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Chevy’s 2017 Spark Activ mimics SUVs with rugged styling

SUVs are more popular than ever, and automakers are all too happy to meet that demand. Sometimes that means turning a regular car into something approximating an SUV, even if that car is a tiny subcompact hatchback.

The 2017 Chevrolet Spark Activ really is just a regular car with some SUV-like styling cues, in the same vein as the Subaru Outback and XV Crosstrek or Volkswagen Golf Alltrack. But the Spark Activ, which debuts this week at the 2016 Los Angeles Auto Show, applies the concept to a much smaller package.

The Activ isn’t any more off-road worthy than a regular Spark, but it does have what Chevy calls “trail-inspired accents.” These include extra plastic body cladding, rocker moldings, roof rails, round fog lights, and a 0.4-inch higher ride height. The Activ gets its own 15-inch wheel design and grille, too. The overall look is a bit more macho than the standard Spark, but no one will mistake the Activ for anything other than a hatchback with some extra jewelry.

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Chevy didn’t make any changes to the powertrain, meaning the Activ gets the same 1.4-liter four-cylinder engine used in other Spark models. Part of General Motors’ recently-revamped global family of Ecotec small engines, it produces 98 horsepower and 94 pound-feet of torque. That power is sent to the front wheels through a five-speed manual or an automatic continuously variable transmission (CVT).

Like the standard Spark, the Activ gets a decent amount of tech features for a car of its size and price. Among the available features is Chevy’s MyLink infotainment system with 7.0-inch touchscreen and Apple CarPlay and Android Auto compatibility, as well as a built-in Wi-Fi hot spot.

The 2017 Chevrolet Spark Activ goes on sale early next year. Pricing will start at $16,945 with the manual transmission, and $18,045 with the CVT (both prices include destination). The SUV-esque Spark Activ will be in good company at the 2016 L.A. Auto Show, which will be full of new SUVs. DT will be on the ground in the City of Angels to bring you the latest, so stay tuned.