7 Best & Worst Kia Spectra Years (Stats & Examples)

The Kia Spectra was produced by Kia Motors in the year 2000. It is a compact car that is available in just 10 models, from 2000 to 2009.

If you intend to know the best and the worst year amongst these ten models, stay on this page to discover even the most common issues with the Kia Spectra.

The Best and Worst Years for Kia Spectra Are:

The 2000 and the 2001 Kia Spectra models are the best you can rely on. All other models, especially the 2009, 2007, 2008, 2005, and the 2006 models, are less reliable, especially for a used deal. It is important to note this when buying a Kia Spectra.

What Kia Spectra Years Are the Most Reliable?

Here are the Kia Spectra years that are the most reliable:

1. 2000 Kia Spectra

The 2000 Kia Spectra is the first Spectra model to be introduced by the South Korean automaker. It comes with a sporty styling and runs on a 1.8 L 4-cylinder engine that produces 125 horsepower.

That’s a meager hp when compared with many modern rides, right? But, it’s pretty cool for a 2000 car. While the vehicle works with a five-speed automatic transmission, it offers a four-speed automatic gearbox as an optional feature.

You may not love its pretty laggard acceleration, but the 2000 Kia Spectra does well to deliver an impressive 23/29 mpg in city/highway drive.

Mind you, the 2000 Kia Spectra has only been rated a little above average by critics and reviewers. Specifically, Edmunds rates it 3.7/5, Kelley Blue Book (KBB) scores it 3.8/5, while Cars.com gives it 3.9/5.

Nonetheless, this model has remained the only Kia Spectra model with fewer user complaints on carcomplaints.com.

On a platform where other Spectra models have tens of complaints of the engine, brake, airbags, and electrical components, this model has just about 30 total complaints as of the time of writing this review.

The truth is most of the complaints made on this model are either mild or personal, except for the defective airbag system which is a common problem to all the Kia Spectra models.

2. 2001 Kia Spectra

The 2001 Kia Spectra does not enjoy the same feat as the 2000 model. But, unlike the others, it fares significantly better in terms of the number of negative user reviews received.

There have been a few reported issues about the brake and the transmission of the 2001 Kia Spectra. However, the weakness of the brake and erratic function of the transmission are not as pronounced in this model as they are in the other Kia Spectra models.

Aside from that, every Kia Spectra has issues with the crash sensor of their airbag, and the 2001 model is not an exception. Again, this problem is not common in this ride than it is with newer Spectra models.

It is important to note that the Kia Spectra is a less fancied vehicle. This could be because of its subpar engine performance and low-quality interior materials.

Besides, Kia also had an initial poor or substandard reputation for itself; maybe this affects the overall quality of the Spectra.

Like the 2000 model, the 2001 Kia Spectra also has a little above average rating from critics and reviewers. While Edmunds and KBB score it 3.8/5, Cars.com rates it 3.5/5.

What Kia Spectra Years Should You Avoid?

The Kia Spectra is an old car that couldn’t even make it beyond the 2009 model. That could be because it is a less coveted car notable for a few engine and brake issues.

Here are the Kia Spectra years you should avoid:

1. 2007 Kia Spectra

By 2007, the Kia Spectra was already in its second generation. A certain level of improvement is usually expected of a vehicle in its second generation. However, it seems even the first-generation Spectra models are even less problematic than the first ones.

Truly, the 2007 Kia Spectra comes with a significant improvement to both the interior and the exterior of the car. The base LX trim now comes with a more attractive grille, bumper, and headlamps.

Under the hood is also an improved 2.0 L four-cylinder engine that produces 138 horsepower and 136 lb. ft. of torque. The fuel economy is also improved, especially for the vehicle’s optional automatic transmission.

The Spectra now boasts 25/34 mpg in city/highway drive. However, it is quite unfortunate that the improvement to this car seems to have affected its engine.

Quite a number of owners have complained about the vehicle’s sudden and unintended acceleration. More fearsome is the fact that the brake often fails to stop the car whenever the acceleration revs high on its own.

Another notable issue with the 2007 Kia Spectra is its defective propulsion system. This has made various owners to experience stalling of the engine, especially after refilling the fuel tank.

And, of course, the failure of the airbag to deploy when needed has remained a concerned issue in this model as well.

2. 2009 Kia Spectra

The 2009 Kia Spectra is the last edition of the Kia Spectra. It proves somewhat better than the other second-generation model, but still holds on to most of their defects.

This is because a very few owners have also complained about experiencing unintended acceleration with the model.

Not only that, a number of owners have also complained about the door of the 2009 Kia Spectra locking on its own. This is aside from having to deal with a faulty seat belt fastener.

Moreover, the defective airbag system is the major area of concern with this model. That component alone has more than 80 complaints on carcomplaints.com as of the time of writing this review.

Mind you, the 2009 Kia Spectra scores 6.7/10 on US News, but it receives a poor reliability rating of just 2/5 on J.D. Power.

You should also read our article about the best and worst Kia Niro years

3. 2008 Kia Spectra

The 2008 Kia Spectra is not very different from the 2009 model. It comes with a lot of standard safety features while still maintaining a cost-friendly price.

This vehicle boasts more encouraging ratings from critics and reviewers. However, its complaints are much similar to the successor.

Most of the complaints that the 2008 Kia Spectra also has on carcomplaints.com are on the defective airbag system and the faulty rear seat belt.

The vehicle speed control system doesn’t perform any better in this model as well. More than 20 owners have complained about the vehicle stalling while the acceleration revs on its own.

This shows that you can’t even rely on the 2008 Kia Spectra. Mind you, this car is one of the few Spectra models rated high by Edmunds, at 4.4/5. So, you might just need to research the model extensively if you’d be using one.

4. 2005 Kia Spectra

The 2005 Kia Spectra is also a less reliable ride that you’d love to avoid. It also boasts a 4.6/5 rating on both Edmunds and Cars.com. However, more than 16 users/owners have also complained about its engine on the car complaints’ portal.

As reported by different owners, it’s either the odometer fails to function or the vehicle speeds on its own. Moreover, the brake has also been reported to be of no use whenever the problem occurs. Rather than stopping the car, the brake often functions otherwise. Here’s a report from a user on Car Complaints:

I was making a three-point turn. I moved to the wall braking to stop to back up, when applying the brakes, the car went forward, speeding up and into the wall. Still with my foot on the brakes, I turned the car off.

Aside from these, the other commonly reported issue with the 2005 Kia Spectra is the erratic function of the airbag light and failure of the safety bag to deploy when needed.

Mind you, Kia has issued a recall on the airbag. So, if you’d be buying this model, you just have to ensure that the vehicle is not, or no longer, affected.

5. 2006 Kia Spectra

The 2006 Kia Spectra comes with a high-quality interior and a slightly much improved ride performance. Kia also redesigned the optional 4-speed automatic transmission in this model to improve its efficiency.

Consequently, the 2006 Kia Spectra has some raving reviews from critics for its overall performance. For example, Edmunds scores it 4.7/5, while KBB and Cars.com rate it 4.3/5 and 4/5, respectively.

The model has also received lesser complaints on the engine, unlike most of its peers. However, some owners have still reported experiencing sudden acceleration and unexpected stalling of the car.

Just like it is with the other Spectra models, there’s been a series of reports about the brake of this car failing to stop the vehicle when it loses control.

However, unlike the other models, only about 8 complaints have been made about the engine of the 2006 Kia Spectra.

While the issues with the airbag are still very much prominent with this model as well, other commonly reported issues with the Kia Spectra are not very common with this model.

Still, it may not offer the same level of reliability as the 2000 and 2001 model, even though it’ll offer better performance.

What Are Some Typical Problems With the Kia Spectra Models?

The Kia Spectra is notable for a few problems which are common to almost all its 10 models. Here are the typical problems with the vehicle:

  • Sudden and unintended acceleration
  • Problem with the vehicle’s fuel propulsion system
  • Issues with the vehicle’s door lock
  • Failure of the airbag to deploy when needed
  • Faulty rear seat belt

You can learn more about these by checking the problems with Kia cars.


Go Back: Best & Worst Years For ALL Kia Models

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ⓘ  The information in this article is based on data from National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) recall reports, consumer complaints submitted to the NHTSA, reliability ratings from J.D. Power, auto review and rating sites such as Edmunds, specialist forums, etc. We analyzed this data to provide insights into the best and worst years for these vehicle models.