Tuesday, December 16, 2008

2009 Kia Amanti: Upscale sedan at a reasonable price

It doesn't cost an arm and a leg to enjoy a luxurious, powerful sedan. Take a test-drive in a Kia Amanti to feel quality and performance.

Back in 2005, this midsize sedan earned the J.D. Power and Associates APEAL Award. Since then, Kia has kept making improvements. The 2009 model now offers Sirius Satellite Radio and MP3 playback capability, plus a whole new audio system.

Although Kia hasn't as yet disclosed an exact price for the 2009 Amanti, it is expected to be about $26,500, which is a bargain considering what this sedan has to offer: spacious interior, luxurious appointments and a very exciting engine.

What was surprising to me about the Amanti was the V6 produces a good 264 horsepower and this front-wheel drive sedan accelerates quickly. The engine is linked to a five-speed electronically controlled Sportmatic transmission with overdrive. The Kia Amanti is rated to achieve 20 mpg city and 28 mpg highway - using regular gasoline.

My tester featured the colors of dark red wine/black - one of eight choices - giving it a quality exterior appearance as it sat on 17-inch sparkling alloy wheels.

The Amanti has a massive grille with front projection fog lights and clear-lens halogen headlamps. It also has tinted windows and at the rear end it has a dual-exhaust system, plus a very large trunk. It also had the optional leather package, which included upscale appointments, such as two-position memory settings for both the driver's seat and outside mirrors.

As standard equipment the Amanti comes with an eight-way power driver's seat, (four-way power passenger's seat) and both seats can be heated. It also has an auto-dimming rearview mirror with Homelink, leather-covered steering wheel with cruise control and a keyless entry and alarm system. Even the three rear seats are spacious and comfortable.

Another elegant touch: one-touch up/down front windows. The 2009 model now has a 5.5-inch display screen, replacing the 4-inch monitor.

On the road the Amanti responded in the same manner as sedans costing nearly twice as much. I was able to take every bend in up- and down-hill curved back roads and accelerate through them with precision.

Kia engineers say the Amanti is built with a precise power rack-and-pinion steering system that will adapt to sudden driving changes. It also has a fully independent suspension, featuring gas-pressurized shocks, a double wishbone suspension and rear multilink setup, plus other attributes that are commonly associated with pricier luxury cars.

Regarding safety equipment, the Kia Amanti has more standard air bags than any other vehicle in its segment. The Amanti has side-impact air bags for the second row passengers. Most vehicles are offered with front row side-impact air bags only. The Amanti has dual front air bags, and full-length side curtain air bags. The list of standard safety features also includes antilock brakes, active front headrests, anti-pinch windows, front and rear three-point seatbelts and front seatbelt pretensioners with force limiters.

The Amanti also has electronic stability control, traction control, brake assist, which are part of the optional Electronic Stability Control package.

Kia comes with a 10-year/100,000-mile limited power-train warranty, plus a 24-hour roadside assistance plan.

Put all this together and compare the price to just about any other midsize car and it becomes quite evident that luxury, quality and performance doesn't have to cost and arm and a leg.

2009 Kia Amanti

Vehicle type: five-passenger FWD midsize sedan

Base price: est. $26,495

Engine type: V6 DOHC 24-valve with MPFI

Displacement: 3.8 liter

Horsepower: 264 (net) at 6000 rpm

Torque: 260 pound-feet at 4500 rpm

Transmission: five-speed Sportmatic with OD

Wheelbase: 102 inches

Track: 62/63 inches (front/rear)

Overall length: 197 inches

Overall width: 73 inches

Height: 58 inches

Turning circle: 38 feet (curb-to-curb)

Curb weight: 3,770 pounds

Fuel capacity: 18 gallons

EPA mileage rating: 17 mpg city, 24 mpg highway

Tom Keane
Motor Matters

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