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2006 Kia Amanti reviews

March 21, 2006 11:15 AM EST | Kia , Sedans | Email to Friend | Comments (0)

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.

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

Cons
Weak V6, doesn't register very high on the prestige meter.

What's New for 2006
New standard features this year include heated leather seats, a sunroof and an auto-dimming rearview mirror.

Introduction:
Early Kias represented a good value in their respective classes, but build quality, reliability and overall refinement were nothing to write home about compared to the Hondas and Toyotas they were up against. So when did Kia start building capable family cars and trucks that mainstream buyers would actually want to own? The turning point was 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. The Amanti represents Kia's first foray into the large sedan segment currently populated by the Buick LaCrosse, Chrysler 300, Ford Crown Victoria and Five Hundred, and the Toyota Avalon.

Based on the same platform as the Hyundai Azera, 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 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 with just 200 hp from its 3.5-liter V6, its long list of standard equipment, spacious interior and above-average build and materials quality, make it one of the better values in the large sedan segment. If you need lots of room and don't want to pay much for it, the Amanti is worth checking out.

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, heated leather-upholstered seats with eight-way power adjustment (four-way power for the passenger), wood grain trim, a sunroof, an auto-dimming rearview mirror, steering wheel-mounted audio and cruise controls and a full set of one-touch up/down windows. Opt for the Infinity package and you'll get 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 and driver seat.

Powertrains and Performance:
The Amanti is powered by a 3.5-liter V6 rated at 200 horsepower and 220 lb-ft of torque. A sharp-shifting five-speed automatic transmission gives the Amanti solid performance despite its modest horsepower. The transmission includes a manual-shift mode with an LED indicator in the instrument panel.

Safety:
Four-wheel antilock disc brakes are standard, while stability and traction control, Electronic Brakeforce Distribution and BrakeAssist are available via an option package. Standard seat-mounted side airbags protect front occupants, while full-length side curtain airbags protect all outboard occupants. The Amanti also has active whiplash-reducing front head restraints that move up and an anti-lockout system that keeps the doors from being locked while the key is still in the ignition. A first-aid kit is a stand-alone option. The NHTSA has not crash tested the Amanti, but it earned the top rating of "Good" in IIHS frontal-offset crash testing.

Interior Design and Special Features:
The Amanti's interior seats five and 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 ample headroom as well, but the Chrysler 300, Ford Five Hundred and Toyota Avalon offer more legroom. The Amanti comes standard with a ski pass-through and trunk lid that utilizes concealed hinges with gas struts to keep from damaging cargo. Trunk capacity is 15.5 cubic feet, about average for this class.

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 200 horsepower, it lags behind the majority of its competitors, but there's enough power on tap for most driving situations. Its overall refinement level doesn't 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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