2008 Kia Spectra Review

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Pros & Cons

  • Low price, comfortable and functional cabin, lots of storage and cupholders.
  • 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.
List Price
$5,987

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Edmunds' Expert Review

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.

Vehicle overview

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.

2008 Kia Spectra models

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.

2008 Highlights

The 2008 Kia Spectra sedan and Spectra5 hatchback receive no changes of note.

Performance & mpg

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.

Safety

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.

Driving

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.

Interior

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.


Consumer reviews

Read what other owners think about the 2008 Kia Spectra.

Trending topics in reviews

Most helpful consumer reviews

2008 Kia Spectra5 SX
Choncer,12/21/2008
The Spectra5 is a very fun spunky car that can't quite out-accelerate other like makes, at higher speeds it dominates. Turning and cornering is exceptional, sound system is lacking in quality, but replacing the door speakers makes a world of difference. Controls are very functional and convenient, construction is solid. After market accessories are limited, but that's to be expected with a new vehicle. Not fond of the fact that the glovebox doesn't lock. When rear seats are folded down though, all kinds of rear space. I can't say enough good things about this car.
2nd Time Around
cph0857,10/26/2011
I totaled my '07 Spectra about 3 weeks ago and was heartbroken. This car had been flawless with no problems. My collision was at 40 mph, with an immoveable object. (Tree) Yes, I was sober. My Kia took great care of me in the accident, crumpled all around me with no serious damage to the passenger compartment. I wish the exterior panels had not been so damaged, but I will trade the totaled exterior for the protected interior any day. I walked away with just a tiny cut on my finger from the broken glass. I found an ’08 with 5,000 miles and we are settling in nicely. I expect to have a long and happy life with my new Spectra.
I love my KIA soo much!
James,06/04/2010
OMG, where do I start. I bought it new NOV 07, I got to choose the one I wanted any color anything. Took one look at my white EX 5spd rear spoiler, and I was hooked. So long story short 2 1/2 yrs later and car approaching 60,000 miles on it now, not a thing has gone wrong. People always comment on my car, and how clean and good it has held up! I take care of my car but don't baby it! I think it handles really well, and at times I feel like I'm in a sports car. The rear spoiler makes it look so much better and 5 spd Overdrive, I don't have to always down shift up hills (only when some trucker or slow car gets in front of me. All and all At least take a look and consider!
Bye Bye Kia
Bri,02/10/2009
Well, I owned this car for 11 months and totaled it a couple weeks ago. Overall I enjoyed the Spectra5, and it did pretty well with a rear collision at 50 mph. Pushed me into another car, so both the front and back ends got it, but neither crumpled that far. Safety-wise it did pretty good. The driver seat during the collision slid to the back and put me into a reclining position. Strange, but not a serious fault in my opinion. So, good on safety, brakes stopped me, but the Civic behind me... not so much.

Features & Specs

See all Used 2008 Kia Spectra features & specs

Safety

NHTSA Overall Rating

The National Highway Transportation Safety Administration offers independent analysis.
  • Frontal Barrier Crash Rating
    OverallNot Rated
    Driver5 / 5
    Passenger5 / 5
  • Side Crash Rating
    OverallNot Rated
  • Side Barrier Rating
    OverallNot Rated
    Driver4 / 5
    Passenger4 / 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 2008 Kia Spectra

Used 2008 Kia Spectra Overview

The Used 2008 Kia Spectra is offered in the following submodels: Spectra Sedan, Spectra Wagon. Available styles include EX 4dr Sedan (2.0L 4cyl 4A), LX 4dr Sedan (2.0L 4cyl 4A), Spectra5 SX 4dr Wagon (2.0L 4cyl 4A), EX 4dr Sedan (2.0L 4cyl 5M), LX 4dr Sedan (2.0L 4cyl 5M), SX 4dr Sedan (2.0L 4cyl 4A), Spectra5 SX 4dr Wagon (2.0L 4cyl 5M), and SX 4dr Sedan (2.0L 4cyl 5M).

What's a good price on a Used 2008 Kia Spectra?

Price comparisons for Used 2008 Kia Spectra trim styles:

  • The Used 2008 Kia Spectra SX is priced between $5,987 and$5,987 with odometer readings between 135401 and135401 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 2008 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) 2008 Kia Spectra for sale near. There are currently 1 used and CPO 2008 Spectras listed for sale in your area, with list prices as low as $5,987 and mileage as low as 135401 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 2008 Kia Spectra.

Can't find a used 2008 Kia Spectras you want in your area? Consider a broader search.

Find a used Kia Spectra for sale - 11 great deals out of 20 listings starting at $21,941.

Find a used Kia for sale - 4 great deals out of 22 listings starting at $15,285.

Find a used certified pre-owned Kia Spectra for sale - 1 great deals out of 11 listings starting at $21,871.

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Should I lease or buy a 2008 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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