Vehicle Overview
For 2007, Kia's Spectra5 hatchback has been restyled inside and out. Changes include an integrated front spoiler, an updated dashboard and a new audio system. The Spectra sedan has received similar updates.

In summer 2004, a Spectra5 hatchback joined the Spectra sedan that had been redesigned earlier in the year. Equipped with a sport-tuned suspension, the hatchback is meant to attract younger buyers.

One version of Kia's Spectra sedan, the SX, features equipment that's similar to the Spectra5's. The Spectra sedan is listed separately in the Research section.

The underbody spoilers are better integrated with the headlights, grille and bumper on the 2007 Spectra5. The exhaust gains a bright finish, and 16-inch alloy wheels have a new design. Thanks to the updated exterior, the Spectra5 gains 0.4 inches in total length.

The Spectra sedan and Spectra5 hatchback body styles are similar in appearance, but Kia promotes the hatchback's "more extroverted personality [and] athletic stance." Like the sedan, the Spectra5 features arches at each front fender and a sharp crease below the greenhouse. The sedan has a regular trunk, while the hatchback has a lift-up hatch. Their wheelbases are identical, but the sedan is about 6 inches longer overall.

Both the Spectra5 and Spectra SX sedan have what Kia calls an "assertive" front end, which features a black mesh grille. Fog lamps are installed. A strut tower bar provides additional torsional rigidity, and the Spectra5 has a fully independent suspension.

Inside, changes for 2007 include a redesigned center console with a 12-volt power outlet and new metallic dashboard accents. An auxiliary jack is included with the audio system for interface with iPods or other MP3 players, and a six-CD changer is optional.

Up to five occupants can fit inside the Spectra5. The hatchback has a folding backseat that can expand cargo volume beyond the basic 18.3 cubic feet. A large rear opening on the Spectra5 hatchback makes it easy to load. A leather-wrapped steering wheel and metal pedals are standard.

Under the Hood
The Spectra5 is powered by a 138-horsepower, 2.0-liter four-cylinder that teams with a standard five-speed manual gearbox or the optional, revised four-speed automatic transmission. In five states, the Spectra5 equipped with Kia's old four-speed automatic has an environmentally friendly SULEV rating, but produces 132 hp.

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

Driving Impressions
Maneuverability is a strong point for the Spectra5, which serves as a satisfying urban runabout. Unlike some small cars, it can be fun to drive and it easily heads wherever it's pointed. Most drivers won't try to push this hatchback too hard through curves, but it handles well for everyday motoring. On straightaways, the Spectra5 tracks well with little correction needed.

Ride comfort is reasonably good — slightly above average — for a small car. Performance with the manual shift is eager but not exactly action-packed. Except for some clanking, the gearshift behaves as adeptly as those in many sporty cars. The seats are softly cushioned but provide satisfactory support. Space behind the backseat is modest.

The engine is quiet in moderate driving, but it gets noisier while accelerating. Lower-body add-on components on the Spectra5 reduce the ground clearance of this hatchback, making it an unwise choice on snow-covered pavement.