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Kia Spectra Test Drive: What Did You Think?

PF_FlyerPF_Flyer Pennsylvania Furnace, PAPosts: 7,966
edited March 2014 in Kia
Post your test drive impressions here.

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  • dgsdgs Posts: 20
    Well, I've made some long posts here regarding my feelings about the Spectra5 without test driving the vehicle. I have a 2005 Focus SES ZX5 on order which should hopefully be at the Ford dealership next month. But curiosity got the better of me and I decided I needed to at least give the Spectra5 a chance. So I test drove one this weekend. My reservations with the car was not being able to find one with ABS, and even though the Kia dealership I went to had about 50 Spectra5's in stock, not a single one had ABS. Anyway, on to the test drive...


    The Spectra5 has a great interior. The layout is incredibly functional the storage areas are awesome. There were storage areas everywhere in that car. Head and legroom both front and rear are very generous. The controls are laid out very well, everything is incredibly ergonomic. The car I test drove had the optional moonroof and cruise control. The moonroof was nice with one touch open. The stereo was a 6-disc in dash with good sound but no MP3 capability. The rear seats fold flat and they have head rests. The front seats are pretty comfortable and the cloth felt very good quality. I must admit, the interior of the Spectra5 is probably better than the Focus. It has more room and more storage areas. It's a good looking car in person too. At this point I thought maybe I might have made the wrong decision with the Focus, but the test drive cleared that misconception up quickly.


    First thing I noticed was the shifter and clutch, and I didn't like either. The shifter has sloppy action with long, imprecise throws. The engagement point of the clutch was difficult to find too, I was either revving too high to get the car go, or bogging the engine because I didn't slip the clutch properly. I didn't like it, shifting in the car is more like a chore than a pleasure. The car drove nicely enough over bumps and stuff, but bodyroll was very pronounced. If Kia claims the Spectra5 has the "sport suspension" they have some work to do in the sport part of that. It's not sporting at all, it rolls badly in the corners and I did not feel secure taking anything at high speed. Once out on the freeway I noticed the Jeckle/Hyde nature of the car. It's fairly quiet and relaxed up to 70 mph, but once you start exceeding that the car becomes incredibly noisy. At 80 mph there was an insane amount of wind and engine noise in the cabin, it would be a nightmare on a long road trip. The gearing in the car is all wrong, the engine rpm's are spinning way too high on the freeway. I don't think the Kia will get anywhere near the gas milage it claims unless you drive like a grandma. The final nail in the coffin for this car was the weired steering. I can't stand these variable assist steering systems. They are incredibly artificial feeling and the Kia is no different. It's a bizzare feeling to have the steering become heavy and then incredibly light in a matter of a second. The Kia felt unstable at 80 mph on the freeway and couldn't track a straight line if it's life depended on it. It become unnecessarily light on the freeway.


    The Focus is still the king as far as I'm concerened for the best driving car in it's class. Kia has some work to do with the Spectra5 to get to that level. The interior is great and will make you forget you're in an econo car, but the driving will not. If I was stictly in the market for a car to drive in a very relaxed way not caring about performance, the Spectra5 might be the better choice because of the more functional interior. But performance does matter to me, and for the money the Focus can't be beat.


    Overall, the Spectra5 is great starting point for Kia, and with some tweaks could be the new class leader. Hopefully Kia will step up and fix the clutch/shifter, change the gearing, add some more sound insulation, make the variable assist steering feel more natural, and go back to tuning the suspension to dial out the excessive body roll.
  • axel_roseaxel_rose Posts: 16
    Damn, your driving impression is off. Than again we are all entitled to our opinion. I found the handling to be tight and responsive. The acceleration was silky smooth and quick to respond to the drivers input. Cornering on a u-turn off ramp at 55 mph, the car handled superbly!

    Here is a great review from Car and Driver regarding the handling of this great little car:
  • I first test drove the automatic. It was ok, but not too inspiring to me. Then I drove the stick and the car seemed to come alive. Very responsive and fun! The cornerning was pretty good, but could be improved to make this a serious handler with some springs, sway bars, etc...

    For the price, I don't believe you can beat this car. 140hp, good warranty, good utility, and good mpg. Thumbs up! :shades:
  • 204meca204meca Posts: 370
    I am looking for a economical (in terms of purchase and maintanence) hatchback or wagon. For my daughter. She needs something economical, reliable, with room for her 75lb lab to replace her gas guzzling Jeep Liberty. Today I drove a Spectra5, Focus wagon, & Nissan Versa all with ATs. I could not find a Scion xB or Honda Fit. The 3 I drove are compentent cars & could meet the need.

    Focus was the best for dog accomadations by far. It drove smoothly & had reasonable pick up. On the down side I felt like I was sitting down too low (almost in a hole even with the seat raised to the max), it had the most road noise, & just seems less solid (tinny sounds when closing doors, hatch...).

    Versa definitely had the softest seats but I could feel the most bumps with it. Very light - too light - steering. Best acceleration, a modern solid feel. It had the 4 spd AT, I would have prefered the CVT. The passenger space is great, the cargo space wanting - definitely tight for the Lab with the back seats up!

    Spectra5 felt the best of all. Quiet, very smooth ride, flat cornering (was not pushing any of these to their limit), lots of interior space, nice feel to the switches... Acceration was adequate, but could use more, on par or slightly better than Focus. Cargo space adequate. With the warranty & 6 airbags, this is the pick of the litter so far. Anyone one else compared these? If so, what are your thoughts?
  • 204meca204meca Posts: 370
    As I was looking at a Spectra 5 today I stumbled on this new mini- mini van called a Kia Ronda, the dealer had just gotten in.

    I was positively blown away by it's good exterior & interior looks, it's safety features and the price. :shades:

    It is a quite compact, about the size of a Ford Escape, but seemed very spacious inside much more than the Escape. The seats were very comfortable with a great interiour layout. Safety wise it come standard with traction control, ABS, Electronic Stabity control, 6 air bags. With a 2.4L engine it was rated at 22 city & 29 highway and price in the mid $18K range.
    It is not on Kia's website & seems to be all but invisible to Google. Does anyone know anything about this rig or was I dreaming?
  • spmrebelspmrebel Posts: 130
    The Rondo is a new model for 2007. Its main competition is the Mazda 5. Like a mini minivan. These cars are trickling in now and Kia has not officially marketed/advertised these cars. From what I have heard is that Kia will start a large marketing blitz sometime around Jan/Feb timeframe.

    IMO you should veer away from the Focus as its getting a bit long in the tooth. Also, reliability is a problem.

    Good luck on your choices.
  • PF_FlyerPF_Flyer Pennsylvania Furnace, PAPosts: 7,966
    Since it's a minivan, the place for a discussion on it would be over on the Vans & Minivans Message Board

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  • albertomgalbertomg Posts: 2
    pf_flyer: I'm sure you've already decided and I'm going to assume you went with the Kia (cause it is best overall) but, in case you haven't and, for anyone else, here's a long review (my first; it's a bit rough) for my '07 Spectra5 (Automatic) I've owned since end of April '07.

  • Have a few offered in autotrader lately. Test drove at the dealership. Sped up on the expressway ramp and felt like it didn't have pickup, but sped up to 70 without even realizing it

    The bucket seats were a bit slim (used to bench seats), and the seat belt if not properly places dug into my hip (180 lb driver)

    I liked the plastic foot dummy pedal for your non-driving foot, but felt better without it.

    My driving foot wasn't extremely comfortable, and the horn was funny and wimpy sounding. Made me laugh.

    The 07' had a wierd cubby on the left to the steering wheel on the dash, cell phone fit but couldn't visibly read it. The ipod hookup was cool with a cubby next to that in the center. And the extra charger in the arm rest was cool.

    It had adjustable rollers for the cup holders, and the car handled well on an extremely bumpy trucking road.

    I liked the feel and size of the steering wheel (test drove a pontiac G6 and the steering wheel was too skinny - but that one had the stereo controls in the steering wheel) The radio controls were easily accessible though.

    I felt ok driving it, but afterwards felt like the bare minimum for a somewhat affordable price.

    I'd still consider test driving another one offered by a private seller before I decide to spend all the money I have saved up for a car. All and all, the skinny bucket seats for my "fatoss" might not mesh well. But the reviews all sound pretty good.
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