Introduced as a new model in 2004, the Chevrolet Epica enters 2005 with only minor changes: there are dual-stage frontal airbags with a passenger sensing system, and a heated windshield function.

In different trim, the Epica is also sold as the Suzuki Verona. Although the U.S. also gets the Verona, the Epica is unique to Canada. It’s built in Korea by GM-DAT, a company formed when General Motors bought controlling interest in the bankrupt automaker Daewoo.

The Epica comes in two trim lines, both powered by a 2.5-litre inline six-cylinder with a four-speed automatic.

The base LS includes fog lights, heated power mirrors, 15-inch alloy wheels, variable intermittent wipers, manual air conditioning, cruise control, power locks, leather-wrapped tilt wheel, power windows, cloth seats with eight-way power driver’s adjustment, rear 60/40 folding seat, CD player with four speakers, four-wheel disc brakes, speed-sensitive steering, and power locks with keyless entry.

The LT adds ABS and traction control, chrome door handles, 16-inch alloy wheels, automatic climate control, wheel-mounted audio controls, leather interior with heated seats, and six speakers.

The Epica’s styling is by Italdesign-Giugiaro of Turin, Italy; while it isn’t stop-the-press gorgeous, it’s uncluttered and understated, with excellent proportions.

The inline six-cylinder is as smooth as cream; there’s not a vibration or a shudder to be detected. The problem is that, at 155 horsepower, it’s underpowered; the Honda Accord’s four-cylinder makes 160 hp, while the Nissan Altima’s four-banger produces 175 hp. The Epica is also thirsty for its size.

The Epica packs a lot of luxury features into a machine that starts under 25 grand, but for performance and handling, it’s easy to do better. The V6 Hyundai Sonata has a lower base price; the four-cylinder Camry is more powerful and is only $240 more. If you’re stuck on the Epica, check out the Suzuki Verona; it has almost all of the same features, but its base price is $1,715 less.

The Epica is built in Bupyong, South Korea.

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