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Kia Spectra Sedan



  • backybacky Twin CitiesPosts: 18,922
    According to J.D. Power's latest Initial Quality Survey, the Spectra was one of the most improved cars from last year (no surprise since it was a much-improved new design), improving 64 points from last year to finish 2nd behind the Prius in the Compact car category.
    (Use the "2005 Initial Quality Survey" link)
  • spectramanspectraman Posts: 255
    Wow! The Spectra's #2 overall in the compact segment! That backs up my experiences posted online here at Edmunds!

    Here's the direct link to the Initial Quality page graphic that's listed on the page that Backy references. The section about the Spectra is in the upper left-hand corner.

    The Civic and Corolla tied, and came in 3rd behind the Spectra!

    I'll bet KIA's happy about this one!

  • spectramanspectraman Posts: 255
    Here's a little composite graphic I put together to save you all the web surfing and parameter-entering hassles.

    The links I pulled this data from are included on the graphic, so feel free to verify them for yourself!

  • spectramanspectraman Posts: 255

    After making it known that I haven't been exactly enthralled with my Spectra EX's gas mileage, I've finally seen a ray of hope.

    I had an opportunity yesterday to put about 270 highway miles on my car. I drove (on average) between 70-75 mph, and was able to take advantage of my cruise control quite a bit, plus I didn't need to run the air conditioning.

    The verdict?

    34.7 mpg!!!!!

    My Spectra has the 4-speed automatic, so I guess the 25 (City/Everyday) mileage I'm getting now that the weather's warmer, coupled with the nearly 35 mpg I got on the highway yesterday is nearly identical to its EPA ratings. My car also turned over 10k miles too, so maybe the engine's finally fully broken in?!?

    A side note.... Due to a weather taking a turn for the better towards the end of the day here in Michigan, I was able to full open my moonroof, all the way back. I'm very impressed at how little noise or air enters the cabin at the speeds I was driving (70-80 mph). Good job KIA! The little pop-up air foil at the front of the roof opening really works.

  • iluvmysephia1iluvmysephia1 Alamogordo, NMPosts: 7,560
    is the air foil made of composite plastic or is it all glass or is it a metal byproduct on your Spectra? I ask because Scion is looking into a potential recall on their tC's little wind deflector up there just in front of the tC's moonroof. Apparently it can just blow up upon going highway speeds.

    Wow, you're all of a sudden getting good gas mileage. I'm starting to get interested in staying with Kia for my next new rig. I'm digging the Spectra5 idea more every day. :D Gas mileage in the 30's makes good sense to me. Plus that great new JD Powers rating the new Kia Spectra received. Truly an impressive new offering from Kia!

    2011 Kia Soul Sport 5-speed

  • spectramanspectraman Posts: 255
    I think that my car's little air foil is made out of some kind of metal strip. I'll check it more closely and report back if it appears to made of anything different.

  • backybacky Twin CitiesPosts: 18,922
    I know that's what the Elantra uses; I'd be surprised if the Spectra used a different design, given the common components of the cars (maybe the sunroof mechanisms are shared).
  • spectramanspectraman Posts: 255
    Say Everyone....

    If you're interested in reading about what several nasty KIA service experiences can be like, go to Edmund's 'KIA Sedona Problems' forum.

    /[email protected]@.ef10134

    I have to admit that if these shared experiences were the norm for all (esp. Spectra) KIA purchasers, then I'd not be as big a supporter as I am.

    Me thinks that the newly designed Sedona can come none too quickly for KIA.

    I think the Sorento board has also seen it's share of weird bug-a-boo problems listed too.

    I'm hopeful that the higher amount of problems experienced by the Sedona and Sorento owners are indicative of vehicles engineered by the pre-Hyundai merger KIA staff, and that Chairman Chung's quality mantra is now being injected into the KIA corporate culture.

    My Spectra (so far) seems to point in that direction.

    Btw, the new Hyundai / KIA America Technical Center near Ann Arbor that I pass on my way to work each day is probably one good sign of the above situation coming to pass. Here's the website for this tech center:

  • backybacky Twin CitiesPosts: 18,922
    Bottom line is that the Sedona is an old design. Kia (and Hyundai) have made such great strides in quality in the past five years that I think it's more useful to look at more recent models like the current Spectra and the new Sportage to see where Kia is with quality. But as they improve quality of the vehicles, it's just as important that they improve the quality of customer service from dealers and corporate staff.
  • spectramanspectraman Posts: 255
    /[email protected]@.eea6dd2

    Wow.... being born and raised in a "Blue Oval" family, I like to still take a peek every now and then over in the Ford forums to see what's going on.

    I checked out the Focus forum first, since it's the closest thing to my Spectra. Holy cow..... am I ever thankful that I followed my instincts and DID NOT buy a Focus. From ignition tumbler woes, to front brake problems, to fuel pump failures, to cracking windshields, to stalling and lurching issues, to bad CD players, to bad electric window switches...... the list goes on.

    To be fair, it appears that most of the complaints were generated by the 2000-2002 models, but the mileage that these problems were occurring at (30k and under!) is unforgiveable.

    Having spent enough time dealing with Ford dealers on repair issues (NEVER a pleasant experience), I knew that if I bought a Focus that I could be in store for some of the nightmare stories I just read in the Focus forum.

    So far my decision to go KIA is paying off.... for now. Time will tell.

  • backybacky Twin CitiesPosts: 18,922
    Weren't there a lot of problems with 2000-2002 vintage Sephias and Spectras also? ;) The more recent Foci are supposed to be more reliable. But then, so is the new Spectra compared to the old Sephia/Spectra.
  • iluvmysephia1iluvmysephia1 Alamogordo, NMPosts: 7,560
    that there were problems with those Sephia-Spectra's but they were limited to brake issues primarily. Those Foci were so far out of focus that they were...blurry. :sick:

    I too am glad I plunged into the Kia camp.

    2011 Kia Soul Sport 5-speed

  • micthommicthom Posts: 5
    I bought my new Kia Spectra EX (auto, cruise, alloy wheels, carpet mats) about three weeks ago and am very pleased. I only have a couple of issues that don't amount to much but I thought I would mention them anyway.

    First, the steering wheel is cheap plastic that is rough on my hands (my wife tells me that my hands are too sensitive) but the wheel seems like one big molded peice of cheap plastic. I have since bought a steering wheel cover and have fixed that problem.

    Second, it took me sometime to figure out the remote trunk release. I originally had it listed as a problem I wanted to report to the dealership. If you click and release the trunk release button on the keyless remote, nothing happens. If you click and hold the button down for a couple seconds, the trunk pops open.

    As for gas mileage, I got 27 mpg for the first tank. I still have less than 500 miles so I'm hoping that number goes up.

    I find that the quality of the car is excellent. Nice ride, good handling and I really like the looks of the car. The dealership experience was about what I expected but I got the price I wanted (thanks to Edmunds pricing TMV guide).
  • backybacky Twin CitiesPosts: 18,922
    Actually that "press and hold" feature on the trunk release sounds like a thoughtful feature. It's all too easy to accidently push a button on a key fob. I know that from personal experience as the remote on my '01 Elantra has a feather-touch lock button. (Fortunately unlock is tougher.) But they redesigned the remote in '04 to recess the buttons and make unintentional locking more difficult. The solution with the Spectra sounds even better.
  • spectramanspectraman Posts: 255
    Micthorn explained:

    First, the steering wheel is cheap plastic that is rough on my hands (my wife tells me that my hands are too sensitive) but the wheel seems like one big molded peice of cheap plastic. I have since bought a steering wheel cover and have fixed that problem.

    I don't really mind the texturing on my EX's wheel, but I can see where you're coming from in your post.

    I too have always had a leather cover on my car's steering wheels since high school, so I am contemplating splurging a little and treating myself to a custom dual-tone WheelSkins cover from here:

    They cost $50 plus shipping, BUT.... you can have a custom cover stitched together with yoru choice of colors of leather AND get whatever portion of the wheel "Euro-perfed" (punched holes) if you choose.

    They also guarantee a perfect fit, since they require you to provide the diameter of your wheel and the circumference of the wheel grip.

    I ordered a sample swatch kit from the WheelSkins manufacturer, and I've found two colors (sand for the top/bottom, brown for the sides) that match my Spectra's two tone tan/brown interior pretty darn close.

    You can "build" a custom cover here from their color palette to see what a particular scheme will look like. This is sort of cool:

    I'll post a pic on my Spectra website when/if I purchase one.

  • micthommicthom Posts: 5
    Has anyone done research to find a roof-mounted bike rack for the Spectra (4 door)?

    I have looked on the Thule and Yakima sites but cannot find a match to the 2005 Spectra for a roof mounted bike rack. The Kia dealership told me that I can use the same rack that works for the Honda (I assume Civic) but I'm not convinced.
  • t2mct2mc Posts: 1
    Has anyone had problems with the emergency brake failing? I haven't even made my 1st payment on 05 Spectra and it rolled down the driveway and through my house. I confirmed the brake handle was up when I was surveying the damage. $2000 damage to car plus $7000 damage to house.

    To say the least, one would expect the ebrake on a brand new car to be tight not loose. An inspection is underway but just checking.
  • spectramanspectraman Posts: 255

    Sorry to hear about your incident. It sounds like a real bummer. What part of the house did your car hit? The garage door?

    The e-brake on my Spectra EX has been working fine, but since I have an automatic I don't depend entirely on it.

    Is your car a manual shift? Did you have it in gear in addition to using the e-brake, or did you leave it in neutral? A good working brake *should* have held the car either way though, I agree.

    You mention that the brake was loose. In what way? Side-to-side sloppiness? Its inability to fully activate the brakes?

    Fill us in on some of the details, and you may get a few more responses.


  • huntleyhuntley Posts: 14
    As a 54 year old male who does minimal driving, I am trying to decide on whether to purchase a Ford Focus ZX5 ($16,800) or a Kia Spectra SX (14,800). I have narrowed my choices down to TWO vehicles. According to Consumer Reports, the Ford Focus is rated number one, whereas the Kia Spectra is "out of contention" due to poor crash results :cry: . Owners of the Kia Spectra have said the car suffers from "nose plow" when braking, as well as "understeer" and a noisy engine at highway speeds. I tried BOTH vehicles and found that the Focus had a better seating position, but cheap looking interior materials. The Spectra's interior looked superior and the handling felt similar to the Focus, even though it had a much lower stance. This is a difficult decision. I also drove the Mazda3 but ruled it out because I found the seats were as hard as concrete. I tried the Cobalt and those seats were the same. The most comfortable seats are in the Focus and the Spectra. Because of Kia's poor history and "pooh poohing" from the auto industry, I am reluctant to purchase one, plus I have never seen one on the road. Even the salesperson at KIA told me the car was a hard sell. Could someone please offer some advice and suggestion to help me make my final choice? Are both cars silly looking for a 54 year old male? One added piece of info . . Kia and Ford are both conveniently located near my home.
  • spectramanspectraman Posts: 255
    Huntley asked:

    Could someone please offer some advice and suggestion to help me make my final choice?


    Be daring.... try the Spectra!

    As everyone who reads this board knows, I've had great success (so far) with my almost year-old 10k+ miles Spectra EX.

    Also... I bet you have play "hardball" with your KIA dealer, you can get the price of that SX down even more! Especially with the current incentives listed below.

    My EX (with a sticker of nearly $17k) was gotten for around $13,200 (pre-tax / dest) with a $1,500 rebate. My car was completely loaded, so it has to be at least close to the content of the SX you're looking at. I've got the 15 inch alloys instead of the 16 inch, but that and a few bits of plastic trim should be the only difference.

    Also... the Spectra boards here at Edmunds have been pretty quiet defect-wise (save the emergency brake story above) when compared to some of the nightmares recorded on the Ford Focus boards.

    As far as not seeing many Spectras on the road.... I like it! Foci are a dime-a-dozen, esp. in Michigan. A clean, well appointed Spectra like mine stands out... IMHO. :-) I'm also 40+, and I don't feel the slightest bit out of place out in public in my car. In fact, a lot of people have commented to me how it looks very similar to a Honda Civic. Would you be embarrassed to be seen in a Civic?

    In any case, let us know which way you go!


    $1750 Cash to Customer start: 04/01/2005 end: 07/05/2005 Get Dealer Pricing
    Restrictions $1750 Customer cash cannot be combined with special APR programs.

    $750 Cash to Customer start: 06/01/2005 end: 07/05/2005 Get Dealer Pricing
    Restrictions $750 Customer bonus cash available to current owners of qualified non-Kia vehicles. See dealer for complete list of vehicles that qualify.
  • iluvmysephia1iluvmysephia1 Alamogordo, NMPosts: 7,560
    I'll second that emotion-get the Kia Spectra!

    It looks better, costs less and has a better warranty. Oh, and Kia does honor their Long-Haul Warranty, don't let anyone tell you they don't. I know that they do and I also know that you do stand a very good chance of never needing your Warranty coverage on your new Spectra.

    I'm on my second new Kia ('99 Kia Sephia and now a '01 Kia Sportage 4x4) and I may be getting a third later this year. They are solid, reliably performing cars, vans and SUV's and the Kia Mojave pickup truck is in the hopper as I type this, too.

    Just to be different and really sporty, take a look at the hot new Kia Spectra5. The car looks very nice, has a very sporty stance, bold and aggressive looking and has received very good performance marks. Or, get a Spectra sedan. You get a lot of car for your money and you have that Long-Haul Warranty to protect you. ;)

    Post back in here with your decision, OK, huntley? Have fun and enjoy the chase, man! :)

    2011 Kia Soul Sport 5-speed

  • theolus1theolus1 Posts: 8
    After test driving both the civic and the corolla, I found the spectra to be an equal if not superior in all categories. I bought my spectra and have not regretted the decision. After 5K miles, I am happy to report that the car gets more fun to drive each day. The acceleration is great. Gas mileage has been better than I expected. On a 240 mile trip across the cascade mountains and back, I got 36 MPG. WOW!!!! This was with only 1500 miles on the car. Please, all of you people who are considering buying a spectra, don't listen to some of the reviewers who from what I have read, have opinions that are questionable at best. At worst, outright lies. The new spectra is an awesome car. Kia makes fine well built cars. I also own a sedona. We have had it for three years and have had absolutely no problems in 35K miles. GO KIA!!!! :)
  • micthommicthom Posts: 5
    Spectraman has given some good advice (as always). However, last night I saw a Kia ad for the Spectra that listed the cash to customer of $2,400 ($2,500 for the LD model). Of course, this may be a regional incentive--that is what it lists for Colorado. This information can be found on the Kia website.

    Living in Colorado, I see quite a number of Focus cars. I rented one last February and didn't have any complaints other than the interior felt cheap.
  • darius2kdarius2k Posts: 5
    On the Spectra vs Focus discussion ...

    I am in the market for a new car and have pretty much narrowed my choices down to the Mazda3, the Kia Spectra, and the Ford Focus. In regards to Kia vs Focus, the Focus has a couple of things going in its favor:

    1. It has more options, including the 6-disc CD/mp3 changer (important to me) and the butt-warming seats ... didn't figure I'd be able to afford those for at least another 5 years :)
    2. I am driving a Spectra EX as a rental car right now (my 2000 Ford Escort was totalled last week), and I didn't like it at first, but it has definitely grown on me and now I think it's pretty fun to drive. However, my biggest concern about it is that, since I don't have very good vision, I have to position the seat close to the steering wheel, which makes it so that the seat blocks my view when I do 'over the shoulder' glances for lane changes. I know it sounds strange, but I've seen a few others mention it on various websites, so I know it isn't just me. I don't know how different the body style of the SX is, but I plan to test drive one and see if this is as big of a problem for me as it is with the EX.

    As for Focus and reliability, I don't see very many people having issues with models > 2002, but based on the problems I had with my Escort, I'm really not sure if I want to give Ford any more of my money. On the other hand, does anyone have any statistics about the reliability of Kias? I looked in Consumer Reports, and it says they don't have enough data to say one way or the other.

    Oh, one other thing about the Spectra - I REALLY dig the cup holders! I know something as insignificant as that probably shouldn't make a big difference, but it really does :)
  • huntleyhuntley Posts: 14
    Regarding the Kia Spectra and Consumer Reports: They said: "it still trails the better cars in this category, with reluctant cornering and mediocre acceleration and fuel economy. The 138-hp engine delivers lackluster acceleration with the automatic and unimpressive fuel economy. A poor offset-crash-test result TAKES IT OUT OF CONTENTION." Under the RELIABILITY SCORES, the Kia Spectra isn't even listed! Since it's based on the Elantra platform, you can take a look at the Elantra's score. It is rated "much better than average" with a better-than-average reliability score for 2003 and 2004. The Ford Focus is Consumer Report's top pick of small cars and they love it except for the cheap looking interior. As far as the Mazda3 goes, I thought the seats were the absolute hardest, most uncomfortable seats of any small car I have tested.
  • spectramanspectraman Posts: 255
    H said:

    "Regarding the Kia Spectra and Consumer Reports: They said: "it still trails the better cars in this category, with reluctant cornering and mediocre acceleration and fuel economy. The 138-hp engine delivers lackluster acceleration with the automatic and unimpressive fuel economy. A poor offset-crash-test result TAKES IT OUT OF CONTENTION."

    At the risk of sounding defensive about my car, I want to share a couple of additional thoughts regarding your post.

    1. My EX has an automatic, and I find the acceleration just fine. When I pull away from a stoplight, the next thing I know is that I'm doing almost 60 mph without even hitting the throttle hard. I've had several people drive the car who have made the same observation. The torque band on these cars is pretty low, so when you put your foot down, the 138 hp do wake up pretty quickly.

    The only "doggedness" I've found is possibly when the car's in 4th gear (overdrive), and I'm in somewhat slower city traffic, the car may bog a little if I hit the gas, but not hard enough to downshift. My remedy for this is to simply drop down a gear to 3rd in city traffic to help keep the RPM up a bit.

    My "summer" car is a 5-speed '88 Mustang LX 5.0, so I think I have at least a little experience with a performance car to compare the Spectra to. In my book the acceleration is fine... plus the engine is nearly silent at idle and transfers no vibration to the cabin!

    2. Fuel economy..... well this one has credence. I've gotten anywhere from 22 mpg to 35 mpg based on the time of year and driving habits. The average is probably close to 25 overall. Not exactly great, but not horrible either. This category definitely goes to Toyota and Honda from what I read.

    3. Handling.... my car is shod with Goodyear Eagle RS tires. I have no qualms with the handling of my EX. It's no worse than a lot of other cars in its class. On occasion I'll whip the Spectra around on some switchbacks and tight corners on my way to work, and I never get any "rollover" squeal from these tires. Take that for what its worth.

    4. Finally, the crash rating. KIA has been installing a revised airbag in the Spectra since January of this year (2005). It has smaller vent holes, and the dummy's head doesn't hit the steering column any more. This one change was enough to boost the Spectra from 'POOR' to 'ACCEPTABLE' for the frontal offset crash test. The IIHS website has all the details. Side impact ratings were pretty low for the whole compact car class if I remember correctly. I think Honda and the Cobalt did okay in that category. You could research that specific topic more.

    The bottom line is that any new post-January 2005 built Spectra you might purchase has a better rating that what CR is claiming for it.

    Keep us posted as to what you decide, and then report back in here with your experience(s).

  • spectramanspectraman Posts: 255
    While camping this weekend, I was able to get a really good look at the trunk ("boot" to you Brits out there) of a Ford Focus ZX4.

    On the plus side for the Focus, it had the decklid hinges with mini-struts located and recessed outside of the trunk opening. The Spectra uses the standard goose-neck hinge that enters the storage area and usable space. Keep in mind though that the mini-struts are pressurized gas, and will very likely need replacing in not-too-many years. My Mustang's hatch needs its struts replaced about every 3 years.

    On the plus side for the Spectra, the fit and finish quality blows the Focus away. I was appalled to see tons of gray primer peeking through the black paint of the Focus I examined, and the carpet panels in the Focus' trunk was really floppy and cheesy looking. The fit of the carpeting in the Focus trunk was very poor. My Spectra's trunk on the other hand shows no signs of any primer/paint issues, and the carpet panels are very well formed and installed. The trunk of my Spectra looks like it belongs in a *much* more expensive car.

    This online quote backs my observation up:

    "The Spectra looks classier, more grown up and more substantial. I was also very pleased with the Spectra's two-tone cabin, and I was surprised by the seat fabric and even the thick carpeting covering the floor in the trunk. "

    If KIA could find decklid struts that last more than a few years, then I'd recommend to them to switch over to the recessed hinges for the Coup de' tat!

  • huntleyhuntley Posts: 14
    Check out this site to see the results of long-term vehicle quality after 3 years. Look where Kia ranked. :cry:
  • spectramanspectraman Posts: 255

    Your point is well taken for owners of 2002 and earlier KIA's. I'd even bet that KIA's long-term dependability scores won't improve dramatically for another couple of years due to Hyundai's influence not being totally realized until all of KIA's new models are rolled out.

    The 2004.5 Spectra IMHO is truly the first truly new KIA vehicle to benefit from Hyundai's designs and manufacturing knowledge base. With the recent introduction of the Tuscon/Sportage, and the upcoming Accent/Rio line, those long term quality numbers will *have* to improve due to the Hyundai factor. Read this from the J.D. Powers report:

    "Porsche makes the largest percentage improvement in its VDS score, while Hyundai experiences the largest reduction in problems reported by owners. Porsche, which ranks second among nameplates, improves 38 percent compared to 2004-a 91 PP100 improvement. Although still hovering below the industry average, Hyundai records a dramatic 115 PP100 improvement (31%).

    "Hyundai experienced similar levels of improvement in the 2002 IQS, when these vehicles were new, which shows a successful effort by Hyundai in translating short-term quality improvements into higher long-term quality," said Parker. "Even though there is still room for improvement, Hyundai is a great example of an automaker that is making strides toward improving vehicle quality by paying close attention to owner feedback and designing products with both short- and long-term quality in mind.

    Based on the statement above that correlates short-term quality improvements to long-term improvements, my Spectra EX can be Exhibit A. In nearly 1 year of average usage (12,000 miles), my Spectra has had exactly 1 minor defect.... a bad 3rd brake light LED module. If my car is indicative of the new Spectra's average quality (and I think it is, due to the *lack* of people lamenting about the new Spectra on the various forums I follow), I think it bodes well for other upcoming KIA products and their potential long-term quality. Time will tell.

    With KIA having plans to introduce a new Sonata-based Optima and a newly redesigned Sedona (that Hyundai will inevitably have a version of, thus ensuring Hyundai design input), I'd have to say that KIA's long term quality numbers will start improving rapidly with the 2008 report.

  • doohickiedoohickie Posts: 949
    It's got 115k miles and I've put maybe $1200 into her in terms of non-routine repairs (clutch, minor transaxle problem, new struts, timing belt, that sort of thing) over 10 years. That seems like pretty good long-term quality to me.

    I'm looking at the Spectra as well as several others (Elantra 5 dr, Scion, Focus, Suzuki Aerio & Reno) to replace my Aspire as a daily commuter and weekend Home Depot hauler.

    One option I'm considering is driving my Aspire until the wheels fall off. Maybe I can get another couple years out of her. Honestly, every day I just turn the key and she runs flawlessly. The worst thing that's happened in the last 25,000 miles is that I needed to replace the spark plugs (for the first time with 90,000 on the odo).

    I've worked professionally with Korean engineers. Here is how they tick, as a corporate culture: They are smart- very smart- people. They honor the old ways, however, and are reluctant to innovate. This, however, is balanced by a willingness to imitate. While it takes them a while to figure it out, they eventually do, and they reap the benefits. This is true of trying to produce western-style food and Japanese-style cars. I honestly believe they are now coming into their own. Those of us with an open mind will benefit from this; those of us who like Japanese cars will be paying too much for the same quality.
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