Kudos on a well written review. I also own a 00' Spectra, and I must say my views are very similar. Alternator twice, (faulty replacement alternator, replaced free) and little quality control issues are all that has gone wrong in 83K miles. I must say keeping the Check Engine light asleep is difficult, however repairs are minor at worse, usually nothing actually.
Have you had any problems with the emergency brake? I would say that is my only gripe, I have fixed it myself about three times and can't get it to hold for more than a few months at a time before it needs further repairs. Anyhow, hopes to hit 200k. ~best wishes.
I am thrilled to hear you've had relatively good luck with your Spectra; it is an endearing car... and as a matter of fact, yes, I have had persistent parking/emergency brake issues. I've definitely had to have the slack taken up more than twice. I'd say mine does OK every 9-14 months but it quickly stretches out. I can hardly trust it to hold the car on the steepest of inclines but it'll do the job if I make sure to use all the brake available. Regardless, I live and die by keeping the car in 1st or reverse depending on the incline.
I am now above 115k, just replaced my timing belt and had my coolant system flushed out... unfortunately I had to go through a catalytic converter this past winter. A pricey repair for a worthy companion.
Nothing beyond the normal wear and tear of a 115k economy car has come about. The glove box latch broke, the dome light broke, the weather seals on the window frames of two doors are getting misshapen, the dash is severely warping where it meets the vents against the windshield behind the steering wheel, the weather stripping on the hatch has shrunk and separated (an aesthetic nuisance more than anything else), the front left speakers have taken a sabbatical and I seem to go through a windshield every year. Otherwise, she's a sweetheart with plenty of life left in her. I easily see this little car hitting 150k and beyond... a ridiculous feat given the hard 100k Northeast miles I've put on it.
The day this car gives up will be a sad one indeed. Since I got this car 7 summers ago, I have had the pleasure of driving no less than a dozen different cars for one reason or another. Amidst the economy cars, the sports cars and the luxury cars, this ridiculous Kia is still a joy to manhandle.