Description: The Spectra is a 4-door, 5-passenger family sedan, available in 3 trims, ranging from the LX to the SX.
Upon introduction, both trims are equipped with a standard 2.0-liter, I4, 138-horsepower engine that achieves 23-mpg in the city and 30-mpg on the highway. A 5-speed manual transmission with overdrive is standard, and a 4-speed automatic transmission with overdrive is optional.
Strengths: Peppy engine with a wide torque band. The 5 speed manual matches the engine well and shifts fairly well but not a good as a Honda manual. Fuel economy is very good with 36+ mpg on the highway at 75 mph and around 28- 30 mpg in town. The SX trim adds wider 16" tires, stiffer springs, a bigger anti-roll bar and a front strut tower brace all of which improve handling quite a bit at the expense of some harshness on bumpy roads. The bucket seats in the SX are firm but provide good support. The interior is fairly roomy for a compact 4dr sedan and two adults can sit in the rear seat without great discomfort. The SX exterior trim, aluminum wheels, and coppermine red color add visual appeal and make it look like a more expensive car. The build quality is good and there have been no squeaks, rattles, or problems in 21,000 + miles. It cruises smoothly on the interstate at 75 -80 mph.
Weaknesses: ABS not standard. Mine doesn't have ABS that's probably why I got a deal on it. Engine is a somewhat noisy at full throttle and high RPM. Ride with the SX suspension is a bit harsh on bumpy roads Paint is a little prone to scratches and the faux chrome trim on the hood wrinkled a bit after a month. Resale value isn't good but I plan to keep it till 100k miles or beyond. OEM radio is not very good and the speakers are average at best.
Summary: The SX with the 5 speed manual is economical, peppy, handles well for an economy car, and can be a bit of fun to drive. It is a very good value for $13,500. When the OEM tires wear out I'll upgrade to high quality all season tires for hopefully even better handling.
Strengths: Came with many features:
Remote key-less entry
Heated side-view mirrors
Good gas mileage: 28-35 mpg
Came with $1,500 rebate
Weaknesses: Some road noise at high speeds.
Summary: I purchased this car in August of 2008. As of this writing I have had no major problems with this car (aside from road noise when driving high speeds) Some of the problems listed by other reviewers don't apply in my case. I live in a small town of 3,000 people. Most of my commuting is done in town and most of my highway traffic is to a town of 14,000 40 miles away. With no major traffic issues or freeway driving, lack of acceleration is not an issue. I've never had to break from high speeds, so cannot comment on the front end lowering significantly during breaking.
I average 28 mpg. On a recent trip to OKC the car got nearly 35 mpg. I find it to be a comfortable ride. I am single so the lack of leg room in the backseat is not an issue.
I would highly suggest this car for small families (no more than 2 kids), for those on a budget (my payments are only $250), or first time buyers. (it has a 10 yr, 100,000 mile warranty)
I personally think it is a great low priced car. It isn't a $55,000 Mercedes, so don't expect it to drive or feel like one.
Similar Products Used: Honda Accord, Chevy Cavalier
Strengths: Great interior, Good stock sound system, 5-Star Crash test rating, 100,000 warranty, Superb suspension, Powerful brakes, Standard Side Airbags.
Weaknesses: Average fuel economy 29 MPG city and highway combined, Soft springs in the suspension make the nose dive in hard braking, No standard ABS, Poor resale value.
Summary: Overall a great value. The vehicle is extremely spacious inside. Interior fit and finish is on par with the competition. KIA has been standing behind their slogan "The Power To Surprise". The vehicle is an extremely middle of the road car, cheap frills and a decent price.
The engine is a 2.0L Hyundai "Beta II" CVVT DOHC 4 Cylinder. It provides plenty of pep for everyday commutes. The engine whines a tad bit as I merge with the 70 MPH traffic of the Dallas/Ft Worth area. The car felt far more expensive at 90 MPH than I ever expected a "Cheap Kia" to perform. The cushy ride feels smooth until you cut a sharp corner and all of a sudden a 2900 pound car feels like a 4000 pound SUV. It came with all disc brakes which means it will stop on a dime. If you want a good commuter car with a solid crash test rating and a bargain price you might just fall in love with the car when you test drive it.
Similar Products Used: 2002 Honda Civic, 2005 Hyundai Tiburon
Strengths: Great gas mileage, decent first car, do all the oil changes and you won't have to do major maintenance. Holds the road well, great turning and breaks on a dime. It has a decent sound system with MP3 compatibility, and a decent interior.
Weaknesses: Acceleration lacks greatly, front seats are uncomfortable (simply fix with a cushion pad), Wheel Alignment can be an issue if you are wreck less on the road. Not much legroom in the back seats.
Summary: I bought my Kia at a CarMax Dealership with just less than 8,000 miles on it and I use it for commuting. I bought it for a few reasons, but mainly for gas mileage. I can do 300 miles in city driving, and 450 highway (driving on highway only) on a 14 gallon tank of gas. So with a mixture of both I can get around 375-400 miles on a full tank, which isn't bad at all. One thing that really sticks out is it can't pick-up speed at all, terrible for getting on the freeway even when my foot is hitting on the gas. I wish this had a V6. Also, my mechanic gave me some good advice saying that its durability is very weak (was rated 3rd worst care to repair in a collision) and that after 90,000K miles when things start to break down it's not even worth trying to fix it. I can get about 5-7 years out of this car before I’ll need to sell it. So far, I had to get all 4 wheels aligned, and that's it. A word of advice; potholes, speed bumps, and dips are very unforgiving to this car, so you need be careful. Overall if you are a new driver to the road, this is a good first car to get. If you aren’t, I’d look elsewhere for a car.