Friday, January 20, 2017

2017 Kia Cadenza Limited Long-Term Introduction

It’s no secret that crossover SUVs are gaining popularity at the expense of traditional 4-door sedans, but if the 2017 Kia Cadenza that was recently added to the Kelley Blue Book long-term fleet is any indication, there’s still plenty of life left in the concept of a family-sized sedan. Our Snow White Pearl Cadenza already has proved itself to be good looking, easy to drive and quite accommodating to as many as five.
This front-drive sedan has been completely revamped for 2017 with sharply defined character lines, a classy concave take on Kia’s “tiger nose” grille treatment and a sleek profile that fits neatly between a traditional 3-box sedan and the current fad of so called 4-door coupes. The 2017 Kia Cadenza comes equipped with a 290-horsepower/3.3-liter V6 engine mated to a conventional 8-speed automatic transmission. With its upscale appearance, the Cadenza’s appeal goes beyond your typical family sedans like the Chevrolet Impala, Ford Taurus and Toyota Avalon to rival slightly more upscale Buick LaCrosse and Acura RLX.

Generous dimensions
Riding on a 112.4-inch wheelbase, the Cadenza measures 195.7 inches overall. The generous wheelbase results in a spacious cabin, particularly in the rear, where passengers will be hard pressed to find their knees anywhere near the backs of the front buckets. Coming in at 73.6 inches wide, both front and rear passengers have plenty of elbow room. The front-drive layout is also responsible for the Cadenza’s open and airy cabin. Up front, the dash is positioned far enough forward to deliver the back seat’s sense of space, a feel further reinforced by the Limited’s standard panoramic sunroof. The dash and controls are state of the art, with a center touchscreen augmented by easy-to-use redundant switches and knobs on the center console and steering wheel. There is a place for everything and everything is in its place.
While the Cadenza has plenty of room, it drives more like the midsize Optima than a full-size sedan. The engine has plenty of power and the 8-speed automatic transmission delivers smooth and positive gear changes. The Cadenza is equipped with multiple drive modes including Economy, Sport, Comfort and Smart. While the first three are self-explanatory, the last mode senses vehicle speed and other parameters to deliver the right blend of comfort or sportiness to match the driver’s steering and throttle inputs. The Cadenza isn’t an ultimate driving machine, but it is well-mannered and delivers a comfortable ride that is nicely matched to its mechanicals.
Fully loaded
We know its trim level is called Limited, but when it comes to standard features, the Cadenza is anything but. For $44,390 (plus $900 destination), our test car comes with dual-zone automatic climate control, navigation with an 8-inch screen and Kia’s easy to use UVO connectivity, Android Auto and Apple Car Play compatibility, quilted Nappa leather seat trim, heated/cooled seating, heated steering wheel, power tilt/telescope steering column and a suite of driver assists including blind spot monitoring, rear cross traffic alert, lane-departure warning and adaptive cruise control.
With a 10-year/100,000-mile limited powertrain warranty and a 5-year/60,000-mile basic warranty, the 2017 Kia Cadenza Limited has all the bases covered. Already it has been pressed into duty carrying around 5 adults, which it did so with nary a complaint from the rear seat, demonstrating that it can function equally as well as some 2-row crossover SUVs. And it does so in a smart looking package while delivering nearly 23 mpg on average. So far, the Cadenza has demonstrated the kind of capability that will certainly make it a popular member of the KBB long-term fleet.

Tuesday, January 17, 2017

Hyundai and Kia announce $3.1-billion investment in US facilities

Hyundai and Kia announced this morning a plan to invest $3.1 billion into its US facilities over the next five years. According to Automotive News, the new investment is a 50-percent increase over what Korea's two largest automakers have brought to the US in the last five years.

The automakers already have several large-scale manufacturing bases in the US, but the new investment could bring another plant into the fold. There is the possibility of producing a Genesis product in the US or building a new plant for a US-specific crossover.

The announcement is the latest US investment plan as President-elect Donald Trump prepares to take office Friday. Trump has singled out automakers for not building cars in the United States, and Ford, General Motors, and Fiat Chrysler all announced plans to invest in the US since the beginning of January. Skeptics say these moves would have to be years in the making, though Trump has been quick to take credit for them.

Not all of the new money will go toward building new plants. Hyundai and Kia could simply expand the already busy plants in Montgomery, AL, and West Point, GA. Beyond that. The automakers could further their research into electric and autonomous vehicles.

Like many other automakers, the two Korean giants have backed down from planned expansions into Mexican manufacturing. Although many automakers currently build or were planning to build new vehicles in Mexico, threats of importation fees appear to be causing caused automakers to refocus some of their efforts toward US production. With all this new investment in the US, Kia and Hyundai said there will be no jobs moved to Mexico. Meanwhile, this morning GM announced plans to bring truck axle manufacturing back from Mexico.

As with all of the recent announcements, Hyundai and Kia stated that Trump's upcoming presidency played no part in the decision to reinvest in the US.


Monday, January 16, 2017

12 Things You Didn’t Know About the 2018 Kia Stinger

2018 Kia Stinger GT front end
1. The wheelbase informed a lot of Kia’s decision making with the car. “Its 114 inch wheelbase [114.4 to be precise] is longer than anything else in the markets that it’s up against. The A4, the A5, even the GS 350, so the benefit there was, you get a lot bigger backseat,” said Hedrick. “The tradeoff is, you can’t twist, turn, and move like a 3 Series, or the ATS. And that was a deliberate tradeoff. I think for us, it was important, really, to be true to what the concept of the vehicle was. It’s not to be a 3 Series, it’s to be a GT.”

2. Out at the Nürburgring, the Stinger’s pro drivers were looking to communicate specific attributes to the engineers that are more in line with a GT car. “They were looking for specific things like high speed stability, being able to track a line, is it balanced when you go over a negative radius? Does the car kind of offset, and does it feel heavy? A lot of the work is actually done digitally, before the car was even put together,” said Hedrick.
3. Weight distribution was a key focus, as was the powertrain placement. “We were trying to get as much as possible, the center of gravity down low, and in the middle of the car so we get close to 50/50. So that drove decisions, for instance, they did a lot of work making sure the engine is as low as possible and towards the middle of the car as possible,” said Hedrick.
4. The Stinger is built on the same basic platform as its K900 stablemate, but with a key difference. The mid FR platform, it’s the modular platform we use it across the board for K900, our sisters [Hyundai/Genesis] it for their two big FR cars. But the front and dash, forward, the engine room box is completely different,” Hedrick said. “It’s a little bit smaller in the front, it’s a little bit lighter, so that helped with the weight distribution.”
5. No, the Stinger’s hood vents aren’t functional (surprise, they’re a design flourish), but there is some functional design at the front of the car. “There’s an air curtain [at the edge of each side of the lower fascia]. And what that does is, when air comes around it creates a turbulence, a low pressure area [around the front wheels]. This helps create a sheet and it breaks that low pressure, and it just helps the aerodynamics a little bit. It stops that turbulence that happens along the side of the car,” Hedrick said.
6. While the hood vents aren’t functional, there is a “floating hood” on the Stinger. “The other big discussion point was using, they call it an island hood, it’s the term that R&D groups call it, I think everybody else calls it a floating hood,” said Hedrick. “Typically, we have a cut line that goes across just behind the fascia, and it comes down over the fenders. A lot of other manufacturers use it but it’s expensive because you’ve got to get all of those parts coming together, and to make sure it’s flat and even all the way across. So this is the first application of that, and we wanted to give it that premium feel, that premium look.”
7. The interior of the 2018 Stinger carried over elements of the GT concept from 2011, and packaging and use of top tier materials were a major focus. “I think from an overall standpoint, this cockpit is pretty straightforward. We’ve got the three center vents in it. This was also from the original concept; they included a lot of the details on that. This has a shift by wire, which helped in some of that packaging when that transmission came through. The main thing is the backseat. But I think the other point is the premium materials. We didn’t have any really hard arguments with the bean counters, we were able to get pretty much everything we wanted,” Hedrick said.
2018 Kia Stinger GT front three quarter 02

8. The Stingers feature Brembo brakes at all four corners on both the base car and the Stinger GT, and they will roll on Michelin rubber. But there’s still a question whether they will be summer or all-season as the main option. “There’s only two other names except ours on the car, hence, on the tires and the brakes, so we wanted to make sure that we had top tier stuff,” said Hedrick. “These are specific tires, they’re different sized. We have two sets; we have an 18-inch, and a 19-inch. The 19s are available only on the V-6 twin turbo. And on the all-wheel drive, we’re gonna fit all of them with summer and we’re having a debate, we haven’t finalized yet whether to do all-seasons or summer.”
9. The Stinger’s hatchback-style trunk opening created some specific challenges the team had to address. There are other five doors out there, but if you’re going after handling, this is a huge engineering challenge, this big open space in the back of the body. So there was a lot of work that went into the body in white to make sure there was this stiff, rigid chassis that we needed,” said Hedrick. “This was really a trick because it’s right over the suspension point so you’re pushing all of the road inputs right where you have a giant hole. So the backend, if you watch it on the CAD it can really move around a lot. So there’s a giant ring of ultra, high-strength steel that goes around this opening, which is a really tough material to work with. It has to be molded while it’s molten, while it’s red hot. So they have to move this thing, and it’s all done with robotics to give it the proper shape.”
Kia Stinger GT rear end

10. The concept also drove the decision to create the hatch-style trunk. We wanted to have something that was true to the concept which was two couples going down to a getaway weekend, a three day weekend, to make sure there’s enough room. If you look at the trunk on a 3 Series or an ATS, or premium sedans, it’s really small. And this, we thought, was kind of in line with the Kia practicality and the idea that you could use it as an everyday car and it’s really versatile, having this space back here means you can do a lot with it,” said Hedrick.
11. Roughly 130 meters of industrial strength adhesive is used throughout the car. “All of this was driven to get a really, really, super stiff, light body. It was not only for safety, it was also for that premium feel that we’re trying to build, that Germanic, European feel. But also just to give it a great handling, so the suspension can do its job,” said Hedrick.
12. The former head of BMW’s M division had a hand in the Stinger’s engineering. It’s a really cool looking car, and it’s going to drive as good as it looks because we’ve got Albert [Albert Biermann, BMW M’s former VP of engineering who left the company to become Hyundai’s head of vehicle test and high performance development in late 2014] involved with it from about halfway through development. And he’s pushing us really hard to make sure that it’s a great drive and also for our dealers to get them excited, because they’ve never had a driving car. So it’ll be interesting, it’ll be really interesting.

Thursday, January 12, 2017

Kia unveils model it says will be highest performance vehicle in its history

Kia unveiled its new 2018 Kia Stinger at the North American International Auto Show in Detroit. A five-passenger fastback sports sedan which the company says is poised to redefine a segment currently populated by European automakers, the Stinger promises to be the highest-performance production vehicle in the company’s history.
The Stinger is planned to go on sale in Ireland in October and pricing will be announced closer to the vehicle’s launch date.
“Unlike any Kia that has come before it, the Stinger really is a dream car for us. That dream is now a reality after years of commitment and hard work from a passionate group of designers, engineers and executives around the world,” said Orth Hedrick, vice president, product planning, Kia Motors.

“From its GT concept-car origins to the years of tuning and refining on the legendary Nurburgring circuit, no detail was too small to be obsessed over, and the result is simply stunning.”
Riding on a chassis comprised of 55% advanced high-strength steel, the Stinger will have a choice of two turbocharged engines are available.
While both engines are still under development, the standard 2.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinder Theta II engine produces an estimated 255 horsepower at approximately 6,200 rpm. A 3.3-liter twin-turbo V6 Lambda II engine will also be available with a 0-100km sprint time of 5.1 seconds.
The Stinger features a second-generation eight-speed rear-drive automatic transmission. The gearbox has been designed in-house, and promises drivers with crisp shifts and maximised fuel efficiency.
Drivers can let the gearbox manage shifts on its own, or may selectively run through the gears via paddle shifters mounted aft of the steering wheel. As with the suspension and steering, up to five different shift patterns may be selected through the vehicle’s electronic drive-mode system. Throttle mapping is also adjusted accordingly.

Wednesday, January 11, 2017

Detailed: The 2018 Kia Stinger

For every auto show rule there is an exception. This year at the North American International Auto Show, the outlier is the Kia Stinger, a rear-wheel drive sports sedan. In a show that skimps on splash and sizzle, Kia is taking aim at the German car market and the svelte BMW 4 Series of the world. It’s an intentional strategy by the South Korean automaker to stand out from the pack. Kia is banking on infusing razzle dazzle to its more pedestrian product lineup. And it wants the US market to know its here to tango.
Fluid lines, a long, elegant swoop of a hood, and tight rear quarters are integral to its racy physique. The Kia Stinger has two engines; the juicier option is the 3.3-liter V6 that makes 365 horsepower and clocks 0 to 60 miles per hour in 5.1 seconds. The Stinger is available in rear-wheel drive and all-wheel drive. Driving enthusiasts will go crazy for the rear-wheel drive option, but in this Detroit wintery weather, all-wheel drive certainly has its appeal. Kia is only offering an 8-speed automatic transmission.
Kia has said for years that it would build a rear wheel drive sedan, and now it’s doubling down on its promise. The GT4 Stinger concept graced the Detroit stage three years ago, but then seemed to fade away. Kia’s current top-selling model is the Soul, a boxy and quirky crossover. And while a Stinger isn’t going to cut into the crossover market, it could get Kia the brand respect it desires.
In the world of sports cars, the sting is usually associated with the iconic Corvette Stingray, certainly not Kia. But the game and how its players maneuver is changing at this auto show where news and practical production giants loom large. Kia offers welcome reprieve, a car that we haven’t seen before that has looks and personality, like car show of days past. We care about the tech inside of car, but we have to admit, it’s fun to see a car that has some oomph to it.
Photography by: Sean O’Kane