2020 Chevrolet Spark vs. 2019 Fiat 500

Detailed Review, Specifications & Comparison

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Safety

For enhanced safety, the front seat shoulder belts of the Chevrolet Spark are height-adjustable to accommodate a wide variety of driver and passenger heights. A better fit can prevent injuries and the increased comfort also encourages passengers to buckle up. The Fiat 500 doesn’t offer height-adjustable seat belts.

The Spark LT Auto offers optional Low Speed Forward Automatic Braking, which use forward mounted sensors to warn the driver of a possible collision ahead. If the driver doesn’t react and the system determines a collision is imminent, it automatically applies the brakes at full-force in order to reduce the force of the crash or avoid it altogether. The 500 doesn't offer collision warning or crash mitigation brakes.

The Spark LT Auto’s optional lane departure warning system alerts a temporarily inattentive driver when the vehicle begins to leave its lane. The 500 doesn’t offer a lane departure warning system.

The Spark has standard OnStar®, which uses a global positioning satellite (GPS) receiver and a cellular system to get turn-by-turn driving directions, remotely unlock your doors if you lock your keys in, help track down your vehicle if it’s stolen or send emergency personnel to the scene if any airbags deploy. The 500 doesn’t offer a GPS response system, only a navigation computer with no live response for emergencies, so if you’re involved in an accident and you’re incapacitated help may not come as quickly.

Both the Spark and the 500 have standard driver and passenger frontal airbags, front side-impact airbags, driver knee airbags, side-impact head airbags, front seatbelt pretensioners, front wheel drive, plastic fuel tanks, four-wheel antilock brakes, traction control, electronic stability systems to prevent skidding, daytime running lights, rearview cameras and available rear parking sensors.

Warranty

Chevrolet’s powertrain warranty covers the Spark 1 year and 10,000 miles longer than Fiat covers the 500. Any repair needed on the engine, transmission, axles, joints or driveshafts is fully covered for 5 years or 60,000 miles. Coverage on the 500 ends after only 4 years or 50,000 miles.

The Spark’s corrosion warranty is 1 year longer than the 500’s (6 vs. 5 years).

There are over 7 times as many Chevrolet dealers as there are Fiat dealers, which makes it much easier should you ever need service under the Spark’s warranty.

Reliability

A hardened steel chain, with no maintenance needs, drives the camshafts in the Spark’s engine. A rubber cam drive belt that needs periodic replacement drives the 500’s camshaft. If the 500’s belt breaks, the engine could be severely damaged when the pistons hit the opened valves.

A reliable vehicle saves its owner time, money and trouble. Nobody wants to be stranded or have to be without a vehicle while it’s being repaired. Consumer Reports rates the Spark’s reliability 36 points higher than the 500.

J.D. Power and Associates’ 2019 survey of the owners of three-year-old vehicles provides the long-term dependability statistics that show that Chevrolet vehicles are more reliable than Fiat vehicles. J.D. Power ranks Chevrolet fourth in reliability, above the industry average. With 134 more problems per 100 vehicles, Fiat is ranked 31st.

Fuel Economy and Range

On the EPA test cycle the Spark gets better fuel mileage than the 500:

MPG

Spark

Manual

1.4 DOHC 4-cyl.

29 city/38 hwy

ACTIV 1.4 DOHC 4-cyl.

29 city/37 hwy

Auto

1.4 DOHC 4-cyl.

30 city/38 hwy

ACTIV 1.4 DOHC 4-cyl.

30 city/37 hwy

500

Manual

1.4 turbo 4 cyl.

28 city/33 hwy

Abarth 1.4 turbo 4 cyl.

28 city/33 hwy

Auto

1.4 turbo 4 cyl.

24 city/32 hwy

Abarth 1.4 turbo 4 cyl.

24 city/32 hwy

To lower fuel costs and make buying fuel easier, the Chevrolet Spark uses regular unleaded gasoline. The 500 requires premium for maximum efficiency, which can cost 20 to 55 cents more per gallon.

Transmission

The Spark offers an optional continuously variable transmission (CVT). With no “steps” between gears, it can keep the engine at the most efficient speed for fuel economy, or keep it at its peak horsepower indefinitely for maximum acceleration. The 500 doesn’t offer a CVT.

Tires and Wheels

The Spark has a standard space-saver spare tire so you can replace a flat tire and drive to have the flat repaired or replaced. A spare tire isn’t available on the 500; it requires you to depend on roadside assistance and your vehicle will have to be towed.

Suspension and Handling

For a smoother ride and more stable handling, the Spark’s wheelbase is 3.3 inches longer than on the 500 (93.9 inches vs. 90.6 inches).

For better maneuverability, the Spark’s turning circle is 3.8 feet tighter than the 500’s (33.8 feet vs. 37.6 feet).

Chassis

The Chevrolet Spark may be more efficient, handle and accelerate better because it weighs about 250 pounds less than the Fiat 500.

Passenger Space

The Spark has 7.5 cubic feet more passenger volume than the 500 (83 vs. 75.5).

The Spark has .1 inches more front headroom, 1 inch more front legroom, .4 inches more front hip room, 1.4 inches more front shoulder room, 1.4 inches more rear headroom, 1.3 inches more rear legroom, 5.4 inches more rear hip room and 3.4 inches more rear shoulder room than the 500.

Ergonomics

The Spark’s standard power windows have a locking feature to keep children in the rear seat from operating them, but the driver can still raise and lower all of them with the lock engaged. Fiat does not offer a locking feature on the 500’s standard power windows.

The Spark LT/ACTIV’s available driver’s power window opens or closes with one touch of the window control, making it more convenient at drive-up windows and toll booths. The 500’s power windows’ switch has to be held the entire time to close it fully.

The Spark’s standard power window controls are mounted on the armrest for easy access. The 500’s available power window controls are spread out on the center console where they can’t be seen without the driver completely removing his eyes from the road.

Passive Entry with Keyless Start optional on the Spark LT allows you to unlock the driver’s door and start the engine all without removing a key from pocket or purse. This eliminates searching for keys before getting in the vehicle in bad weather or making a hurried start to your trip. The Fiat 500 doesn’t offer an advanced key system.

The Spark has a standard locking fuel door with a remote release located convenient to the driver. A locking fuel door helps prevent vandalism, such as sugar in the tank and fuel theft. The 500 doesn’t offer a locking fuel door.

To improve rear visibility by keeping the rear window clear, the Spark has a standard rear fixed intermittent wiper with a full on position. The rear wiper standard on the 500 only has an intermittent setting, so in a hard rain visibility isn’t as good.

The Spark has a standard automatic headlight on/off feature. When the ignition is on, the headlights automatically turn on at dusk and off after dawn. The 500 doesn’t offer automatic headlights.

Economic Advantages

Insurance will cost less for the Spark owner. The Car Book by Jack Gillis rates the Spark with a number “3” insurance rate while the 500 is rated higher at a number “5” rate.

The Spark will cost the buyer less in the long run because of its superior resale value. The IntelliChoice estimates that the Spark will retain 38.25% to 41.48% of its original price after five years, while the 500 only retains 26.63% to 34.46%.

According to The Car Book by Jack Gillis, the Spark is less expensive to operate than the 500 because it costs $91 less to do the manufacturer’s suggested maintenance for 50,000 miles. Typical repairs cost much less on the Spark than the 500, including $27 less for a water pump, $44 less for a starter, $250 less for fuel injection and $156 less for a fuel pump.

IntelliChoice estimates that five-year ownership costs (depreciation, financing, insurance, fuel, fees, repairs and maintenance) for the Chevrolet Spark will be $6772 to $8328 less than for the Fiat 500.

Recommendations

The Chevrolet Spark outsold the Fiat 500 by over four to one during 2018.

© 1991-2018 Advanta-STAR Automotive Research. All rights reserved.

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