2017 Chevy Spark Activ: fake crossover jacks up minicar into SUV wannabe


2017 Chevrolet Spark Activ

2017 Chevrolet Spark Activ

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General Motors insists on calling its 2017 Chevrolet Bolt EV a crossover utility vehicle.

That's despite the fact that its award-winning 238-mile electric car isn't available with all-wheel drive, and has no more ground clearance than an average passenger car.

But hey, if the Bolt EV can be an SUV, then why not the Chevy Spark subcompact hatchback as well?

DON'T MISS: 2016 Los Angeles Auto Show green-car preview

Debuting at the 2016 Los Angeles Auto Show, the 2017 Chevrolet Spark Activ uses a jacked up ride height and some body cladding to affect the appearance of an SUV.

Admittedly, it's a concept that's worked fairly well with larger models such as the Volkswagen Golf Alltrack and Subaru Outback and Crosstrek, among others.

But at least those vehicles have all-wheel drive.

2017 Chevrolet Spark Activ

2017 Chevrolet Spark Activ

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The Spark Activ is mechanically identical to the front-wheel drive, second-generation Spark hatchback introduced to the U.S. last year.

However, its ride height is increased by 0.4 inch, and numerous styling changes have been made to give the Activ a more rugged appearance.

Extra plastic body cladding in a contrasting color rings the lower edges of the body, while fog lights and a new grille design alter the front fascia.

ALSO SEE: Can Chevy Spark Activ 'soft-roader' SUV-like version boost appeal?

The Activ also features a model-specific 15-inch wheel design and roof rails.

Underneath the SUV costume jewelry is the same 1.4-liter 4-cylinder engine used in other versions of the Spark.

Its output of 98 horsepower and 94 pound-feet of torque is unchanged.

2017 Chevrolet Spark

2017 Chevrolet Spark

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As in non-Activ versions of the Spark, transmission choices include a 5-speed manual and an automatic continuously variable transmission (CVT).

Chevy didn't release EPA fuel-economy figures for the Spark Activ, but the standard Spark is rated at 33 mpg combined, regardless of the transmission choice.

MORE: 2017 Nissan Versa Note gets updates before LA Auto Show

The Spark Activ will be offered with the same technology features as other Spark models, including Apple CarPlay and Android Auto compatibility, and a built-in WiFi hotspot.

Pricing starts at $16,945 for manual-transmission models, $18,045 for models equipped with the CVT (both prices include destination).

2017 Chevrolet Spark

2017 Chevrolet Spark

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When it goes on sale in the first quarter of 2017, the Spark Activ's mission is to help Chevy co-opt some of the current enthusiasm for SUVs.

Chevy hasn't done much to promote the current-generation Spark since it launched last year, so its dealers will likely welcome the Activ model.

For more new-car debuts, head over to our Los Angeles Auto Show news page.

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