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You'll Like The 2009 Kia Spectra If...

If your brain says no frills, but your gut says go for more than just value and versatility, the sporty 2009 Kia Spectra5 SX should win a slot on your shopping list.

You May Not Like The 2009 Kia Spectra If...

If you think good handling is wasted without the proper horsepower to back it up, the Spectra5's four-cylinder engine isn't going to win you over.

What's New

The Kia Spectra sees no major changes for 2009.

Interior Features

Even if you don't have problems with headroom, you'll immediately notice the Spectra5's vaulted ceiling-like canopy. The modern, attractive interior features a silver-ringed center console with controls placed within easy reach. More than one reviewer, however, had trouble getting comfortable in the driver's seat. As you might expect from a tall vehicle with eight windows, visibility is good. Rear-seat passengers are treated to legroom in line with the car's impressive headroom, and the versatile cargo area is substantial with the 60/40-split rear seat folded down.

Exterior Features

As we've become increasingly accustomed to the tall hatchback design that we're seeing more often, we think the 2009 Kia Spectra5 looks pretty sharp. Sporty styling includes integrated fog lamps up front and a rear spoiler. The 16-inch alloys are adequate in style and size, but bigger wheels and tires might serve the Specrta5's stance even better.

Driving Impressions

You can spin the tires if you try, but otherwise the Spectra5's 138-horsepower 2.0-liter 16-valve four-cylinder is nothing to write home about. Shifting could be smoother as well. With the "sport-tuned" suspension the 2009 Kia Spectra5 earns its stripes when pushed, with good response when driven enthusiastically and four-wheel disc brakes that can bring everything to a stop in a hurry. Ride quality is good, but we found that a decent crosswind can have its way with the tall, lightweight five-door. In the end, if you subscribe to the theory that it's better to drive a slow car fast than a fast car slow, the Spectra5 might be ready to show you a good time.

Pricing Notes

The 2009 Kia Spectra5 SX with manual transmission has a Manufacturer's Suggested Retail Price (MSRP) around $17,000. Add in the automatic transmission, anti-lock brakes, remote start, six-disc CD changer and power moonroof, and the price tops out around $20,000. Pricing like this undercuts a similarly equipped Mazda MAZDA3 and Volkswagen Rabbit, but is on par with the Nissan Versa SL. To make your best deal, be sure to check the Fair Purchase Price as well as the Incentives tab. Though it may appear a great bargain at the time of purchase, the Spectra5's resale value cannot match those of the Mazda MAZDA3, Nissan Versa or Volkswagen Rabbit over time.

Notable Equipment

The Spectra5 sports an impressive list of standard safety equipment including front airbags, front-side airbags and front-to-back side-curtain airbags. Also notable as standard are a six-speaker CD stereo, auxiliary audio input jack, air conditioning, power windows and locks, keyless entry, leather-wrapped steering wheel and shift knob, sport seats, cruise control, 16-inch alloy wheels, rear spoiler and fog lamps.

Notable Options

The Spectra5's options list is a short one, comprised of a four-speed automatic transmission, a six-disc CD/MP3 changer, remote engine start (automatic only), anti-lock brakes (ABS) and power moonroof.

Favorite Features

Leather Wheel and Shifter

The Spectra5's leather-wrapped steering wheel and shift knob further the sporty hatchback's performance feel.

Front Strut Tower Bar

A metal bar spanning the width of the engine compartment stiffens the front end and contributes to crisper steering response and handling.

Under the Hood

The Spectra5's 2.0-liter engine just doesn't have the get-up-and-go to make this vehicle's moves match its racy looks. The Kia powerplant lacks the refinement mastered by Honda and Toyota, and even pales when compared with the 2.0-liter engine found in the Ford Focus. On the flip side, the Spectra5's highway fuel economy is very attractive.

2.0-liter in-line 4

138 horsepower @ 6000 rpm

136 lb.-ft. of torque @ 4500 rpm

EPA city/highway fuel economy: 23/30 (manual), 24/32(automatic)

Editors' Notes

Whereas earlier hatchbacks, such as the Honda Civic and Volkswagen GTI, had only two doors, today's hot hatches have four (five if you count the hatch itself). The 2009 Kia Spectra5 follows this logic, providing the interior room and accessibility of the Spectra sedan in a sportier package that closely mimics the hottest of hot hatches, the Mazda MAZDA3s. While the Spectra5 can't yet match the Mazda in the areas of performance, features and resale, it does offer an inexpensive alternative with a lot of aftermarket potential. Don't forget that Kia's incredible 10-year/100,000 powertrain warranty comes standard, too.

Road Test Video Reviews

2009 Kia Spectra Owner Reviews

119 Reviews
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The reliable and dependable of the 2009 Kia spectra.

2009 Kia Spectra

I have owned a 2009 Kia spectra for about 3 years and has been a very reliable car. I drive a lot from VA to SC to visit family and it still holds up really well. I am pleased to say it has been a very reliable car and has not needed any major repairs on it. I drive 2 kids around a lot and it is great for taking the kids to wherever. There's plenty of room for them to get in and out and plenty of room for their legs as well. It also holds all of their equipment. One of the kid uses a walker and it folds up nicely in the trunk of the car with room for a few other things as well. The only two things I wish it had was tinted windows and air vents in the back. It gets pretty hot in the south during the summer and not having both of those things makes it kind of miserable in the back for the kids. I have tried putting up shades in the back but it really does not help. It also does not help because there is no air flow to the back. I put a fan up and that helps some.

- Stephanie M

I like that it has a sun/moonroof and the back seats can fold down.

2009 Kia Spectra EX

I've had very few problems from my vehicle within the 2 years that I've been driving it. Every now and then there is a steering issue, but other than I haven't had much trouble. It gets up and goes when I need it to. My Kia can take on sharp turns and slow down in a pinch. It has been a very reliable resource of transportation to me. This car has comfortable seating, a great sound system, and can useful for various activities. It's been used to take my friends out for a night on the town, to moving residences, and everything in between.

- Cassie H

So many miles but still looks and acts like it's brand new!

2009 Kia Spectra SX

I have had NO problems with this car! I really LOVE this car and I really wish they still made this car! I have had NO performance problems, it is the most reliable car ever! It is so comfortable and I love my moon roof! It has 140,000 miles on it and it still runs like it is brand new! The only thing that doesn't work on it anymore is my CD player. Other than that, everything works great! This car has get up and go if you need it to merge onto the interstate. Please make this car again so I can buy another one and trade this one in.

- Susan B

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