The Cheapest New Car in America

The average price for a new car in America is nearly $40,000. Some new vehicles cost just over a third of that. One sells for barely more than $14,000.

A new study of the prices of 2020 cars shows that the 2020 Chevrolet Spark Hatchback from General Motors Co. (NYSE: GM) sells for just $14,025. It is small, has a tiny engine but gets good gas mileage.

The bottom of the line LS model is promoted as a city car, and one can see why it would not be of much use on the highway. It has a 98 horsepower 1.4L Ecotec four-cylinder engine, which gives it 30 miles per gallon in city driving. For those who dare to take it on the highway, it gets 38 mpg on the open road.

People who do not know how to drive a manual transmission cannot consider the $14,025 version of the Spark Hatchback. It has a five-speed manual transmission. The automatic version takes the price up to $15,195. These lower-end versions of the car have front-wheel drive.

As is the case with almost every car sold in America, the Spark Hatchback can get expensive fast. The high-end ACTIV version of the car has a sticker price of $16,345. With driver-assist technology, a sunroof and the other accessories Chevy offers, the price spikes to just below $20,000.

Car experts have a number of criticisms of the Spark. It has among the worst acceleration rates of any car. It has little back seat room and tiny cargo space. Positive comments include the impressive amount of technology the Spark has, as well as the high fuel economy (obviously) and reasonable handling.

The Spark Hatchback is an example of how segmented the U.S. car industry has become over time. Chevy, by itself, has nearly 30 models. Ford has about the same number. Every mass-market car company has a Spark competitor, so Americans can drive a car for less than $200 a month. At the other end of the spectrum, some Americans still have an appetite for $100,000 cars. The sales of high-end Mercedes, BMWs and Audis are a testament to that. Porsche has some cars that sell for over $200,000.

The car market always will need inexpensive cars though, for those who scoot around cities or don’t think most new-age car features are necessary. That gives the Spark a market, albeit one in which people don’t care much about legroom or how much it can carry.