2002 Kia Spectra LS 1.8 DOHC from North America
Great little car for the driver who sees their car as an extension of themselves
The day I bought it the door open lever on the inside door stuck and the starter failed. They were replaced promptly and free of charge.
At ~150,000 km she dropped an alternator belt in the middle of the freeway and limped home... belt was only $20 though so it was OK.
At 155,000 she dropped her power steering belt. Same price so again no big deal.
At 170,000 all lights and dash electrical components failed except for the speedometer (though it's completely useless without back lighting.) turned out to be a burnt out ground. Repair cost was $100 in labour costs.
Starter blew at 185,500km. This is the third starter on the car since it's build date... might be the only recurring failure on this car. $400 parts and labour to replace.
Mileage is ridiculously good even at 75 mph this car turns over better than 40 mpg. At a steady 60 mph it creeps out just over 50 mpg.
Acceleration is brisk on the 5 speed manual though many websites list it at 10-11 seconds from 0 to 100 kph, mine eats it in under 9.
Road hold is very good and the car has a tendency to over steer as opposed to plowing forward like most front wheel drive cars.
Front seats are reasonably comfortable for long trips, but the back seat is too firm and leg space limited when I have taller passengers (though I'm short so most people fit behind me just fine.)
Factory Cassette/AM/FM radio is very clear and speakers are strong and rich in quality.
Trunk space is generous and the vehicle is rated for 2500 lbs of towing with a class two hitch.
When loaded heavily (i.e. a 5X10 u-haul tandem axle trailer) the vehicle is slower to accelerate and requires a lot more stopping distance, but travelling on the freeway is neither difficult nor any more noisy than without the trailer. Hills are not difficult and she'll gladly hold 75 mph on a 10 degree up hill grade in 5th with the trailer on the back... mileage with the trailer is... about half though.
Steering is over boosted in a parking lot setting, but offers plenty of road feel at speed.
With 6.15 inches of ground clearance this car will gladly go off the pavement and into the woods. Follow the general rules of trail driving (slow, steady and keep tall objects under the wheels not the body) and the car never gets stuck. It's NOT an SUV of course so mind where you take it.
Aside from the general problems that all vehicles have, this car is very reliable is holding value well and even with nearly 125,000 MILES in under 5 years it's strong and happy... I'd say she'll pull another 125,000 before showing any signs of aging.
I recommend this car highly to anyone considering a civic, corolla, focus or other car of the compact class. This car has ten times more personality (though to be honest the civic will break down less often and the corolla will have comfier seats.)
Would you buy another car from this manufacturer? Yes
Review Date: 22nd May, 2006