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2008 Kia Spectra

Overview
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2008 Kia Spectra Review

By

In the crowded compact-car field, the Kia Spectra sometimes falls off the radar screen. That's a shame, because this little four-door has a lot to offer, including a host of standard safety features that are usually extra-cost options on rival cars. The 2008 Kia Spectra has sporty good looks with bright exterior paint, body-colored door handles and available body-colored mirrors and racy alloy wheels. The Spectra's 2.0-liter engine doesn't exactly inspire spirited driving, but it is a miserly consumer of gasoline.

You'll Like This Car If...

If you're looking for a high-value car and you like the Kia Spectra's more expressive styling, this is a lot of vehicle for not much money. And you might especially appreciate the sprightly demeanor of the SX version.

You May Not Like This Car If...

If the recently documented quality improvements made by at least one Korean automaker have you expecting absolute top-tier refinement, you might be disappointed.

What's New for 2008

The LX sedan now offers the option of a four-speed automatic transmission.

Driving the Spectra

Driving Impressions We drove the sporty Spectra SX model that features a more tightly tuned suspension than the EX version. Like the Spectra5 hatchback, with which it shares its performance...

modifications, we found the SX more fun in the corners than many other cars in this category. In EX trim, expect a smoother highway ride in place of that enhanced cornering capability (although the SX rides nicely enough itself). In any case, the four-cylinder engine delivers responsive acceleration and enough power to make the four-speed automatic a perfectly valid option. With the manual transmission, the shift lever functions adequately enough but the action feels awkward and unrefined.

Smart Styling
Contemporary, attractive styling makes the Spectra easy on the eyes, inside and out.

Six Standard Airbags
It's nice not having to decide whether to pay more money for extra airbags.

2008 Kia Spectra Details
2008 Kia Spectra photo Interior

Nicely designed, and using materials as good as one would reasonably expect in this price range, the Kia Spectra is a decent place to spend a commute. Most would find the rear-seat accommodations acceptable for even a longer road trip. Aesthetically, the only blemish is an AM/FM/CD player that isn't physically or stylistically well-integrated into the otherwise cohesive interior. Two thumbs up for front, front side-impact and front and rear side-curtain airbags being included as standard equipment.

Exterior

Improved exterior styling is a big factor in the recent surge in the appeal of Korean vehicles. The 2008 Kia Spectra features large, jewel-like headlamps that highlight sharply styled sheet metal in a vehicle that in no way resembles Kia's first entry in this country, the Sephia (of which the Spectra is a direct descendant). The sharp crease running from wheel to wheel adds a degree of design sophistication, similar to the side treatment of Mercedes-Benz's S-Class.

Notable Equipment
Standard Equipment

The Spectra LX comes equipped with a 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine (the only powerplant available in the lineup), a five-speed manual transmission, AM/FM/CD sound system with six speakers, tilt wheel and front, front-side and two-row side-curtain airbags. The EX trim adds air conditioning, power windows, power door locks with remote keyless entry and four-wheel disc brakes. The SX trim adds a sport suspension, cruise control, 16-inch alloy wheels, fog lights, rear spoiler, leather-wrapped steering wheel and shift knob and metal interior trim.

Optional Equipment

Options for the LX trim include air conditioning and carpeted floor mats, while the EX can be equipped with 15-inch alloy wheels and cruise control. Options for the SX are limited to a power moonroof, anti-lock brakes (ABS) and a six-disc CD/MP3 changer.

Under the Hood

The Spectra's 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine employs continuously variable valve timing to produce 138 peak horsepower -- and it often feels stronger than that. City and highway acceleration is brisk, and fuel economy is very good.

2.0-liter in-line 4
138 horsepower @ 6000 rpm
136 lb.-ft. of torque @ 4500 rpm
EPA city/highway fuel economy: 23/30 (manual), 24/32 (automatic)

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2008 Kia Spectra Consumer Reviews

Overall Rating
8.2
Out of 10

Based on 342 Ratings for the 2005 - 2009 models.

Review this car
  • Value
    8.6/10
    Quality
    8.3/10
  • Reliability
    8.9/10
    Performance
    8.4/10
  • Comfort
    8.3/10
    Styling
    8.4/10

Reliable and dependable

By on Saturday, April 11, 2015

I own this car - My approximate mileage is 138,000

10 8.0
overall rating 8 of 10rating details

Reviewer Ratings

Overall Rating
8/10
Value
10/10
Reliability
9/10
Quality
8/10
Performance
9/10
Styling
9/10
Comfort
10/10

Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 9

"I really like this car. 2008 and still all original equipment except for air filters, oil filters, and tires. 138,000 miles and no problems except for throttle position sensor which was replaced and adjusted"

Great car

By on Sunday, April 05, 2015

I own this car - My approximate mileage is 111,500

10 8.0
overall rating 8 of 10rating details

Reviewer Ratings

Overall Rating
8/10
Value
10/10
Reliability
10/10
Quality
7/10
Performance
7/10
Styling
9/10
Comfort
9/10

Pros: "Reliable, nice features"

Cons: "Nothing fancy"

Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 8

"I bought this car from a dealer in Sep 2013 with 85k miles. It now has 111k miles and still going strong. Overall it's been very reliable and required minimal maintenance; routine oil changes and no major issues. I get 28 mpg through town and 30-31 on highway. I also really like the cup holders (there are a bunch), the backseat seems pretty roomy the few times I've been back there, and visors are great; they can pull pretty far out to the side to block the sun. Mine is also a manual transmission. Compared to the 99 civic I had before, it doesn't shift as easily and seems a little more difficult to drive smoothly. Not sure if this is a clutch issue or just how the car is. It took some time to adjust to and can be annoying. Besides that, I have no complaints with this car and think it's a great value for the price."

1 person out of 1 found this review helpful

Love my car

By on Saturday, February 21, 2015

I own this car - My approximate mileage is 175,000

10 10.0
overall rating 10 of 10rating details

Reviewer Ratings

Overall Rating
10/10
Value
10/10
Reliability
10/10
Quality
9/10
Performance
10/10
Styling
10/10
Comfort
9/10

Pros: "Trooper"

Cons: "Slightly small rear passenger area"

Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 10

"I put 30,000 miles on my kia every year, I've had it since about 30k miles. It is a work horse and has always been reliable. Great gas mileage, around 27-30mpg."

7 people out of 9 found this review helpful

KIA, nice power, style and safety for good price.

By on Tuesday, February 17, 2015

I own this car - My approximate mileage is 50,000

10 9.0
overall rating 9 of 10rating details

Reviewer Ratings

Overall Rating
9/10
Value
9/10
Reliability
10/10
Quality
9/10
Performance
10/10
Styling
9/10
Comfort
10/10

Pros: "price, paint and mechanics, safe, great handling"

Cons: "leaks, dashboard rattling in cold temp"

Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 9

"This is my second KIA. Flaws have been with leaks to the interior, either through trunk seals or door channels/seals. Plastic dashboard snaps, crackles and pops with New England temperature change. I hope corporate can fix that because I really love this brand. KIA drives great, responds well, has really great power. The exterior paint is superior; I have not had any rust or perforation issues with either car. No major mechanical problems, just basic maintenance and normal wear/replacement. This is a great brand all around, and I have several friends and family that have since bought KIA that have not had the problems that I have had."

5 people out of 8 found this review helpful

excellent car for the $$$

By on Monday, February 09, 2015

I owned and sold this car
Reason: extra car

10 10.0
overall rating 10 of 10rating details

Reviewer Ratings

Overall Rating
10/10
Value
10/10
Reliability
10/10
Quality
10/10
Performance
10/10
Styling
9/10
Comfort
10/10

Pros: "great price, 40 mpg, easy to drive, economical!"

Cons: "lacking better paint choices."

Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 10

"Car is very dependable, excellent response to throttle, smooth handling, 40 mpg and still fast and reliable. Front wheel drive is great in all weather conditions. Low costs maintenance. Best car Owned. Bought another Kia because of it."

4 people out of 6 found this review helpful

Issues at less than 60,000 miles...

By on Thursday, October 02, 2014

I owned and sold this car
Reason: Tranny Issues

10 4.0
overall rating 4 of 10rating details

Reviewer Ratings

Overall Rating
4/10
Value
Not Rated
Reliability
Not Rated
Quality
Not Rated
Performance
Not Rated
Styling
Not Rated
Comfort
Not Rated

Pros: "Fun to drive, good gas mileage, good size"

Cons: "Engine problems too early on"

Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 5

"This car was great until suddenly, the tranny decided to go out at just under 58,000 miles. I saw on here that I was not the only one that had to go through that. I took pretty good care of it so this was a shock to me. Good sized car for a mid-twenties someone just starting their lives out. Good for road trips and has a decent amount of pick up. I would still have this car if it weren't for the engine woes..."

14 people out of 21 found this review helpful

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Trading in or Selling? Know where you stand with the most up-to-date Kelley Blue Book Value at your fingertips. See your car's value

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