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2008 Kia Spectra

Overview
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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 346 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

Great economy car

By on Friday, June 12, 2015

I own this car - My approximate mileage is 100,000

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
8/10
Comfort
8/10

Pros: "It's easy to drive, park & with gas"

Cons: "The seats aren't comfortable on long trips."

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

"I average 30 mpg on the hwy & 28 in town. This is an easy car to drive & park. It is small when My Grandkids come to stay with me, it can be hard to get everyone & their stuff in the car. It has run great with no problems. The doors sometimes lock themselves & the clear coat on the outside is peeling. The seats aren't very comfortable on long trips. Other than that it is a good little car."

1 person out of 4 found this review helpful

Best Car I Have Ever Owned

By on Tuesday, June 09, 2015

I own this car - My approximate mileage is 65,000

10 9.0
overall rating 9 of 10rating details

Reviewer Ratings

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

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

"Reliable, comfortable, great mileage, powerful and fun to drive. What else can I say? Oh yeah, holds it's value well."

10 people out of 11 found this review helpful

Great little car

By on Wednesday, June 03, 2015

I own this car - My approximate mileage is 160,000

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
8/10
Styling
8/10
Comfort
8/10

Cons: "no/heigh adjust on seat, no heated sideview mirror"

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

"I love my Kia Spectra5. I have had this care for 11 years and it is so reliable. I have had jobs where they have required me to commute either 1-1.5 hours each way, 2-5 days per week. I even drove from Washington state to southern California in this car. I went in to buy a new Kia Sorento for my birthday and planned on trading my Spectra5 in but I couldn't do it. It was just such a reliable car that I chose to keep it. Yes I bought the Sorento too but I primarily drive my Spectra 5 as my commuter car. I would truly recommend this car to someone."

3 people out of 7 found this review helpful

Excellent Value for Car in Good Condition

By on Saturday, May 23, 2015

I own this car - My approximate mileage is 190,000

10 9.0
overall rating 9 of 10rating details

Reviewer Ratings

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

Pros: "Great price, drives well; good gas mileage"

Cons: "No USB port"

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

2007 Kia Spectra

"2007 vehicle purchased with 30,000 miles on it in 2008. Minor dents and dings and scratches on exterior. Maintenance has been ongoing for oil changes and tire rotation. 4 new Cooper tires purchased March, 2015. Gray interior in good condition, seat protectors have been used. Non-smoking car, no pets allowed. Has been reliable and dependable but am looking for my first really new car. Make me an offer. The CD player display has a small crack in it. Air conditioning and heat are excellent. Air bag sensor light is currently on and I have not had it checked."

6 people out of 12 found this review helpful

2007 Kia Spectra

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"

6 people out of 8 found this review helpful

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."

2 people out of 5 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

Buying this car?