2013 Chevrolet Spark
2013 Chevrolet Spark
The competition: Fiat 500, Smart Fortwo, Scion iQ (clockwise from upper right)

The Korean-built Spark is Chevy's first try at a mini-car -- indeed the first by any domestic manufacturer -- and it opens up a potentially vast new market. The competition consists of import incumbents like the Fiat 500, the Scion iQ, and the Smart Fortwo, which are aimed at the narrowest of niches, and in the case of the 500 and iQ, carry much higher price tags. But with its tiny 83-horsepower engine, 10 airbags, and a rock bottom $12,995 base price, the four-passenger Spark makes an appealing first car for young drivers.

Advantage: Spark

By Alex Taylor III, senior editor-at-large @FortuneMagazine - Last updated August 01 2012: 5:45 AM ET
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The midyear in autos: 10 ups and downs

As the old philosopher said - no good deed goes unpunished. Here's a roundup of this year's car news highlights so far, along with their companion lows.

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