2008 Kia Spectra Wagon Review | Edmunds.com

2008 Kia Spectra Wagon

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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 (24 total reviews)  |  Write a Review


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Vehicle: 2008 Kia Spectra Spectra5 SX 4dr Wagon (2.0L 4cyl 4A)

Bought this car less than a month ago and has already been in the shop twice. First mistake was buying used but I guess they saw a sucker coming. I got a lemon. Service dept. tells me its bad spark plug wires and spark plugs. Really every two weeks. They cannot replace them all until defective if under warranty. Really? Bet my warranty runs out first.

Wanted a wagon

by on
Vehicle: 2008 Kia Spectra Spectra5 SX 4dr Wagon (2.0L 4cyl 5M)

Overall i like the car it's got good power and a lot of features for the money. It has a quit cabin and handles bumps in the road like a more expensive car. I have been on a few camping trips with this car and it was a joy to drive.

So happy

by on
Vehicle: 2008 Kia Spectra Spectra5 SX 4dr Wagon (2.0L 4cyl 4A)

I'm so happy that I bought this car. I drive 45mins to and from work every day and is great on gas. I love is car.

Not worth it

by on
Vehicle: 2008 Kia Spectra Spectra5 SX 4dr Wagon (2.0L 4cyl 4A)

the gas mileage was disappointing.. The Spectra stared to fall apart in a year.. the service department was horrible.. I was hoping it would hold up and the dealership would honor the warranty but after taking it in three times for the door on the gas cap, they said it was a poor design and only cleaned it again.. and were so rude! they said I must have broken it and the seat belt that wouldn't retract.. the side door wouldn't always close.. and I always smelt something burning.. I wasn't planning to sell it in a year after buying new but lost confidence in this car and the warranty.. it is very top heavy and not a good car to drive in the real world.. I took a huge loss with Kia..

Great car

by on
Vehicle: 2008 Kia Spectra Spectra5 SX 4dr Wagon (2.0L 4cyl 4A)

I bought this car in February and since then have already put over 7,000 miles on it. I drive a lot! I've never gotten worse than 27 mpg and have gotten as good as 38, and trust me, I don't drive like an old woman and that's usually with the AC on too. Was planning on buying an American car, but after endless test drives, this car had more get up and go (compared to Pontiac Vibe, Dodge Caliber). I also liked it better than the Nissan Versa (way over priced) and the Toyota Matrix (also way over priced). All in all, It's been a great car, got more options for less money and it doesn't look like a pregnant roller skate! =)

First and last kia

by on
Vehicle: 2008 Kia Spectra Spectra5 SX 4dr Wagon (2.0L 4cyl 4A)

If you use the stereo aux with a satellite radio or charging ipod there is a very noticeable alternator whine. The dealer had it twice, now claims that's the way it's supposed to work. If you are going to have a convenience feature it should work properly. As annoying as this is the real clincher is that the parking lights will go on by themselves in the middle of the night for no reason, draining the battery. I'm not the only one with this. Search Kia forums and you will find many with the same issue. Kia claims a new BCM will fix it, but it hasn't corrected mine. Then there's the goofy shift points, but there's not enough room to list all of my complaints. Dealer is awful too.

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