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2004 Kia Amanti

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San Francisco:  What a difference a decade makes. In 1994, Kia began selling cars in the U.S. under its own name with the modest little Sephia sedan and the Sportage small SUV.

In 2004, Kia now sells a full range of cars, including the subcompact Rio, Sorento SUV, Sedona minivan, and Optima sedan. So, with a million Kia’s on American roads, the company proudly introduces the full size, premium flavored Amanti.

The name sounds Italian, but there is no question of where Kia borrowed the styling. The front half looks like a Mercedes E-Class sedan, with its quad headlamps in two sizes flush-mounted beside a massive, vertical grille. The grill texture is much coarser than that of the Mercedes, and as my wife noted, there is no Kia logo anywhere in front. Many people will probably think it is a Mercedes.

The back half of the car borrows from late model Buicks, especially in the window greenhouse. The taillamps have clear lenses with silvery circles inside them, very 21st century, but their look sprang from the minds of Kia’s designers. Sixteen-inch alloy wheels give presence to the side view. A nice extra is the spare wheel is also a full-size alloy wheel.

The Amanti not only looks like a big car, it is one! Compared to the Buick LeSabre and Toyota Avalon, two competitors, the passenger volume is tied with the Toyota and just 2 cubic feet short of the Buick. The Kia’s front headroom is actually slightly more, and rear headroom also is slightly greater than the other two cars. Front and rear legroom areas are tops, too.

Outside, the Kia fits just between the Toyota and Buick in length, at 196 inches, and its 110-inch wheelbase also fits neatly between. The Kia is 1-1/2 inches taller than the others. What is really surprising is that the Amanti outweighs the Avalon by just over 600 pounds, and carries about 450 pounds more than the Buick!

Under the hood, the Amanti offers a 3.5 liter dual-overhead-cam V6 that puts out 200 horsepower at 5,500 rpm. Its 220 lb.-ft. of torque, along with the horsepower, is comparable with the Toyota and Buick. It simply must carry around that extra weight. On the road, the Amanti feels plenty strong, and with generous sound insulation, conveys the whisper quiet associated with automobiles with luxury aspirations. Fuel mileage is listed as 17 mpg city, 25 mpg highway, but I scored 17 mpg in mixed driving.

The Amanti’s five-speed automatic transmission is one gear to the good over the competitors four-speed units, and has the increasingly popular sequential shifting feature so you can change gears manually, without a clutch, for a sporty feel on those rural twisties.

Inside, the Amanti uses plenty of very realistic artificial woodgrain to help convey a posh mood. Chrome details are used masterfully, with just a touch on the door handles, door edge, shifter base, ashtray button, and steering wheel. Satin silver rings upgrade the gauges. Everything looks nice and substantial.

There is nothing important lacking in the cabin. You can enjoy dual-zone automatic climate control, power windows, power heated mirrors, power locks, keyless entry with alarm, and a leather-wrapped steering wheel with audio and cruise controls. You also get an audio system with AM/FM stereo, cassette, and CD.

The driver’s seat has eight-way adjustment with power lumbar; the passenger gets four-way. The Amanti uses Mercedes style power seat controls. The door-mounted controls are even lit around their perimeters. The only problem is, the headrest portion is a dummy button, where in the Mercedes, it moves the headrest up and down.

My silver tester had two of the three available option packages. The Leather Package ($1,805) adds leather seats, memory buttons for the driver’s seat and outside mirrors, and an upgrade to an Infinity 225-watt audio system with a six-disc in-dash CD. With the Leather Package, you can order the Convenience Package ($900), which features a sunroof, heated front seats, auto-dimming interior mirror and the Homelink remote control system.

If you order both of those packages, you can get the ESP package ($550), which brings in electronic stability control, traction control and brake assist, all features designed to keep the car more safely glued to the road.

Every Amanti gets the full safety treatment, with dual front airbags, front and rear seat side-mounted airbags, and front and rear side curtain airbags. Anti-pinch automatic windows protect little fingers. The best protection of all, of course, is Kia’s amazing 10-year/100,000 mile Limited Powertrain Warranty and free 24-hour roadside assistance.

With all the virtues of the Kia Amanti, the buying decision will probably come down to motivation. Folks who love their Kia Spectra hatchbacks and Optima sedans now have an aspirational vehicle. But Kia also hopes to attract new buyers, who have looked at Buicks and Toyotas and Chryslers and want a lot of car for the money. The Amanti starts at $25,535 (including destination charges). My tester came to $28,260, and you can push an Amanti close to $29,000 if you add the third option package.  By Steve Schaefer AutoWire.Net - San Francisco

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Byline:  Syndicated content provided by Tony Leopardo AutoWire.Net
Column Name:  Kia now sells a full range of cars
Topic:  The 2004 Kia Amanti
Word Count:   911
Photo Caption:  The 2004 Kia Amanti
Photo Credits:  Kia Internet Media
Series #:   2004 - 21

Download the Microsoft Word version here:   2004 Kia Amanti

Download the original image file here:  2004 Kia Amanti 52k

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