- The 2020 Chevrolet Spark starts at $11,848 in Canada and $14,395 in the United States.
- Room for adults, comprehensive standard infotainment system, decent fuel economy.
- Low on cargo space, unappealing base trim level, only four seats.
As sales of passenger cars are seriously diminishing in favour of crossovers and pickup trucks, the American brands have all but abandoned the small-car market in order to focus on more profitable models. However, the 2020 Chevrolet Spark soldiers on as one of the most affordable vehicles on the market.
The diminutive, four-passenger Spark’s rivals are dropping like flies, as the Canadian-market Nissan Micra is about to retire, replaced by the Nissan Versa sedan which is already on sale in the United States. The Fiat 500 and the Ford Fiesta are gone, too. The Mitsubishi Mirage is still around as a direct rival to the Chevy, while subcompacts like the Hyundai Accent, the Kia Rio, the Toyota Yaris and the Honda Fit are also competitors to the Spark.
The 2020 Chevrolet Spark is virtually unchanged compared to the 2019 model, which received a facelift and other minor changes. It’s available in Canada in LS, 1LT and 2LT trims, while the U.S. market gets a trendy Activ variant that boasts a slightly more rugged appearance with charcoal and silver lower-body cladding, fog lamps and roof rails.
Under the hood, the little hatchback features a 1.4-litre four-cylinder engine that develops 98 horsepower and 94 pound-feet of torque, managed to either a five-speed manual gearbox or a continuously variable automatic. With the latter, city/highway/combined fuel economy is rated at 7.9/6.2/7.1 L/100 km (30/38/33 mpg in the U.S.).
While the 2020 Chevrolet Spark LS is rather lightly equipped in Canada, it does offer 10 airbags as well as a seven-inch infotainment system touchscreen, Bluetooth connectivity, 4G LTE on-board Wi-Fi (data subscription required) as well as Apple CarPlay and Android Auto integration. All that for a base price of $11,848, freight and dealer prep included. The U.S.-market Spark starts at $14,395, but it includes air conditioning.
The 1LT trim level adds a few essential comfort and convenience items such as keyless entry, 15-inch alloy wheels, power windows and cruise control, SiriusXM radio compatibility as well as steering wheel-mounted audio controls. The range-topping 2LT gets leatherette upholstery, heated front seats, rear park sonar and an intelligent key, while a power sunroof, forward collision alert and lane departure warning are included in Canada, optional in the U.S.
What the 2020 Chevrolet Spark Does Well
- The Spark’s standard infotainment system is feature-packed, especially for the asking price. The LS trim gets four speakers, while the 1LT and 2LT benefit from a six-speaker setup.
- Despite its minicar size, the 2020 Chevrolet Spark can sit four adults comfortably, with plenty of headroom and only a small penalty regarding rear-seat legroom.
- The 1.4L engine is peppy, and although its output seems very modest, the car squirts through traffic with ease. Obviously, the car is more fun to drive with the manual gearbox, and it only costs 0.1 L/100 km or 1 mpg more in city driving compared to the CVT.
- It’s a no-frills, budget-minded car, but the Spark’s interior fit and finish is actually not bad at all. In addition, the dashboard design is modern and user-friendly. It’s no Cadillac, but we don’t feel like we’re driving a car built solely for emerging countries, either.
What the 2020 Chevrolet Spark Doesn’t Do Well
- Cargo space in the Spark isn’t all that great, as expected. However, the outgoing Micra has a more accommodating trunk, and so does the Mirage.
- The Spark may draw attention with its low price—especially in Canada, flaunting an MSRP of $9,998 before freight and destination charges—who wants a car without A/C, really? To get that all-important summer saviour, buyers are required to move up to 1LT trim, or choose the continuously variable automatic in the LS. In both cases, the price rises to more than $16K.
- Four adults may be at ease in the Spark, but some shoppers might wish there was a fifth seat in the car, just in case. Its competitors all offer five-passenger seating.
- A combined rating of 7.1 L/100 km or 33 mpg may be appreciable, but many compact sedans can do better, such as the Honda Civic, the Kia Forte and the Toyota Corolla are more efficient. And those cars are all more refined, more spacious, more powerful and, um, more desirable than the Spark. To the Chevy’s defense, those sedans are all costlier too.
- Speaking of cost, a 2020 Chevrolet Spark 2LT with all the factory-installed bells and whistles lists for $21K in Canada and $20K in the U.S. That’s a bit much for a pipsqueak of a city car.
What We Tell Our Friends
The 2020 Chevrolet Spark is one of the few remaining small cars on the Canadian and U.S. markets that are sold for less than $15K, and it’s worth a look for commuters mulling the idea of ditching public transport and hitting the traffic in their vehicle. Indeed, the fear of being exposed to the COVID-19 virus in a city bus or subway car may entice us to get a car, and a cheap one at that.
The Spark is a very good urban runabout, with a modern infotainment system and low ownership costs. It can also handle highway jaunts without a problem, although it isn’t the most comfortable car for long-distance trips. The 1LT trim level is the value proposition here, with bare necessities of life at a price tag hovering around the $16K to $18K mark.