1999 Kia Sephia Review
Pros & Cons
- Its low price and high quality help Kia's Sephia break the trend of crappy Korean cars.
- Still a limited network of dealers and service centers, but Kia is growing.
Edmunds' Expert Review
The current Kia is bigger, stronger and more enticing than ever before. Two trim levels are now offered and both come equipped with a Kia-built 1.8-liter that delivers 125 horsepower to the front wheels. The LS is the top-of-the-line model and now includes power steering, bodyside molding, rear heat ducts, a remote hatch/trunk release, a tachometer, 60-40 split folding rear seat and a passenger-side vanity mirror.
The Sephia is a Korean product, but unfairly suffers the stigma attached to all autos from that country, depicting Korean cars as unreliable garbage. Thank Hyundai for that image, the first Korean automaker on U.S. soil. And Daewoo, who in 1988 unleashed a reliability nightmare, called the Pontiac LeMans, on the American public. The crummy Hyundais are history and the LeMans died at the end of 1993. Meanwhile, Kia has been sending us small Fords, called the Festiva, which consistently rank among the most reliable compact cars available.
We've determined that Kias are a step above other Korean cars; now the reasons you should consider one. Base equipment levels are rather impressive; front and rear stabilizer bars, dual exterior mirrors, theft-deterrent system, rear defogger, remote fuel release, and fabric upholstery come standard. Dual airbags, a powerful engine, suspension work and styling tweaks make it look more expensive than a car of this price has a right to. With base prices starting at around $10,000, the Sephia offers better value than the Chevy Cavalier, Ford Escort, Chevy Prizm, Mercury Tracer and Toyota Tercel, among others.
The company is slowly expanding, taking a lesson from the massive expansion that Hyundai embarked upon in the late '80s, only to see sales and quality suffer in the early '90s. Kia doesn't want to have a poor image to overcome, so they are taking their time. Take yours, too, and test drive a Sephia. We think you'll be pleasantly surprised.