By on November 14, 2016

Chevy Spark ACTIV image: General Motors

Chevrolet probably isn’t expecting customers to take their Spark ACTIVs down a fire road or out for a day of rock crawling. However, it is leveraging the outdoorsy concept to say the ACTIV will somehow be better at those things than a standard Spark to encourage sales and rationalize a higher price tag.

America’s love-affair with crossovers is bigger than ever and General Motors is hoping there’s room for this extra-small entry into the very popular segment.

The ACTIV gives off the illusion that you can take the Spark out of the city and into the country with “trail-inspired accents.”

General Motors has modified the appearance of the standard itty-bitty Spark to give it a bit of sport utility flair. It gets unique front and rear fascias with accents influenced by off-road skid plates, dark plastic wheelhouse moldings, new rocker panels, 15-inch alloy wheels, and fog lamps.

The ACTIV has been raised four tenths of an inch and comes with roof rails for securing your mountain bike, camping supplies, or hang glider — depending on how ACTIV you want your Instagram to be.

Chevrolet also set the little crossover up with a leather steering wheel and heated leatherette front seats.

For $16,945, General Motors will sell you a manual transmission ACTIV with a with 7-inch infotainment system, backup camera, steering controls, and a few other things the Spark LS lacks. If you don’t want a clutch, the Spark CUV with a CVT is $18,045.

That might sound like a lot compared to the $13,535 MSRP of the base LS but, at that price, you’re missing out on all the previously mentioned goodies and important things like cruise control. A similarly equipped 2LT is roughly the same, if not slightly more expensive than the ACTIV.

Chevrolet estimates the 1.4-liter Ecotec engine with the CVT is capable of 30 miles to the gallon in the city and 37 on the highway. The manual is almost as good at 29 city/37 highway.

Chevy Spark ACTIV image: General Motors

While Chevy’s intent here was clearly to capitalize on the sales success of crossover vehicles and make the Spark look more woodsy, it might’ve actually made a superior city car by accident. Black molding scratches better than paint and that 0.4 inches may be just enough to help your subcompact crawl over a low curb.

General Motors says the Spark ACTIV will be show up on dealer lots in the first quarter of 2017.

[Images: General Motors]

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40 Comments on “2017 Chevrolet Spark ACTIV: America’s Tiniest Crossover...”

  • avatar

    It’ll sell…

    • 0 avatar

      Exactly my thought. Buyers won’t care it is a car, it is about the “looks.” GM’s packaging rarely gets things right, and the A segment is a zombie segment in the US anyway – but this will sell.

  • avatar

    Mazda called and said they want their stupid name back.

  • avatar

    Looks like a mini Opel Mokka. I bet it sells better than the regular Spark.

  • avatar

    This will have cult collector value in 20 years as a vehicle that could only have existed in 2017. Similar to a Suzuki X90, Outback SUS, Dakota Convertible, or AMC Eagle Kammback, something semi-obscure and representative of their time that weirdos will collect.

    I only wish it had a rear mounted spare so it could be a modern equivalent of the Daihatsu Terios Kid.

    • 0 avatar
      SCE to AUX

      “Similar to a Suzuki X90, Outback SUS, Dakota Convertible, or AMC Eagle Kammback, something semi-obscure and representative of their time that weirdos will collect.”


  • avatar

    People will actually know, and buy, this Activ.

  • avatar

    No awd?

  • avatar


  • avatar

    A dismal 30/37 MPG?
    This day and age (and gov intervention for higher mpgs but chokes automakers with regulations) this type of car should be around 60 mpgs.

    • 0 avatar

      The point of a microcar (A-segment) is not that it gets better MPG than a subcompact, although it should. The point is that it’s easier to park in a crowded urban environment. There aren’t many places in the US where this is the case.

  • avatar

    Which one is next? Smart Car?

  • avatar

    With any luck, GM has seen the error of their ways with the last Spark refresh. While they gave it a boost in engine power and cleaned up the earlier car’s ‘startled squirrel’ front end with headlights as big as the front fenders, they also decontented the hell out of the base LS, deleting such features as aluminum wheels, power windows, and cruise control, all of which used to be standard on the base car.

    Likewise, I can see the ACTIV being quite popular and essentially making the LT2 irrelevant.

    So, if they were smart, they’d reduce Spark models to just two, LT1 and ACTIV, with the former going for the same price as the LS. Do that, and they might have a real winner on their hands, possibly even competing with the class leader Honda Fit.

  • avatar

    They’ve really Jumped the Spark now…

  • avatar
    Jeff S

    I like this vehicle. with a manual it would make a perfect commuter vehicle and with the back seat down it would be a perfect hatch for smaller loads. I have no problem with crank windows in a subcompact especially for a commuter vehicle. As long as it has air conditioning I would be happy with a base model and a manual. Not every vehicle made has to come standard with heated seats, cruise control, power locks, power windows, and a host of other items that came on just luxury cars in the past. There is beauty in simplicity.

    • 0 avatar

      The problem wasn’t that GM took out the ‘luxuries’ of power windows, cruise control, aluminum wheels, etc. The issue was they didn’t lower the Spark’s base price between the base 1st generation and 2nd generation cars, but kept it the same while removing some very nice features in such a low priced car. In effect, it meant you had to pay more for the stuff that was previously standard equipment.

      The base Spark used to be very good (if not great) buy. Now, not so much.

    • 0 avatar

      Would probably not be great for a long commute, but its probably still far better than econoboxes of old. I’ve always thought that out of the “micro” car class available in the US, this car is the best. A Smart is absolutely dumb. As a city dweller, this car makes sense if you live in the city and must have a car. If anything, I’d downsize the wheels and put on some tires with 70-series sidewalk and give it tons of suspension travel to deal with awful potholed streets.

  • avatar

    “While Chevy’s intent here was clearly to capitalize on the sales success of crossover vehicles and make the Spark look more woodsy, it might’ve actually made a superior city car by accident.”

    This is spot on. When everyone around you has an SUV, pulling out of side streets or parking garages in a lower car is a major pain in the ass. Lifting the height makes it easier to see and be seen, and easier to handle the massive potholes in the city. Plus the benefit of plastic for the idiots who parallel park “by feel” aka by feeling their car hit yours.

    • 0 avatar

      Indeed. And if it’s about the same price as similarly equipped, uh, inACTIV Spark, why not?

    • 0 avatar

      I can’t see how an extra four tenths of an inch will have any significant effect on visibility.
      I will testify, however, that a 1 cm. lift to my Jetta made the difference between dragging my belly pan and not on the road into my cottage.

    • 0 avatar

      If it does, indeed, become the case where the ACTIV sells more as a city dweller vehicle than of a CUV outdoor lifestyle, maybe they should rename it the URBAN. It does seem to fit that profile better.

      Regardless, Chevrolet may have come up with a winner.

  • avatar

    They raised it 4 tenths of an inch? Well, excuse me while I go buy one and take it on the Rubicon, then. That’s some serious off-road cred, there.

    Seriously, why even bother? What good is 0.4 inches more ground clearance going to do in the real world? Is this going to be able to go over mall parking lot speed bumps SLIGHTLY better than a regular Spark?

    • 0 avatar
      Click REPLY to reload page

      That 4/10 inch will disappear once the tires wear down a little.
      Heck, they didn’t need to change the suspension or bodywork, just bump the tire size up 10 mm.

      That may be all that they did.

  • avatar
    Jeff S

    Chevy should have lowered the price when they took the electric windows, cruise control, and a few other things. There is a market for a more stripped vehicle but the price should be lowered by at least $500 and maybe even $1,000.

  • avatar

    This to me highlights just how dumb this CUV thing has become.

    Ingreidents for the Spark CUV:
    0.4in higher springs
    Roof rack
    Pleather buckets and steering wheel cover

    But perhaps whats shocking is the MSRP for the existing MY16 Spark in LT guise:

    1LT CVT: 15,785
    2LT CVT: 17,285

    The CUV version only seems to add $800.

  • avatar
    Old Man Pants

    If I feed a Spark premium will it grow into an Encore instead of a Trax?

  • avatar

    I had a Spark as a rental in Iceland a few months ago – I’ll admit there was one heavily potholed hill where the extra ground clearance might have been nice (it could barely haul itself up in first gear without a running start. Then again, skid plates would do the same trick, but who wants to pay for something you can’t see?

    Also, the head toss was noticeable enough, I can’t see sitting any higher helping.

  • avatar

    I can’t believe I didn’t see this coming.

    (Inb4 “of course you didn’t, it’s an A-segment!”)

  • avatar

    If all the used cars on earth disappeared and I could only afford to spend 13,500 on a car, I’d walk. If I could afford around 17,000, I’d buy a chrysler 200.

    This is more of an abortion than the chevy uplander. Yeah, I went there.

  • avatar

    You know what must be done, TTAC. You must take one of these to Moab, for great justice.

  • avatar
    Matt Foley

    20 years ago, the cheapest trim levels of compact cars came with unpainted plastic bumpers. You had to pay extra for painted bumpers.

    Now we’re going pay extra for unpainted plastic bumpers?

    Humans are weird.

  • avatar

    I keep thinking “Spark Act4” .

  • avatar
    Land Ark

    Seeing this jogged my memory that the Sonic RS exists. I ran over to and did a quick search and was horrified to see that the base RS has an MSRP of $23k. And someone local actually has one listed for full price.
    Of course, there’s also a new one listed for $16k.

    So, will we see a Spark ACTIV RS? It’ll come with a 4/10″ inch lowered suspension for added performance.

    Edit: I decided to take a look at the Sparks for sale and WOW! Look at all those colors! My respect for Chevy just went up.

  • avatar
    Pig Hater

    I gotta give the beancounters @ GM credit for making a few changes on the Spark and shazam, suddenly it’s a cross-thingy. There wasn’t any need to add AWD or even huge wheels too. Even though Juke comes with AWD the Spark is a lot cheaper than the Juke too.

  • avatar

    I really dig this car…this is perfect for my commute.

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