2013 Chevrolet Spark 2LT review: Sparkler

2013 Chevrolet Spark 2LT

2013 Chevrolet Spark 2LT

Chevy touts the diminutive new 2013 Chevrolet Spark as a city car, “fuel-efficient, affordable and maneuverable for young city dwellers.” Fair enough. So we took to the highway with a lime green—Chevy calls it Jalapeno—Spark 2LT, and we went hammer down.

Despite the Fifth Amendment—or perhaps because of it—we’ll make not velocital confessions, but let’s say that the tachometer was hanging in the mid-three grand range.  Surely we could have gone slower, but that’s not the point. Maybe most drivers might featherfoot around, but we decided to spend hours behind the wheel, just because we could—and because we had places to go.

The 2013 Chevrolet Spark 2LT has an easy-to-use layout of controls with distinctive styling.

The 2013 Chevrolet Spark 2LT has an easy-to-use layout of controls with distinctive styling. (click to enlarge)

So what’s it like out there, Mario? Well, let’s just say it’s not a Cadillac XTS. Chevrolet made efforts to hush the cabin of the Spark, including thicker glass and hood seals, but the  Spark is louder inside than the average car, for likely a host of reasons. There are mechanical sounds—remember that spinning engine—road noise is prominent and wind noise was evident around the rear windows. We found ourselves turning down the radio every time we stopped because we had turned it up while driving. At least we had steering wheel-mounted audio controls.

The wheels look small though in fact they’re 15-inchers.   That’s due in part to the Spark’s dimensions. It’s tall for its length and width, and the juncture of the hood and A-pillar is straight above the front wheels, and at least as high double the tire height. The wheels shrink in comparison.

2013 Chevrolet Spark's instrument

The 2013 Chevrolet Spark’s instrument cluster is mounted on the steering column. (click to enlarge)

The exterior is, well, idiosyncratic. The Spark has the Chevrolet family grille, with the body-colored bar separating upper and lower honeycomb grille openings. The lower “opening,” however, is half closed off in favor of aerodynamics. Not of course that the Spark isn’t the first car with fake scoops and openings.

The headlight clusters, however, are huge, particularly for the size of the car. One of our first thoughts was to wonder what it could cost to replace one. Ouch. Fog lights are standard on the Spark 2LT.

On to the side, where there are a lot of lines that don’t seem to have a coherent pattern, and the side windows take a dip towards the front corners. Funny thing is, it just comes off as quirky. What’s not to like? It’s a short package and the Spark’s designers have to pack a lot into a small area. And you want small? There’s barely any rear overhang.

The quirk factor continues inside. It’s a thing with small cars, but the Chevrolet Spark brings the outside color in with assorted exterior color panels inside. Those outside won’t be the only ones to enjoy—if that’s the word—the Spark’s variety of expressive colors. Why should only bystanders get to see the Jalapeno?

2013 Chevrolet Spark instrument panel

The instrument panel of the 2013 Chevrolet Spark combines a conventional speedometer with a separate electronic panel. (click to enlarge)

Overall, however, the inside is more conventional than outside. It has its moments. The instrument panel is a pod mounted atop the steering column. It’s comprised of a conventional circular speedometer with a panel to the right with a blue LCD tachometer, plus the odometer, fuel gauge and trip computer.

Our test 2013 Chevrolet Spark was the 2LT trim level, which is another way of saying it’s loaded as a Spark get, and that includes heated seats. The base Spark starts under $13,00 (including destination), but our 2LT—without further options—came in at a grand total of $15,795. That includes not only the expected power windows, locks with remote keyless access, and power mirrors, but also a leather-wrapped steering wheel, cruise control, a “premium” six-speaker audio system with XM and MyLink hands-free integration with Pandora and Stitcher.