Used 1999 Kia Sephia Review

Edmunds expert review

What's new for 1999

The Sephia was entirely redesigned in '98 and enters '99 essentially unchanged.

Vehicle overview

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.

Edmunds expert review process

This review was written by a member of Edmunds' editorial team of expert car reviewers. Our team drives every car you can buy. We put the vehicles through rigorous testing, evaluating how they drive and comparing them in detail to their competitors.

We're also regular people like you, so we pay attention to all the different ways people use their cars every day. We want to know if there's enough room for our families and our weekend gear and whether or not our favorite drink fits in the cupholder. Our editors want to help you make the best decision on a car that fits your life.