The Kia Spectra is a good choice among a field of compact cars that offer few, if any, bad choices. The Spectra compact sedan and five-door hatchback offer excellent fuel economy along with Kia's strong warranty, which make for a compelling package for budget-minded buyers. It represents one of the best values among compacts, with an impressive list of safety equipment for its modest price.
More important for everyday driving, the Spectra is a nice little car. The Spectra is available as a four-door sedan or as the Spectra5 five-door hatchback. Both present styling that is sharp and distinctive.
Inside is a modern cabin that's roomy and pleasant with quality materials and good fit and finish. Everything is easy to operate.
Spectra gets an EPA-estimated 24/32 mpg City/Highway with an automatic transmission, yet produces peppy performance.
Safety features are plentiful: The Spectra comes with a full complement of airbag supplemental restraints. In addition to the mandatory dual frontal airbags, the Spectra's front-seat occupants are protected by seat-mounted side-impact airbags; while full-coverage side curtain airbags protect both front- and rear-seat occupants.
The 2008 Kia Spectra lineup features four models: LX, EX, and SX sedan, and Spectra5 SX hatchback. All can seat up to five passengers. All are front-wheel-drive compacts powered by a 138-horsepower four-cylinder engine. The standard transmission is a five-speed manual; a four-speed automatic is optional ($1,000).
Spectra LX ($12,895) comes with cloth upholstery, six-way adjustable driver's seat, tilt steering wheel, AM/FM/CD six-speaker stereo with auxiliary input jack (think iPod), auto-off headlights, tachometer, digital clock, dual 12-volt power outlets in the center console, tinted glass, and a rear window defroster. Tires are 195/60R15 on 15-inch steel wheels with full covers. Outside mirrors are manually adjustable and windows have hand cranks. Air conditioning is optional ($900).
Spectra EX ($14,895) adds air conditioning, power windows, heated power mirrors, power central locking, remote keyless entry, fog lights, map lights, a sunglasses holder, and some additional cupholders and bright trim. Rear brakes upgrade from drums to discs. Fifteen-inch aluminum wheels are optional ($400), as are cruise control ($250), a remote starter ($250), and a choice of rear spoilers ($375).
Spectra SX ($15,995) features a sport-tuned suspension with a strut-tower bar, 205/50R16 tires on 16-inch aluminum wheels, leather-wrapped steering wheel and shift knob, upgraded upholstery, metallic interior accents, metal pedals, and other unique interior and exterior trim.
Spectra5 ($15,995) is equipped identically to the SX sedan, but is a five-door hatchback instead of a four-door sedan.
Optional on the EX, SX, and Spectra5 are an in-dash six-CD player with MP3 playback ($300). A power tilt sunroof ($700) and anti-lock brakes ($400) are available on SX and Spectra5 only. Carpeted floor mats ($85) are available on all models.
Safety features include advanced frontal airbags, seat-mounted side-impact airbags, full-length side air curtains, height-adjustable front seatbelt anchors (making them even more comfortable to wear, so wear them!), seat belt pretensioners, the latest child-seat attachment system, and a tire pressure monitor.