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2003 Kia Spectra

  • 2003 Kia Spectra Base Sedan
    • MAX MPG
      30
    • SEATS
      5
    • HP/TORQUE
      124/119
    • ENGINE
      1.8L I4
    • MSRP
      $12,670
  • 2003 Kia Spectra GS Hatchback
    • MAX MPG
      30
    • SEATS
      5
    • HP/TORQUE
      124/119
    • ENGINE
      1.8L I4
    • MSRP
      $13,095
  • 2003 Kia Spectra GSX Hatchback
    • MAX MPG
      30
    • SEATS
      5
    • HP/TORQUE
      124/119
    • ENGINE
      1.8L I4
    • MSRP
      $14,940
  • 2003 Kia Spectra LS Sedan
    • MAX MPG
      30
    • SEATS
      5
    • HP/TORQUE
      124/119
    • ENGINE
      1.8L I4
    • MSRP
      $13,900
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2003 Kia Spectra Review

Cheap base, pricey options.

Reviewed by Automotive on

Overview

The 2003 Kia Spectra sells as a sedan or five-door hatchback from the Korean manufacturer. The Kia Spectra debuted as a hatchback variation on the Sephia in 2001. Later, the Sephia sedan changed its name to the Spectra, giving the Spectra line both a hatchback and sedan model. The Sephia represents the manufacturer’s oldest model.

Kia, as part of its goal for American market domination, introduces these vehicles along with a slew of other, improved models. The appeal of the Kia Spectra includes its long-term, 10-year, 100,000 miles warranty. Free roadside assistance also comes with the first five years of coverage.

The Kia Spectra, while giving it all she has, still doesn’t make a viable choice for the bargain hunter.

The Range

Body Styles: sedan, hatchback
Engines: 1.8-liter four-cylinder
Transmissions: four-speed automatic
Models: Kia Spectra, Kia Spectra LS, Kia Spectra GS, Kia Spectra GSX

What's New

The 2003 Kia Spectra now comes with a CD player and body-colored side moldings. The roof and floor of the interior has soundproofing, as well, to cut down on engine and road noise inside the cabin. The hatchback model also receives a rear intermittent wiper. The engines also gain horsepower and torque.

Exterior

The Kia Spectra sells as both a sedan and a hatchback. It also comes in both a base and LS trim level for both models. The 2003 Kia Spectra has smaller dimensions than previous models, giving it an export feel, something the previous models lacked. The sedan model sits on a 100.8-inch wheelbase and measures 177.6 inches overall.

The hatchback has a back door that swings open as well as a different front fascia than the sedan models. The hatchback also stretches a full inch longer than the sedan. The more expensive GSX features a spoiler, as well as sportier alloy wheels. Options include power windows, doors, and locks.

Interior

The interior of the 2003 Kia Spectra, both the sedan and the hatchback, carry five passengers. Both models use front bucket seats. Both also have a second-row seat, but the hatchback model has a bench that folds to expand the cargo area from its standard 11.6 cubic feet. The trunk space in the sedan totals 10.4 cubic feet. The Kia Spectra has a large rear opening that allows for easy loading.

The base sedan model offers a driver’s seat with manual adjustment, lumbar support and height adjustment, cloth upholstery, bucket front seats, a front console with storage, remote trunk release, speed-proportional power steering, trunk light, dual vanity mirrors, four speakers, and an AM/FM stereo with a CD player. The LS changes the cloth and vinyl seats to just cloth, a tilt-steering wheel column, and a 60/40-split rear bench seat. A Power Package option for the LS adds air-conditioning, cruise control, and a tachometer.

Performance & Handling

The Kia Spectra comes equipped with a 1.8-liter, four-cylinder engine that produces 126 horsepower. It pairs with a five-speed manual or a four-speed automatic transmission.

The 2003 Kia Spectra handles itself alright in handling and performance tests, but falls behind the competition. The hatchback requires downshifting to keep the hatchback from rolling along, which is a bit annoying, especially when trying to get up steep inclines. The gearshifts seem hard to pin down, almost ghost-like at times. The automatic transmission works better, but acceleration remains a bit miserable, and sudden downshifts while using the automatic are not uncommon. The Kia Spectra does handle itself well on the freeway. The gauges inside the vehicle, as a consolation, seem easy to use and read when you actually get some speed going.

Safety

The 2003 Kia Spectra earns mediocre safety scores. The NHTSA gives the Spectra four out of five stars for driver and passenger safety, but only three out of five stars for side-impact collisions, front and rear. The IIHS gives the Kia Spectra its worst score of ?poor? for frontal-offset crash tests.

Standard features on the Kia Spectra include child seat anchors, ventilated front disc brakes, rear drum brakes, rear door child safety locks, two front headrests, a rear center lap belt, front seat belt pretensioners, electronic brake force distribution, emergency interior trunk release, and front height-adjustable headrests.

EPA Fuel Economy

Kia Spectra Base sedan: 21/29 mpg city/highway
Kia Spectra LS sedan: 21/29 mpg city/highway
Kia Spectra GS hatchback: 21/29 mpg city/highway
Kia Spectra GSX hatchback: 21/29 mpg city/highway

You'll Like

  • Low base price
  • Great handling
  • Hatchback option
  • Great Kia warranty

You Won't Like

  • Sad engine performance
  • Weak brakes
  • Bad tires
  • Mediocre build
  • Poor offset crash scores

Sum Up

Cheap base, pricey options.

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