What's New for 2007
The 2007 Kia Spectra and Spectra 5 hatchback receive minor interior and exterior tweaks on all models, including a standard tire-pressure monitoring system and an available auxiliary audio input jack.
Though an also-ran in the compact economy car market for much of its earlier life, the Kia Spectra has recently become a much better choice. A full redesign midway through 2004 added a significant bump in quality and noticeable advances in the vehicle's powertrain and suspension setup.
The 2007 Kia Spectra receives a minor exterior freshening. The base LX and EX models have a revised front fascia, grille, bumper and headlamps. The EX also offers a rear spoiler and new 15-inch alloy wheels. The SX and Spectra5 hatchback, which are Kia's sporty image leaders, now come with standard 16-inch alloy wheels, tasteful metal-finish accents in the cabin and an optional six-disc CD changer.
The compact car market, however, is highly competitive. Sales leaders like the Honda Civic and Mazda 3 remain on top because of a significant difference in looks, refinement and performance. However, if you're a budget shopper just wanting a well-rounded economy sedan or hatchback, the 2007 Kia Spectra should definitely be on your list of test drives.
Body Styles, Trim Levels, and Options
The Kia Spectra is available as a sedan or hatchback (Spectra5). There are three trim levels. The base LX is pretty light on features; go with the EX to get air-conditioning, full power accessories, keyless entry and rear cupholders. The sporty SX (the only trim offered for the Spectra5) adds a sport-tuned suspension 16-inch alloy wheels and bigger tires, foglights, rear spoiler, leather-wrapped steering wheel and shift knob, cruise control, metal-finish interior accents and cloth sport seats. Major options include a six-disc CD changer and a sunroof.
Powertrains and Performance
The 2007 Kia Spectra comes with a 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine that produces 138 horsepower and 136 pound-feet of torque. A five-speed manual transmission is standard, with a four-speed automatic transmission available on all models except the LX sedan. EPA fuel mileage ratings are respectable at 25 mpg city/34 mpg highway for the automatic transmission.
The Kia Spectra stands out from the pack with a long list of standard safety equipment built into a low price. It comes with standard front seat-mounted airbags, front-and-rear side curtain airbags and a tire-pressure monitoring system. Antilock brakes are optional on SX and Spectra5 models. In government crash tests, the Spectra earned a four-star rating for front and front-side impact protection. Rear side-impact protection rates three stars only. The IIHS rated the Spectra "Acceptable" (second best) for frontal-offset safety and "Poor" for side-impact safety.
Interior Design and Special Features
The 2007 Kia Spectra offers a simple cabin layout with easy-to-use (and reach) controls and good build and materials quality. The seats are comfortable and the storage cubbies and cupholders are generous in size. The Spectra5 boasts an 18.3-cubic-foot cargo area, but one hitch is the sedan's paltry trunk, which only offers 12.2 cubic feet of space.
The Spectra provides a very pleasant drive overall. The four-cylinder engine has enough muscle and a healthy amount of torque delivered right off the line for getting around town. Unfortunately, engine noise is a bit intrusive at higher revs. The manual gearbox is adequate, but the four-speed automatic does not provide the quickest gearchanges. The SX and Spectra5 distinguish themselves with tighter handling and stiffer suspension while also retaining an overall soft ride quality.