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2008 Kia Spectra

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2008 Kia Spectra Review

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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 361 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

Nice car for little money

By on Thursday, July 21, 2016

I own this car - My approximate mileage is 90,000

10 9.0
overall rating 9 of 10rating details

Reviewer Ratings

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

Pros: "Interior ergonomics, reliability"

Cons: "Sound insulation"

Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 7

"Bought 2009 EX model in 2011 with 50k (rental history), now it has 90k. Still runs good, but I'm feeling more bumps on the road. I like motor-driven power steering, a bit tough but it gives good feedback on what is happening on the the road (cannot get the same feeling from new cars with electric power steering). Relatively high clearance and short base allows to use a car on unpaved roads. Problems I had: blown radiator - upper plastic part cracked in 2014, replaced. And preventive replacement of aged battery."

Excellent buy

By on Thursday, July 14, 2016

I own this car - My approximate mileage is 165,000

10 10.0
overall rating 10 of 10rating details

Reviewer Ratings

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

Pros: "functioning, quality, endurance"

Cons: "PAINT"

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

"I was just reading through the reviews, and saw that one person talked about the paint job. This is so true. Mine is an 09. at six years, it was peeling BAD on the truck part. fading and peeling terribly...but the car itself is great in the interior and the functioning. Awesome buy and quality but the paint is the only problem."

Indestructible tank

By on Friday, May 20, 2016

I own this car - My approximate mileage is 187,893

10 9.0
overall rating 9 of 10rating details

Reviewer Ratings

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

Pros: "no major issues, at all. ever"

Cons: "AC system failed and is costly to repair"

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

"I bought this in 2011 with 66k miles... I'm at 187K miles now. The only parts to fail were the AC around 150k, and my power locks buzz loudly when unlocking with the keyless entry. The standard 6 speaker setup is surprisingly good, not high on bass but treble is ear piercing. The engine seems to get better with age, it pulls hard. I have an automatic and 0-60 is 8.8 and 1/4 mile in 16.2 @87mph. Gas mileage is kinda bad, I average 24mpg. But, it has survived 2 accidents, several road trips, and lots of bumps and bruises. It is a very, VERY sturdy little car."

4 people out of 5 found this review helpful

Excellent car

By on Tuesday, March 29, 2016

I own this car - My approximate mileage is 135,600

10 9.0
overall rating 9 of 10rating details

Reviewer Ratings

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

Pros: "Excellent reliablecar, good motor and transmission"

Cons: "Not good quality xterior paint."

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

"I own my car since almost eleven years now. I have traveled many times and many miles (from SD to San Francisco, Portland, Ensenada Mexico) in it with no problems at all. I have been taking care of all services and replacement of part when necessary, and that's all I have needed. The exterior paint is not good, but the car is EXCELLENT! I love my Kia! <3"

4 people out of 6 found this review helpful

Good car, minimal maintenance, very bad paint job

By on Wednesday, March 16, 2016

I own this car - My approximate mileage is 46,000

10 8.0
overall rating 8 of 10rating details

Reviewer Ratings

Overall Rating
8/10
Value
6/10
Reliability
9/10
Quality
9/10
Performance
9/10
Styling
9/10
Comfort
9/10

Pros: "good car"

Cons: "very very bad exterior paint"

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

"My paint is peeling and looks like very very very bad. The interior is great, but I think they should put more thought in to the exterior paint. I would not recommend this car solely based upon the paint peeling starting at 6 yrs. old."

4 people out of 6 found this review helpful

love the car

By on Wednesday, March 2, 2016

I own this car - My approximate mileage is 72,000

10 7.0
overall rating 7 of 10rating details

Reviewer Ratings

Overall Rating
7/10
Value
6/10
Reliability
7/10
Quality
6/10
Performance
7/10
Styling
7/10
Comfort
8/10

Pros: "FUN TO DRIVE VERY LITTLE MAINTANCE"

Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 7

"lOVE THE CAR DRIVES AND RIDES SMOOTH GETS EXCELLENT GAS MILAGE GREAT CAR FOR STUDENTS AND FIRST TIME BUYERS WHO DON'T WANT A BIG CAR BUT ONE FUN TO DRIVE AND A PEPPY ENGINE"

9 people out of 16 found this review helpful

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