Tiny or Small? Your Choice: 2020 Chevrolet Spark vs Chevrolet Sonic


The new vehicle market has certainly turned as consumers are shopping for crossovers and trucks in far greater numbers than they are for cars. Indeed, approximately seven in 10 new passenger vehicle sales are categorized as light trucks (SUVs, vans, and pickups), according to the Auto Alliance.

But what if you want a car, especially a small one with great gas mileage and at a decent price? After all, not everyone can afford a $30,000 crossover and the added fuel, maintenance, and insurance costs that go with them.

Happily, small car choices abound, particularly with the foreign manufacturers who remain committed to the segment. Chevrolet still has a stake there too, although they’ve discontinued the compact Cruze.

Among small Chevy car models you’ll still find two products: the tiny Spark and the subcompact Sonic. What’s significant about both is that you can buy well-equipped versions of each for under $20,000 which places these two cars in more buyer’s budgets.

Here’s what we put together to help you decide between these two Chevy models:

Size Separation

No doubt, the Spark and Sonic are small, perhaps too small for some. But for first-time car shoppers and city dwellers, both vehicles may be ideal. Moreover, they’re small enough to fit in tight places, such as when parallel parking on city streets.

The point of separation between the two is just 5.5 inches from axle to axle with the Spark measuring 93.9 inches long to the Sonic’s 99.4 inches. The overall length difference is much more noticeable with a 16-inch separation between the two (30 inches when comparing the Spark to the Sonic sedan).

See AlsoHow Long Is That Car?

Interior Space

Both models seat four although on paper the Sonic is rated for five. The layout of both cabins offer plenty of room in the first row, but tight quarters in the second row.

Rear legroom differences are negligible with the Spark measuring 33.0 inches to the Sonic’s 34.6 inches. Still, that’s not much room for adults, so consider that space ideal for youngsters.

Storage space is an issue with the Spark as it measures just 11.1 cubic feet behind the rear seat. We think most buyers will keep the rear seat folded, which delivers an adequate 27.2 cubic feet of storage capacity.

As for the Sonic sedan, its trunk is within the range of some midsize models with 14.9 cubic feet available. The hatchback delivers 19.0/47.7 cubic feet.

Chevrolet offers the compact Sonic in sedan and hatchback body styles.

That’s Infotainment!

We’re a fan of Chevrolet’s infotainment system, especially as reviewed in other vehicles. Happily, Chevrolet equips both models similarly which means they have 7-inch display screens.

And not only that, but you’ll find Apple CarPlay and Android Auto smartphone compatibility, Bluetooth, a Wi-Fi hotspot, and two USB ports. The Spark has a 4-speaker (six speakers available) audio system, while the Sonic delivers six speakers.

Both models offer driver-assist safety features. The Spark comes with lane departure warning, forward collision warning, low-speed automatic emergency braking, and rear parking sensors. The Sonic offers these features too, except for the low-speed braking.

Power Up

Both models utilize a 1.4-liter four-cylinder engine, but there is a difference in how the engine is delivered. In the Spark, the engine is naturally aspirated, while in the Sonic it is turbocharged, which gives this model an extra 30 percent power to work with. The Sonic also does a better job with sound deadening as the Spark is noisy.

The Chevy Spark routes power to the front wheels with a 5-speed manual gearbox or with a continuously variable transmission. As for the Chevy Sonic, power travels to the front wheels with a six-speed automatic transmission. Sadly, the previously available six-speed manual is no longer offered.

As for fuel economy, the Spark is the clear winner as you should average about 33 mpg. Drive a Sonic and your combined fuel economy is 29 mpg.

Price Considerations

If you’re keen on holding your price down, then we have good news: you can drive away with a new Chevrolet for less than $20,000 perhaps as low as $15,000 if you’re willing to make some sacrifices.

The base Spark is the clear winner, with its starting price including destination coming in at about $14,100 to the Sonic sedan’s $17,600. The hatchback costs $2,700 more, which is due in part to the reason you can no longer get the base LS trim found with the sedan.

It’s the Little Things

If size matters, then the Spark or Sonic may be ideal for you (or not). When cross-shopping these two, the Fiat 500 and the now-retired Smart ForTwo and Scion iQ are its main competitors. As for the Sonic, the Ford Fiesta, Hyundai Accent, Kia Rio, and Honda Fit are models to consider.

Oddly, Chevrolet no longer offers a compact Cruze, which means the next car model size to consider is the midsize Malibu sedan. If a crossover is on your list, the small Trax carries a similar starting price point as the Sonic hatchback.

2020 Chevrolet Spark Specifications

Chevrolet 2020 Spark
Segment Tiny Car
Price Range $13,220 to $18,595
Destination Charge $875
Standard Engine 1.4-liter, I4
Horsepower 98 hp @ 6,200 rpm
Torque (lb.-ft.) 94 lb.-ft. @ 4,400 rpm
Transmission Five-speed manual or CVT
Seating 4
Curb Weight (pounds) 2,246 to 2,312
Wheelbase (inches) 93.9
Length (inches) 143.1
Width (inches) 62.8
Height (inches) 58.4 or 58.76
Headroom (f,r…inches) 39.0, 37.0
Legroom (f,r…inches) 41.7, 33.0
Shoulder room (f,r…inches) 50.8, 49.8
Hip room (f,r…inches) 48.2, 48.0
Storage (cubic feet) 11.1, 27.2
Gross vehicle weight (pounds) NR
Towing (pounds) NR
Payload (pounds) NR
Fuel regular
Fuel Tank (gallons) 9
EPA Fuel MPG (city/highway/combined) 30/38/33
Manufacturing Plant Changwon, Gyeongsangnam-do, South Korea

Data compiled by Tom Keegan. Specifications supplied by the manufacturer.

2020 Chevrolet Sonic Specifications

Chevrolet 2020 Sonic
Segment Subcompact Car
Price Range From $16,720 (sedan); $19,720 (hatchback)
Destination Charge $875
Standard Engine 1.4-liter, turbo I4
Horsepower 138 hp @ 4,900 rpm
Torque (lb.-ft.) 148 lb.-ft. @ 2,500 (man.) 1,850 (auto) rpm
Transmission Six-speed automatic
Seating 5
Curb Weight (pounds) 2,857 to 2,921
Wheelbase (inches) 99.4
Length (inches) 173.9 (sedan) 159.8 (hatchback)
Width (inches) 68.3
Height (inches) 59.7 or 59.3
Headroom, sedan (f,r…inches) 38.7, 37.8
Legroom (f,r…inches) 41.8, 34.6
Shoulder room (f,r…inches) 53.4, 53.0
Hip room (f,r…inches) 51.4, 51.6
Storage (cubic feet) 14.9 (sedan); 19.0/47.7 (hatchback)
Gross vehicle weight (pounds) NR
Towing (pounds) NR
Payload (pounds) NR
Fuel regular
Fuel Tank (gallons) 12.2
EPA Fuel MPG (city/highway/combined) 26/34/29
Manufacturing Plant Orion Township, Michigan

Data compiled by Tom Keegan. Specifications supplied by the manufacturer.

See AlsoAbout the 2019 Chevrolet Volt

Photos copyright GM Corp.

Matthew Keegan

Leave a Comment