We approach the Kia, shut off the alarm, grasp its substantial door handles, and get into the Spectra5 for the ride home to Long Beach. "The panic alarm makes a friendly noise," my girlfriend, Liz, notes, "as if it's a stray inviting you to take it home as a pet."
K, K, K, Kia. It's not hard to imagine adding water and - poof! - two weeks later you've got a Spectra5 wearing a bright green 'fro. It's a lovable, scrappy, boisterous little car, like a Boston Terrier with wheels. It even growls good-naturedly when the revs climb.
Unfortunately, that growl turns into a drone at speeds higher than 75 mph, and during longer highway drives the Spectra5 reminded me of the racket my similarly lovable, scrappy, boisterous 1978 Ford Fiesta made when salted Michigan roadways finally caused the joint between the exhaust pipe and the catalytic converter to rust through.
But aside from excessive interior noise and front seats that prove uncomfortable to larger and taller people, there's little about which to complain when it comes to the roomy, handy, sporty 2005 Kia Spectra5. Unless, of course, you put an extra helping of faith into federal and insurance industry crash-test scores.