Many of the rival models in this segment have been restyled more recently than the Spectra, which bears a design that goes back to 2004.
The Toyota Corolla has been recently redesigned, but like the Spectra it has a relatively soft, compliant ride and its interior feels cheaper than other rivals.
However, the Toyota has a long-standing reputation for reliability and durability.
The Ford Focus is perhaps the most attractive alternative; its design was recently refreshed, inside and out, and offers a great ride along with standout features such as the SYNC communications and entertainment interface.
2009 models drop the cheesy side gills that were introduced for 2008.
The Mazda3 is the choice among these cars if a frisky driving sensation is a priority, but the Mazda's cabin can be noisy on coarse surfaces and its backseat is rather cramped.
Although the Elantra shares its engine with the 2009 Kia Spectra, its interior is better designed, and the instrument panel and switchgear feel a step better.
Also keep in mind that an all-new replacement, the Forte, is being introduced as an early 2010 model.
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|2009 Kia SpectraBrowse Used Listings||2009 Toyota CorollaBrowse Used Listings||2008 Ford FocusBrowse Used Listings||2008 Hyundai ElantraBrowse Used Listings||2008 Mazda MAZDA3Browse Used Listings|
|23 MPG City / 32 MPG Hwy||22 MPG City / 35 MPG Hwy||24 MPG City / 35 MPG Hwy||24 MPG City / 33 MPG Hwy||18 MPG City / 32 MPG Hwy|
|Gas I4||Gas I4||Gas I4||Gas I4||Gas I4|
|4-Door Sedan Manual LX||4-Door Sedan Manual (Natl)||2-Door Coupe S||4-Door Sedan Manual GLS||4-Door Sedan Manual i Sport *Ltd Avail*|
|Front Wheel Drive||Front Wheel Drive||Front Wheel Drive||Front Wheel Drive||Front Wheel Drive|
|4dr Sdn||4 Door Sedan||2 Door Coupe||4 Door Sedan||4 Door Sedan|
|Manual w/OD||Manual w/OD||Manual w/OD||Manual w/OD||Manual w/OD|