2008 Kia Spectra

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starting MSRP

2008 Kia Spectra

Key specs

Base trim shown


The good:

  • Ride comfort
  • Fuel economy
  • Driving ease
  • Headroom
  • Price

The bad:

  • Engine noise during hard acceleration
  • Acceleration with automatic
  • ABS not standard
  • Resale value

3 trims

Starting msrp listed lowest to highest price

  • LX


  • EX


  • SX


Wondering which trim is right for you?

Our 2008 Kia Spectra trim comparison will help you decide.

Notable features

  • 2.0-liter four-cylinder
  • Manual or automatic
  • Six standard airbags
  • Sporty SX model available

2008 Kia Spectra review: Our expert's take


The verdict:

Versus the competiton:

Kia has come an awfully long way in a short period, moving from a brand that was pretty much nobody’s first choice — you bought a Kia if you couldn’t afford, or get a loan for, a Honda or a Toyota — to a brand that is a genuine no-excuses alternative.

Like most of Kia’s lineup, there’s nothing spectacular about the Spectra, but there’s nothing wanting, either. Handsome, if not particularly distinctive, the SX test car was dressed up with handsome alloy wheels, shod with wider-than-usual P205/50R-16 radials, rear spoiler and side body cladding.

Based on the same platform as the last-generation Hyundai Elantra, the Spectra is a right-sized car that’s comfortable for four, passable for five, with a decent-sized, 12.2-cubic-foot trunk. Overall length is 177.2 inches, a little longer than a Honda Civic, a little shorter than a Toyota Corolla.

One of the ways Kia gained a foothold in the market is in offering more equipment than the competition for less money, and that continues with the Spectra: The $15,995 base price gets you air conditioning, power heated outside mirrors, fog lights, a six-speaker stereo with CD player, cruise control, power locks and windows, remote locking and a tilt steering wheel. Safety equipment includes side and side-curtain airbags and power disc brakes. Antilock brakes are a $400 option. The test car also had a power sunroof ($700), and an upgraded six-disc changer ($300). With options and $600 in shipping, the total price was $17,995. Add an automatic transmission, and the price would have been another $1,000.

Inside, the Spectra still shows a hint or two of its economy-car origins; front seats seem a little downmarket, and there’s a lot of plastic, though the leather-covered steering wheel is a nice touch. Instruments and controls are well-placed and logical.

On the road, the Spectra rides as well as any car in this class. Handling isn’t up to the level of the Civic, but it’s close. The 2.0-liter engine is well-matched to the five-speed manual transmission, and fuel mileage — 23 mpg city, 30 mpg on the highway, on regular gas — isn’t bad, but the four-speed automatic transmission is actually rated a bit higher, at 24 mpg city, 32 mpg highway. Bottom line: The Spectra, with clean styling, good performance and one of the best warranties in the industry, is a solid entry in a very competitive class.

Sentinel Automotive Editor Steven Cole Smithcan be reached at scsmith@orlandosentinel.com.

Consumer reviews

Rating breakdown (out of 5):
  • Comfort 3.7
  • Interior design 3.9
  • Performance 3.9
  • Value for the money 4.3
  • Exterior styling 4.0
  • Reliability 4.2

Most recent consumer reviews


110k mikes wheel bearings replaced 3xs

This is the worst used car I have ever bought in my 43 years ived been alive I’ve had it 1 month don’t buy run


Very reliable

200,000 miles still runs great getting 40mpg. Only ever used super unleaded. Oil changed ever 5k miles with regular maintenance. Only thing that's broken is the cruise control switch housing. It still works but switch is loose.


My kiacat

I think it’s just as good as any car on the road.I have had this car sence new no trouble with this automobile.This car will probably last for the rest of my life.

See all 29 consumer reviews


New car and Certified Pre-Owned programs by Kia
New car program benefits
60 months/60,000 miles
60 months/100,000 miles
120 months/100,000 miles
Roadside assistance
60 months/60,000 miles
Certified Pre-Owned program benefits
Maximum age/mileage
5 years or newer/less than 60,000 miles
Basic warranty terms
12 months/12,000 miles
10 years/100,000 miles
Dealer certification required
165-point inspection
Roadside assistance
View all cpo program details

Have questions about warranties or CPO programs?

See all 2008 Kia Spectra articles