• Car Review

2019 Chevy Spark Review

By Autolist Staff | June 12, 2019

Pros

  • Extremely affordable
  • Quality infotainment system
  • Much roomier interior than the size suggests

Cons

  • Slow in virtually all driving scenarios
  • The CVT drones on and on
  • Becomes pricier with all the options

Touted as an “urban minicar,” this vehicle appeals to a wide array of drivers. While it’s not exactly family friendly, it’s the ideal car for college students, empty nesters, and retirees searching for an ultra-compact vehicle with good gas mileage.

The perfect commuter car, the Spark delivers better-than-expected acceleration and a healthy mix of safety and infotainment technologies.

Unfortunately, Chevy hasn’t done too much to update the 2019 model, making just minor interior and exterior tweaks.

The most significant of these is the addition of low-speed, automatic braking offered with the optional Driver Confidence package. Some of the other changes made for 2019 include two illuminated USB ports, white interior lighting, and newly designed headlights.

The Spark has several tough competitors, including the Mitsubishi Mirage, Ford Fiesta, Kia Rio, Fiat 500, and Toyota Yaris, which all get quality ratings in the subcompact class.

Exterior

TLDR: With minimal changes for the 2019 model, the one stand-out is the introduction of the new, Activ trim option.

The Spark’s exterior doesn’t offer much flair on the base trim. However, with the Spark Activ, there’s a bit more to look at. It sits an inch higher than the remainder of the lineup, giving it a bit of larger profile.

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When looking at the Spark from the side, the truncated tail and the short overhangs are traditional elements seen in the typical “city car.” Even though it’s only 143 inches from bumper to bumper, the 94-inch wheelbase is a bit longer than the competition, which also helps with the overall proportions.

For 2019, the front styling has been updated to match the changes made to the other Chevy vehicles. There are also new LED running lights on the 2LT and 1LT trim levels, and revised wheel designs for most versions, along with several new paint colors.

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Interior Quality and Comfort

TLDR: Surprising comfort and a well laid out interior

Inside the Spark, there’s seating for four and a small cargo space for gear or groceries, right behind the two rear seats. The rear seats can also be folded to expand the amount of cargo space from about 11 cubic feet to more than 27 cubic feet. This provides plenty of room for several suitcases, but not quite as much as the first generation of the Spark. This is attributed to the shorter length and lower roofline.

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The legroom in the rear seats has also shrunk; however, other aspects, such as shoulder and hip room, have grown substantially.

Each of the Spark trims includes a seven-inch-color touchscreen in the center stack, which feature climate control dials that are logically arranged.

While the majority of the plastics in the Spark are hard, they fit together evenly and offer driver’s attractive textures. More luxurious features are limited for the Spark (at all trim levels) but the most noteworthy include heated front seats and leather trimmings. For example, you can find a variety of synthetic upholsteries and fun fabrics to choose from depending on the trim level you choose.

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The driving position is similar to a crossover, being upright with fold-down armrests that help to keep things comfortable, even for long road trips. The large front doors and the raised seat height make it easy to climb into the cockpit. The front seats have somewhat flimsy cushions and lack lateral support and the back set feels cramped. It’s only comfortable for adults to ride in the back if the front seats are moved as far up as possible. This is due to the mere 33 inches of rear-seat legroom.

Utility & Practicality

TLDR: The Spark offers surprising utility for its size.

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While the cargo space in the rear of the car can increase from 11 cubic feet to 27 cubic feet when the rear seats are stowed, it is somewhat of a clumsy transformation. It requires drivers to move the front seats all the way forward so the bottom cushions can flip up before the seatbacks fold down. Even when this is done, the cargo floor is anything but flat.

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Inside the Spark has a few cubbies located in the center console, along with a useful shelf over the glovebox. However, in the rear, there’s only a small plastic tray between the two back seats.

Technology & Infotainment

TDLR: The interior quality of the Spark offers plenty of popular standard infotainment features.

By design, this minicar was Chevy’s shot at attracting a younger clientele. To help make the fuel-efficient car even more appealing, Chevy has delivered an innovative infotainment system featuring a seven-inch touchscreen with the option to upgrade to a 3rd generation infotainment system.

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Other features include a 4G LTE mobile hotspot, along with Android Auto and Apple CarPlay capability, Siri Eyes Free, a six-speaker audio system, and SiriusXM radio (all optional). The included infotainment system is mainly controlled by touch, but there is a rotary volume knob and additional, redundant buttons nearby. The tech-side of things is finished off with two USB ports and a 12-volt outlet which are found under the center stack.

Safety & Driving Assistance

TDLR: Average driver assistance features are available with all trims.

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), the 2019 Spark has yet to be crash tested. Also, the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) didn’t name it as being a Top Safety Pick.

Nevertheless, the tiny hatchback does come with several driver assists, with the most appealing options being available rear parking sensors, available lane-departure warning, and available forward-collision warning and automated emergency braking.

While the IIHS didn’t name it a Top Safety Pick, the Spark has received the highest rating of “Good” in the moderate overlap side and front crash tests.
The 2019 Spark has been fitted with anti-lock brakes, ten airbags, and stability control, along with a rearview camera. It’s also possible to upgrade the vehicle with rear parking sensors.

Driving Experience

TDLR: The Spark offers and unobtrusive CVT operation, playful steering feedback, and unexpected ride quality.

For 2019, the Spark’s 1.4-liter 4-cylinder engine has just 98 horsepower, which may seem low but remember that a 1974 Ford Mustang II had ten fewer horsepower and weighed much more, demonstrating how far technology and innovation have come.

The Spark also has an optional CVT (continuously variable transmission) that helps to boost fuel efficiency but can make the engine feel weak. Nevertheless, the CVT helps the engine spool up enough so it can get away from the traffic lights at a reasonable rate.

If possible, choose the five-speed manual to really enjoy the ride. The tight turning radius and diminutive size make the Spark extremely enjoyable to drive in city traffic, but somewhat less fun when sharing the road with 18-wheelers. The tiny dimensions also help this car squeeze into tiny parking spots that those in the Toyota Yaris have to pass.

The short wheelbase helps with maneuverability in tighter spaces without compromising your overall ride quality. Yet reviewers found the Spark to be somewhat bouncy on uneven surfaces and that the biggest bumps weren’t well isolated. While this is true, the rattles and road noise are more subdued in the Spark than in some of the rival economy cars.

The steering is direct and communicates the surface of the road to the driver’s hand. It makes changing lanes a breeze and the firm brake pedal has a strong response time that helps to reduce speed consistently and quickly.

Fuel Efficiency

TDLR: The Spark beats out the others in its class according to the EPA.

While the Spark is a small car compared to others in its class, it has received superior EPA estimates. During city driving, it is rated at 29 mpg for the manual transmission and 30 mpg for the automatic. Highway driving is equally impressive achieving 37 mpg on the Activ models and 38 for the others. These figures beat the Fiat 500 but have been outdone by the Mitsubishi Mirage.

There are some compact and subcompact cars that use less fuel than the city-sized 2019 Spark but that’s because they have been designed with a much better power-to-weight ratio. If you want to keep up with traffic, it’s necessary to drive the vehicle “hard” which will impact the overall fuel consumption.

Trim Levels & Pricing

TDLR: The Activ trim offers the most value for the money, but for those who want all the bells and whistles, the 2LT is the way to go.

The Spark is the most affordable passenger car offered by Chevrolet, positioned under the Impala, Malibu, Cruze, and Sonic.

Here’s a look at the trim levels available with the 2019 Chevrolet Spark along with their starting price and destination fees.

The 2019 Spark LS is the base trim, which starts at $13,220 with a destination fee of $875. This trim includes the 7.0-inch touchscreen infotainment system featuring Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, as well as a 4G LTE hotspot, Bluetooth capability, two USB ports, a rear spoiler, and 15-inch steel wheels. It also features OnStar connectivity, which is what provides the 4G LTE hotspot mentioned here. While the infotainment system is impressive, that’s where the features pretty much stop. This trim is fitted with hubcaps, manual door locks, and roll-up windows.

The next trim in the line up is the 2019 Spark 1LT, which starts at $15,120 with a destination fee of $875. This trim adds 15-inch alloy wheels, SiriusXM satellite radio, LED daytime running lights, power and heated side view mirrors, cruise control, keyless entry, and power locks and windows.

Moving up in the available trim levels is the 2019 Spark Activ, starting at $16,220 plus a destination fee of $875. The Activ builds off of the features on the Spark 1LT, offering a more rugged look, which features 15-inch alloy wheels along with rear and front fascia and lower black body moldings. This trim also has revised suspension and a 0.4-inch lift, Activ badging, black heated leatherette front seats, roof rails, and fog lights.

The top-of-the-line trim level is the 2019 Spark 2LT. It has a starting price of $16,620 with a destination fee of $875. This trim comes with leatherette seating, exterior chrome trim, upgraded instrument cluster display, heated front seats, rear parking sensors, push-button start, a proximity key, and leather-wrapped steering wheel along with silver accents.

Value

The 2019 Chevrolet Spark is a hatchback with plenty of grip in the corners and that offers a comfortable ride. However, it does become a bit unsettled when larger potholes are on the road. As to be expected with any vehicle that has under 100 horsepower, the acceleration power is weak, but maneuverability makes up for it.

There’s space for four in the cabin, and the front seats are comfortable and supportive. The infotainment system is logically arranged and easy-to-use, and road and engine noise are minimal thanks to the six-speaker audio system.

The Chevrolet Spark is much more than just a bottom-line car; in fact, it’s one of the most efficient non-hybrid vehicles on the road today. Make sure to consider some of the optional equipment as it can improve the ride provided by the Spark significantly and provide you with more features to make it possible to enjoy the ride much more than the base trim level.

More Photos

See more 2019 Chevy Spark Photos.