Round it up: 2013 Chevy Spark rated at 38 mpg

Chevy Spark front three-quarter gray backgroundAutomotive advertisers are making 40 mpg the new standard of fuel economy. Most of the major companies have a car that can achieve the magic 4-0, although usually only on the highway. The 2013 Chevy Spark subcompact was gunning for 40 mpg, but, at 38 mpg, it missed the target. Does that mean the Spark will fail to attract fuel-conscious shoppers?

The EPA rated the Spark at 32 mpg city, 38 highway. That’s for cars equipped with a five-speed manual transmission; four-speed automatic cars are rated at 28 mpg city and 37 mpg highway.

Every Spark is powered by a miniscule 1.2-liter four-cylinder engine, which makes 85 horsepower. That makes the Spark one of the least-powerful cars currently in production. With such a small engine, one would expect big mpg numbers from this Chevy.

Several of the Spark’s competitors have managed to reach the gold standard of 40 mpg. The Kia Rio does, with a manual transmission, although the Spark gets two mpg more in the city. The Ford Fiesta SFE also achieves 40 mpg, with an automatic transmission. In fact, Chevy’s own Cruze Eco scores 42 mpg highway, and 28 mpg in the city.

The Spark’s biggest headline may actually be its city mpg number, which is much more competitive than its highway mileage. A small car like the Spark would probably be better off as a city runabout anyway; merging onto a highway with only 85 hp does not sound fun.

Another potential advantage for the Spark is its price. Starting at $12,995, it undercuts the Kia ($14,350) and the Ford ($16,295). It’s also cheaper than a Fiat 500, despite having more doors.

The only car that bests the Spark’s base price is the Nissan Versa sedan, which starts at $10,990. With a 1.6-liter four-cylinder (109 hp) and continuously variable transmission, the Versa returns 30 mpg city and 38 mpg highway. That makes it nearly identical to the Spark.

The Spark is not a bad car, but it puts in a middling performance in a very competitive segment. Under certain conditions (in the city, with a manual transmission), it shines, but its small size may not make it as useful outside urban areas. Buyers wanting the absolute best fuel economy or the absolute lowest price should look elsewhere. The Spark comes close to the competition on mpg and price, but its tiny engine might be too much of a sacrifice, even for fuel-conscious buyers. That, not the Spark’s inability to achieve 40 mpg, might be its biggest drawback.

Product Review

Mercedes-Benz updates the timeless G-wagen for the modern world

For decades, the G-Class has been an outlier in the Mercedes-Benz portfolio, a body-on-frame brute with the soul – and driving manners – of an off-road pickup. With the all-new G550, Mercedes seeks to smooth out some of the rough edges.
Cars

2020 GMC Acadia toughens up on the outside, gets smarter on the inside

The 2020 GMC Acadia crossover gets styling updates and a more rugged AT4 trim level. Under the skin, the Acadia sports a new turbocharged four-cylinder engine and a wider array of tech features.
Cars

2020 Kia Soul and Soul EV continue to think inside the box

The 2020 Kia Soul is the third generation of Kia's boxy curiosity. The Soul maintains its signature look, but gets tech and powertrain upgrades. The all-electric Soul EV returns as well.
Product Review

The 2020 Volvo V60 Cross Country is a do-it-all Swedish army knife

Volvo laced up its smallest station wagon in hiking clothes to create the V60 Cross Country. It's a lifted, all-wheel drive wagon that laughs at icy roads while coddling its occupants. We travel to Sweden to try it out.
Cars

2019 RAM 1500 Classic Warlock special edition: Badass style without the whoop

If you like the looks of blacked-out badass trucks without the cost of a desert racer, FCA announced the 2019 Ram 1500 Classic Warlock, a special edition pickup that focuses on appearance with only a touch of additional off-road capability.
Cars

Nissan is using old Leaf batteries to power and connect off-the-grid campers

Nissan has teamed up with trailer manufacturer Opus to design a mobile, weatherproof power pack built with battery cells sourced from the first-generation Leaf. Called Roam, the pack stores enough electricity to power a camper for up to a…
Cars

Alfa Romeo’s latest Ferrari-powered F1 race car is ready to hit the track

Alfa Romeo is doubling down on Formula One racing after a decades-long hiatus. Now essentially a support team for Ferrari, its 2019 driver lineup includes a former world champion and a potential future star.
Cars

Researchers teach self-driving cars to predict pedestrians’ next moves

University of Michigan researchers are developing a system that teaches self-driving cars to predict pedestrian movement. Humans don't always act in their own best self-interest, so autonomous cars will need to practice protective driving.
Cars

Subaru’s latest VIZIV concept car is pumped full of adrenaline

The Subaru VIZIV Adrenaline is the seventh member of the Japanese automaker's family of VIZIV concept cars. It debuts at the 2019 Geneva Motor Show, but for now, all we're getting is a shadowy teaser image.
Cars

Audi is advancing the tech that teaches cars to talk to traffic lights

Audi is teaching its cars the language of traffic lights. The company developed technology that tells motorists what speed they should drive at in order to catch as many green lights as possible.
Cars

Waymo rules and Apple trails in California self-driving car benchmarks

California's DMV releases annual reports of self-driving car disengagements on public roads. In the most recent reports. Waymo had the best performance, GM Cruise came in second, and Apple's self-driving program was in last place.
Cars

Watch a modified Audi e-tron electric SUV drive straight up a ski slope

A modified Audi e-tron climbed up an 85-percent gradient on an Austrian ski slope in a tribute to a classic Audi commercial. The vehicle used for the stunt sported an extra electric motor and spiked tires.
Cars

Mamma mia! Alfa Romeo will unveil a new model at the Geneva Auto Show

Alfa Romeo told Digital Trends it will unveil a new model at the 2019 Geneva Auto Show. It stopped short of revealing what it has in store, but rumors claim it will be a crossover positioned below the Stelvio.
Cars

Citroën says you could drive its tiny Ami One electric car without a license

Citroën's Ami One concept car is an electric vehicle that's as cute as it is compact. The miniature motor only has a top speed of 28 mph, so the French automaker imagines it as a shareable runaround for short drives.