Tuesday, October 25, 2016

2016 Kia Soul: Tougher than You Think for the Money

This will not qualify as a massive automotive news scoop, but the Kia Soul is not a Land Rover nor a Jeep. It’s not built for the same heavy duty performance as those off-roading staples, but it also doesn’t carry their price tag, either. However, during a recent test drive across the sometimes dusty, sometimes muddy roads of rural Montana, it became clear that the Soul is tougher than you might think.
The 2016 Kia Soul is designed primarily as an urban crossover — a compact SUV for city and suburban use. With an MSRP starting at $15,900 and finishing up just north of $21,000, it offers moderate power, comfortable seating for four and enough space in the back for more cargo than your average hatchback can handle.
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The exterior styling stays true to the spirit of an SUV, getting away from the oversize hatchback look many automakers are selecting for their crossovers currently. If you took a full-size SUV from the modern Asian design schools, got it wet and tossed it in the dryer, it might come out looking like a Kia Soul.
The Soul offers three trim levels, and all three offer an inline four cylinder engine. The entry level Base has a 1.6 liter, 130 horsepower version, with the + and ! editions up the game to 2.0 liters and 164 horsepower. I suppose the significance of the ! maxed out trim has something to do with saying “Soul!” with more volume and urgency.
A six-speed manual transmission is available, but the electronically controlled six-speed automatic is the more popular gearbox. All versions are front wheel drive and offer 27 and 26 overall mpg.
Its build quality is solid enough for its intended market — younger city drivers looking for a vehicle small enough to be manageable on the street, but more useful with extra carrying capability. But, at first perusal, this reporter didn’t expect that construction to hold too well for wilder and more demanding duties. It seemed a little to thin across the beam and a shade too tinny to stand up to much punishment.
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I underestimated this Kia’s soul, to make what now seems an almost unavoidable turn of phrase. With MacPherson Struts on the from wheels and Coupled Torsion Beam Axle out back, the Soul manages to ride high over rougher bumps. Its electric power steering might not be as tight as a sportier roadster or coupe, but it’ll put the nose where you’d like it to be.
To let this 2016 Kia Soul off the leash a bit, I led it out to dirt roads about 45 minutes outside of Missoula, Montana for a couple days of misbehaving. While I never took it truly off-road and made the crossover stand up to rocky includes or ford streams, the dirt roads of the Montana wilderness can go from dusty slick to muddy mess in short order.
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To sum up the Big Sky Country verdict on the Soul, it was an absolute ball to drive along those trails. It’s well balanced if you can forgive just a bit of top-heaviness, so I could let the back end out with confidence — enjoying some reckless under steer and power-sliding around curves (front wheel drive be damned). It’s quick enough to gather up speed uphill and tough enough to absorb a pothole or sudden stop.
While the Kia Soul’s performance along the dirt shouldn’t persuade anyone to make this vehicle a primary choice for off-pavement work, it’s nice to know a $15,000 vehicle can manage it when needed.

Monday, October 24, 2016

KIA: 8 Interesting Facts You Didn’t Know

Number Eight: From sprockets to Pistons!

It started out as a bicycle manufacturer. They used to make bike parts in the 1940s and then went onto launch the first Korean motor scooter in 1957. After that, they collaborated with Honda to create motor cycles.

Number Seven: The Del-Boy-Mobile

It was after 1974 that Kia manufactured their first car. Before that, they created many versions of a three-wheeler pick up truck which had a rather funky design. They made lorries in 1975 after they produced their first car and then focused only on cars in the 1980s.

Number Six: The Lotus collaboration

Kia collaborated with the British car company, Lotus for a one-off project. This was surprising since Lotus was a sporting car brand and Kia was making pick up trucks twenty years ago. But, the brainchild of the companies, the Lotus Elan was a huge success in 1996. It was an offering for the masses under Kia’s branding.

Number Five: Winning Laurels Over and Over Again

Kia is a well established brand all over the world and can easily compete with the larger car companies of the world. Kia won four design awards in 2011 in the Automotive Brand Contest along with many more laurels awards for being a global and green company.

Number Four:  Excellent output

The Hwasung manufacturing plant produces a million cars annually which amounts to 114 cars per hour. That is almost 2 cars per minute.

Number Three: Old is Gold

Kia is the oldest Korean car company. They were founded in 1947.

Number Two: Sportage – the Kia star

Since its release, the Sportage has sold 3,000,000 units all over the world. It has become the company’s biggest selling brand and makes up a fifth of its total sales.

Number One: The First Of Its Origin

Kia’s Sportage was the first Korean car to be featured and competing in the Paris-Dakar rally. The Korean car market is a competitive one, and to think Sportage made the debut is pretty awesome.

Friday, October 21, 2016

Kia to boost hybrid, electric offerings, add fuel cell in 2020

Kia is continuing with plans to significantly increase the number of green cars in its future lineup.
The Korean automaker and its parent, Hyundai, together hope to become the second-biggest seller of green cars worldwide, after Toyota.

That means more hybrids, plug-in hybrids, battery-electric cars, and even some hydrogen fuel-cell vehicles.

By 2020, Kia will have 14 green models in its global lineup, European boss Michael Cole said in a recent interview with the British magazine Autocar.

That total will include new variants of existing models, such as a hybrid version of the Kia Optima station wagon sold in Europe, and a plug-in hybrid version of the Niro hybrid utility vehicle.
Kia doesn't sell Optima wagons in the U.S., but we already get both hybrid and plug-in hybrid versions of the Optima mid-size sedan.

Its hybrid and plug-in hybrid powertrains are lifted from the Hyundai Sonata, which shares a platform with the Optima.

Unveiled in February at the 2016 Chicago Auto Show, the Niro is Kia's first dedicated hybrid model.

Kia calls it a crossover, but the Niro's styling is somewhere between wagon and SUV, and it will launch with only front-wheel drive available.

The Soul EV will likely continue as Kia's only battery-electric model for the time being.
This electric version of the funky compact Soul is only sold at certain dealers in a handful of U.S. states deemed by Kia to be sufficiently electric-car-friendly.

European boss Cole also said Kia will launch its first production hydrogen fuel-cell car "around 2020."

This new model would likely use the second-generation fuel-cell power-train being developed for parent Hyundai's next hydrogen model.

The next fuel-cell Hyundai is expected to roll out in time for the 2018 Winter Olympics, which are to be held in South Korea.

A Kia variant would likely follow, though little else is known about it at this point.

Hyundai has hinted that its next fuel-cell vehicle will be another crossover, replacing the current Tucson Fuel Cell.

Kia may follow Hyundai's lead and offer a fuel-cell crossover as well, but no details about the model have been confirmed.

Meanwhile, the launch of the Hyundai Ioniq hatchback with hybrid, plug-in hybrid, and battery-electric powertrains will likely go a long way toward meeting Hyundai/Kia's ambitious green-car goal.

Thursday, October 13, 2016

Hands-On Defensive Driving Education For Teens And Their Parents

IRVINE, Calif.Oct. 13, 2016 /PRNewswire/ -- B.R.A.K.E.S. (Be Responsible and Keep Everyone Safe), a non-profit that conducts free defensive driving classes for teens and their parents in cities nationwide, will come to the D.C., area for the first time on Oct. 15 & 16.  The classes, utilizing a fleet of vehicles provided by Kia Motors America (KMA), will serve as the unofficial start of National Teen Driver Safety Week, Oct. 16-22, an initiative designed to educate teen drivers on best practices to stay safe behind the wheel. The B.R.A.K.E.S. classes will be held at the Rosecroft Raceway in Fort Washington, Maryland.  Registration for the lifesaving instruction nationwide is available at PutOnTheBrakes.org/Schedule.
Participating teens and their parents will receive hands-on defensive driving education from B.R.A.K.E.S.' team of highly skilled professional instructors, which includes current and former race car drivers, stunt drivers and law-enforcement training officers. Instruction includes a distracted driving course, emergency braking practice using anti-lock braking systems, evasive maneuvering and skid-control. The program adheres to a low three-to-one student-to-teacher ratio to ensure personal attention is provided to every driver. Parents also participate in the courses to ensure proper driving techniques are reinforced following the training.As the Official Vehicle and presenting sponsor of the B.R.A.K.E.S. Teen Pro-Active Driving School, Kia provides a fleet of more than 44 vehicles. With Kia's support, B.R.A.K.E.S. continues to increase the number of schools offered and expand into new markets.

"Car crashes are the number-one cause of death among teens in this country, and we started B.R.A.K.E.S. eight years ago to deal with this nationwide epidemic," said Doug Herbert, who founded B.R.A.K.E.S. in 2008, after he lost his two young sons in a tragic car crash. "After years of hard work, we recently trained our 20,000th student, and the program continues to build momentum. We're thrilled to be able to bring B.R.A.K.E.S. to our Nation's Capital for the first time, and to be part of National Teen Driver Safety Week, which will help educate even more teens and prepare them for emergency situations that they'll face on the roads."
As the Official Vehicle and presenting sponsor of the B.R.A.K.E.S. Teen Pro-Active Driving School, Kia provides a fleet of more than 44 vehicles. With Kia's support, B.R.A.K.E.S. continues to increase the number of schools offered and expand into new markets."Kia places a priority on vehicle safety, and our partnership with B.R.A.K.E.S. reflects our commitment to keeping drivers safe on the road, which begins with practical, hands-on driving experience," said Michael Sprague, chief operating officer and EVP, KMA. "The B.R.A.K.E.S. program has been proven to improve driving skills and help teens make better decisions when behind the wheel."
To finish out the 2016 calendar year, additional B.R.A.K.E.S. courses will be held in major east-coast markets, including: Orlando, FloridaEnglishtown, New JerseyHazel Park, MichiganConcord, North Carolina; and Knoxville, Tennessee.  Full details for each upcoming B.R.A.K.E.S. course can be found by visiting putonthebrakes.org.
The four-hour B.R.A.K.E.S. programs begin with a classroom session followed by behind-the-wheel driving exercises, including panic braking, crash avoidance and car control, and distracted driving avoidance, all free of charge and taught by professional instructors.
The B.R.A.K.E.S. training curriculum includes the following:
  • Crash Avoidance/Slalom: This forces students to make a split-second decision to execute a quick, evasive lane change when encountering an unexpected object without losing control of the vehicle. Students must navigate their vehicle around cones while focusing on weight transfer, hand positioning and eye scanning.
  • Distracted Driving: The course demonstrates the danger that cell phones, text messaging, and other distractions can pose while driving.
  • Drop Wheel/Off Road Recovery: The drop-wheel recovery course teaches students how to effectively recover when one or more of their wheels veers off the road surface and onto the shoulder, regaining control of the car and safely returning to the roadway.
  • Panic Stop: The panic-stop course instructs students on proper braking techniques to help stop a vehicle in the shortest distance possible while maintaining control. Students and their parents experience firsthand the pulsating brake pedal effects of Antilock Brake Systems (ABS) and how to control the vehicle when ABS is engaged.
  • Car Control and Recovery: A wet skid pad simulates wet-road conditions. Students learn how to recover from both oversteer (rear wheel) and understeer (front wheel) skids.
  • Other learning experiences vary by school but can include an eye-opening view from the driver's seat of a big-rig truck with a discussion about safe zones and blind spots, as well as demonstrations from police and fire-rescue agencies.

Wednesday, October 12, 2016

New Kia Soul price revealed

Kia has cut the price of its update Soul crossover in an attempt to increase sales above the paltry 65 units sold up to the end of September this year.
The rejuvenated Soul will now be priced from $24,990 drive away compared to its previous position of $26,990 plus on-road costs, a significant saving of almost $6000.
2017 Kia Soul. Photo: Supplied
A range of exterior design tweaks have been undertaken to help bring the Soul into line with the rest of the car makers range and include a new grille, bumper, air takes, fog lamps and wheels.
While on the inside the the Soul has had a reworked front fascia, cloth door trim, seat covers and now features a 5.0-inch screen and drive select modes.
Kia has also reduced the cost of paint options with single tone metallic paints costing $520 and two models - with contrast roof and body colours - costing $390 for non-metallic white and red paint and $910 for metallic red and black paintwork.
The Soul is still powered by the same 113kW/191Nm 2.0-litre four-cylinder petrol engine which is mated to a six-speed automatic transmission.

Tuesday, October 11, 2016

Kia Motors America September Sales Continue Winning Streak

Over and over again, it seems like The News Wheel has to publish an article about Kia’s increasingly awesome sales—and the South Korean carmaker’s September 2016 sales are no different. For the ninth month in a row, Kia Motors America has posted a sales gain.
This September sales increase means that Kia has officially posted its highest sales total through the first three quarters in company history. With a total of 49,220 units sold in September, Kia saw a 3.3% year-to-date increase.
“On the strength of double digit gains for the Rio, Forte, Sportage, and Sedona nameplates through the first nine months of the year, Kia’s upward trajectory continues despite the industry showing signs of little growth,” said Michael Sprague, chief operating officer and EVP for Kia Motors America.
While the Rio, Forte, Sportage, and Sedona all saw double-digit gains last month, the true heroes of Kia’s September sales were the Forte and Sportage. With a total of 8,256 units, the Kia Forte subcompact saw an increase over last year’s total sales of 5,388. The Kia Sportage crossover sold a total of 6,282 units, which was also a significant increase over last year’s total sales of 4,012.
As for the year-to-date sales, Kia continues to come out on top. At this time last year, the carmaker had sold a total of 475,980 units in the United States. This year, it has sold a total of 491,764. It looks like Kia won’t be stopping its upwards trajectory anytime soon.