2006 Kia Spectra Review

Type:

Pros & Cons

  • Low price, large backseat, comfortable ride, lots of storage and cupholders, standard side curtain airbags, excellent warranty.
  • Engine is weak and buzzy at higher rpm, soft handling on EX model.
List Price
$3,999

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Edmunds' Expert Review

With its lengthy equipment list, high-quality interior and better-than-average performance, the 2006 Kia Spectra sedan and hatchback are an excellent low-cost alternative to a Civic or Matrix.

Vehicle overview

The Spectra's origins in the U.S. market date back to 1994 when the compact Sephia sedan was introduced. In 2000, Kia added a five-door hatchback companion called the Spectra in an effort to reach out to younger drivers. In 2002, the Sephia sedan took the name "Spectra" as well. Although decently equipped, neither the Spectra sedan nor the hatchback had the level of refinement or quality necessary to get the attention of Civic and Corolla buyers. However, a groundbreaking redesign came midway through 2004 and established the Kia Spectra as the value leader in the economy car segment. Roomy, well equipped and for the most part pleasant to drive, the Spectra is worth the attention of anyone shopping for an affordable compact car.

A 138-hp, 2.0-liter engine is standard, and it's tuned to deliver a healthy dose of torque right off the line, allowing the Kia car to get around town and merge into freeway traffic with ease. Unfortunately, the engine begins to run out of steam at midrange rpm and gets a bit noisy in the process -- this is one of the few areas in which the Kia Spectra doesn't match up to the Civic and Corolla. Ride quality is excellent for an economy car, though, as the suspension dutifully absorbs bumps and grooves. Handling is soft yet predictable with the standard suspension, but you can get a tauter setup by opting for the SX sedan or Spectra5 hatchback, which also provides extra body cladding and sportier interior trim.

Inside, the furnishings are nothing too exciting, but a simple control layout, above-average build and materials quality and standard side curtain airbags count for plenty in this segment. So do comfortable seats, and the Kia Spectra offers plenty of room for both front and rear occupants. A vast selection of trays, bins, pockets and containers provides a spot for anything you happen to be carrying, while six large cupholders make road-trip dehydration a thing of the past. Although class leaders like the Civic and Mazda3 are still a few steps ahead of the Spectra when it comes to performance and refinement, we think highly of this Kia car. If you're looking for a well-rounded economy sedan or hatchback, the 2006 Kia Spectra is definitely worth a test-drive.

2006 Kia Spectra models

The Kia Spectra sedan is available in EX and SX trims, while the five-door Spectra5 hatchback is available in one trim only. The EX features air conditioning, six-speaker CD stereo, height-adjustable driver seat, tilt steering wheel, a 60/40 rear seat, power windows and locks, heated power mirrors and keyless entry. The SX sedan and Spectra5 hatchback add front and rear spoilers, side sills, rear valance, black grille, black headlight bezels, upgraded tires and 16-inch alloys and a sport-tuned suspension (on manual transmission models, a front strut tower bar is also included). Inside, leather trim on the steering wheel, shift knob and parking brake handle add a sporty touch, as do sport cloth seats, metal-look trim and metal pedals.

2006 Highlights

The base LX sedan has been dropped, and the EX no longer features foglamps or rear disc brakes. On the plus side, all models now come with floor mats and a cabin air filter, while the SX and Spectra5 gain standard cruise control. The optional four-speed automatic transmission has been redesigned this year for greater durability and smoothness (although models with SULEV emissions still use last year's unit).

Performance & mpg

The Kia Spectra features a 2.0-liter, four-cylinder engine with 138 hp and 135 lb-ft of torque (132 hp and 133 lb-ft with SULEV emissions equipment). Buyers can choose a five-speed manual or four-speed automatic transmission. Fuel economy is a respectable 25 mpg city/33 mpg highway.

Safety

Four-wheel disc brakes are standard on all models except the EX, which has rear drums. Antilock brakes are optional. All Spectras feature standard front-seat-mounted side airbags and full-length side curtain airbags. In government crash tests, the 2006 Kia Spectra earned a rating of four stars (out of five) for front-impact protection. It also earned four stars for front-occupant protection in side impacts. Rear-seat side-impact protection rated a mediocre three stars. In IIHS testing, the Spectra rated "Acceptable" (second best) for frontal-offset safety and "Poor" for side-impact safety.

Driving

The 2.0-liter inline four provides enough muscle around town for the small sedan and hatchback, but feels less spirited during high-speed maneuvers. Another downside is that engine noise can be obtrusive at speeds of 70 mph and above. The manual gearbox is easy to shift, but the automatic transmission can be a tad slow to come up with downshifts. The EX sedan offers a smooth ride, strong brakes and competent if not exactly sporty handling. The Spectra5 and SX sedan kick it up a notch with tighter handling while also retaining the supple ride quality of the less sporting EX sedan.

Interior

The Kia Spectra offers a simple cabin layout with logically arranged controls and above-average build and materials quality. The front seats are downright comfortable with enough shoulder, hip- and legroom to accommodate large adults. There's plenty of legroom in back as well, and the rear bench is generously cushioned. A vast selection of trays, bins, pockets and containers provides a spot for anything you happen to be carrying, while six large cupholders make road-trip dehydration a thing of the past. The sedan's trunk capacity is bit small for this class at 12.2 cubic feet, but the Spectra5 boasts an accommodating 18.3-cubic-foot cargo area (52.8 cubic feet with the seats down).


Consumer reviews

Read what other owners think about the 2006 Kia Spectra.

Trending topics in reviews

Most helpful consumer reviews

And we just keep rollin...
jenners1,11/16/2014
I bought my 2006 kia spectra brand new with 53 miles on it. I change the oil every 4000 miles, change the transmission fluid every 80,000 miles. I didn't have to put new brakes on until 120,000 miles. At 150,000 miles I had her tuned up. I decided at 185,00 miles I should put new belts on it. The check engine light came on at around 85000 miles still under warranty took in for new O2 sensor. The check engine light came back on just after 100,000 miles and its been on ever since, sooner or later its gotta burn out right? still waiting for that but she runs like the day I bought it. We are currently at 265000 miles and still rolling
Great affordable, reliable car.
shellbee3,11/30/2014
I purchased my car last year with 86,000 miles on it. I now have 100,500 miles on it and it's doing great. I took this car on a 2,000 mile road trip in the summer and my Spectra did fine. I do have to say that one con for this car is that it does not get up to speed very quickly on the highway. When I try to accelerate the engine feels weak and buzzy; it gets pretty loud and I don't go much faster. Beside that, it's a reliable car that gets me to and from work and around town with no problem. I get about 30 MGH combined city/highway. The interior is very roomy and comfortable even with five people seated. The trunk is deep which is awesome for travel. Overall a great, reliable car.
2006 Kia Spectra EX
dooscoop32,08/15/2006
Having had an assortment of problems with a previous American car, we decided to look at the Korean Kia Spectra EX. Wow, were we ever pleasantly surprised. This is a great little car. The doors close solidly with a click. The engine cranks quickly and is eerily quiet for a small car. Power is more than adequate for our intended use. Seating position and comfort are outstanding. The power options list for this car is lengthy including power, heated mirrors, power windows and locks, trunk release, tilt wheel, rear defroster, CD stereo, A/C, keyless remote entry and more! The build quality feels first-class. This car is an absolute pleasure to own. And the gas mileage is great too!
Used But Loved
Paul Callaway,03/01/2015
SX 4dr Sedan (2.0L 4cyl 4A)
I bought my 2006 Kia Spectra SX used about 2 years ago and after a rough beginning fixin issues left by the former owner I've really come to enjoy this car. The SX wheels, suspension and body are a plus over the other models and considering it's a compact car it has plenty of interior room, a nice size trunk and more than enough umph to get around. If I keep a light foot on the pedal I can get MPGs in the mid to high 20's with mixed driving

Features & Specs

See all Used 2006 Kia Spectra features & specs

Safety

NHTSA Overall Rating

The National Highway Transportation Safety Administration offers independent analysis.
  • Frontal Barrier Crash Rating
    OverallNot Rated
    Driver4 / 5
    Passenger4 / 5
  • Side Crash Rating
    OverallNot Rated
  • Side Barrier Rating
    OverallNot Rated
    Driver4 / 5
    Passenger3 / 5
  • Combined Side Barrier & Pole Ratings
    Front SeatNot Rated
    Back SeatNot Rated
  • Rollover
    Rollover4 / 5
    Dynamic Test ResultNo Tip
    Risk Of RolloverNot Rated
IIHS Rating
The Insurance Institute of Highway Safety uses extensive crash tests to determine car safety.
  • Side Impact Test
    Poor
  • Roof Strength Test
    Not Tested
  • Rear Crash Protection / Head Restraint
    Acceptable
  • IIHS Small Overlap Front Test
    Not Tested
  • Moderate Overlap Front Test
    Acceptable

More about the 2006 Kia Spectra

Used 2006 Kia Spectra Overview

The Used 2006 Kia Spectra is offered in the following submodels: Spectra Sedan, Spectra Wagon. Available styles include SX 4dr Sedan (2.0L 4cyl 4A), EX 4dr Sedan (2.0L 4cyl 4A), LX 4dr Sedan (2.0L 4cyl 5M), Spectra5 4dr Wagon (2.0L 4cyl 4A), SX 4dr Sedan (2.0L 4cyl 5M), EX 4dr Sedan (2.0L 4cyl 5M), and Spectra5 4dr Wagon (2.0L 4cyl 5M).

What's a good price on a Used 2006 Kia Spectra?

Price comparisons for Used 2006 Kia Spectra trim styles:

  • The Used 2006 Kia Spectra Spectra5 is priced between $3,999 and$3,999 with odometer readings between 132631 and132631 miles.

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 2006 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) 2006 Kia Spectra for sale near. There are currently 1 used and CPO 2006 Spectras listed for sale in your area, with list prices as low as $3,999 and mileage as low as 132631 miles. 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 2006 Kia Spectra.

Can't find a used 2006 Kia Spectras you want in your area? Consider a broader search.

Find a used Kia Spectra for sale - 8 great deals out of 24 listings starting at $16,052.

Find a used Kia for sale - 3 great deals out of 8 listings starting at $9,828.

Find a used certified pre-owned Kia Spectra for sale - 4 great deals out of 7 listings starting at $23,644.

Find a used certified pre-owned Kia for sale - 9 great deals out of 22 listings starting at $22,162.

Should I lease or buy a 2006 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.

Check out Kia lease specials
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