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2004 Kia Spectra

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$858 — $5,966 USED
5
Photos
Sedan
5 Seats
28 MPG
(Combined)
Key specs of the base trim
 — 
Compare 6 trims

Overview

Is this the car for you?
(4.3) 9 reviews

The Good

  • Ride comfort
  • Fuel economy
  • Instrument layout
  • Price

The Bad

  • Uncertain reliability
  • New model expected soon
  • Frontal-offset crash-test rating
  • Resale value

What to Know

about the 2004 Kia Spectra
  • Sedan and hatchback body styles
  • 124-hp engine
  • Manual or automatic
  • FWD layout

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2004 Kia Spectra Review

from the Cars.com expert editorial team

Vehicle Overview
Kia’s sporty four-door hatchback offshoot of the front-wheel-drive subcompact Sephia sedan was introduced for 2001 and earned a face-lift the next year. These changes also carried over to the Sephia, which altered its name in 2002. It was renamed the Spectra sedan.

Other than making a tachometer standard on the base sedan, nothing is new for the 2004 model year. A brand-new Spectra is expected early in 2004. Kia is based in South Korea and owned by Hyundai.

Exterior
The Spectra sedan is conservatively styled and comes in base and LS trim levels. Compared with most of its competitors, this car is more reminiscent of import sedans of the past. It stands 55.7 inches tall, rides a 100.8-inch wheelbase and measures 177.6 inches long overall, which is 3 inches longer than the Honda Civic.

The Spectra sedan and hatchback’s body styles are very similar. The sedan has a regular trunk, and the hatchback has a lift-up hatch. Their wheelbases are identical, but the hatchback is a half-inch longer overall. The hatchback is offered in GS and GSX trim levels; the latter features alloy wheels and a spoiler for a sportier look.

Interior
The hatchback and sedan both hold five people and are equipped with front bucket seats. The hatchback has a folding backseat that expands cargo volume beyond the basic 11.6 cubic feet. A larger rear opening on the Spectra hatchback makes it easier to load.

The LS sedan offers several features that are not available on the base model, such ...

Vehicle Overview
Kia’s sporty four-door hatchback offshoot of the front-wheel-drive subcompact Sephia sedan was introduced for 2001 and earned a face-lift the next year. These changes also carried over to the Sephia, which altered its name in 2002. It was renamed the Spectra sedan.

Other than making a tachometer standard on the base sedan, nothing is new for the 2004 model year. A brand-new Spectra is expected early in 2004. Kia is based in South Korea and owned by Hyundai.

Exterior
The Spectra sedan is conservatively styled and comes in base and LS trim levels. Compared with most of its competitors, this car is more reminiscent of import sedans of the past. It stands 55.7 inches tall, rides a 100.8-inch wheelbase and measures 177.6 inches long overall, which is 3 inches longer than the Honda Civic.

The Spectra sedan and hatchback’s body styles are very similar. The sedan has a regular trunk, and the hatchback has a lift-up hatch. Their wheelbases are identical, but the hatchback is a half-inch longer overall. The hatchback is offered in GS and GSX trim levels; the latter features alloy wheels and a spoiler for a sportier look.

Interior
The hatchback and sedan both hold five people and are equipped with front bucket seats. The hatchback has a folding backseat that expands cargo volume beyond the basic 11.6 cubic feet. A larger rear opening on the Spectra hatchback makes it easier to load.

The LS sedan offers several features that are not available on the base model, such as all-cloth seats, a tilt steering column, a tilt feature for the driver’s seat and a fold-down, 60/40-split rear seatback. An optional Power Package for the LS adds air conditioning, cruise control, and power windows, locks and mirrors. Trunk space in the sedan totals 10.4 cubic feet.

Under the Hood
A 124-horsepower, 1.8-liter four-cylinder engine teams with a standard five-speed manual or an optional four-speed-automatic transmission.

Safety
Antilock brakes are optional, but side-impact airbags are not available.

Driving Impressions
In performance, handling and ride comfort, the Spectra ranks as adequate but not up to the level of its competitors. In fact, its driving qualities hint of an earlier era. Value is what sells these sedans and hatchbacks, even though their reputation for durability cannot match that of comparable Honda and Toyota models.

Performance isn’t a strong suit even in models equipped with the manual gearbox. Considerable downshifting is necessary to keep the hatchback rolling along. The Getrag-designed gearshift is a bit vague and rubbery, but it functions with sufficient ease. Acceleration in models with the automatic transmission sets no records, and the unit sometimes downshifts with a jolt. Engine noise is noticeable during acceleration, but it eases at highway speeds.

What places the Spectra ahead of some of the competition is its smooth ride. The Spectra stays acceptably on course on straight highways and through modest curves, but it sometimes threatens to become a little unhinged in quick maneuvers.

The front seats are comfortable and well cushioned. Rear headroom is adequate on both sides, and rear legroom is above average for the compact league.

 

Reported by Jim Flammang  for cars.com;
Posted on 11/5/03

Consumer Reviews

What drivers are saying

4.3
9 reviews — Read All reviews
Exterior Styling
(4.3)
Performance
(3.9)
Interior Design
(3.8)
Comfort
(3.8)
Reliability
(4.4)
Value For The Money
(4.6)
(4.0)

Had minimal mechanical problems.

by JayC from Fort Worth Tx on February 8, 2019

This car handled well. It accelerated quickly, had great fuel economy and was very functional. It served my needs very well. Perfect car for commuting. Read full review

(5.0)

Great Vehicle

by Cent13 from TX on April 5, 2017

Love this car, great mpg and the standard is great! Parts are affordable and last a long time. Definately would make sure and get a pillow because the seats do lack support. The automatic is sluggish ... Read full review

Safety

Recalls and crash tests

Recalls

The 2004 Kia Spectra currently has 2 recalls


Crash and Rollover Test Ratings

The 2004 Kia Spectra has not been tested.

Latest 2004 Spectra Stories

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Cars.com Car Seat Check

Certified child passenger safety technicians conduct hands-on tests of a car’s Latch system and check the vehicle’s ability to accommodate different types of car seats. The Spectra received the following grades on a scale of A-F.*
* This score may not apply to all trims, especially for vehicles with multiple body styles that affect the space and design of the seating.

Warranty FAQs

What is a Bumper-to-Bumper warranty?

Often called a basic warranty or new-vehicle warranty, a bumper-to-bumper policy covers components like air conditioning, audio systems, vehicle sensors, fuel systems and major electrical components. Most policies exclude regular maintenance like fluid top offs and oil changes, but a few brands have separate free-maintenance provisions, and those that do offer them is slowly rising. Bumper-to-bumper warranties typically expire faster than powertrain warranties.

What is a Powertrain warranty?

Don't be misled a 10-year or 100,000-mile powertrain warranty doesn't promise a decade of free repairs for your car. It typically covers just the engine and transmission, along with any other moving parts that lead to the wheels, like the driveshaft and constant velocity joints. Some automakers also bundle seat belts and airbags into their powertrain warranties. With a few exceptions, powertrain warranties don't cover regular maintenance like engine tuneups and tire rotations.

What is included in Roadside Assistance?

Some automakers include roadside assistance with their bumper-to-bumper or powertrain warranties, while others have separate policies. These programs cover anything from flat-tire changes and locksmith services to jump-starts and towing. Few reimburse incidental costs like motel rooms (if you have to wait for repairs).

What other services could be included in a warranty?

Some automakers include free scheduled maintenance for items such as oil changes, air filters and tire rotations. Some include consumables including brake pads and windshield wipers; others do not. They are typically for the first couple of years of ownership of a new car.

What does CPO mean?

A certified pre-owned or CPO car has been inspected to meet minimum quality standards and typically includes some type of warranty. While dealers and third parties certify cars, the gold standard is an automaker-certified vehicle that provides a factory-backed warranty, often extending the original coverage. Vehicles must be in excellent condition and have low miles and wear to be certified, which is why off-lease vehicles feed many CPO programs.

See also the latest CPO incentives by automaker

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