Kia For 1997
By Carey Russ
A slow, steady, well-planned expansion of both the lineup of automotive products and the areas of the country in which its products are sold is working very well for Korean automaker Kia. The subcompact Sephia sedan and small Sportage sport-utility vehicle were specially designed for the American market. They will be joined soon by a Sportage 2-door convertible.
The affordable, practical, and stylish Sportage has been a success for Kia. For 1997, the 4-door sport-utility is offered in two trim levels, with two- or four-wheel drive. An optional electronically- controlled 4-speed automatic transmission is now available on two- wheel drive models as well as the 4X4s. Standard on all models is a 5- speed manual developed by Getrag.
Front styling has been freshened this year. The Sportage is well-equipped, with standard features including power windows and mirrors, a rear-window defogger, and complete instrumentation. Plenty of custom options are offered, including leather seating and a CD changer. A 130-horsepower 4-cylinder engine provides power.
Safety is a consideration for a family sport-utility, and the Kia Sportage has the world's first driver's-side knee airbag in addition to a frontal airbag.
The Kia Sephia is largely unchanged this year after getting new engine choices and dual airbags last year.