2002 Kia Spectra 1.8 liter 4 cyclinder from North America


An OK car until you have an accident


The KIA Spectra was not a bad car. The general problem is they don't hold their value and are extremely expensive to repair.

My KIA Spectra was involved in a accident. The front end was moderately damaged. The problem came with the prices of the parts to repair the car. They were on average twice as high as other cars. The repair shop compared replacing the front bump on my KIA compared to that of a Honda civic.

What on most cars would have been between 2000 and 3000 dollars worth of repair work was 6000 for the KIA.

On top of this was the how bad the KIA had went down in value. In the year I had the car, it lost almost half it's value.

Needless to say the insurance totaled the car.

Now to the good points.

The KIA Spectra drove great.

Had decent power despite the small engine.

Seemed to be a reliable car, though only having it a year makes it harder to tell.

My only complaint would be that the door gaskets came off easily.

Would you buy another car from this manufacturer? No

Review Date: 24th May, 2004

2002 Kia Spectra GSX 1.8 from North America


Lots for your money, go for the 5 speed GSX


I have has some electrical problems with the car starting a few months after I bought it. Some wires needed re-soldering and the cruise control module needed replacing. I would have the cruise control on, say on the highway, stop for a break, get back on the highway and the cruise wouldn't work. The dealer gave me some slack about not being able to duplicate the problem, but after some discussion they put a new module, covered under warranty, in and everything is fine now.

My trunk release from inside never works. They tried to fix this once, but it still doesn't work. I have heard of other KIA owners with this problem as well.

There was a recall for some 'fuel sending' mechanism that the dealer phoned me about. I never noticed a problem, but they replaced it anyway. I've since read that other people have experienced problems with this.

General Comments:

I bought this car as a demo after looking at some of the RIO's. I found them all pretty cheap, right from the door handles to the seating. The road noise was phenomenal in them and they were way to small for me. I'm 6'3". I saw the GSX on the lot and took it out and there was no comparison, and as it was a demo, the price wasn't that much more than the new RIO. I had a great salesman who wanted to make a sale really bad which helped me too. Also, the dealer put tinted windows and a bug deflector on the car which make it look more sportier, if that word can be used with a KIA.

The spectra is by no means roomy either though, and I have been in Toyota Echos and Hyundai Accents which have tons more leg and head room in them than my car. If this car continues to do well I would buy another one, otherwise I would look at a Toyota or something similar.

I have heard of transmission problems also with the spectra's, but the manual one seems to be doing great. I am receiving surprisingly great fuel mileage also. On a recent trip from Montreal to Toronto I got 44 mpg! This is doing 110 km/h, so if you can stand going a semi-snail's pace you'll get good fuel mileage. The mileage really takes a dive in the city and with the AC on. This is true for all cars, but seems to be enhanced in this car. In the city, I find that shifting up as quick as possible (even doing 60km/h in 5th gear) helps a lot with the fuel economy. This and smooth starts as well as gearing down to aid in braking.

I love the room of the hatchback, I can carry whatever I need to back there, especially with the seats folded down. I don't spend much time in the back seats, but I noticed there's not a lot of leg room, especially while I am in the drivers seat. Also, there is not a lot of head room back there as the roof of the car slopes down there. This is one thing I noticed about the RIO, that it had more head room in the back and front. I find that on long trips the seats get very uncomfortable for me. Thank goodness for the cruise so I can move my leg around and search, in vain, for a comfy spot. The fabric of the seats is OK and doesn't seem to be wearing quickly or anything. The metallic grain plastic of the dash is attractive and all the controls are easily accessible and intuitive, except for the cruise. They hid the on/off button for the cruise behind the steering wheel where you can't see it even. This is my only gripe about the controls.

The car handles very well and corners pretty good. I am not an aggressive driver, but it seems that it handles OK and doesn't roll too badly. I am curious to see what different tires would do to the car's handling. Maybe slightly wider tires?

I love the AC and heater, they work fast and are really powerful. I have had a few friends comment on how cold the AC is and how quick the heater works on cold start ups.

I am conscious of the problems people have had with KIA's, but my manual transmission GSX seems to be doing fine. Recently I have experienced some vibrating while idling and took it into the dealer, but nothing was found or 'duplicated' as they like to repeat. If anybody knows what this is, please comment. Like I say, I would buy another if things continue with the car as they are going now.

Would you buy another car from this manufacturer? Yes

Review Date: 21st April, 2004