2008 Kia Amanti

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The Car Connection
The Car Connection

The Car Connection Expert Review

Martin Padgett Martin Padgett Editorial Director
August 18, 2008

Buying tip

The 2008 Kia Amanti is an also-ran in this class of big front-drivers, so a deal shouldn't be too difficult to strike. The Hyundai Azera has better styling and not much more added to its price tag.

features & specs

4-Door Sedan
17 city / 24 hwy

If you don't mind driving a big car with derivative looks, the 2008 Kia Amanti is a great choice.

TheCarConnection.com's sedan experts have researched road tests from respected sources to bring you this conclusive review of the 2008 Kia Amanti. Editors also have driven the Kia Amanti and added opinions and details where they help you make the most informed shopping decision for your new car.

Just one look at the Kia Amanti and you'll see why editors at TheCarConnection.com rate it low for style. The design is a blatant (but poor) rip-off of the previous-generation Mercedes E-Class. As a design, it fails miserably. However, don't judge this book by its cover. The 2008 Kia Amanti is a capable large sedan and, despite its homely looks, a strong competitor against full-size Buicks, Fords, Mercurys, and the Toyota Avalon.

The 2008 Kia Amanti has two big things going for it: its attractive price and confidence-inspiring warranty. Like every Kia, the 2008 Amanti is backed by a 5-year/50,000-mile basic warranty, plus a 10-year/100,000-mile warranty on the powertrain. This excellent coverage goes a long way toward addressing quality concerns over this Korean car--which are fewer as Hyundai/Kia develop a stronger reputation for quality and reliability.

Thankfully, the inside of the 2008 Kia Amanti is better designed than the outside. The interior is well finished and roomy enough for three adults to sit in the backseat without feeling cramped.

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The front-wheel-drive 2008 Amanti offers only one powertrain: a 3.8-liter V-6 with 264 horsepower that is matched to a five-speed automatic. The EPA numbers are 19 mpg city/26 mpg highway.

On the road, the 2008 Kia Amanti rides softly. The intent is to deliver a quiet, isolated ride, and this car hits that target. In other words, if you like sporty driving, there are other cars you should consider. The Amanti sometimes seems to float over the road, and the steering complements this suspension tuning by being just as vague.

Curiously, the 2008 Amanti does not include stability and traction control as standard equipment. However, anti-lock brakes, side, and side curtain airbags are standard. Performance in the IIHS crash results earned this sedan a "good" rating.

Every 2008 Kia Amanti includes these standard features: AM/FM/XM/CD/MP3 audio system, air conditioning, cruise control, and a tilt steering wheel. Aside from a stand-alone sunroof and a 17-inch wheel/tire option, the only way to upgrade the Amanti is to request option groups. These include the Leather Package with leather seat trim, heated front seats, memory driver's seat, power heated mirrors, an upgraded Infinity audio system, and a four-inch monitor with trip computer; the Electronic Stability Control Package with electronic stability and traction control systems; and a Premium Package with one-tone interior trim, black leather seat trim, power-adjustable pedals, brushed-aluminum interior trim, and 17-inch tires with seven-spoke chrome-finished alloy wheels.

Editors at TheCarConnection.com have debated how long they'll have to include the following in their reviews of Kia vehicles: "Korean vehicles, including some Kias, use to be low-budget, bargain-basement affairs. But this is just not true anymore and you've got to drive them to believe what we're writing." Our thinking is that if Kia keeps on its current track, its old cars will be forgotten pretty quickly.

The Toyota Avalon is the benchmark for the full-size sedan class. Over the years, it has become the leader based on its quality, room, and high level of refinement. When driving the Avalon back to back against the 2008 Kia Amanti, it's easy to see the Toyota's greater level of polish.

The Ford Taurus and Buick Lucerne are two other solid front-wheel-drive sedans in the full-size class. The Taurus offers more interior room than the 2008 Amanti, while the Lucerne is available with V-8 power and a number of options not offered on the Kia. The Taurus also offers the option of all-wheel drive.


2008 Kia Amanti


The 2008 Kia Amanti’s exterior styling is a big sticking point for many shoppers; inside, it’s a much better prospect.

Just one look at the Kia Amanti and you'll see why editors at TheCarConnection.com rate it low for style. The design is a blatant (but poor) rip-off of the previous-generation Mercedes E-Class. As a design, it fails miserably.

Edmunds says politely, the “exterior styling is not for everyone.” They add, “borrowing noticeable cues from other brands like Mercedes-Benz the Amanti's designers ended up with a rather awkward overall look.” Automobile cuts to the chase: "the Kia Amanti is styled like one of Lee Iacocca's K-cars of the 1970s." Kelley Blue Book comments that the Amanti "certainly knows how to make an entrance...the tall body, big grille and headlight treatment stir up memories of a number of luxury cars." Cars.com notes that a recent redesign results in "vertical taillights and a taller profile [that] give the rear a much fuller figure.” They add the contrarian view that “if you wedge the Amanti headfirst into a tight parking spot, the trunk looks a bit like that of any six-figure ultraluxury car."

The interior relieves the exterior’s awkwardness with a more tasteful design. Edmunds reports "nice touches like tasteful faux wood and metallic accents, a leather-covered front console armrest." ConsumerGuide notes that "gauges are large and easy to read with most commonly used controls falling readily to the driver's hand," although "some testers found the center stack's look-alike controls to be hard to identify quickly in low light conditions." Kelley Blue Book says "the attractive 2008 Kia Amanti dash employs a split-level two-tone design with a prominent analog clock or optional information screen taking center stage."

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2008 Kia Amanti


The 2008 Kia Amanti has the power to compete, but not the handling.

While it offers more than ample power, the 2008 Kia Amanti’s handling leaves something to be desired.

According to Edmunds, "The front-wheel-drive Kia Amanti comes with a 3.8-liter V6 rated at 264 hp and 260 pound-feet of torque. In testing, we found the Amanti capable of reaching 60 mph in 6.9 seconds," which is "fairly swift for a big V6-powered sedan."
Cars.com reports that "the V-6 is quite capable...delivering energetic acceleration from on-ramp stoplights all the way up to highway speeds, and passing at 60 to 70 mph is nearly as easy." ConsumerGuide is in agreement here: "the V6 provides more than adequate power in any situation." Car and Driver calls it “so-so,” though.

Edmunds reports "the V6 is matched to a five-speed automatic transmission with manual shift control." They add, “quick downshifts assure that the power is always on tap for merging onto fast-moving freeways or quick passes on two-lane roads.” According to Cars.com, "the drivetrain looks good on paper, but in practice it's stymied by a sluggish transmission...toe the gas for power coming out of a corner, and you'll often catch the automatic loitering in the higher gear you were in when you entered the turn."

The EPA rates the Kia Amanti at 17 mpg in the city and 24 mpg on the highway. However, ConsumerGuide finds their "test Kia Amanti 2008 averaged 17.8 mpg in city/highway driving," noting that the "Amanti uses regular-grade gas."

The Amanti’s handling is clearly tuned for comfort, without a bit of sportiness baked into its steering, suspension, or brakes. Car and Driver observes "high content means high curb weight," making the 2008 Kia Amanti "one of the floppiest rides on the market...a comfortable highway and byway cruiser for nonenthusiasts, but with numb steering, a soft suspension." ConsumerGuide says that the "unusually soft suspension absorbs most smaller bumps fairly well but can be poorly composed over sharper bumps and potholes in city driving," also noting that "highway speeds bring an undue amount of bobbing over larger road imperfections." Edmunds agrees, pointing out "suspension refinements last year sharpened the handling, but many drivers will still find the ride quality to be overly floaty." Regarding braking quality, Cars.com comments "the pedal feels a bit on the mushy side, but it delivers firm stopping power when pushed hard."

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2008 Kia Amanti

Comfort & Quality

The 2008 Kia Amanti is a comfortable and quiet ride.

The 2008 Kia Amanti offers its passengers a roomy cabin with well-fitted seats and a good sense of fit and finish.

Edmunds reports that the "Kia Amanti's roomy cabin seats five and pampers its occupants with plenty of room." Automotive.com is succinct: "the interior is quiet and roomy." ConsumerGuide attests that the Kia Amanti "offers ample headroom and legroom, even for taller adults" with "generously sized seats...nicely contoured and especially comfortable." Edmunds does point out that the Amanti has “a bit less rear hip- and legroom than you’ll find in slightly larger sedans like the Toyota Avalon.”

Storage space is plentiful; according to Cars.com, "Interior volume measures 106 cubic feet, competitive with the Avalon and Impala." ConsumerGuide notes that the 2008 Kia Amanti's "big trunk is usefully shaped and has a large opening. In-cabin storage includes a map pocket in each door, a two-level console bin, and a good-sized glovebox."

Materials and assembly are definitely above par as well. Automotive.com notes the Kia Amanti 2008 offers "luxurious interior materials," while ConsumerGuide is of the opinion that "though not quite to premium-car standards, 2008 Kia Amanti's interior is nicely finished with soft, high quality materials."

Noise levels are acceptable. ConsumerGuide reports that "the cabin is impressively hushed with very little wind or road noise," and that "the V6 engine produces a refined muted growl when pushed but is otherwise nearly silent." Edmunds adds "the Amanti is tuned to provide a smooth, quiet ride with maximum isolation from the road."

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2008 Kia Amanti


The 2008 Kia Amanti offers a safe, secure ride, but stability control is optional.

The 2008 Kia Amanti performs well in the insurance industry’s crash tests, but hasn’t been tested by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA).

The 2008 Kia Amanti does receive the highest rating of "good" in the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety’s (IIHS) frontal-offset and side-impact crash testing.

Cars.com reports that "four-wheel-disc antilock brakes are standard" for the Kia Amanti 2008, as are "front and rear side-impact airbags and side curtain airbags," while "an electronic stability system is optional." Edmunds adds "an optional 2008 Kia Amanti package bundles stability and traction control systems with a brake assist feature."

The Kia Amanti has little in the way of vision obstructions. According to Cars.com, "outward visibility is good, though very tall drivers may find that the inside rearview mirror is mounted low enough to interfere with their forward view." Otherwise, drivers enjoy a clear view of the road ahead.


2008 Kia Amanti


The 2008 Kia Amanti has the basics covered, but in comparison, a midrange Honda Accord offers more luxurious features.

The 2008 Kia Amanti has a reasonable level of standard features, but the latest high-tech gadgets are nowhere to be found.

Edmunds reports the "2008 Kia Amanti sedan is available in just one trim level...standard features include 16-inch wheels, foglights, full power accessories, power front seats, dual-zone automatic climate control, a leather-wrapped steering wheel with audio controls, an auto-dimming rearview mirror and an eight-speaker CD audio system." According to Cars.com, Kia Amanti "standard features include power front seats" as well.

Kelley Blue Book reports, "For the most part, the 2008 Kia Amanti options are offered in four packages." Choices include "an optional 4-inch display monitor with a trip computer and digital clock can supplement the center analog clock," according to Cars.com. Edmunds says that when you "opt for the Leather package...you'll get leathers seats, heated front seats, two memory settings for the driver seat, a trip computer and an upgraded Infinity sound system with a six-CD changer."

The list of options not offered on the Amanti is extensive: navigation system, Bluetooth connectivity, satellite and HD radio, and adaptive cruise control--all features found on some near-luxury models from other automakers.

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Rating breakdown on a scale of 1 to 10?
Styling 5
Performance 7
Comfort & Quality 7
Safety 8
Features 6
Fuel Economy N/A
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