2009 Kia Spectra Sedan Review | Edmunds.com

2009 Kia Spectra Sedan

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Certified Pre-Owned (CPO) is a category of used car. Often late-model vehicles, they have been inspected, refurbished, if necessary, and are under warranty by the manufacturer.
Kia Spectra Features and Specs

Features & Specs

  • Engine 2.0 L Inline 4-cylinder
  • Drivetrain Front Wheel Drive
  • Transmission 4-speed Automatic
  • Horse Power 138 hp @ 6000 rpm
  • Fuel Economy 24/32 mpg
  • Bluetooth No
  • Navigation No
  • Heated Seats No

Review of the 2009 Kia Spectra

  • Although the 2009 Kia Spectra provides solid performance, comfortable seats and a great warranty, the competition offers more in terms of safety, desirability and resale value.

  • Safety
  • Pros

    Low price, comfortable and functional cabin, plenty of storage space, great warranty.

  • Cons

    Noisy engine at higher rpm, antilock brakes aren't standard, lackluster safety scores.

  • What's New for 2009

    The 2009 Kia Spectra gets just a few equipment changes. Active front headrests are now standard on all models, and EX models get cruise control as standard. Additionally, a sunroof can now be ordered for EX models.

Full 2009 Kia Spectra Review

What's New for 2009

The 2009 Kia Spectra gets just a few equipment changes. Active front headrests are now standard on all models, and EX models get cruise control as standard. Additionally, a sunroof can now be ordered for EX models.


Blame an almost stalled economy or fluctuating fuel prices, but no matter where you point the finger, the result is the same -- small cars have made a comeback. Suddenly, cars like the 2009 Kia Spectra aren't so easy to dismiss. As Kia's compact-car offering, the Spectra boasts a low base price, a comfortable interior and a highly impressive 10-year/100,000-mile powertrain warranty.

Don't look for the Kia Spectra to outclass or outperform favorites in the compact-car segment such as the Honda Civic, the Mazda 3 or even the Toyota Corolla. All of the previously mentioned competitors are more refined. They also offer a wider range of optional equipment; for example, the Spectra's lack of optional antilock brakes on low-priced models should be of great concern to parents who want to buy their college students their first new car. In its favor, however, the Spectra has plenty of standard features, and the Spectra5 version has a little dash of sport-wagon attitude to go along with its added cargo space. Value is another plus, since the Spectra is a couple grand cheaper than segment leaders. Spunky performance is also part of the deal if you opt for the manual transmission.

The bottom line is that there are better compact fuel sippers, and the Kia Spectra shakes out about midpack if you line them all up -- it's better than some but not as good as many. However, those on strict budgets will find much to like about the 2009 Kia Spectra.

Body Styles, Trim Levels, and Options

The 2009 Kia Spectra is available as a sedan or hatchback. The sedan may be had in a choice of three trim levels: LX, EX and SX. The hatchback Spectra5 is only available in the top-of-the-line SX trim. The base LX is bare bones -- most folks will likely go with the EX, which has air-conditioning, cruise control, full power accessories, keyless entry and a CD/MP3 player with an auxiliary audio jack. The sporty SX adds a sport-tuned suspension, 16-inch alloy wheels, bigger tires, foglights, a rear spoiler, a leather-wrapped steering wheel and shift knob, metal-finish interior accents and cloth sport seats. Major options include a six-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 are 24 mpg city/32 mpg highway and 27 mpg combined for Spectras with the automatic transmission; manual models have ratings that are just a tick lower.


The Spectra comes standard with front-seat side airbags, full-length side curtain airbags and active front head restraints. Antilock brakes are optional for the EX and SX trims only. In government crash tests, the Spectra earned a perfect five out of five stars for front-impact protection and four stars for side-impact protection. The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety rated the Spectra "Acceptable" (second best) for frontal-offset safety and one ranking lower -- "Marginal" -- for side-impact safety.

Interior Design and Special Features

The 2009 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 overall look and feel of the interior is a few cuts above cars like the Ford Focus and Suzuki SX4. Kia didn't resort to any garish gimmicks to hide cheap materials, and the result is almost classy for a car in this price range.

If you need extra space, look at the Spectra5. It boasts an 18.3-cubic-foot cargo area and considerably more room if you lower the 60/40-split rear seats -- maximum cargo capacity is 53 cubic feet.

Driving Impressions

The Spectra is pleasant to drive overall, and its four-cylinder engine is peppy enough for getting around town. It remains fairly quiet at lower revs, but linger in any one gear for too long, and engine noise becomes intrusive. The manual gearbox is adequate and perhaps preferable to the four-speed automatic, which does not provide the quickest of gearchanges. The SX versions offer tighter handling and stiffer suspensions, but even on these models, overall ride quality is quite comfortable.

What Others Are Saying

Customer Reviews

Love the car

by on
Vehicle: 2009 Kia Spectra EX 4dr Sedan (2.0L 4cyl 5M)

I bought my Spectra 8 months ago with barely over 8,000 miles on it, I bought it because of the manual transmission and so far I love the car. The only trouble I have experienced is the cruise control won't always set, it goes to the dealership on Monday. Contrary to other reviews I get excellent mileage on my KIA. I commute 55 miles one way to work, I have gotten anywhere from 30-38 mpg depending on my driving habits (if you know what I am saying ;)). My in town mpg is even better, I regularly get 40+ mpg and have had as high as 52mpg in town. I recalculated 3x because I couldn't believe it! It's a great car and with the sunroof & factory rear spoiler and on it, it looks sporty too!

Can't stand this car

by on
Vehicle: 2009 Kia Spectra EX 4dr Sedan (2.0L 4cyl 4A)

I have owned several cars in my driving years and I can look back fondly on various aspects of pretty much all of them. This car is an unfortunate exception. I absolutley loathe this car. It is very easy to oversteer and difficult to get back on track if you need to make a sudden swerve. The mileage is substandard. It gets about 26mpg highway. (My Sedona mini-van gets 22-23.) Please note I am not a leadfoot driver and I don't make hard accelerations. I'm pretty easy on my cars. Also, the driver's seat is worse that sitting on a wagon bench. At least a covered wagon doesn't have two bars right in line with my anatomy. And no, I'm not a very large or old person.

Totaled after one accident

by on
Vehicle: 2009 Kia Spectra EX 4dr Sedan (2.0L 4cyl 4A)

This car was pretty great for when I had it. I bought it used last year. There were no major issues and it was an overall awesome car. Unfortunately, I got into an accident a couple of months ago where someone hit my front right wheel/door side head on. I was going about 40-50 and he had just pulled out, so I'd say about 15 or so. The damage didn't look too terrible except that the wheel and door were bent inward, the center dashboard popped out, and the passenger airbag broke the windshield (no glass was actually shattered). It turned out that the frame ended up being twisted inside along with the other problems I mentioned which totaled it out. My passenger and I were safe at least!

Great car

by on
Vehicle: 2009 Kia Spectra EX 4dr Sedan (2.0L 4cyl 4A)

I bought my Kia Spectra Ex Sedan (4) days ago and I really like it. I haven't had it very long and I haven't taken it for a long drive yet. I feel that the car was a great buy.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

First new car ever, spectra

by on
Vehicle: 2009 Kia Spectra EX 4dr Sedan (2.0L 4cyl 4A)

I haven't had my Spectra for very long, but so far it has been the best car I've owned. It's quite zippy for a grocery getter,even with it being an automatic transmission. Stereo system(hey, I'm 24, this is important stuff!) is great. I love that I've got an auxillary jack and I love the hidden charger in the middle console. It helps keep wires out of the way, and you can set your MP3 player or iPod/iPhone inside to keep it from sliding all over the car. The DOHC is a nice touch, but I wish the fuel economy could be a hair better. All in all, a nice roomy car that is incredibly affordable and great for the post college kid or the starting family.

1 of 6 people found this review helpful

Spectra 2009 ex sedan

by on
Vehicle: 2009 Kia Spectra EX 4dr Sedan (2.0L 4cyl 4A)

Car was bought used on lease return to dealer. Low mileage and "like new." Used primarily to commute to work and local/light out-of-town job travel. So far averages about 28 MPG. Vehicle handles well, very responsive, and perky. No problem merging into fast freway traffic or running 2-3 hours at turnpike speeds. Haven't tried it in snow but it is okay in torrential rains. Looked at same year Civics, Sentras, and Focuses (I like sub- compacts). Spectra offered best balance of price, features, and low mileage.

Talk About The 2009 Spectra

2009 Kia Spectra Discussions See all Started By

The current Spectra is pretty old and Kia is already developing the next generation Spectra. Recently there were some spy shots of the mule taken....

Congratulations on your new Spectras!Those are nice cars...you can have a look at the upcoming Kia coupe here. This might be the base for new 2009 Spectra. What do you think?...

It looks great btw. I google 2009 Kia Spectra window tint and yours is the first picture to pop up on google images. You mentioned this car is a 2008. Well, it doesn't look an awful different from ...

Gas Mileage


  • 24
  • cty
  • 32
  • highway
Calculate Yearly Fuel Costs
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