Chevrolet Spark

The Chevrolet Spark is offered in three different trims: LS, 1LT and 2LT. Standard equipment even on the base LS includes air conditioning, power steering, power windows, tilt steering-wheel adjustment, a rear defogger, variable intermittent wipers and a 4-speaker AM/FM radio. Spark 1LT adds some popular equipment, including keyless entry, power locks, cruise control, power side mirrors and upgraded 6-speaker audio with USB and aux inputs, satellite radio and Chevrolet's MyLink Touch system, which has a 7-inch color touch screen and allows hands-free and audio-streaming capability, as well as access to apps such as Pandora and Stitcher.

Top-level 2LT models get an upgraded look with leatherette seats, a leather-wrapped steering wheel, steering-wheel controls, alloy wheels and fog lamps, plus special front-end details, chrome trim, a chrome exhaust tip and bright-painted roof rails.

Standard Sparks are powered by an 84-horsepower, 1.2L 4-cylinder engine, mated to either a 5-speed manual gearbox or a CVT transmission. The engine has dual overhead cams and dual continuous variable cam timing, promising both low maintenance and strong fuel economy.

On the outside, the Spark looks sportier than might be expected for a simple urban hatchback, with 'hidden' rear door handles and flamboyant exterior finishes in colors that include Denim, Jalapeno, Lemonade, Salsa and Techno Pink as well as more traditional colors.

Inside, the dash features a design that's motorcycle-inspired. The overall feel is far from economy-car drab. The Spark has space for four, with an upright seating position and a good view out from the front seats, combined with the space to fit two smaller adults in back.

The Spark's layout is quite typical for a very low-cost, front-wheel-drive small car. The suspension follows a MacPherson strut-type arrangement in front, with a torsion-beam setup in back. Stops are provided by front-disc, rear-drum brakes; there's electric power steering; and the Spark runs on low-rolling-resistance tires, which also boost mileage.

Safety is taken seriously and Chevrolet has included a strong roster of safety features that would be impressive in a mid-size luxury car. StabiliTrak stability control is included, as are anti-lock brakes. There are ten standard airbags in the Spark, including front side bags, side-curtain bags and front knee airbags. The Spark even includes GM's OnStar emergency and concierge services.

Introduced in 2014, Chevrolet introduced an electric-only version of the Spark, called the Spark EV. Powered by a 105-kilowatt electric motor producing up to 327 lb-ft. of torque, the Spark EV is still rated to 60 mph in 7.2 seconds and capable of 82 miles of cruising range. Spark EV models are available in 1LT and 2LT trims.

The Spark EVs come with 15-inch alloy wheels, keyless entry, air conditioning, heated seats and a 7-inch touchscreen interface. A 6-speaker sound system with smartphone integration and OnStar are also standard.

Charging can be done either with a conventional 240V outlet, or via a special DC charger, which reduces charging time.

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Editors' First Take

Sometimes, it doesn't take much to enter the crossover game. Subaru's Outback, for example, is basically a taller Legacy sedan with a wagon rear end. Chevrolet's sneaking its way into the subcompact crossover game with the help of the Spark hatchback.

The 2017 Chevrolet Spark Activ is a tiny ute meant to compete with the likes of the Ford EcoSport, Honda HR-V and Toyota C-HR. It differentiates itself from the traditional Spark by way of new front and rear fascias, skid plates, new wheels and a suspension that adds 0.4 inches to the Spark's ride height. It's also sporting a set of roof rails, fog lamps and a unique grille pattern.

The inside is basically still a Spark. Standard features include heated leatherette front seats and a leather-wrapped steering wheel. Tech accouterments include a backup camera and remote keyless entry.

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