2008 Kia Spectra5

  • 2008 Kia Spectra5 Base Hatchback

    Base Hatchback

    • MAX MPG
    • SEATS
    • ENGINE
      2.0L I4
    • MSRP
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2008 Kia Spectra5 Review

A solidly performing hatchback that lacks the same level of safety, desirability, and equipment options as many competing models.

Reviewed by Automotive on


The 2008 Kia Spectra5 represents the hatchback edition of the popular Kia Spectra. The Spectra provides Kia’s compact economy model and the 2008 Kia Spectra5 comes equipped with the same engine found in the standard Spectra. Both versions of the vehicle prove easy to drive and well-suited for day-to-day use. As economical to operate as the standard Spectra, the Spectra5 offers the added utility and convenience of a hatchback.

However the Spectra5, it must be said, comes up short when compared to similar models made by competitors. One of its most attractive features remains its price. As a Kia, the 2008 Spectra5 also comes with an excellent 10-year powertrain warranty. But the vehicle’s shortcomings remain hard to ignore, so if you don’t have a budget, you may want to look at competing models first.

Unlike the standard Spectra, which comes in three trims, the Spectra5 solely offers the SX. Note that the Kia Spectra5 gets fairly mixed reviews in terms of reliability. Some drivers praise it as dependable and solid while others criticize it for being overly susceptible to problems.

The Range

Body Styles: compact hatchback
Engines: 2.0-liter four-cylinder
Transmissions: five-speed manual, four-speed automatic
Models: Kia Spectra5 SX

What's New

No changes appear for the 2008 Kia Spectra5.


The 2008 Kia Spectra5 provides a sporty-looking compact economy hatchback. Exterior features include a rear spoiler, alloy wheels, body-colored bumpers, body-colored body-side moldings, 16-inch alloy wheels, a chrome grille, fog lights, clearcoat monotone paint, and power heated exterior mirrors. Options include a sunroof.


The interior of the 2008 Kia Spectra5 features a simply laid-out cabin with controls that prove easy to reach. It seats five and features bucket seating in front. The driver’s seat features six-way controls while the front-passenger seat has four-way adjustment. Rear headrests adjust, and the floor comes trimmed with carpet. The Spectra5’s interior also utilizes good-quality materials. Seating feels comfortable and a number of generously sized storage compartments sit throughout the vehicle. The 2008 Spectra5 accommodates 18.3 cubic feet of cargo.

It features air-conditioning, power accessories, keyless entry, a leather-wrapped steering wheel, a leather-wrapped shift knob, cruise control, metal finish interior accents, and cloth sport seats. The Spectra5’s standard stereo system consists of six speakers with an AM/FM radio, a single dash-mounted CD player, and an auxiliary MP3 audio input jack. Additional options include a six-CD changer.

Performance & Handling

The Spectra5 comes equipped with a 2.0-liter, four-cylinder engine that generates 138 horsepower and produces 136 lb-ft of torque. That engine mates with a standard five-speed manual transmission or an optional four-speed automatic. Driving the 2008 Kia Spectra5 provides a pleasant experience overall. The compact hatchback remains light enough for the four-cylinder to do its job when driving around town. Although engine noise can get a bit excessive at higher rpm. Also, while the manual transmission seems nice, the four-speed automatic feels sluggish at times. Handling stays nice and tight, and the suspension feels stiff and the ride quality soft for the most part.

The 2008 Kia Spectra5 uses front drive. It includes suspension features such as MacPherson front struts, a multi-link rear suspension, a four-wheel independent suspension, and a front and rear stabilizer bar.


Standard safety features for the 2008 Kia Spectra5 include front-seat side airbags and full-length side-curtain airbags. Anti-lock brakes remain available as an option. Additional safety features include child seat anchors, rear-door child safety locks, front seat belt pretensioners, and tire pressure monitoring. The Spectra5 earns four out of five stars in government tests for front and front-side impacts. For rear side-impact tests it receives three out of five stars. In frontal-offset safety tests conducted by the IIHS the Spectra5 gets a second-best rating of “Acceptable” while also receiving a lowest rating of “Poor” for side-impact tests.

EPA Fuel Economy

Kia Spectra5 SX: 23/30 mpg city/highway

You'll Like

  • Affordable entry-level price
  • Functional and comfortable cabin
  • Plenty of storage compartments and cup holders

You Won't Like

  • Engine gets noisy when pushing rpm
  • Soft suspension on lower-end models
  • Only the SX offers anti-lock brakes
  • Low scores on IIHS crash tests

Sum Up

A solidly performing hatchback that lacks the same level of safety, desirability, and equipment options as many competing models.

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