Destined for an upcoming major makeover, the Kia Magentis enters 2005 virtually unchanged, with only an adjustment to its trim designation: 2004’s base LX line is now the Anniversary Edition, which adds a power sunroof.
Seated between the mid-range Kia Spectra and the top-of-the-line Amanti, the Magentis (known as the Optima in the U.S.) is a sister car to the Hyundai Sonata, sharing its engine and platform but with unique sheet metal. The Hyundai model’s 2006 transformation into the new Azera will result in changes to the Magentis as well.
The Magentis is a bargain-priced, quasi-luxury car, packed with features at a relatively low price. The Anniversary Edition uses a 2.4-litre inline four-cylinder; the LX-V6 and EX-V6, obviously, move up to a 2.7-litre V6.
The Anniversary Edition comes with a five-speed manual (a four-speed automatic can be added for $1,000), along with air conditioning, power sunroof, power windows with one-touch-down on front, cruise control, leather-wrapped wheel, CD player with six speakers, illuminated entry system, 15-inch wheels and floor mats.
The LX-V6, along with the larger engine, adds four-wheel disc brakes with ABS, 16-inch alloy wheels, woodgrain interior trim, and fog lamps.
The EX-V6 adds side-impact air bags, leather interior with heated seats, eight-way power driver’s seat, body side skirts and chrome accents.
While it’s easier on the budget, the four-cylinder is at odds with the car’s elegant styling and upscale interior; it’s buzzy and noisy, with a rough idle, and it’s light on power when you need it. The V6 is a much smoother and better choice. Steering is a bit vague, and the car tends to be front-end light on the highway. The interior is spacious but the seats are hard, and the vent controls are smaller and tougher to move than they need to be. All of that will probably change with the upcoming renovation, but until then, the Magentis faces viable competition from the Pontiac G6, Honda Accord and Nissan Altima, all of which are fairly close to its price range.
The Magentis is built in Hwasung, South Korea.
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