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LIVING LARGE

This article is from our archives and has not been updated and integrated with our "new" site yet... Even so, it's still awesome - so keep reading!

Published on Tue, Jul 19, 2005

By: The LACar Editorial Staff

LIVING LARGE By BILL WRIGHT

"Every car company needs a full line of vehicles to be competitive." I imagine that this comment must have bounced around the board room at Kia prior to the decision being made to produce the Amanti. It's a brave move to venture into the uncharted waters of full-size luxury cars, unless you're pretty sure that you have something special to offer. The Amanti is the North American version of the Opirus, which has sold elsewhere with a fair amount of success. At $25,000-29,000 (depending on the trim), the Amanti offers a lot of luxury for not a lot of money. To be sure, this is a big car. It's aimed squarely at the buyer of the Toyota Avalon or the Buick Le Sabre - both of which are priced higher.

What does it take to be considered a full-size luxury car? The obligatory list seems to include size, and the Amanti certainly has its share of that. I'll say it again, this is a big car, particularly when viewed from the inside. The roofline has an odd look to it, sort of like a derby or bowler hat, and this gives it a lot of headroom. The Amanti is four inches longer than its (distant) cousin, the Hyundai XG350. The list almost always includes leather seating (or in Amanti's case, 'leather-faced seating') which is an option, but most Amantis seem to have it. The usual laundry list of electrical toys (all of them deemed essential these days): Power seats (eight-way driver, four-way passenger), automatic up/down electric windows, power door locks, heated mirrors, dual climate zones, and three 12-volt power outlets. An interesting item is how Kia chose to address the "wood, or not to wood" question. Officially, it's called "wood-grained interior accents" but it's the best looking fake wood I've ever seen - bar none. When I asked how this effect is achieved, I was told that it's basically a photograph of wood printed on a plastic base. I'm sure this is a gross oversimplification, but it's executed superbly here.

The standard sound system is adequate, but the optional Infinity (the audio company, not the car company) 270-watt system with six-disc in-dash CD changer is a big step up - and in my opinion, worth the money. Did I mentioned that this is a big car? It weighs in at over two tons (4,117 lbs). It's powered by a 3.5-liter DOHC V6, putting out 200 bhp and 220 lb-ft of torque, which means that it can certainly get out of its own way - just not in a real big hurry. It gets from 0-60 mph in the high eight-second range. Not bad. You'd be hard pressed to do better in a car this large and luxurious for under $30,000. This is not to say that the mechanical bits of the Amanti couldn't do with a large injection of newer technology. But one has to view this car with an eye towards just what its mission is.

On the safety side of the equation, this car is no slouch either: Eight airbags and curtain bags are waiting to cushion you from all directions, like some sort of Michelin Man on steroids. An optional Electronic Stability Program, Traction Control and Brake Assist are offered as a package (they really should be standard). Kia (and cousin Hyundai) offer an outstanding warranty, with the limited powertrain warranty being 10 years/100,000 miles; limited basic warranty 5 year/60,000 miles; limited anti perforation warranty 5 year/100,000 miles. It's topped off by the roadside assistance program reaching out 5 years/unlimited miles.

So, should we all be driving a Kia Amanti? Well, remember what I said before, it's big, and that is both the good news and the bad news. It's great to have plenty of room when sitting as a passenger or while driving, but when you combine this size and weight with some rather retro suspension technology, you get a ride that borders on mushy. The Amanti is truly a pillow-topped freeway cruiser. If, for some reason, you think that you hear the siren call of the twisties while cruising in an Amanti, can it. It's a wrong number. There is divided opinion within Kia as to just how much the Amanti handling should be stiffened up. I'm hoping that the "much stiffer is better" forces win the day, because then the Amanti could really really be a contender. If you doubt that the folks at Kia understand handling, just look at their outstanding little Spectra5 (more on that at a later date). For more information on Kia products, go to www.kia.com.

SPECIFICATIONS

Name of vehicle: 2005 Kia Amanti

Price: $25,500, base $27,700, as tested

Body Configuration: Four-door sedan Drivetrain Layout: Transverse-mounted front engine, front-wheel drive Passenger Capacity: 5 Manufacturing Site: Hwasung, South Korea ENGINE Type Water-cooled, 60-degree V6 Size 3.5 liter Bore & Stroke (mm/in.) 93.0x85.8/3.66x3.38 Valve System 4 per cylinder Cylinder Head/Block Material Aluminum/cast iron Compression Ratio 10.0 to 1 Fuel Delivery System Electronic multi-port injection Maximum Horsepower 200 hp @ 5500 rpm Maximum Torque 220 lb-ft. @ 3500 rpm Camshafts Double overhead, per cylinder block Oil Capacity (quarts/liters) 4.5/4.3 Coolant Capacity (quarts/liters) 10.6/10.2 TRANSMISSION (standard automatic) Description Five-speed electronically controlled adaptive automatic transmission, with choice of fully-automatic operation or driver-operated manual sequential control SUSPENSION & DAMPING Front Independent, double wishbone with coil springs, gas pressurized shocks and stabilizer bar Rear Independent, multi-link with coil springs, gas pressurized shocks and stabilizer bar STEERING Type Power-assisted rack and pinion Turning Diameter 37.4 ft Gearing 2.76 turns lock-to-lock Steering Wheel Adjustment Height adjustable up & down by 7 degrees BRAKES Front Brake 11.9-in. vented discs Rear Brake 11.2-in. solid discs WHEELS & TIRES Type & Material Cast aluminum with 9 spokes Wheel 6.5J x 16 Tire 225/60 R16 DIMENSIONS (exterior) Overall Length 196.0 in. Overall Width 72.8 in. Overall Height 58.5 in. Wheelbase 110.2 in. Front Wheel Track 61.8 in. Rear Wheel Track 61.4 in. Ground Clearance 6.9 in. DIMENSIONS (interior) Headroom (front) 40.0 in. Headroom (rear) 38.4 in. Legroom (front) 43.7 in. Legroom (rear) 37.2 in. Shoulder Room (front) 58.1 in. Shoulder Room (rear) 57.5 in. Hip Room (front) 55.2 in. Hip Room (rear) 54.6 in. WEIGHTS & CAPACITIES Curb Weight 4,021 lbs. Weight Distribution (front/rear) 62%/38% Cargo Capacity 15.5 cubic feet Fuel Tank Capacity 18.5 gallons EPA FUEL ECONOMY City: 17 mpg Highway: 25 mpg

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