• (4.2) 5 reviews
  • Inventory Prices: $2,445–$5,809
  • Body Style: Hatchback
  • Combined MPG: 26
  • Engine: 138-hp, 2.0-liter I-4 (regular gas)
  • Drivetrain: Front-wheel Drive
  • Transmission: 4-speed automatic w/OD
2008 Kia Spectra5

Our Take on the Latest Model 2008 Kia Spectra5

What We Don't Like

  • Engine noise on hard acceleration
  • Rear legroom for tall passengers
  • Minimal ground clearance
  • ABS not standard
  • Resale value

Notable Features

  • Hatchback body style
  • 2.0-liter four-cylinder
  • Manual or automatic
  • Six standard airbags
  • Sport-tuned suspension

2008 Kia Spectra5 Reviews

Vehicle Overview
Kia's Spectra5 hatchback heads into 2008 with only minor changes, since it was restyled for 2007. It competes with several models in a growing market of small hatchbacks. Notable competitors include the Nissan Versa hatchback, the Honda Fit and the Mazda3 hatchback.

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 Cars.com Research section.

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 SX 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.

The Spectra5 has 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, there's a center console with dual 12-volt power outlets and 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.

The Spectra5 can seat up to five. 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 gearshift knob plus 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 that engine produces 136 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.

Consumer Reviews


Average based on 5 reviews

Write a Review

Good car for the price

by Kim's Kia from Centennial on May 16, 2017

Never had any issues with this car. It's always been reliable and fun to drive. Cleans up nice and has lots of cargo room.

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1 Trim Available

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Wondering which configuration is right for you?
Our 2008 Kia Spectra5 trim comparison will help you decide.

Kia Spectra5 Articles

2008 Kia Spectra5 Safety Ratings

Crash-Test Reports

Service & Repair

Estimated Service & Repair cost: $4,100 per year.

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Roadside Assistance Coverage


What you should get in your warranty can be confusing. Make sure you are informed.

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Warranties Explained


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.


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.

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).

Free Scheduled Maintenance

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.

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