Ace of Base: 2017 Chevrolet Spark LS Manual
Base model. What does that image conjure? Vinyl seats? Tinny AM radio? A low rent penalty box on wheels? A few years ago, you’d be right on the money. Driving misery was available for voluntary purchase at the showrooms of just about every major car maker.
Now, though … it’s tougher to find. This series has focused on vehicles out there that, in their cheapest guise, won’t make you cringe with each pull of the driver’s door handle. Here’s an example.
Redesigned last year, the diminutive Chevy Spark shrank a couple of inches in length and height while also losing its wild-eyed headlights, which actually stretched all the way from the front bumper to the A-pillar. GM engineers managed to stretch the wheelbase, which delivers better handling and helps vanquish the pogo-stick motions that plague the ride of some other small cars.
The 1.4-liter 98 horsepower inline-four won’t win any stoplight drags, but those looking for smoky burnouts should sign the note on a new Camaro ZL1 instead. Chevy has managed to stuff a remarkable amount of tech and features into the Spark, especially given its ramen-esque pricing — ten airbags, Apple CarPlay or Android Auto by way of a 7-inch touchscreen with USB and Bluetooth connectivity are all standard equipment.
A rear-facing camera and anti-lock brakes should keep new drivers out of the weeds, and a built-in wifi hotspot means they can constantly InstaChat and SnapGram their effortlessly fun, more-exciting-than-yours lifestyle. It’s a remarkable amount of kit for a base model hatchback.
Current cash allowances bring the price to $13,375 including freight. Canadian shoppers have it even better, what with GM locked in a battle with Nissan for low-price hatchback supremacy. Those north of the border can set their Tim Horton’s cups in the same model for $11,595 — a mere $8,800 worth of Freedom at today’s exchange rates.
You know what $8,800 bought you just a few short years ago? Sadness! That’s what! Sadness, presented to buyers in the form of a bland hatchback with frightening build quality and exterior styling penned by the creators of the The Lawrence Welk Show. If you wanted to adjust the side mirror, you manually cranked down the window, reached out, and put a greasy thumbprint on the reflective surface. Touchscreens, wi-fi, and seats which didn’t numb your butt after 100 miles? Ha! Dream on, kid.
Actually, adjusted for inflation, the 2017 Spark LS with a manual transmission is about $1,456 cheaper than its early ’90s equivalent, a base Geo Metro. I’m going to let that sink in for a minute. Economies of scale, man; they’re a great thing.
Not every base model has aced it. The ones that have? They help make the automotive landscape a lot better. Any others you can think of, B&B? Let us know in the comments. Naturally, feel free to eviscerate our selections.
The model above is shown with American options and is priced in Freedom Dollars. As always, your dealer may sell for less.
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- Tassos Chinese owned Vollvo-Geely must have the best PR department of all automakers. A TINY maker with only 0.5-0.8% market share in the US, it is in the news every day.I have lost count how many different models Volvo has, and it is shocking how FEW of each miserable one it sells in the US market.Approximately, it sells as many units (TOTAL) as is the total number of loser models it offers.
- ToolGuy Seems pretty reasonable to me. (Sorry)
- Luke42 When I moved from Virginia to Illinois, the lack of vehicle safety inspections was a big deal to me. I thought it would be a big change.However, nobody drives around in an unsafe car when they have the money to get their car fixed and driving safely.Also, Virginia's inspection regimine only meant that a car was safe to drive one day a year.Having lived with and without automotive safety inspections, my confusion is that they don't really matter that much.What does matter is preventing poverty in your state, and Illinois' generally pro-union political climate does more for automotive safety (by ensuring fair wages for tradespeople) than ticketing poor people for not having enough money to maintain their cars.
- ToolGuy When you are pulled over for speeding, whether you are given a ticket or not should depend on how attractive you are.Source: My sister 😉
- Kcflyer What Toyota needs is a true full size body on frame suv to compete with the Expedition and Suburban and their badge engineered brethren. The new sequoia and LX are too compromised in capacity by their off road capabilities that most buyers will never use.
Good choice. The one glaring feature this car lacks in base trim is cruise control. Otherwise, it's a definite Ace of Base and a fantastic illustration of how far cars have come. Despite the losses for enthusiasts, the general public has done well. This is a great car for a new driver. Not so powerful that it will get itself in trouble, cheap to buy, relatively simple so maintenance shouldn't be a headache, and a welcome emphasis on safety (lots of standard features and good crash test scores).
Bought this one for my daughter 18th birthday. She is very happy with it