2003 Kia Spectra Review | Edmunds.com

2003 Kia Spectra

Kia Spectra Features and Specs

Features & Specs

  • Engine 1.8 L Inline 4-cylinder
  • Drivetrain Front Wheel Drive
  • Transmission 5-speed Manual
  • Horse Power 124 hp @ 6000 rpm
  • Fuel Economy 21/29 mpg
  • Bluetooth No
  • Navigation No
  • Heated Seats No

Review of the 2003 Kia Spectra

  • Though convincingly cheap in base form, decently equipped Spectras cost as much as better-performing compacts like the Elantra, Focus and Sentra. Shop carefully.

  • Safety
  • Pros

    Low base price, nimble handling, available hatchback configuration, killer warranty.

  • Cons

    Lackluster engine performance, weak brakes and tires, mediocre build and materials, poor offset crash test score.

  • What's New for 2003

    For 2003, all Spectras will come with a CD player and body-color side moldings. Kia has attempted to make the cabin environment more…

What Others Are Saying

Customer Reviews

  Average Consumer Rating (97 total reviews)

Second owner, purchased with 50,000

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Vehicle: 2003 Kia Spectra GSX 4dr Hatchback (1.8L 4cyl 4A)

Purchased this car in 2009 with 50,000 miles on the engine. With the bald tires on the car, it road like a roller coaster ride on the freeway. Purchased new tires and it drove almost 100% better. Replaced the entire radiator about 2 years later. Replaced the ball joint 6 months before that. Replaced the right passenger side head light about 5 times since we purchased the car, at some point it completely stopped working and my husband switched around the light from the brights to the regular headlight to salvage it. Parts are extremely hard to find for this car, we've usually have to purchase online and when we do find the part in store it is usually more expensive than say a honday or acura.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

Worst car i've ever owned

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Vehicle: 2003 Kia Spectra GS 4dr Hatchback (1.8L 4cyl 4A)

I purchased this car new, and owned it for 5 years. In that time, I replaced the serpentine belt 3 times, the alternator once, the radiator twice (the replacement from the Kia garage had a hole in it, though it was supposedly a new part), and the alternator belt 4 times. The electrical system started acting wonky after three years, and after spending 2 months in the Kia garage, I got it back but the internal lights never worked after that. I cut my losses and gave the car to a friend, who told me that the engine died at 78,000 miles. I would never again buy a Kia.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

Yet another big mistake

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Vehicle: 2003 Kia Spectra LS 4dr Sedan (1.8L 4cyl 4A)

We bought it and withing 3 months had to put a new transmission into it. That was under 100000 miles. It has been back into the shop 6 more times so far and we are only at 106000 miles. Nothing but issues left and right. Everything seems to break. Unfortunately we financed and are stuck with it for the next 2 years.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

Solid so far

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Vehicle: 2003 Kia Spectra 4dr Sedan (1.8L 4cyl 4A)

Our Spectra has 120, 000 miles on it and has been pretty reliable so far. I have it for the last 20K or so and before that my father-in-law owned it. It has gone through some brakes and needed some work to fix in the brake fluid system. Front brakes put off a lot of dirt, hubcaps are literally black at this point. All things considered this car has been great, not the sexiest car or most comfy (i am 6'6) but very dependable. Nothing fancy or flashy about it but it gets from point A to point B.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

Love my kia!

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Vehicle: 2003 Kia Spectra 4dr Sedan (1.8L 4cyl 5M)

I've been driving my Kia for almost four years now, it was used as my dad's commuter car. I now have 220,000 miles on it and still going strong! Tires have been replaced, along with a new fuel filter and occasional oil changes and tire rotations but nothing major. I put almost 100 miles on it a day and it has great gas mileage. I'm so surprised at how long it's lasted for me. I will be very sad the day it gives up!

Love my spectra

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Vehicle: 2003 Kia Spectra 4dr Sedan (1.8L 4cyl 4A)

I bought my 2003 Spectra used, it had 120,000 miles on it when i bought it. It now has 171,674 miles on it. Have only had to replace the water pump. Runs great, drives great. Have never had a problem with it. Keep up your maintance and i've heard it's nothing to get 500,000+ miles on a KIA.. Love my Spectra.. My next purchase will be a KIA Soul.. Very happy with KIA's.

Gas Mileage


  • 19
  • cty
  • 27
  • highway
Calculate Yearly Fuel Costs

Full 2003 Kia Spectra Review

What's New for 2003

For 2003, all Spectras will come with a CD player and body-color side moldings. Kia has attempted to make the cabin environment more hospitable via additional sound insulation in the roof and floor, an illuminated ignition and revised climate controls. Also, all hatchbacks get a standard rear wiper with an intermittent feature. Finally, note that engine specs have been revised this year -- the Spectra is now rated at 124 horsepower and 119 pound-feet of torque compared with 126 hp and 108 lb-ft for 2002. The four-cylinder engine itself is unchanged.

Talk About The 2003 Spectra