Kia's Latest Creation Breaks the Mold

Physician's Money Digest, January31 2004, Volume 11, Issue 2

The answer:

What do you get when you combine thestyling of Mercedes and Jaguar withAmerican luxury in a Korean manufacturingwarehouse? thenew Kia Amanti. Be prepared to do a double take whenyou see this latest creation from Kia Motors. It doesn'tlook like your typical Korean car. In fact, the Amantilooks as if it could have been manufactured in a numberof places, including Europe.

Bright Lights, Big Car

The result:

Contributing to the Amanti's international feel areround lights and curves, both inside and out. You canhardly miss the chrome grille and matching ellipticallamps with outside lamp clusters, which have integratedfog lights and LED horizontal turn signals. The safe Amanti looks great on the road at night. At therear are horizontal taillights that split across the trunk.A clear lens protects the car's distinctive lights.

While the Amanti is similar in size to the BuickLeSabre and Chrysler Concord, it feels more like asporty coupe from the inside. The large car segment iscurrently made up of models like the Toyota Avalonand uninspired Lexus ES 330. By breathing somefresh air into a dull segment, Kia will keep a few folksin soft luxury and away from the SUV trap. Kia goesall out for a new segment with the Amanti and youwill be impressed.

Peter Butterfield, Kia America's president, admitsthey're taking a risk by entering this segment. "Somemight call entering this competitive segment highlyambitious," Butterfield says, "but we just call it the Kiaway." Butterfield and the South Korean people he representsare adventurous and have a can-do attitude. Theyhave already demonstrated their skills with the KiaSorento and Sedona, which are both selling well.

Comfortable Protection

Americans like a quiet car. Maybe it's because theydon't want to be distracted by the sound of a noisymachine. Some drivers just want to pay attention to theirdriving. Kia has managed to build a very quiet car; thequietness adds a great deal to the luxury. Both riders anddrivers will notice the elegant sound of the vehicle. It'sthe kind of car that makes you want to put on some nicemusic and cruise all the way to another country.

You can fulfill your dream to visit a different countryin the Amanti. The roomy passenger space will suiteven your tallest road trip companion. The body-huggingseats are yummy to sit in. The gray leather interioris particularly appealing and very soothing to theeye. Dual climate zones will keep the cabin comfortablefor all. The six-disc, in-dash Infinity audio system is justthe right instrument to use for your favorite tunes.

Besides comfort, you'll find both active and passivesafety. Active safety is the ability to avoid an accident.Antilock brakes and the optional StabilityProgram Package give drivers the ultimate in road science.Brake Assist is a great new option that helps driversstop the car quickly. Once you've done everythingto avoid a crash, the passive safety takes over.An active front headrest moves to minimize whiplash.Eight airbags are standard, including full-length sidecurtain and front and rear side air bags.

Underneath the Hood

Every Amanti is powered by a 3.5-liter, V6 enginewith double overhead camshafts that drive 4 valvesper cylinder. While dealers suggest using premiumgas to get the full 195 horsepower, regular gas worksfine. All Amantis have an automatic 5-speed transmission—the kind that lets you shift yourself, but isalso adaptive and computer-controlled. It's sensitiveto your desires according to the way you move youraccelerator pedal.

Power gets to the front wheels through an independent,upfront double-wishbone suspension. Thecar's rear holds an independent multilink system. Atall four corners are gas-pressurized shocks, coilsprings, and sway bars, which minimize body roll. Ifyou think the car leans too much during turns, youcan change a sway bar for only a few hundred dollars.The 16-inch tires and wheels leave plenty ofroom for customizing, as does the suspension. Thenew Kia Amanti provides auto enthusiasts with plentyof personalizing ability in a luxuriously comfortableand well-designed vehicle.

Jean Swenson and Ashly Knapp are independent research reportersand the founders of AutoAdvisor.com.