$8,384 - $15,822

2016 Chevrolet Spark Performance Review

Note: This performance review was created when the 2016 Chevrolet Spark was new.


Performance: 7.3

The 2016 Chevy Spark makes for a nice little cruiser, though it isn't the most dynamic vehicle. The engine delivers satisfactory power and acceleration for most situations, and the handling is composed. You probably don't want to take the Spark on a cross-country drive, but it is better for long-haul driving than some class rivals, like the Fiat 500. The Spark also offers an electric powertrain – the Spark EV – that delivers excellent fuel economy and decent range for an all-electric vehicle.

  • "Like the Fiat 500, Smart Fortwo and Mitsubishi Mirage, the Spark's diminutive size is best suited for shorter commutes, though the Chevy feels the most substantial of the group." -- Kelley Blue Book
  • "How does the 2016 Chevrolet Spark drive? Surprisingly well, and not just for a tiny car." -- Motor Trend
  • "Instead of the preceding Spark's anemic engine, the new model features a 1.4-liter four-cylinder engine with 14 more horsepower. While this doesn't translate into much better acceleration, it does give the Spark a little more zip around town." -- Edmunds

Acceleration and Power

The Spark features a 1.4-liter four-cylinder engine that produces 98 horsepower. That's actually more powerful than the outgoing Spark's engine. Still, don't expect the Spark to feel fast. Its acceleration is generally adequate, and it has enough power for city and highway driving, but you aren't going to be setting the pace while you're out cruising.

A five-speed manual transmission is standard, and a continuously variable transmission (CVT), which is a type of automatic, is available. With the manual transmission, the Spark gets an EPA-estimated 30 mpg in the city and 41 on the highway, which is a little better than the class average. The CVT does return marginally better fuel economy, but not enough to deter you from the manual if you prefer a stick shift.

  • "… acceleration is adequate for most situations. Chevy doesn't quote top speed or 0-to-60 times for the Spark -- it isn't that kind of car. Around town and on brief freeway jaunts, it's just fine." -- AutoTrader
  • "With only 98 horsepower, Chevy's smallest car still takes time to get up to speed, but we prefer the Spark's 4-cylinder engine and CVT automatic transmission to rivals such as the 3-cylinder Mitsubishi Mirage. And while we don't recommend the Spark for long-haul commutes, our freeway jaunts didn't leave us scarred." -- Kelley Blue Book
  • "As with its diminutive dimensions, the Spark's small four-cylinder engine is best suited for around-town use. A CVT-equipped Spark takes a bit more than 11 seconds to reach 60 mph (from a standstill) so highway on-ramp runs require some advance planning." -- Edmunds

Alternative Fuels/Charging

Spark EV models feature a rechargeable battery and an electric motor that produces 140 horsepower. It earns an estimated 119 mpg-equivalent combined fuel economy rating.

With a full battery charge, the Spark EV has a range of about 82 miles, which is better than the Ford Focus Electric’s range, though not quite as good as the Nissan Leaf's. When hooked up to a 120-volt outlet, it takes about 20 hours to fully charge the Spark EV's battery. The charging time drops to under seven hours with a 240-volt connection.

Handling and Braking

As you may expect given its small size, the Spark has an excellent turning radius, making it highly maneuverable in just about any situation. The small size also lets the Spark squeeze into parking spots that many larger cars could not.

The front-wheel drive Spark is fairly agile and handles turns well, though it's by no means sporty. The ride is generally smooth, but when the road gets rough, the ride quality drops off noticeably.

  • "The Spark's real benefits come thanks to its tight turning radius and tidy size that allow it to maneuver into spots that larger cars would have to pass." -- Kelley Blue Book
  • "The bright green Spark rode well during our week driving around SoCal, but got unsettled over bad potholes." -- Motor Trend
  • "The 2016 Spark features a lower roofline than before, but a still-tallish body fosters the impression of a European cargo van left too long in the clothes dryer. Thankfully, the Spark doesn't drive like a van. Although far from a sport sedan, this small Chevy remains surprisingly agile around turns and delivers a well-mannered ride overall." -- Edmunds

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