even for the subcompact hatch class; a comparison with the already somewhat small Ford Fiesta Hatchback reveals just how much - with an overall length of 143.1 inches, the Spark measures 16.6 inches shorter. Its height of 58.4 inches - 58.8 on Activ models - is only 0.3 inches less, and its width of 62.8 inches is narrower by five inches. There are 93.9 inches making up the wheelbase of the Spark, which is 3.9 inches less than on the Fiesta. Curb weights differ with every Spark model, ranging from 2,246 lbs with the manual-equipped LS trim, to 2,312 lbs in the CVT-equipped ACTIV trim.

Exterior Colors

Chevrolet keeps things funky fresh with the groovy Spark offering an extensive palette of ten catchy colors for every Spark model. Passion Fruit, Raspberry, Toasted Marshmallow, Silver Ice, Summit White, Mosaic Black, Red Hot, and Nightfall Grey make up the standard palette selection, while color options of Orange Burst and Caribbean Blue - which were newly introduced for the 2019 model year - both carry an additional charge of $395. Any of the brighter hues suite the bubbly personality of the Spark, especially the Caribbean Blue. If the color isn't worth the extra monetary charge, then Raspberry is a great option too.

Spark Performance

Frugality is typically prioritized over performance in the subcompact hatch segment, and so the Sparks diminutive 1.4-liter Ecotec straight-four engine, which wrings out an itsy-bitsy 98 horsepower and 94 lb-ft of torque, is tolerable for the Spark's impetus as a city-commuter. With that in mind, the Sparks sluggish 0-60 mph acceleration time of ten seconds should be no shocker - that's with the standard five-speed manual gearbox in play; with the CVT automatic equipped, that time is extended by nearly a full second. A front-wheel-drive configuration is standard for the Spark and common-place for the segment, with no option for all-wheel-drive offered for the Spark or by any of its rivals.

2020 Chevrolet Spark Front Angle View
2020 Chevrolet Spark Rear View Driving
2020 Chevrolet Spark Badge

Engine and Transmission

The 98-hp, 94-lb-ft 1.4-liter Ecotec straight-four engine is utilized throughout the Spark lineup and can be mated to either the standard five-speed manual gearbox, or an optional automatic CVT to drive those outputs to the front wheels. The 1.4-liter moves the lightweight Spark around the low-speed range suitably; it offers very sedate - yet adequate - power, and is a great fit for the city-centric commuter. While the manual gearbox offers sufficient pull and reasonably accurate responses through the low-end rev range too, getting up to highway speeds and overtaking can be a strenuous and slow-going endeavor. Though the manual does show some surprising capability at higher speeds, it does, inevitably, tend to protest a little too.

The CVT automatic, on the other hand, is rather unpleasant in terms of acceleration, exhibiting some notable delay between simulated shifts and making getting up to speed and commencing high-speed overtakes even more of an effortful chore. The CVT is a great option for driving around in low-speed traffic and when maneuvering around town, it's also the more efficiency-minded option of the two, but if its a more nippy and responsive drive that's required, then the manual will definitely be the gearbox of choice.

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

Handling and Driving Impressions

Though let down by its diminutive 1.4-liter engine, the Spark is still accorded with a playful character by virtue of its scant size and light weight. It exhibits a favorable level of nippiness and maneuverability at low speeds and even some impressive control at higher speeds. That's thanks to the bountiful levels of road feel and steering feedback that is communicated through to the driver via the steering wheel, which is also weighted suitably for effortless maneuvering into and out of tight spaces, while also providing confidence-inspiring levels of control at its menial limits.

Its standard suspension setup is good for dealing with urban roads too, absorbing most typical road imperfections and undulations with a feel of refinement and capability. It's on the highway and out of town where the Spark begins to show its flaws. While getting up to speed and making those high-speed maneuvers are a rather gradual affair, it's made worse by the engine's audible strain that penetrates the under-insulated cabin, making for an annoying drone that persists unrelentingly at highway speeds.

The Chevy Spark is gauged to be the ideal daily commuter for those young drivers and first-time owners that frequent nearby destinations. Its penchant is for the city streets where it best exhibits its exuberant handling dynamics and somewhat fun-to-drive nature, especially with the manual gearbox configured to add a little extra driver-engagement.

Spark Gas Mileage

One would imagine that with the Spark's economy-minded 1.4-liter engine and its significantly scant dimensions, that it would be relatively frugal - but in reality, its EPA estimates are still rather unimpressive. The CVT automatic is the most economical transmission option, which sees the hatch return 30/38/33 mpg city/highway/combined. With the manual transmission in play, the hatch performs slightly worse in city conditions, returning estimates of 29/38/33 mpg. For comparison, the much heavier and more powerful Honda Fit returns significantly better estimates of 33/40/36 mpg on those same cycles. A mere nine-gallon gas tank graces the Chevy Spark, availing it with a maximum range of only 297 miles in mixed conditions.

  • Fuel Tank Capacity
    9.0 Gallons
  • Fuel Economy
    City/Hwy: 29/38 mpg
* 2020 Chevrolet Spark Manual LS

Spark Interior

The Spark is as quirky on the inside as it is on the out, featuring an outward splayed V-shape two-tone dash, centered around the Spark's standard seven-inch infotainment display, portraying a modern and minimalistic impression. While the overall build quality of the Spark is decent, most materials utilized throughout the range are expectedly low-grade. Hard-touch plastics gild most key touchpoints and while base trims can feel rather stripped down and crude, featuring only the bare necessities in trim and features, and stuck with standard cloth upholstery on the base model. Leatherette-appointed seating is available in all other models along with a leather-wrapped steering wheel in the ACTIV and 2LT. The cabin of any 2020 Chevy Spark is otherwise a pleasant place to be and shows off the car's modernity.

2020 Chevrolet Spark Dashboard
2020 Chevrolet Spark Interior Overview
2020 Chevrolet Spark Infotainment System
See All 2020 Chevrolet Spark Interior Photos

Seating and Interior Space

While most hatchbacks seat a total of five occupants, the Spark ditches the center rear seat for a storage console, reducing max occupant capacity to four. The upside to this measure is increased practicality in storage and seating room, as the rear cabin's shoulder room is favorably expanded with no third occupant space in the rear. There's plenty of headroom throughout the cabin, though legroom is only suitable upfront; adults will find it quite cramped in the rear with not much stretch room provided, especially after long trips. The front seats feature a basic level of manual adjustability, which - along with the tilt-only steering wheel - allows drivers of any stature to locate a comfortable driving position. Despite the Spark's compact dimensions, outward visibility is pretty decent, thanks to the upright seating position and relatively large windows.

  • Seating capacity
    4-seater

Interior Colors and Materials

Standard in the LS and 1LT are Jet Black cloth-appointed seats, paired with Dark Anderson Silver accent trim and complemented with piano black instrument cluster trim. The ACTIV and 2LT are enriched with Jet Black leatherette seating appointments with a Dark Anderson Silver accent stripe and trim. Optional for the 2LT is an Orange Burst or Caribbean Blue accent stripe, which can be optioned on with those corresponding exterior colors. The ACTIV and 2LT models are the only trims that come stock with a leather-wrapped steering wheel.

Spark Trunk and Cargo Space

The Spark's 11.1 cubic feet of trunk room isn't really competitive, but it is adequate for the young first-time owner who won't need much storage capacity or cargo versatility. That's about enough room for two weeks' worth of grocery shopping. Folding down the 60/40 split-folding rear seats will expand the trunk room to 27.2 cubic feet, which could be useful for storing a tent and some camping gear for a weekend getaway for two.

With the center rear seat being replaced by a storage console, in-cabin stowage is greatly improved, as the area between the rear seats is outfitted with a small storage tray and two cupholders. There are another two cupholders up front between the front seats, followed by a decently spacious open storage compartment situated just below the climate controls. While there are door side pockets on all four doors of the Spark, they do not have bottle holder slots and are suited to only small miscellaneous items. The passenger-side glove box is otherwise practically sized, and there is a single passenger-side seatback map pocket.

2020 Chevrolet Spark Trunk Space
2020 Chevrolet Spark Trunk Space
2020 Chevrolet Spark Side View
  • Maximum Cargo Space
    27.2 ft³

Spark Infotainment and Features

Features

The base Spark model, the LS, is relatively bare-bones with crude base features such as manually-operated windows, a manual tilt-only steering column, four-way manually-adjustable front seats, manual climate control, and a rearview camera. Moving onto the 1LT trim sees remote keyless entry, push-button start, power-operated windows and door locks, and cruise control. From there, the ACTIV and 2LT get heated front seats and a leather-wrapped steering wheel - the 2LT alone benefits from an enhanced driver information display and rear park assist sensors. Available on the line-topping 2LT as well, is an optional Driver Confidence Package which comprises forward collision alert, lane departure warning, and low-speed automatic braking.

Infotainment

The Spark's Infotainment 3 system is Chevrolet's latest and greatest system software; it's comprehensively functional and of high overall quality, delivering both Android Auto and Apple CarPlay functionality as standard, and accurate responses on an intuitive, user-friendly interface displayed on the seven-inch touchscreen. The centrally-mounted screen is tethered to an AM/FM radio and a six-speaker audio layout in all but the LS model, which gets a four-speaker audio setup. The system also allows for Bluetooth audio streaming, 4G LTE Wi-Fi hotspot connectivity, and in the upper-level trims, SiriusXM satellite radio connectivity. There are two illuminated USB ports for device charging and connectivity, as well as a single 12-volt power outlet.

Spark Problems and Reliability

There have been no recalls commissioned for the 2020 Chevrolet Spark as yet, though the 2019 year model was subject to a pretty significant one, pertaining to an incorrect airbag sensor setting that would prevent the deployment of the airbags in the event of a crash. Though there has been no predicted reliability rating provided by J.D. Power, Chevrolet provides some confidence with a three-year/36,000-mile bumper-to-bumper warranty and a five-year/60,000-mile powertrain warranty.

Spark Safety

The current generation of the Chevrolet Spark is yet to be evaluated by the NHTSA, and the IIHS has only evaluated it for its front overlap and side-impact crashworthiness, in which the Spark scored top results of Good for both.

Key Safety Features

While the Spark's standard airbag consignment of ten airbags is the best in the segment, and includes dual front knee airbags, seat-mounted side-impact airbags for all seats, and full-length side curtain airbags, it lacks any active safety and advanced driver-assist features. All models come stock equipped with a rearview camera, and the 2LT gets rear park assist sensors - but that's about it. The 2LT is the only model that gets availability to the optional Driver Confidence Package, which outfits the Spark with forward collision alert, lane departure warning, and automatic emergency braking. It's disappointing that these features aren't available on lesser trims, as many manufacturers are making this standard across their lineups.

Verdict: Is the 2020 Chevrolet Spark a good car?

The Chevrolet Spark is a good vehicle for its price, but a very mediocre one for the segment. While its diminutive size and lightweight body do give it some favorable qualities, such as nimble and decent fuel economy, it faces more compromises than those qualities make up for. Its trunk room is subpar to rivals, and so is its rear cabin space, and while most hatchbacks in the segment offer seating for five, the Spark has seating for only four. Yes, the center rear console does benefit rear occupant room and practicality, but other hatchbacks make use of a fold-out center seat backrest, which provides more versatility. The Chevy Spark offers immense value for money throughout all four of its trims; it has fun-to-drive characteristics and a contemporary infotainment system. But that is where its advantages end, with rivals offering better fuel economy, greater practicality, far more capable powertrain configurations, and better levels of standard safety.

What's the Price of the 2020 Chevrolet Spark?

All trims within the 2020 lineup are significantly cheaper than last year's models, all by varying amounts. The LS trim, which starts the lineup off, carries an MSRP of $13,220, followed by the 1LT at $15,120, and then the ACTIV at $16,220. The 2LT rounds the lineup off as the fully-equipped range-topping model, set with an MSRP of $16,620. The optional CVT will set one back a further $1,100 with any of the trim options. Those prices are all excluding Chevrolet's destination charge of $875 as well as any tax, registration, and licensing fees.

2020 Chevrolet Spark Models

There are four trim options that make up the 2020 Chevrolet Spark lineup, the LS, 1LT, ACTIV, and 2LT. All are equipped with a front-wheel drivetrain powered by a 1.4-liter straight-four engine, and either a five-speed manual transmission, or CVT automatic.

Starting the lineup is the Spark LS, equipped with halogen headlights and 15-inch steel wheels with plastic covers. It gets only the bare necessities in features, such as manually-operated door locks and windows, a manual tilt-only steering column, four-way manually-adjustable front seats, manual air conditioning, and a rearview camera. It is also outfitted with a seven-inch infotainment touchscreen with Chevrolet's latest software, a four-speaker AM/FM audio system, Bluetooth, Android Auto, and Apple CarPlay. It gets a vinyl steering wheel and cloth upholstery.

Moving up to the 1LT sees some favorable upgrades, such as 15-inch alloy wheels, LED daytime running lights, power-adjustable mirrors, keyless entry, push-button start, cruise control, and best of all, power-operated door locks and windows. The infotainment system is enhanced with a six-speaker audio setup, as well as SiriusXM satellite radio connectivity.

The Spark ACTIV is differentiated with bespoke styling, sporting a more rugged aesthetic with its black overlays and chrome accents. It gets front foglights too, as well as side-mounted black roof-rack rails. On the inside, it gets a leather-wrapped steering wheel, heated front seats, and leatherette upholstery.

The line-topping 2LT boasts elements such as extended chrome exterior accents, rear park assist sensors, and keyless entry; it also gets an enhanced driver information display and access to an optional suite of advanced driver assists.

Trim Engine Transmission Drivetrain Price (MSRP)
LS
1.4-liter Inline-4 Gas
5-Speed Manual
Continuously Variable Automatic (CVT)
Front-Wheel Drive
$13,220
1LT
1.4-liter Inline-4 Gas
5-Speed Manual
Continuously Variable Automatic (CVT)
Front-Wheel Drive
$15,120
ACTIV
1.4-liter Inline-4 Gas
5-Speed Manual
Continuously Variable Automatic (CVT)
Front-Wheel Drive
$16,220
2LT
1.4-liter Inline-4 Gas
5-Speed Manual
Continuously Variable Automatic (CVT)
Front-Wheel Drive
$16,620
See All 2020 Chevrolet Spark Trims and Specs

Additional Packages

As is often the case with affordable subcompacts, there aren't many ways to upgrade the Spark outside of selecting one of four trims. Available for all Spark models is a $250 Winter/Summer Floor Mats Package, which includes premium all-weather floor mats, and the $185 Interior Protection Package, which includes all-weather floor mats and an all-weather cargo mat.

Optional for the 2LT only is a $295 Driver Confidence Package, which equips the top-end Spark with forward collision warning, lane departure warning, and automatic emergency braking. The 2LT also has the option of a power sunroof for an extra bit of added luxury, for the sum of $1,000.

What Chevrolet Spark Model Should I Buy?

While the Spark is a budget-friendly vehicle, we still highly recommend the top-tier 2LT model if your heart is set on the Spark. This model is the only one that comes standard with rear park assist, and access to the optional Driver Confidence Package, which we feel is a must for this segment. It's still relatively affordable and comes with a few more luxuries than the base models as standard, including elements such as leather interior appointments, cruise control, and six-speaker audio system. Unlike the base models, it also gets availability to an optional sunroof, which is a great add-on to the cheery Chevy Spark.

2020 Chevrolet Spark Comparisons

2020 Chevrolet Spark
2020 Chevrolet Spark

2020 Chevrolet Spark vs Ford Fiesta Hatchback

While it's expected that Ford won't be continuing the Ford Fiesta range, it's also uncertain when exactly that'll be - therefore, the model remains a relevant and sought after alternative to the Spark. Though an older model, the Fiesta is around $2,000 more expensive than the Spark at a base level, with the trim prices leveling out more comparably with the higher-level trim options. The Fiesta comes standard with a more robust 120-hp, 112-lb-ft 1.6-liter four-cylinder engine, which - though faster in acceleration - is not quite as efficiency-minded as the Spark's 1.4-liter, returning 27/35/30 mpg. The Fiesta is, however, the more driver-focused vehicle of the two, offering a greater fun-to-drive factor and better capability. It's more practical as well, offering a larger trunk capacity of 14.9 cu-ft. The Fiesta also comes with a slightly better selection of features at the base level, though the Spark most certainly takes the cake in terms of its standard infotainment. The Spark offers greater value for money, too, with its more modern interior, comprehensive and high-quality tech, and impressive standard airbag consignment. The Fiesta is simply the better driver's car, which in this segment is an important factor, but with the Spark being vastly more contemporary and cheaper to own, it remains the recommended option.

See Ford Fiesta Hatchback Review

2020 Chevrolet Spark vs Honda Fit

Though around $3,000 more expensive than the Spark at the base level, the Honda Fit beats the Spark in almost every metric. It comes equipped with an engine that is not only more capable, but significantly more economical too, retuning impressive EPA estimates of 33/40/36 mpg. It's also equipped with a more refined six-speed manual transmission. Offering a much needed extra gear that the Spark lacks. The Fit offers far more passenger comfort in a roomier and more featureful cabin, and far greater practicality and versatility with its Magic Seats and impressive 16.6 cubic foot trunk. More of the Fit's trims have availability to the lineup's optional driver assists where only the top-tier Spark gets the privilege of its available assists. The Honda Fit is the better family commuter in every regard, and the better vehicle overall; it may not be as budget-friendly as the Spark, but is certainly the better value for money buy in terms of its overall offering as a low-end hatchback.

See Honda Fit Review

Chevrolet Spark Popular Comparisons