2009 Kia Magentis LX Premium
2009 Kia Magentis LX Premium. Click image to enlarge

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Kia Magentis

Manufacturer’s web site
Kia Canada

By Chris Chase; photos by Chris Chase and Greg Wilson

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2009 Kia Magentis

It’s a funny thing, this business of naming cars. There are many whose monikers are made-up words, and others whose names are creative variations on real ones. The Kia Magentis fell into the latter category, at least in Canada (and Australia, Europe and Brazil); cross the border into the United States, though, and you’ll find this same car, called the Optima. A far better name for a car, don’t you think? I do, and that’s why I’m glad Kia ditched the Magentis badge when the third generation (2011) version of this car was launched.

I’m getting ahead of myself, though; the focus of this used vehicle column is the second-generation Magentis, sold from the mid-2006 model year (early cars were labelled 2006.5) through 2010.

Engine choices were between a 2.4-litre four-cylinder (161 hp) and a 2.7-litre V6 (185 hp); the four came with a five-speed manual transmission that could be optioned to a five-speed automatic, while the six-cylinder got the automatic only. The four-cylinder gained one lonely horsepower in 2008, while the 2009 model got new styling (penned by former Audi designer, Peter Schreyer, and intended to bring the car’s looks in line with the rest of the line-up) and more significant power upgrades for both engines, to 175 hp for the four-cylinder and 194 for the V6.

2009 Kia Magentis LX Premium
2009 Kia Magentis LX Premium. Click image to enlarge

The Magentis’ fuel consumption ratings, per Natural Resources Canada, were 9.7/6.4 L/100 km (city/highway) with the four-cylinder and automatic (9.6/6.3 L/100 km lower in both driving cycles with the manual), and 10.6/7.1 when fitted with the V6. The 2009 engine updates lowered these figures nominally, to 9.4/6.2 with the four-cylinder (both transmissions) and 10.5/7.0 with the V6.

Overall, Consumer Reports (CR) gives the Magentis an above-average reliability rating, though 2006 models get a much worse than average score, thanks, most likely, to first-year-new-model teething problems. Still, none of the trouble spots CR notes are simply annoying.

Many owners in this thread at Kia-Forums.com complain of front suspension noise in their Magentises. I didn’t notice this in the one I tested in 2009, but Jil McIntosh noted it in her review of a 2009 Hyundai Sonata. Consumer Reports notes suspension problems in its data, but doesn’t offer what specific complaints were logged by owners.

2007 Kia Magentis
2007 Kia Magentis
2007 Kia Magentis. Click image to enlarge

A few owners posting here complain that their cars drift to the right, but I’m inclined to think this is caused by the “crowning” of the road, a design that allows water to drain better, rather than a fault of the car itself.

Premature brake wear is a common complaint with many new cars, and the Magentis is not immune, as both this post and CR’s data indicate.

Poor gas mileage could be caused by sticky rear brake calipers that don’t release fully, and “drag.” I’ve heard of this happening in other cars with rear disc brakes, and one possible, and probable, cause is that because the rear brakes don’t do much work in normal driving, the calipers can seize up, particularly in wintry regions where road salt is used. The fix is to lubricate the calipers regularly, at least as often as the owner’s manual suggests, or even more frequently.

Sticky door locks that don’t respond to power lock/keyless entry commands are common here, as in the similar Sonata.

An illuminated “check engine” light accompanied by a P0011 code (“camshaft position timing over advanced,” accessed through a mechanic’s diagnostics computer) is probably caused by a faulty oil control valve in the engine’s variable valve timing system.

The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) gave the Magentis a “good” rating in frontal offset crash performance, and an “average” score in side impact tests. The latter is due to the so-so performance of the car’s structural safety cage. In the frontal offset test, forces on the driver’s right leg were high enough that a lower leg injury would be likely.

2007 Kia Magentis
2009 Kia Magentis
2007 Kia Magentis (top); 2009 Kia Magentis LX Premium. Click image to enlarge

From the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), the Magentis earned five stars all around: frontal crash, and side impact protection.

Canadian Black Book doesn’t offer values for the early-release 2006.5 models, so we have to start with 2007 models, the least expensive of which is the LX with manual transmission, which is worth $9,700 ($10,500 with the automatic). At the opposite end of the scale is the 2010 SX, valued at $20,000. A 2009 LX Premium, which came with a nice suite of features, including tilt-and-telescoping steering wheel, sunroof, fog lights, power driver’s seat and stability control, all moved along by the plenty-punchy four-cylinder engine, with the smooth-shifting automatic transmission, is worth $15,575. For comparison’s sake, a Hyundai Sonata GL Premium will cost something like $15,350, while a Honda Accord EX four-cylinder is worth $22,500, and a Toyota Camry LE (all prices for 2009 models), with optional sunroof, comes valued at $19,350.

That comparison makes the Kia out to be a pretty good deal for its driving dynamics, though it’s smaller inside than the Toyota and Honda. The Sonata, despite being based on the same architecture as the Kia, feels larger inside, too.

To this point (which is February 2011), there’s little to be wary of, durability-wise, which, to my mind, makes a used Magentis a good buy as a used car. That said, do shop carefully, paying attention to the state of the brakes, including the sticky rear caliper problem, and find a rough road that will bring out any untoward noises that might prove a turn-off. A thorough once-over by a trustworthy mechanic would be wise too, just to weed out any problems that aren’t obvious to the naked eye and test drive.


Black Book Pricing (avg. retail) February, 2011:

Price today
Price new
Magentis LX Premium
Magentis LX Premium
Magentis LX Premium
Magentis LX Premium

Online resources
  • Kia-Forums.com has a discussion section dedicated to the 2006.5-2010 Magentis/Optima, while HyundaiKiaForums.com lumps all generations together in one section.

  • None

    Crash test results
  • National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA)
  • Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS)

    Used vehicle prices vary depending on factors such as general condition, odometer reading, usage history and options fitted. Always have a used vehicle checked by an experienced auto technician before you buy.

    For information on recalls, see Transport Canada’s web-site, www.tc.gc.ca, or the U.S. National Highway Transportation Administration (NHTSA)web-site, www.nhtsa.dot.gov.

    For information on vehicle service bulletins issued by the manufacturer, visit www.nhtsa.dot.gov.

    For information on consumer complaints about specific models, see www.lemonaidcars.com.

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