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2009 Kia Spectra Review

The 2009 Kia Spectra is an adequate commuter car, but others in the class have better performance and safety scores, as well as nicer interiors.   

Pros & Cons

  • Plenty of cargo space in hatchback and sedan
  • Well-made interior
  • Poor safety scores
  • Lackadaisical performance
  • Cramped second-row seats
  • Front seats need more cushioning

New for 2009

  • Final year in production
  • EX trim received standard cruise control and optional sunroof




Critics' Rating: 7.6
Performance: 7.3
Interior: 7.8
Total Cost of Ownership:
This model has never been fully tested for total cost of ownership. Its overall score is being calculated without total cost of ownership.
Safety: 7.8
J.D. Power Ratings Logo

2009 Kia Spectra Overview

When it first came out, reviewers called the 2009 Kia Spectra a decent commuter car thanks to its low price and long warranty. Many reviewers said the cabin is made well for a car in its price range, though like many small cars, the Spectra’s base model comes with few standard features. Options when it was new include air conditioning, cruise control and power windows and door locks, as well as anti-lock brakes. However, electronic stability control isn’t available on any model.

Test drivers said that the front-seat cushions needed more stuffing. They liked the back seats a little more, but didn’t think passengers will be happy during long trips. A 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine comes with all models, and while reviewers weren’t disappointed with the Rio’s soft, pleasant ride, its unexciting performance is forgettable and much of the competition is more fun to drive. 

See the full 2009 Kia Spectra specs »

Other Cars to Consider

Reviewers thought the 2009 Ford Focus had more engaging performance than the Spectra, and they were also impressed with its interior tech features. It stands out with the available Ford Sync voice-activated infotainment system. The Focus also has more standard safety features, such as anti-lock brakes.

The 2009 Toyota Yaris is smaller than the Kia Spectra, but if a reliable subcompact is all you need, the Yaris shouldn’t disappoint. It comes with standard features that the base Spectra doesn’t have, like anti-lock brakes and air conditioning. Inside, the Yaris’ second row is tight, and the sedan’s trunk has about as much space as the Spectra’s. The Yaris hatchback doesn’t have as much cargo space as the Spectra5.

Compare the Spectra to the Focus and Yaris »  

Best 2009 Compact Cars

  • #1

    2009 Scion xB

    $5,463 - $7,205 AVG. PAID

    You can only compare 3 cars at a time.
  • #2

    2009 Scion tC

    $5,298 - $7,165 AVG. PAID

    You can only compare 3 cars at a time.
  • #25

    2009 Kia Spectra

    $4,019 - $5,079 AVG. PAID

    You can only compare 3 cars at a time.
See the full 2009 Compact Cars rankings »

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