2007 Kia Amanti

In 2004, Kia wanted to slip a foot into the crowded and competitive near-luxury segment, so it dressed up Hyundai's XG350 flagship (since replaced by the Azera) with an assortment of Jaguar and Mercedes-Benz cues. The result was unconvincing to those with discerning eyes, but the Amanti had a certain appeal to those interested in a large, well-equipped sedan at a reasonable price. This year, the Amanti has been face-lifted and the overall design is a little more cohesive than last year's car. A new interior and larger-diameter wheels are also part of the package. The standard engine has been beefed up for 2007, with an additional 64 hp and, at the same time, an increase in fuel economy. It should handle better, too, with a modified suspension that helps to lighten the car by a few pounds. No, it's still not a Mercedes-Benz E-class, or even a Chrysler 300, which is comparable in price. But Kia continues to move in the right direction and is on schedule to unveil the Amanti flagship's successor in a year or two.

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