2004 Kia SpectraDay 1

On the same day they took away the sweet RX-8 a shiny new Kia Spectra LX arrived. This is when that journalistic integrity kicks in and tells you you're reviewing the cars on their own merits, against the cars in their class etc. Of course the initial driving experience is still a shock to the system.

Actually, I had been looking forward to the redesigned Spectra because of all the hype around the improved quality of the Korean brands, namely Kia and Hyundai. When I got into the Spectra, which seemed heavily abused for only 5,000 miles on the odometer, it seemed like a decent economy car and something that would make a good rental. The plastic wasn't too off-putting but the lack of power windows and even door locks seemed a bit too barebones even for a base model. But at least the Spectra has that bare bones price, right? Well that was the kicker on this first day. Opening the Monroney sticker showed a final price of $15,175! My world was turned upside down. "Do you know what you can buy for 15 large?" my mind shouted. A stripped Honda Civic, a well-equipped Ford Focus or a base Mazda 3 all out-match the Spectra at this price. Sure the base price was $13,595 but the "options" of air conditioning, $960, and floor mats, $80, plus a destination charge of $540 got us over the $15,000 watermark. This little car has a lot to prove over the next week to make up for the initial sticker shock.

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