2008 Kia Spectra5

2008 Kia Spectra5 Review

Note: This review was created when the 2008 Kia Spectra5 was new.

Pros & Cons

  • Industry-leading basic and powertrain warranties
  • Excellent fuel economy
  • Sport-tuned suspension provides good handling
  • A spacious interior and great safety scores
  • Anti-lock brakes provided optional, not standard




Critics' Rating: 8.1
Performance: 7.0
Interior: 7.2
Safety: 9.5
J.D. Power Ratings Logo

2008 Kia Spectra5 Overview

The 2008 Kia Spectra5 gets notice for outstanding gas mileage, sharp handling and a spacious interior. It used to be that Kia's reputation was as "a manufacturer of appliance vehicles -- you know, nothing to fall in love with, just something that runs," as Car and Driver writes, but now times are changing. "Take notice, Japan. The Koreans are on a learning curve as steep as Mount Everest, and Kia's latest sherpa-hauler, the Spectra5, is eyeing the summit in the entry-level ranks," says Road and Track. The Spectra5 is also notable for its lengthy warranty.

But the Spectra5's ranking on both the affordable small car and hatchback lists is hurt by some perceived flaws. Its engine is competent, but not overly so, and it lacks the standard anti-lock brakes that some of its competitors provide. And some report its low price tag does not ensure value over time. Still, the Spectra5 receives a respectable overall ranking and score. The 2009 Spectra5 is now available, with minimal changes since the 2008 model year.

  • "Kia Spectra5 arrives with a sticker that is pleasingly light on the budget for a car with a long list of amenities." -- Car and Driver
  • "The Spectra5 combines a fun-to-drive character, entertaining power, reasonable fuel consumption, and a most useful design. It's small outside, for easy maneuverability in traffic and parking, but has plenty of space inside." -- The Auto Channel
  • "K, K, K, Kia. It's not hard to imagine adding water and - poof! - two weeks later you've got a Spectra5 wearing a bright green 'fro. It's a lovable, scrappy, boisterous little car, like a Boston Terrier with wheels. It even growls good-naturedly when the revs climb." -- Autoweb
  • "It is almost a miracle of packaging. ... So throw away your perceptions of Kia and take a test drive, but prepare for a surprise." -- About.com

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