And it wears a Chevy bowtie.
It may not be the most glamorous title, but one car needs to be the least expensive one sold in the United States. Over the past decade, this honor has passed between the Mitsubishi Mirage and the Nissan Versa. However, both cars have improved significantly in the past two years and no longer qualify for the cheapest car qualification. Heading into 2021, the least expensive new car sold in the US is the 2021 Chevrolet Spark hatchback.
The number of sub-$20,000 new vehicles is dwindling in the US, but the Spark comes in with a starting MSRP of just $13,400. This undercuts the Mirage ($14,295) by a few hundred bucks and the Versa ($14,930) by over one thousand dollars.
Here's what Chevy gives buyers for $13,400 (or $14,395 after destination and fees):
The Spark only comes with a single engine option, a 1.4-liter Ecotec four-cylinder producing just 98 horsepower and 94 lb-ft of torque. Buyers who want the cheapest model available should opt for the Spark LS, which includes a five-speed manual transmission. The LS trim also comes with an available continuously variable transmission, though it bumps the price up to $14,140.
Even with the CVT, the Spark still manages to undercut the Mirage and Versa. The Spark's pricing structure remains impressive all the way up to the top 2LT automatic trim, which caps out at $17,540 before destination and fees. If someone wanted to check literally every option box on the configurator, they could get the Spark up to over $21,000. Some of the available options are quite silly though, such as 15-inch wheels that can be painted red for $1,1,00, a sunroof for $1,000, and chrome side moldings for $230.
With so little power on tap, the Spark is pretty frugal with EPA ratings of 29/38/33 mpg city/highway/combined. We aren't sure if the base LS model is worth the bargain basement price, though, as the features list is remarkably short, including hill start assist, 15-inch wheels, a four-speaker audio system, a 4G LTE Wi-Fi hotspot, Bluetooth, and a seven-inch touchscreen. Features such as cruise control, keyless entry, or power windows aren't even on the options list.
But while the Spark is currently the least expensive car in America, it might not mean much to shoppers. Consumers who are shopping at this price point pay more attention to the monthly payment, so they could end up paying less per month to buy or lease a more expensive vehicle with better incentives.