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2008 Kia Spectra

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$1,164 — $7,384 USED
6
Photos
Sedan
5 Seats
26 MPG
(Combined)
Key specs of the base trim
 — 
Compare 3 trims

Overview

Is this the car for you?

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

What to Know

about the 2008 Kia Spectra
  • 2.0-liter four-cylinder
  • Manual or automatic
  • Six standard airbags
  • Sporty SX model available

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2008 Kia Spectra Review

from the Cars.com expert editorial team

Vehicle Overview
The Spectra hasn’t changed much for 2008, since Kia restyled the front and rear of the Spectra for 2007, giving the compact sedan a new grille, bumper and deck lid. In addition, the interior got a new dashboard as well as some other tweaks in 2007. The Spectra competes with small cars like the Ford Focus, Chevrolet Cobalt and Nissan Versa sedan.

Fitted with variable valve timing, the Spectra’s 2.0-liter four-cylinder creates 138 horsepower (132 hp in Super Ultra Low Emissions Vehicle form).

Trim levels include the base LX, uplevel EX and sport-tuned SX. The SX has similar equipment to the Spectra5 hatchback, which is listed separately in the Cars.com Research section.

Exterior
Kia promotes the Spectra’s sculpted appearance and the more aggressive look it has over many of its rivals. Large, angular headlights flank the grille. Full-length body creases are meant to impart a sense of motion. The biggest change for 2008 comes on LX and EX models, which get a new black radiator grille that features chrome accents.

Spectras have a four-wheel-independent suspension and front and rear stabilizer bars. EX sedans roll on 15-inch tires. For 2008, LX models get a new wheel-cover design.

A sport-tuned suspension with 16-inch wheels is used on the Spectra SX sedan. The installation of a strut tower bar is said to improve handling.

Interior
The audio system has an auxiliary jack for iPods or other MP3 players, and a six-CD changer is optional on the Spectra S...

Vehicle Overview
The Spectra hasn’t changed much for 2008, since Kia restyled the front and rear of the Spectra for 2007, giving the compact sedan a new grille, bumper and deck lid. In addition, the interior got a new dashboard as well as some other tweaks in 2007. The Spectra competes with small cars like the Ford Focus, Chevrolet Cobalt and Nissan Versa sedan.

Fitted with variable valve timing, the Spectra’s 2.0-liter four-cylinder creates 138 horsepower (132 hp in Super Ultra Low Emissions Vehicle form).

Trim levels include the base LX, uplevel EX and sport-tuned SX. The SX has similar equipment to the Spectra5 hatchback, which is listed separately in the Cars.com Research section.

Exterior
Kia promotes the Spectra’s sculpted appearance and the more aggressive look it has over many of its rivals. Large, angular headlights flank the grille. Full-length body creases are meant to impart a sense of motion. The biggest change for 2008 comes on LX and EX models, which get a new black radiator grille that features chrome accents.

Spectras have a four-wheel-independent suspension and front and rear stabilizer bars. EX sedans roll on 15-inch tires. For 2008, LX models get a new wheel-cover design.

A sport-tuned suspension with 16-inch wheels is used on the Spectra SX sedan. The installation of a strut tower bar is said to improve handling.

Interior
The audio system has an auxiliary jack for iPods or other MP3 players, and a six-CD changer is optional on the Spectra SX.

The Spectra sedan holds five people on front bucket seats and a 60/40-split folding rear seat. Trunk space totals 12.2 cubic feet. For 2008, there’s a revised gearshift knob design, and LX and EX Spectras get a new gauge cluster.

Air conditioning, power windows and locks, and heated power mirrors are included in the EX sedan. Extra features in the SX sedan include a perforated leather-wrapped steering wheel and gearshift knob, aluminum pedals and metal-finish trim.

Under the Hood
The Spectra’s 138-hp, 2.0-liter four-cylinder teams with a standard five-speed manual or the optional, revised four-speed automatic transmission. In the five SULEV states, Spectras with the old automatic have an environmentally friendly SULEV rating, but that engine is rated at 132 hp.

Safety
Antilock brakes are optional. Seat-mounted side-impact airbags and side curtain airbags are standard.

Driving Impressions
Similar to earlier import-brand models, the Spectra steers with a pleasantly light touch and maneuvers smartly. This is a generally enjoyable car that exhibits no more body lean than other sedans in its league, but it lacks a feeling of tight control. The tires aren’t likely to squeal when cornering, though the Spectra might “plow” through curves.

On most surfaces, the ride is satisfyingly smooth. The SX sedan is tauter, with no penalty in ride comfort.

Acceleration reaches past adequate with an automatic transmission, but passing yields a lot more blare than response. Kia’s easy-shifting manual gearbox works with little effort and helps extract the most power from the engine.

The seat bottoms are short, and cushioning feels adequate but not abundant. You get plenty of headroom, elbowroom and legroom. Scalloped front seatbacks help give backseat riders more knee space than some small cars offer.

Consumer Reviews

What drivers are saying

4.0
25 reviews — Read All reviews
Exterior Styling
(4.0)
Performance
(4.0)
Interior Design
(4.0)
Comfort
(3.8)
Reliability
(4.2)
Value For The Money
(4.2)

Read reviews that mention:

(5.0)

The best gas mileage i ever owned

by Packer fan from Green Bay on March 30, 2019

It has pep. Very reliable.comfortable.did i mention great in gas. This vehicle is also grear in the snow. It is front wheel drive. Handling performance is amazing. Read full review

(3.0)

Great gas mileage

by joanndelk61@gmail.com from Glasgow,ky on January 5, 2019

The only thing I have found is I had to replace starter,brake cylinders,battery,the check engine light stays on and a TPMS stays on I don't no what it is Read full review

Safety

Recalls and crash tests

Recalls

The 2008 Kia Spectra currently has 0 recalls


Crash and Rollover Test Ratings

The 2008 Kia Spectra has not been tested.

Latest 2008 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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