Used 2002 Kia Spectra Sedan

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2002 Kia Spectra
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2002 Kia Spectra

Pros

  • Low base price, responsive steering and nimble handling, available hatchback configuration, killer warranty.

Cons

  • Lackluster engine performance, cheap interior materials, dearth of refinement, Kia's initial poor quality reputation.

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Edmunds' Expert Review

The Spectra will never be called a great car, but for some, it might prove to be a good bargain.

vehicle overview

If you're gung-ho about three-box sedans, the Sephia sedan switches to the Spectra nameplate for this year. But our favorite is the utilitarian hatchback model. Why? Five-door hatchbacks have always been hot sellers in Asian and European markets, but American buyers have shunned the concept -- so much so that Ford initially left the five-door hatchback out of the U.S. Focus lineup. The Spectra hatchback's duplicitous design does a good job of hiding the fact that it is indeed a five-door and not a sedan, and therein lies its appeal. Two trim levels are available for the hatchback: GS and GSX. The sparsely equipped GS includes fabric upholstery, split-folding rear seat, cassette player, rear defroster and two-speed wipers. Optional equipment includes A/C, body-color side moldings, rear wiper/washer, floor mats and an automatic transmission. GSX adds alloy wheels, a rear spoiler, tape stripes and special fabric for a sporty look. It also provides power windows and locks, air conditioning and a tilt steering wheel. ABS, a CD player, cruise control and power windows are available only on the GSX.

Sedans come in Base or LS trim. Base equipment on the sedan includes power steering, four-wheel independent suspension with front and rear stabilizer bars, wheel covers, dual exterior mirrors, theft-deterrent system, rear defogger, cassette stereo, 60/40 split-folding rear seat and fabric upholstery. The upgraded LS adds air conditioning, power windows and door locks, bodyside moldings, tilt steering wheel and a driver seat cushion tilt feature. Buyers can add woodgrain dash appliques, a rear spoiler and floor mats, but goodies like cruise control, alloy wheels, power mirrors and ABS are limited to the more expensive LS.

Powered by a 125-horsepower 1.8-liter DOHC four-cylinder engine and mated to a standard five-speed manual gearbox (a four-speed automatic is optional), the Spectra provides decent fuel economy (23 city and 29 highway) but lacks capable acceleration off idle and during passing maneuvers. Additionally, the raucous motor makes an incessant whine at higher revs, which can grate on the driver's nerves.

The Spectra proves to be a competent handler, exhibiting limited body roll and responsive steering. Too bad cheap tires ruin the fun in the twisties. On the highway, the Spectra smoothes out bumps, but floats like a boat over highway expansion joints despite the Lotus-tuned suspension. Front disc/rear drum brakes are barely adequate, requiring lots of pedal pressure that results in mediocre stopping performance.

Firm front seats are reasonably comfortable, with a decent amount of lumbar and thigh support, and the simple layout of the dashboard and controls makes the Spectra easy to manipulate. Rear-seat riders get minimal legroom, and the canted rear glass impedes valuable headroom. Things are improved in the sedan, however, with a more useable rear seat in which four adults can fit with a minimum of contortion. Interior materials are not the Spectra's strong suit with headliner, dash panel and seat-fabric quality well below that of slightly more expensive competitors.

Higher-grade interior materials, along with a more powerful engine and improved brakes, would do wonders for this Kia's overall desirability. Still, you can't deny its substantial price and utility advantages over the competition.

Another incentive to consider the Spectra is Kia's Long-Haul Warranty Program, which consists of a 10-year/100,000-mile limited powertrain warranty, a 5-year/60,000-mile limited basic warranty, a 5-year/100,000-mile anti-perforation warranty (which protects against holes in the body caused by rust) and a 5-year/unlimited mileage roadside assistance plan. This impressive package should add some peace of mind to Spectra ownership.

For first-time buyers and college students trying to survive on Top Ramen, as well as those who desire the utility that only a five-door hatchback can provide, the Spectra is worth a look. Others might want to consider shopping around, especially with Hyundai's well-equipped and more powerful Elantra as competition.

2002 Highlights

The Kia Sephia has officially been renamed the Spectra sedan. Got that? So now, there's the Spectra hatchback and the sedan; they've always shared mechanicals, so no big change there. The sedan will now sport some exterior styling cues borrowed from the five-door version.

Consumer reviews

Read what other owners think about the 2002 Kia Spectra.

Overall Consumer Rating

Most helpful consumer reviews

Been a great little car
libertyswanson,03/23/2012
I bought my 2002 Kia Spectra in 2006 with 60k miles on it. It now has over 220k. Most of the work as been regular maintenance. I just put in a new head gasket and my clutch is starting to pop. It has been great in the snow (I drive a 100 miles a day in Colorado). And has always started. I've replaced the alternator (no big deal), scheduled timing belts, and front wheel bearings. The back struts are gone and there are a lot of rattles developing. The arm rest is very uncomfortable and my wife hates the seats. But it has been very very dependable. Gas mileage right now is about 35 to 38 mpg. I'm moving up in car class, but have daughter turning 16 and it will be a good first car for her.
Great Small car but can be pricey
Benjamin,08/11/2010
Recently i bought my 2002 Kia Spectra, so far its been a great little car and even with a 153,000 miles on it it still has a lot of its kick still in it, cant burn out but it tries like hell to, but the only things i have had to done lately is servicing when bought the car it had no air filter and the spark plugs were bad so changed all that and it seemed like it had a new life in it, but recently the front right tire seemed like it was going to fall off due to a tire shop so i had to spend 500 dollars to get all that fixed but ever since then best little car i ever owned and gas mileage is great get a 100 miles to a forth of a tank plus it tries to be sporty at times.
Electrical problems of the 2002 Kia Spectra
charlesg56,10/08/2012
It has low beam head lights that do not work often. Power windows that blow fuses or fail for some other reason and a check engine light that never goes out.
Son's second car
alshoe,12/12/2011
Purchased our 2002 Spectra 11/23/2011 for our son. Our son had a 2002 Saturn SL that was totaled in a accident. This Kia is very much like his Saturn, a basic car, no power windows, door locks or cruise control. Body has some dings and scratches but overall paint, body and interior in very good condition. Never owned a Kia, but good experience at Kia dealership. Clock was not working so they will replace it at no additional cost to me. I also purchased a two year warranty to cover all major components.
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Features & Specs

MPG
19 city / 27 hwy
Seats 5
4-speed automatic
Gas
126 hp @ 6000 rpm
MPG
19 city / 27 hwy
Seats 5
4-speed automatic
Gas
126 hp @ 6000 rpm
MPG
21 city / 29 hwy
Seats 5
5-speed manual
Gas
126 hp @ 6000 rpm
MPG
21 city / 29 hwy
Seats 5
5-speed manual
Gas
126 hp @ 6000 rpm
See all Used 2002 Kia Spectra Sedan features & specs
More about the 2002 Kia Spectra
Used 2002 Kia Spectra Sedan Overview

The Used 2002 Kia Spectra Sedan is offered in the following styles: LS 4dr Sedan (1.8L 4cyl 4A), 4dr Sedan (1.8L 4cyl 4A), LS 4dr Sedan (1.8L 4cyl 5M), and 4dr Sedan (1.8L 4cyl 5M).

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Find a used Kia Spectra for sale - 2 great deals out of 5 listings starting at $14,831.

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Should I lease or buy a 2002 Kia Spectra?

Is it better to lease or buy a car? Ask most people and they'll probably tell you that car buying is the way to go. And from a financial perspective, it's true, provided you're willing to make higher monthly payments, pay off the loan in full and keep the car for a few years. Leasing, on the other hand, can be a less expensive option on a month-to-month basis. It's also good if you're someone who likes to drive a new car every three years or so.

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Check out Kia Spectra lease specials