My 2002 Kia Spectra just threw a head gasket at 166,000 miles. Previous problems: the a/c went out in 2007 and was repaired for $1400. It went out again about 9 months later and the mechanic wanted another $750. Shortly afterwards, the heat went out. I replaced the clutch 3 times. Also replaced a valve in the braking system for $250. Lots of the cheap plastic interior broke and/or fell off including the driver's side sun visor. The driver'side seatbelt also broke and had to be replaced. I did a lot of driving for work and both knees and hips were hurting me due to driving this car. If you're only going to put maybe 10-12,000 miles/year on a 2002 Spectra, it may be worthwhile.
Good gas mileage. Could be a bit sporty at times.
Improved durability of AC/Heater. Better quality plastic on the interior. More comfy seating. More durable seat belts.