2008 Kia Spectra Sedan Review | Edmunds.com

2008 Kia Spectra Sedan

We didn't find any results. You can try changing your zip code, or check another model year.

We found matches for you!

Kia Spectra Features and Specs

Features & Specs

  • Engine 2.0 L Inline 4-cylinder
  • Drivetrain Front Wheel Drive
  • Transmission 5-speed Manual
  • Horse Power 138 hp @ 6000 rpm
  • Fuel Economy 23/30 mpg
  • Bluetooth No
  • Navigation No
  • Heated Seats No

Review of the 2008 Kia Spectra

  • Although the 2008 Kia Spectra provides solid performance, comfortable seats and a great warranty, newer competitors best it in terms of equipment, safety and desirability.

  • Safety
  • Pros

    Low price, comfortable and functional cabin, lots of storage and cupholders.

  • Cons

    Engine can get noisy at higher rpm, soft suspension tuning on lower-end models, antilock brakes available on top SX trim only, disappointing IIHS crash test scores.

  • What's New for 2008

    The 2008 Kia Spectra sedan and Spectra5 hatchback receive no changes of note.

What Others Are Saying

Customer Reviews

  Average Consumer Rating (4 total reviews)  |  Write a Review

Unexpected... an inexpensive, great car

by on
Vehicle: 2008 Kia Spectra SX 4dr Sedan (2.0L 4cyl 5M)

Perfect for my purposes. Lots of city driving with the occasional cross country drive. I was blown away when I drove almost 500 miles at about 75mph before needing gas. The roomy interior is perfect as I often have a full car. Safety is a huge issue for me and I always feel good in this car. ABS served me well while driving through N.E. snowstorms. The cruise control is great too. Drives very smoothly, and the CD changer and iPod hookup are great for long drives. I love being able to have my GPS, cell phone charger, and iPod all plugged in at the same time. I have had this car for 4 months and have received tons of compliments.

My next car will be

by on
Vehicle: 2008 Kia Spectra SX 4dr Sedan (2.0L 4cyl 5M)

I love it. It looks great in a parking lot and sexy on the road! My friends and family all want to drive it and wish their car was a kia. I love my spectra sx!

Big suprise

by on
Vehicle: 2008 Kia Spectra SX 4dr Sedan (2.0L 4cyl 5M)

We walked away with this bargain for under 12k. This has been completely reliable and fun to drive for us. Very spacious interior and you feel completely secure wrapped in airbags, this is honestly the only car I have ever really enjoyed owning. Highly recommended by his owner.

Luv my car

by on
Vehicle: 2008 Kia Spectra SX 4dr Sedan (2.0L 4cyl 5M)

I luv this car! I have gone from a suburban to this highly fuel efficient compact car. I drive approx. 60+ miles per day. It is very smooth and fun to drive. I thought the big car small car transition would be hard. Not a problem at all. But, when I go from this car to my husband's suburban I feel like I'm driving a bus. Have had about 1 month and getting 31 MPG in town. My mom bought one at the same time and she can't keep my dad out of it. It's hard to explain. You just have to test drive. It has a lot of get up and go. Very easy to maneuver. Can't say enough good things. Have the SX standard. Mom has the SX automatic, sister the EX, nephew the SX and I will be going back for one for my son.

Full 2008 Kia Spectra Review

What's New for 2008

The 2008 Kia Spectra sedan and Spectra5 hatchback receive no changes of note.


The 2008 Kia Spectra is this Korean automaker's offering for the compact economy car segment. It's offered in a choice of two body styles and three trim levels. Thanks to its comfortable and roomy interior and peppy 2.0-liter engine, the Spectra is a good companion to have for a daily commute. Factor in a transaction price typically lower than the competition and that 10-year powertrain warranty and the Spectra looks like a smart choice.

In a comparison test we held a few years ago, the Spectra ranked 3rd, coming behind the Honda Civic and Mazda 3. This still holds true, as those cars remain our favorites in this class due to their edge in refinement and performance. And since that test, redesigned models of the Mitsubishi Lancer and Nissan Sentra have come out. One should also consider the Spectra's lackluster safety attributes and lack of up-to-date convenience features. As such, the 2008 Kia Spectra will likely appeal only to those economy sedan and hatchback shoppers on a tight budget.

Body Styles, Trim Levels, and Options

The 2008 Kia Spectra is available as a sedan or hatchback (Spectra5). The sedan can be had in a choice of three trim levels LX, EX and SX. The Spectra5 is only available in SX trim. The base LX is bare bones -- most folks will likely go with the EX, which has air-conditioning, full power accessories, keyless entry and rear cupholders. The sporty SX adds a sport-tuned suspension 16-inch alloy wheels and bigger tires, foglights, a 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

Every Spectra comes with a 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine that makes 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. Fuel mileage ratings (revised by the EPA for 2008) are 24 mpg city and 32 mpg highway for Spectras with the automatic transmission.


The Spectra sports an impressive list of standard safety equipment that includes front seat side airbags and full-length side curtain airbags. Antilock brakes are optional on the SX trims. 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. The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety rated the Spectra "Acceptable" (second best) for frontal-offset safety but only "Poor" (the lowest) for side-impact safety.

Interior Design and Special Features

The 2008 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, whereas the sedan's trunk only offers 12.2 cubic feet of space.

Driving Impressions

The Spectra provides a very pleasant drive overall. The four-cylinder engine has enough muscle for smart response 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 of gearchanges. The SX versions distinguish themselves with tighter handling and stiffer suspensions while still providing an overall soft ride quality.

Talk About The 2008 Spectra

Gas Mileage


  • 23
  • cty
  • 30
  • highway
Calculate Yearly Fuel Costs