I learned to drive in a Jeep, a very old Jeep. My father wanted to be sure that I could drive a difficult stick shift, change a tire, change the oil, and engage a manual 4-wheel drive system. Sounds pretty girly, huh? I am really glad that I posses those skills, but the only one I use with any frequency is being able to drive a car with manual transmission.
For me, however, having an automatic transmission is a must in a mom-mobile. As much as I believe in limited distractions while driving, I often have a coffee cup in the cup holder and a cell phone at the ready in the console. With a manual transmission, I feel like I need another pair of hands just to take a sip or answer a phone call (with my headset attached, of course). It seems that each time my phone rings or the children need me, I am also in the midst of shifting. Holy distracted driver, Batman!
Enough about my dislike for the stick shift; I am really unimpressed about some other aspects of the 2006 Kia Spectra as well. First of all, I cannot get the seat high enough. It has a manual pump-action seat hoist that seems to get me just a couple inches off the road - literally. I live in the land of giant SUVs, so feeling exceptionally low to the ground is intimidating and somewhat unnerving.
Some other amenities that I really miss in the Kia Spectra are: A lighted mirror on the sun shade and an outside temperature gauge. Most disappointing of all is the size of the center console. I can fit my iPod in this space, but not much more.
What the Spectra lacks in creature comforts it makes up for in simplicity and safety features. It is refreshing to drive this car for a week and not have to pull out the manual. The heat controls are user-friendly and the stereo is a breeze to figure out. I also appreciate the standard side curtain airbags.
I am able to squeeze my family of five into the Spectra, although I would not recommend this to anyone who values their sanity. Between my husband ceaselessly adjusting his seat to get comfortable and three children fighting in the back seat, I thought I would never make it to the movie theatre, less than 5 miles from our house. The middle passenger seat in the rear is not really big enough for any person who is old enough to be out of a booster seat.
The cargo area is about what I expect in a car this size, a small weekly grocery trip is about it for capacity. It doesn't pass the Costco test for me and I have to put some of my purchases in the front seat. The rear seats fold down with a 60/40 split which is helpful, but I am not able to fit my skis in without hitting the gearshift. So much for testing the car's get-up-and-go in the mountains.
I consider the 2006 Kia Spectra a very basic and inexpensive commuter car. Its 25 mpg in the city barely puts it in that category for me. As a mom and generally cool chick (if I do say so myself), that is about as much praise as I can muster for this car.
LET'S TALK NUMBERS LATCH Connectors: 2 Seating Capacity (includes driver): 5 (barely)
IT'S THE LITTLE THINGS THAT COUNT Storage Compartments (Puny, Fair, Ample, Galore): Puny Cargo/Trunk Space (Puny, Fair, Ample, Galore): Fair
SENSE AND STYLE Family Friendly (Not Really, Fair, Great, Excellent): Fair Fun-Factor (None, Some, Good Times, Groove-On): None
*For more information on the Kia Spectra and its safety features visit Cars.com