For 2006, the Kia Spectra undergoes a few changes, many of them designed to lower the price. All models receive an improved air filter and a better four-speed automatic transmission that’s lighter and with improved durability.

All models have items deleted to lower the price: the LX drops its side and curtain airbags, tweeter speakers, sliding sun visor and floor mats for a $400 reduction; the LX-Convenience loses side and curtain airbags, rear disc brakes, tweeter speakers, glass-mount antenna, sliding sun visor and floor mats for a $500 difference; and the EX deletes the side and curtain airbags, glass-mount antenna, active headrests, side sill mouldings, sliding sun visor and floor mats for $700.

The Spectra5 also receives the new air filter and transmission, and deletes items from its models. The base Spectra5 is now called the EX, and it drops by $820 while losing its rear disc brakes, sliding sun visor, side and curtain airbags, fog lamps, metal grain interior accents, tweeter speakers, leather-wrapped wheel and gearshift, side sill mouldings and floor mats. The SX becomes the EX Convenience, and drops $1,300 while receiving smaller wheels and deleting its alloy wheels, tweeter speakers, rear disc brakes, active headrests, sliding sun visor, side and curtain airbags, fog lamps, metal grain interior accents, leather-wrapped wheel and gearshift, side sill mouldings and floor mats. The SX becomes the EX Sport, dropping $820 and losing active headrests, sliding sun visor, side and curtain airbags, side sill mouldings and floor mats.

All Spectra models use a Hyundai-sourced 2.0-litre engine with continuously variable valve timing, mated to a five-speed manual transmission that can be upgraded to an automatic (the EX sedan is automatic-only). Body styles are a four-door sedan or the Spectra5 four-door hatchback (the company counts the hatch as a fifth door, hence the name). All feature four-wheel independent suspension with gas-charged struts, power rack-and-pinion steering and MacPherson struts with multi-link rear axle.

In sedan form, the LX includes CD/MP3 player, tilt wheel, manual remote mirrors, 15-inch steel wheels, variable intermittent wipers, front power outlet, cloth bucket seats with driver’s height adjuster and lumbar support, and 60/40 folding rear seat.

The LX Convenience adds cruise control, power locks with keyless entry and alarm, power heated mirrors, air conditioning, door-mounted bottle holders, and illuminated entry.

The EX adds four-wheel disc brakes with ABS, tweeter speakers, fog lamps, 15-inch alloy wheels, rear cupholders, leather-wrapped wheel and door courtesy lamps.

The Spectra5 EX includes CD/MP3 player, tilt column, 15-inch steel wheels, variable intermittent wipers, fixed intermittent rear wiper, front power outlet, 60/40 folding rear seat, and cloth bucket seats.

The Spectra5 EX Convenience adds cruise control, power locks with keyless entry, heated power mirrors, air conditioning, rear cupholders, and door courtesy lamps.

The Spectra5 EX Sport adds four-wheel disc brakes with ABS, tweeter speakers, fog lamps, power sunroof, 16-inch alloy wheels, leather-wrapped wheel and shifter knob, and metal grain interior trim.

The Spectra’s six airbags were revolutionary for the entry-level end of the compact segment when the redesigned model was introduced in 2005, but price is an overriding factor in this market, and it appears that buyers were voting with their wallets. The Spectra doesn’t handle as well as some of its Japanese competitors, but it’s still a well-done little car, and the price drop should make up for the materials it’s missing.

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