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Review: 2005 Kia Amanti

June 25, 2005 11:05 AM EST | Kia , Sedans | Email to Friend

View large imageIt's not the fastest or the most stylish car on the block, but Kia's Amanti is a solid alternative for shoppers who want a large sedan that's safe, well equipped and reasonably priced.

Class-leading amenities, spacious interior, long warranty, good value for the money.

Weak V6 considering its size, doesn't register very high on the prestige meter.

What's New for 2005
Heated seats have been added to the optional Leather package, and a tire-pressure monitor has been added to the optional Convenience package. The Amanti now includes an analog clock on the instrument panel.

Kia has had surprising success in the U.S. When the Sephia (now called the Spectra) was first introduced in the mid-1990s, most experts and consumers agreed that the car was lackluster at best. Although the cars were generally mechanically sound, thanks to help from Ford and Mazda, build and materials quality was simply not up to par. Likewise with the first Kia Sportage -- it represented a good value among small SUVs when it was first introduced, but build quality and reliability were nothing to write home about, and later offerings from Toyota and Honda made it seem downright uncivilized in comparison. So when did Kia start building capable family cars and trucks that mainstream buyers would actually want to own? The turning point was likely the introduction of the midsize Optima sedan in 2001. Attractive, well equipped and solidly constructed, the Optima is a viable alternative to increasingly expensive Accords and Camrys. Still don't think Kia is a brand worth considering? A quick stint behind the wheel of the Sedona minivan or the Sorento sport-ute will quickly change your mind. Thoughtfully designed and pleasant to drive, the Sedona and Sorento easily outdo their domestic competitors when it comes to interior materials quality and affordable pricing. Of course, no discussion of Kia would be complete without mentioning its stellar 5-year/60,000-mile bumper-to-bumper warranty coverage and 10-year/100,000-mile powertrain coverage. The Amanti represents Kia's first foray into the large sedan segment currently populated by Toyota's Avalon, Ford's Crown Victoria and the Buick LeSabre. Like the Hyundai XG350, the Amanti offers a pleasing amount of luxury while still retaining the value most consumers associate with Kia. The body style is elegant without looking tacky. Separate, round headlights with lines that sweep back through the hood have a hint of Jaguar S-Type, but the overall look is much less flowing and refined. Kia says it wanted to give the Amanti a bold look and keep it from looking like a "cookie-cutter car." The proportions are odd, but the stately, upright grille and Lincoln Town Car proportions in the rear quarters do give the car an upscale look. Inside, the Amanti includes such luxury features as a 270-watt Infinity sound system (a first for any Kia), one-touch up-and-down windows and a trip computer. The front seats offer more head- and legroom than any other full-size sedan, while the backseat offers more headroom than most competitors. Safety is one of the Amanti's hallmarks, as it comes standard with a total of eight airbags that offer extensive crash protection for all passengers, as well as standard four-wheel antilock disc brakes with Electronic Brakeforce Distribution and optional traction and stability control systems. Although the Amanti may not be the most powerful car in its class, a long list of standard equipment, along with above-average build and materials quality, make it one of the best values in the large sedan segment.

Body Styles, Trim Levels and Options:
The Amanti is a large four-door sedan available in a single trim level. The standard equipment list includes 16-inch alloy wheels, a full-size spare tire, dual-zone automatic climate control, a CD player, cloth-upholstered seats with eight-way power adjustment and memory for the driver (four-way power for the passenger), wood grain trim, steering wheel-mounted audio and cruise controls and a full set of one-touch up-down windows. Opt for the Leather package and you'll get leather upholstery, heated seats, a 270-watt Infinity sound system with an in-dash CD changer, a trip computer with a 4-inch LCD screen, and memory settings for the mirrors. Additional features are available in the Convenience package, which offers a sunroof, an auto-dimming rearview mirror with a HomeLink remote transmitter and a tire-pressure monitor.

Powertrains and Performance:
The Amanti is powered by a 3.5-liter V6 rated at 195 horsepower and 217 pound-feet of torque. A five-speed automatic gives the Amanti solid performance despite its modest horsepower. The transmission includes a manual-shift mode with an LED indicator in the instrument panel.

Four-wheel antilock disc brakes are standard, and stability and traction control (Electronic Stability Program), Electronic Brakeforce Distribution and BrakeAssist are optional. Seat-mounted side airbags protect front occupants, while full-length side curtain airbags protect all outboard occupants. The Amanti also has active front headrests that move up and forward in the event of a rear-end collision, and an anti-lockout system that keeps the doors from being locked while the key is still in the ignition. A tire-pressure monitoring system is included in the optional convenience package.

Interior Design and Special Features:
The interior offers the highest level of amenities ever offered in a Kia such as dual-zone automatic climate control, an eight-way power-adjustable driver seat and a 270-watt audio system. The front seats offer more head- and legroom than any other full-size sedan. In back, occupants will find plenty of headroom as well, but slightly less shoulder and legroom than the Crown Victoria and LeSabre. The Amanti comes standard with a ski pass-through and trunk lid that utilizes concealed hinges with gas struts to keep from damaging cargo.

Driving Impressions:
Like most vehicles in its class, the Amanti is tuned to provide a smooth, quiet ride with maximum isolation from the road. With only 195 horsepower, it lags behind some of its more powerful competitors, but there's enough power on tap for most driving situations. Its overall refinement level doesn't quite match the class-leading Toyota Avalon, but for those looking for an excellent value in this segment, the Amanti is a compelling choice.

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