2003 Kia Spectra Review

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Pros & Cons

  • Low base price, nimble handling, available hatchback configuration, killer warranty.
  • Lackluster engine performance, weak brakes and tires, mediocre build and materials, poor offset crash test score.
List Price Estimate
$896 - $2,002

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Edmunds' Expert Review

Though convincingly cheap in base form, decently equipped Spectras cost as much as better-performing compacts like the Elantra, Focus and Sentra. Shop carefully.

2003 Highlights

For 2003, all Spectras will come with a CD player and body-color side moldings. Kia has attempted to make the cabin environment more hospitable via additional sound insulation in the roof and floor, an illuminated ignition and revised climate controls. Also, all hatchbacks get a standard rear wiper with an intermittent feature. Finally, note that engine specs have been revised this year -- the Spectra is now rated at 124 horsepower and 119 pound-feet of torque compared with 126 hp and 108 lb-ft for 2002. The four-cylinder engine itself is unchanged.

Consumer reviews

Read what other owners think about the 2003 Kia Spectra.

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Most helpful consumer reviews

Second owner, purchased with 50,000 miles on it
kimllopez,02/20/2014
Purchased this car in 2009 with 50,000 miles on the engine. With the bald tires on the car, it road like a roller coaster ride on the freeway. Purchased new tires and it drove almost 100% better. Replaced the entire radiator about 2 years later. Replaced the ball joint 6 months before that. Replaced the right passenger side head light about 5 times since we purchased the car, at some point it completely stopped working and my husband switched around the light from the brights to the regular headlight to salvage it. Parts are extremely hard to find for this car, we've usually have to purchase online and when we do find the part in store it is usually more expensive than say a honday or acura.
Solid so Far
deathsaid,12/09/2012
Our Spectra has 120, 000 miles on it and has been pretty reliable so far. I have it for the last 20K or so and before that my father-in-law owned it. It has gone through some brakes and needed some work to fix in the brake fluid system. Front brakes put off a lot of dirt, hubcaps are literally black at this point. All things considered this car has been great, not the sexiest car or most comfy (i am 6'6) but very dependable. Nothing fancy or flashy about it but it gets from point A to point B.
Cheap used car, wouldn't buy new
Kia Driver,03/16/2010
I find this to be a decent used car for someone just learning to drive or looking for nothing more than point A to point B transportation. It's been pretty reliable although when things do break, they are expensive to repair. Many parts have to be ordered from Korea and it's hard to find a mechanic that will work on them. Very difficult to work on yourself as well. The "little things" like interior trim and such start falling apart around 50k miles though. By 87K the dash was warped, interior trim always falling off, drivers seat no longer went back, and power windows only worked sometimes. The drive train itself is fairly reliable though.
Love my Kia!
kiersten565,07/10/2012
I've been driving my Kia for almost four years now, it was used as my dad's commuter car. I now have 220,000 miles on it and still going strong! Tires have been replaced, along with a new fuel filter and occasional oil changes and tire rotations but nothing major. I put almost 100 miles on it a day and it has great gas mileage. I'm so surprised at how long it's lasted for me. I will be very sad the day it gives up!

Features & Specs

See all Used 2003 Kia Spectra features & specs
More about the 2003 Kia Spectra

Used 2003 Kia Spectra Overview

The Used 2003 Kia Spectra is offered in the following submodels: Spectra Hatchback, Spectra Sedan. Available styles include LS 4dr Sedan (1.8L 4cyl 4A), 4dr Sedan (1.8L 4cyl 4A), GS 4dr Hatchback (1.8L 4cyl 4A), GSX 4dr Hatchback (1.8L 4cyl 4A), LS 4dr Sedan (1.8L 4cyl 5M), 4dr Sedan (1.8L 4cyl 5M), GS 4dr Hatchback (1.8L 4cyl 5M), and GSX 4dr Hatchback (1.8L 4cyl 5M).

What's a good price on a Used 2003 Kia Spectra?

Shop with Edmunds for perks and special offers on used cars, trucks, and SUVs near Ashburn, VA. Doing so could save you hundreds or thousands of dollars. Edmunds also provides consumer-driven dealership sales and service reviews to help you make informed decisions about what cars to buy and where to buy them.

Which used 2003 Kia Spectras are available in my area?

Shop Edmunds' car, SUV, and truck listings of over 6 million vehicles to find a cheap new, used, or certified pre-owned (CPO) 2003 Kia Spectra for sale near. Simply research the type of car you're interested in and then select a used car from our massive database to find cheap prew-owned vehicles for sale near you. Once you have identified a used vehicle you're interested in, check the AutoCheck vehicle history reports, read dealer reviews, and find out what other owners paid for the Used 2003 Kia Spectra.

Can't find a used 2003 Kia Spectras you want in your area? Consider a broader search.

Find a used Kia Spectra for sale - 12 great deals out of 17 listings starting at $7,871.

Find a used Kia for sale - 5 great deals out of 17 listings starting at $25,577.

Find a used certified pre-owned Kia Spectra for sale - 11 great deals out of 21 listings starting at $25,010.

Find a used certified pre-owned Kia for sale - 5 great deals out of 24 listings starting at $25,526.

Should I lease or buy a 2003 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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