2008 Kia Spectra

2008 Kia Spectra Review

Note: This review was created when the 2008 Kia Spectra was new.

The Spectra delivers reasonable performance, a spacious and comfortable cabin, and a reasonable price tag, but it has a relatively noisy engine and handling is not as tight and predictable as many competitors.




Critics' Rating: 7.2
Performance: 7.1
Interior: 7.4
Safety: 8.5
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Pros & Cons

  • Comfortable, practical interior with relatively good materials for the price
  • Costs less than most others in its class
  • Well-styled exterior, among the best in its class
  • Many standard safety features including front, side, and curtain airbags
  • Engine can be noisy under load or hard acceleration
  • Handling is soft, especially at high speeds
  • While advertised as a 5-seater, only 4 fit with reasonable comfort

2008 Kia Spectra Overview

On balance, test drivers of the 2008 Kia Spectra agree that it offers an accommodating interior with plenty of passenger and cargo room for its class, a nice array of safety features, and a reasonable price. But our analysis also shows the Spectra could stand some improvement in some areas. Test drivers, for the most part, view the sedan's ride as too soft and handling not as precise and responsive as desired. The 2008 Spectra's engine is seen as capable, though some consider it noisy under acceleration or when passing.

According to some, these things can be overlooked when you consider the car's sporty appearance -- it has one of the best scores for exterior in the affordable small car class -- and its lengthy warranty. Plus, the Spectra has an agreeable price for someone who must purchase a car in this tough economic climate. The most recent design change was made in 2007, when Kia restyled the Spectra's front and rear. Both the 2008 and the now-selling 2009 model are carryovers. If you're interested in an affordable small car, also consider the Honda Fit, or the Honda Civic. If you like the Spectra but want even more utility, consider the hatchback model, the Spectra5.

  • "Loaded with features at a great price, the Spectra doesn't feel like a compact economy car. Fit and finish is well above average, and interior materials are impressive for this price class. Roominess is another strong suit, road manners are competent, and pricing is tough to beat." -- Car and Driver
  • "Roomy, well equipped and for the most part pleasant to drive, the Spectra is worth the attention of anyone shopping for an affordable compact car." -- Carz Unlimited
  • "The Kia Spectra is a small but compelling package. More important for everyday driving, the Spectra is a nice little car. It represents one of the best values among compacts, with an impressive list of safety equipment for its modest price." -- New Car Test Drive
  • "The interior is nicely finished, the engine gets good gas mileage and the warranty is one of the longest in the business." -- Kansas City Star
  • "The Spectra stands tire-to-tire with its long-established competition, and that's not bad." -- Automobile Magazine

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