2007 Kia Spectra EX Review
KIA SPECTRA EX 2007
A Korean Corolla?
By Steve Purdy
The compact sedan segment of the automobile market has not been where the action is since the 60s when the new little cars were all the rage. Until then the compacts were few - very few – with the best and the coolest, not necessarily the most appreciated, being the Nash Metropolitan. In the 60s American manufacturers attempted to cash in on the Volkswagen-inspired trend of small, efficient cars, often with some quirky personalities like the Corvair, Falcon and Valient.
Here we are 40 years later with dozens more segments in the market looking again at a plethora of great small cars. The Toyota Corolla leads the pack in conventional little sedans and not far behind is our test car this week, the Kia Spectra EX. The Spectra, particularly in this Radiant Red (maroon), looks at first glance to be conventional and uninspired. But let’s look a little closer.
This Spectra is powered by a smooth 2.0-liter four-banger with dual overhead cams and variable valve timing. With 138 horsepower and 136 lb.-ft. of torque it pumps out a bit more grunt than most of its competitors. As a result is fuel mileage is just a bit less as well. The EPA rates this car at 27-mpg in the city and 35 on the highway with the four-speed automatic transmission. Don’t let the fuel gauge fool you though. I thought we were getting about 50-mpg early in the week when we drove 150 miles before the gauge moved off full. Then we hit the half-tank mark on our way into the city mid-week with 300 miles on the trip odo. “Wow,” I thought. “This is great.” Then we managed just 150 miles on the bottom half of the 14-gallon tank before the “low-fuel” light came on. In any case, a cruising range of 450 miles makes me giddy. Pushing only 2,800 pounds is easy, I guess.
The standard P195/60-15-inch Goodyear Eagles look plenty big on this little thing and are quite grippy. I pushed it hard through some turns this week and couldn’t even get a squeak or a chirp. Of course the Spectra’s considerable body lean makes me reluctant to push too hard. Overall handling is fine though. With fully independent suspension and gas-filled shocks all around, it’s certainly no sport sedan but for its genre is keeps to the road well. If you like ‘sporty’ you might want to take a look at the new Spectra5 Hatchback. It has firmer springs and dampers, sportier chassis tuning, larger wheels and lower profile tires. It’s also cooler looking.
Safety features are state-of-the-art for small cars with air bags all around, including front seat-mounted side impact air bags as well as the smart front bags and side curtain bags protecting front and rear passengers. NHTSA has given Spectra its top 5-Star Frontal Crash Safety Rating.
This little Korean-built, four-door, transverse-front-engine, front-wheel-drive sedan lists for a base price of $14,290 according to the Kia Website. The lesser LX model starts at $13,160. The sticker on our test car shows a base price of $15,895 – perhaps it’s our automatic transmission that makes the difference. The only option on our tester is cruise control at $250. With a $600 destination fee the bottom line is $16,745 – not really cheap as little sedans go but pretty reasonable considering its content. Standard are: power windows, power mirrors, AC, AM/FM/CD audio with 6 speakers and auxiliary audio input, 60/40 split rear seats, tire pressure monitor, four-wheel disc brakes, the full compliment of airbags, 6-way adjustable driver’s seat, power door locks, tilt steering column – just about everything anyone really needs.
Kia still offers the 10-year/100,000-mile powertrain warranty that gave it and sister company Hyundai legitimacy in the US market.
As you’re looking at Corolla, Civic, Elantra, Lancer, Mazda3 and other little cars you probably ought to add Spectra to your list. Three hundred miles on a half a tank of fuel ain’t bad - even if it is the bigger half of the tank.
© Steve Purdy, Shunpiker Productions, All Rights Reserved.