Roadshow Video Reviews
2013 Chevy SparkThe littlest Chevy has more tech than you bargained for.
-It's the smallest Chevy the make these days. They say it's their first true mini car. No Camaro DNA here. No CD player either. Let's drive the 2013 Chevy Spark and check the tech. So, what is a Spark? It is the new small car, bottom of their line, very small, but still 4 or 5 inches longer than a Fiat 500 to give you some idea. It's a 5-door as you can see, a fairly [unk] front row, a back row that is the seating with a middle finger up raise is to [unk]. In the back, you lift the hatch. This is the only way the car is available by the way, and you've got a very shallow, rather tall cargo bag. Alright, now, I'm not being unnecessarily deck-ish when I tell you that I feel like I'm on a riding mower in this thing. It's actually pretty roomy for the footprint of the car, but there's something sort of upright about it and this whole wheel and pad have a very forward presentation that makes it feel like it's right on your face. So, that makes it feel a little bit odd in here, but let's talk about this pod. You've got a mechanical pedometer, and over here, you've got a digital LCD screen for other ancillary things, right. You see a tach, an odometer, your fuel level, things like that. In the 1LT and 2LT trim levels, those are the number 2 and 3 trims from the base, you get this head unit, Chevy MyLink, a new interface we've never seen before, good looking thing isn't it. Audio of course takes you to your audio sources, which you're gonna be surprised by. Look at my list. What's missing? No CD, not standard, not optional, not possible. AM/FM, no HD radio. Satellite radio, I believe you get 3 months complementary, maybe it's a month, but there's a little taste there, iPod hooked up through USB. You have a standard analog aux, Bluetooth streaming, nice Meta Tags as well and they camp very quickly. Now, here's really cool part about this system. With our attached smartphone, we go to smartphone link. Three apps are supported right now. Pandora of course will get you your streaming radio that you know well, thumbs up, thumbs down, a customize Pandora interface, nice album right there as well. We back it up. You find Stitcher, the podcast application, and again, very common interface to only run Pandora. You have to have those apps installed in your phone by the way. They are not part of the head unit the way Toyota does it in engine. The last one here is BringGo. As of our shoot today, this is still TBD, but it will be coming to the cars and an optional add on for 50 bucks. You get this support built in and that becomes your nav. There is no native nav built in to this head unit. It's got to be through your smartphone, so the power, and the guts, and the connectivity is here, and of course, BringGo is a connected navigation solution. You got some Google search for places. You got live traffic. It's a nice advanced system, but again, you've got to bring the horsepower and pay 50 bucks for the app integration up here. In early 2013, the Spark will also add support for Siri through and iPhone 4S or 5 including an eyes free mode that keeps the iPhone screen dark during Siri sessions giving you no reason to take you eyes off the road and look at the phone. Now, the engine on the Spark, I was here a minute ago. There it is. 1.25 liter inline 4, tiny. Without putting numbers, we haven't seen in this country since the 80s, 84 horsepower, 83 foot-pounds of torque, nothing in the triple digits, 0 to 60, almost certainly. The car weighs about 2300 pounds and you're gonna get 32/38 MPG with the manual because it's a 5-speed, fairly modern. Get the 4-speed automatic, which they must sourced from John Deere, and your MPG drops a log, down to 28/37. Okay, when you set off on the Spark, you obviously don't expect much from a car with single digit power and a pretty cheap price, but I'll tell you what, this is far from the worse ride quality I've experienced this year. In fact, I can think of a couple of cars that cost more than twice this much that were much harsher to ride in, which brings us to the power, a short subject. There is not much there as you can tell from the numbers, and you always feel like you're about 20% shy of the power you really need especially when you're trying to accelerate onto a freeway or make some kind of a maneuver at full throttle, and you do get the full throttle a lot in this car. It's never risky because aren't much going on there. Good visibility in this guy because you've got those nice deep windows back there. They don't have any tinting on them. That's a big old back light on that hatch as well, and this little quarter peek-a-boo windows here just give you a big nice big greenhouse. It's one of the things that little cars can do to do themselves a favor. As far as shifting, the clutch and gearbox are actually just fine are not bad at all. Shifters are little long. I'm not sure if I'm moving gears for churning butter, but it works. Okay, let's price our sparky little friend, $13,800 base that includes destination. Then, you've got the 1LT and the 2LT trim levels. 1LT is a given, 1600 bucks for the MyLink head unit, remote control locks on the keypad. Yeah, that's optional and cruise control. 2LT, I can live with the leather seats and these alloy wheels. Automatic transmission 925, you wanna live without that. It does nasty things to acceleration and MPG. All in CNET style $15,400.