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Average User Score
3.7 ⁄ 5 stars
Based on 7 reviews
2004 Kia Spectra Overview
Overall User Score
Based on 7 reviews
In the something old, something new department: 2004 is a bit of a confusing year for Kia Spectra buyers as there are two 2004 nameplates this year representing the last generation of Spectra and the completely restyled and rebuilt new generation. For clarity, the "new Spectra" has been referred to as the 2004.5. For the old 2004 Spectra, there are few changes besides a standard tachometer for the base sedan and GS hatchback. Both the sedan and hatchback feature the same 1.8-liter, 124-hp I4 with choice of 5-speed manual or 4-speed automatic transmission.
While the 2004 Spectra GS and GSX hatchback continue through the year, the 2004.5 Spectra features two new sedan trims -- the LX and EX. A stronger chassis, longer wheelbase (by two inches), and a more powerful 138-hp, 2.0-liter DOHC I4 engine are found in the new Spectra sedans. The transmission choices remain the same. The longer wheelbase means an inch more legroom for backseat passengers and two cubic feet more in the trunk. Headroom has also increased for both front and rear passengers. The biggest addition, however, makes the 2004.5 Kia Spectra unique in the compact class by offering six standard airbags. Dual front, front-side, and rear-side curtain (a first for compacts) earn the 2004.5 Spectra four-star crash ratings from the NHTSA.
The LX is still pretty base, with only a CD, intermittent wipers, sunglasses holder, and tachometer standard, but the EX adds power windows, air conditioning, remote entry, and foglights. ABS brakes replace the new disc brakes only on the EX. Rear seats split-fold 60/40 and feature a trunk pass-through. Price and long-term warranty are the biggest draws for both 2004 Kia Spectras, but the new 2004.5 wins raves from drivers for its sportier look, comfortable interior room, improved dash layout, and handling. Despite the engine upgrade, acceleration is still labored at high speeds and can be noisy. Owners also report a rattling in the dash in the old 2004 Spectra.