Tuesday, September 30, 2008
Award-winning full-size sedan honored in new study
# Amanti spotlighted for quality, fuel efficiency and overall value
# Six Kia vehicles recognized as SmartGreenSM
IRVINE, Calif., September 29, 2008 - Kia Motors America (KMA) today announced the Kia Amanti topped the large car segment in the newest Strategic Vision automotive metric, the SmartGreenIndexSM (SGISM). The SGI reflects the relationships between perceived quality plus overall value and issues including fuel economy and environmental friendliness.
In addition to Amanti, according to the new SGI, Spectra compact, Rondo CUV, Sportage compact SUV, Sorento midsize SUV and Sedona minivan also scored highly in their respective segments. These placements further express consumers are taking note of Kia's efforts in providing stylish, comfortable and economically-friendly vehicles.
"Seeing Amanti at the top of the SmartGreenIndex is a testament to our continuing consumer satisfaction," said Michael Sprague, vice president of marketing, KMA. "We also are very proud of the other Kia vehicles recognized by Strategic Vision and consumers, further exemplifying Kia as a consumer-minded manufacturer committed to offering quality, fuel-efficient vehicles to smart, discerning customers."
Strategic Vision calculated the SGI from 44,320 buyer responses who purchased 2008 or 2009 models from September 2007 to March 2008. SmartGreen is based on actual customer experiences and is weighted according to those aspects which best predict customer advocacy, overall satisfaction, future brand choices and loyalty, which ultimately result in increased model and brand sales.
Already a recipient of a J.D. Power and Associates APEAL Award in 2005 and recently awarded a "Good" rating from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) in side impact crash tests, Amanti offers outstanding safety features, luxury and overall convenience in the full-size sedan segment, coming standard with amenities including: eight airbags; leather, chrome and wood accents; and a 3.8-liter all-aluminum DOHC V6 engine which generates 264 horsepower and 260 pound-feet of torque.
About Kia Motors America
Kia Motors America (KMA) is the sales, marketing and distribution arm of Kia Motors Corporation based in Seoul, South Korea. KMA offers a complete line of vehicles through more than 640 dealers throughout the United States. For 2007, KMA recorded its 14th consecutive year of record U.S. sales. Kia Motors subscribes to a philosophy of building high value, high quality, safe and dynamic vehicles. Kia Motors prides itself on producing vehicles that are exciting and enabling and evoke the Kia tagline "The Power to Surprise."
Monday, September 29, 2008
Kia has added a third SUV to its lineup for 2009, this one even more capable than its other two models for the kind of serious off-road driving that spawned the creation of sport utilities in the first place.
Long before SUVs were heartily embraced by soccer moms as the favored replacements for minivans and station wagons, those of us who like to go where no mere car has gone before had been buying sport utilities as our weekend getaway vehicles.
My first, which I purchased "gently used" in 1973 while I was editor of a weekly newspaper in the Cumberland Mountains of upper east Tennessee, was a 1965 Jeep Wagoneer, which came with a Buick V-6 engine and a great four-wheel-drive system.
The Cumberlands, part of the Appalachian chain that runs from Maine to north Alabama, offer some great off-road-driving opportunities, and for that, a Jeep-type vehicle was just the ticket.
Today, there are plenty of SUVs on the market, but their numbers are dwindling as consumers increasingly turn to the so-called CUVs, or crossover utility vehicles, which offer marginal off-road capabilities at best, but are as good as or better than station wagons or minivans at hauling the kids and their soccer gear around town.
With gasoline prices spiking and car buyers pulling even further back on SUV purchases this year, I have to applaud South Korea's Kia for going ahead this fall with the launch of its all-new Borrego. This is a midsize SUV that isn't a crossover, but a traditional truck-based, body-on-frame vehicle that is rugged enough to tackle tough off-road trails such as those I once explored in the Cumberlands.
The Borrego's name is quite fitting for a vehicle that is so off-road capable. It's taken from the name of one of my all-time favorite places for four-wheeling -- the Anza-Borrego Desert State Park near Palm Springs, Calif.
Kia began development of the Borrego about four years ago when gasoline was about half the price it is now, and no one was worrying much about fuel economy.
But some other automakers probably would have pulled the plug on the Borrego this year if it had been their vehicle. Kia, though, doesn't have much to lose and plenty to gain with the launch of the Borrego.
That's because even with its traditional SUV chassis, the Borrego's EPA fuel-economy ratings are as good as those of some of the popular crossovers -- 16 miles per gallon city/21 highway with the base 3.3-liter V-6 engine and four-wheel drive (17/22 with two-wheel drive).
Another bold move is the introduction of a 4.6-liter V-8 as the optional engine in the Borrego, borrowed from the new Hyundai Genesis luxury sedan. This is the first V-8 in either a Kia or Hyundai vehicle, and some would argue that it's a little late coming, especially now that consumers seem to be abandoning V-8s in record numbers in favor of less powerful, more efficient four- and six-cylinder engines.
The Borrego accomplishes two goals for Kia, a subsidiary of Hyundai. It gives the company its most powerful and best-equipped vehicle yet, and it shows consumers that the brand once known mostly for value and economy can field a credible entry in a near-premium vehicle segment.
The vehicle seats up to seven people, and it has a roomy and comfortable interior that looks more like that of a luxury sedan than an off-road-capable SUV.
Yet when equipped with the optional four-wheel drive, the Borrego is just as home on the range as it is on the freeway.
Of course, it comes with a two-speed transfer case with low range gearing, a necessity on steep mountain trails and in deep sand, such as one might find while driving north on the beach at South Padre Island.
Base prices range from $26,245 for the entry two-wheel-drive LX model with V-6 engine, to $30,995 for the uplevel, two-wheel-drive, V-8 powered EX version.
The V-8 LX model with four-wheel drive is the same price as the EX V-8; the V-6 version of the EX with two-wheel drive is $27,995.
Four-wheel drive can be added to the LX V-6 for $2,050 and to the EX V-6 or V-8 for an additional $2,000.
The V-6 is rated at 276 horsepower and is connected to a five-speed automatic transmission. This engine produces EPA mileage of 17 city/22 highway with two-wheel drive, and 16/21 with four-wheel drive.
With the V-8, there is 337 horsepower and 323 foot-pounds of torque. Standard is a six-speed automatic. EPA ratings are 15/22 with two-wheel drive and 15/20 with four-wheel drive.
The Borrego, which is sold as the Mohave in markets outside North America, was designed with occupant safety in mind. It has earned the highest five-star crash safety ratings from the U.S. government for all seating positions.
"Borrego is Kia's newest vehicle, and it is a prime example of our commitment and dedication to providing the best and most up-to-date standard safety features in vehicles for consumers," Byung-Mo Ahn, group president and CEO of Kia Motors America, said in announcing pricing for the vehicle, which went on sale in August.
Among its standard safety features are advanced front air bags, front seat-mounted side air bags, side-curtain air bags for all three rows of seats, a driver's knee air bag (V-8 models only), four-wheel antilock disc brakes, electronic stability control and traction control, a tire-pressure monitoring system, electronic brake-force distribution and electronic brake assist.
For those with boats, horse trailers or small travel trailers, towing capacity is 5,000 pounds for the V-6 models and 7,500 pounds for the V-8.
Standard amenities include air conditioning, an AM/FM/CD/MP3 six-speaker audio system with USB and auxiliary input jack, power windows/mirrors/door locks with remote and Sirius satellite radio.
Kia says the Borrego has more interior space than the Ford Explorer, Nissan Pathfinder, Toyota 4Runner, Jeep Grand Cherokee or the redesigned 2009 Honda Pilot.
G. Chambers Williams III
Friday, September 26, 2008
Kia plans to sell 18,000 units of the new model, called Soul, by the end of the year, and will boost annual sales to 136,000 units from next year, the Seoul-based automaker said in a statement. Exports to Europe and the U.S. will begin in the first half of 2009, it said.
Chairman Chung Mong Koo is betting on new small autos to improve profitability at Kia after operating losses in the past two years. Kia this year began selling a revamped Morning minicar and Forte small car as consumers demand more fuel-efficient vehicles to cope with a 5.2 percent increase in South Korea's gasoline prices since December.
The Soul is fitted with a 1.6-liter or 2-liter engine, both on petrol and diesel variants. It will sell for between 14 million won ($12,300) and 20.8 million won, the statement said.
Kia spent 190 billion won in the past two-and-a-half years to develop the model, it said. The automaker hired former Volkswagen's head designer Peter Schreyer as Chief Design Officer in 2006 to overhaul its lineup.
"Kia's strength in small cars would help it weather a setback in global auto demand,'' said Cho Soo Hong, a Seoul- based analyst at Hyundai Securities Co., which isn't related to Hyundai Motor Co., Kia's parent company.
With the introduction of four new or revamped models this year, Kia's local market share rose to 25.4 percent in the first eight months of this year, compared with 22 percent a year earlier, according to Korea Automobile Manufacturers Association.
Kia's domestic sales rose 16 percent from a year earlier in that period, the most among South Korea's five carmakers. Overall sales including exports gained 6.6 percent.
By Seonjin Cha
Monday, September 22, 2008
There's an old joke about how one gets to Carnegie Hall - practice. In a analogy spin on the joke, the only way you'll get to experience a really good midsize luxury car is to drive it. And not just because Kia is running a national sweepstakes, either.
This is an enjoyable drive. Period. I know, cause a few weeks ago I was able to test drive the Borrego through some of the most beautiful country in the U.S., the Eastern Cascade Mountains in the state of Washington.
From the flats of the lush valleys to the climb up some nifty, twisty roads to reach a beautiful lake for some fishing - this is a tough job - I was pleased and a little awed by the luxury Kia has been able to inject into this vehicle. Its impressive, damn impressive in and out. Which for some dumb reason, difficult for most manufacturers of SUVs to accomplish. Kia got it right.
Built on a platform with a wheelbase of 114.0 inches with an overall length of 192.3 inches and overall width of 75.4 inches, Borrego stands wider and longer than the Chevy Trailblazer, Jeep Grand Cherokee and Toyota 4Runner its competition in this class. Its wide stance allows for a roomy, comfortable interior with standard three rows of seating for up to seven adult passengers.
Two all-aluminum engines are offered - a 3.8-liter V6 and 4.6-liter V8 engine, the most powerful in Kia's line to date. While the horsepower on both is nice V6 at 276 and the V8 at 337 hp, it's the torque that's cool.
The smaller engine puts out 267 pound-feet of torque at 4,400 rpm, and the V8 generates a class-leading 323 pound-feet of torque at 3,500 rpm - more powerful than the previously named SUVs as well as the Toyota 4Runner, Nissan Pathfinder, Honda Pilot, Ford Explorer, Chevrolet Trailblazer and GMC Acadia.
Given the price per gallon these days, the Borrego is not exceptional. It's okay when considering the impressive horsepower and torque with the unique-to-Borrego and new-to-Kia six-speed automatic transmission. The V8 engine has an EPA rating of 15/22 while the V6 is 17/21 city/highway. How 'bout adequate?
Available in LX and EX trims, Borrego's spacious cabin comes well equipped with a slew of standard convenience features, including: air conditioning; power door locks, windows and mirrors; keyless entry; cruise control and an AM/FM/CD/MP3 six-speaker audio system.
Complementing the audio system, Borrego comes standard with USB and auxiliary input jack and is the first Kia vehicle to offer SIRIUS Satellite Radio with three months of complimentary service for hours of uninterrupted amusement.
Adding even more refinement and upgrades, the EX trim level includes an eight-way power adjustable driver's seat, four-way power adjustable front passenger's seat, floor mats, dual-zone automatic climate control, Homelink with compass, steering wheel audio controls, trip computer, and a leather-wrapped steering wheel and shift knob. The new midsize SUV also offers Kia's first voice-activated navigation system, with a Rear Seat Entertainment Package that includes an eight-inch widescreen television (EX models) for passenger entertainment during long car rides or around-town adventures.
Nice package, right? So head to the Kia dealers near you to enter the sweepstakes or go online at BorregoExperience.com/win. Good luck.
by Marty Bernstein
The Auto Channel
Friday, September 19, 2008
Kia's first midsize luxury SUV has been thrust onto the American market, and to assist marketing and promotion of the SUV, Kia has developed a national interactive promotional tour called the "BorregoExperience."
Starting September 16, 600 individuals and families became part of a product research study for the Borrego through extended Borrego VIP Test Drives based in Los Angeles, Dallas, and Phoenix. The individuals and families received brand-new SUVs to test drive, which also allows Kia to monitor and analyze consumer feedback. The feedback is important to ensure the vehicle will be well-tailored to the American masses, especially those unfamiliar with Kia vehicles.
Also part of the BorregoExperience is a nationwide sweepstakes and national exhibition with a paid test drive. The sweepstakes allows licensed drivers 18 years of age and older to enter for a chance to win one of five new Kia Borregos. The national exhibition has been touring great American cities since May 2008. Test drivers of the Borrego can receive a $20 gift card.
The next stops for the tour are in Cleveland, Phoenix, Indian Wells, and Tampa. The Cleveland, Ohio, stop will be from September 20 through 21, Phoenix, Arizona, stop from October 3 through 5, Indian Wells, California, stop from October 10 through 12, and Tampa, Florida, stop on October 25.
By Benson Kong
Source: Kia Motors Press Release
Thursday, September 18, 2008
Kia's timing is off. It's hit the market with a traditional, truck-based SUV -- available with Kia's first V-8 engine -- just as Americans decided such fuel-thirsty SUVs are as appealing as poison ivy.
Its marketing pitch also might be off. Kia -- long the brand you bought for price -- is promoting the new Borrego SUV as a luxury model.
Of course, Kia might wind up with the midsize, truck-based market to itself as other makers flee to more popular, car-based crossover SUVs that are lighter, nimbler and potentially more fuel-efficient.
Kia is not dumb, just unlucky. Product plans are locked in several years before a vehicle hits showrooms. The automaker says that nobody could have forecast the sudden run-up in fuel prices and implosion of sales for this type of body-on-frame SUV.
In Borrego's favor is that it feels tauter and crisper than most truck products. Both the V-8 and V-6 early-production test trucks were sporty and satisfying to drive. Not as refined as a well-done crossover, but commendable nonetheless. Don't turn up your nose at Borrego based on its underpinnings.
Mileage wasn't great, but no worse than rivals, whether crossovers or truck-based SUVs. Expect 15 mpg, plus or minus, in the suburbs; better with a light foot. The V-6 was a little better than the V-8.
On paper, the optional V-8 powertrain is a hottie: 4.6-liter, 337 horsepower, 323 pounds-feet of torque, six-speed automatic. Behind the wheel, though, it had to be revved a bit to get that hoo-boy feeling you want.
The surprise was the base V-6, a 3.8-liter unit rated 276 hp and 267 lbs.-ft. of torque, mated to a five-speed auto. It was lively from the get-go through speeds that'll put you at odds with people in cars with flashing lights. Perhaps because of its be-happy persona, the V-6 drank fuel nearly as fast as the V-8. Conservative drivers would do better.
Both transmissions shifted up and down crisply -- not always true even in pure luxury vehicles. And both provided a manual-shift mode that was easy and inviting to use.
Despite some flaws, Borrego had a barbed appeal -- it got under your skin and was hard to get out. There was a bit of anticipation heading out each day to fire up the Borrego. Accounting for that:
-Sportiness. Agility made the Borregos seem less like clumsy trucks. Steering was especially nice, neither twitchy nor numb. The body didn't lean much in tight corners.
-Comfort. The leather bucket seats in the testers were a nice blend of cosseting and corseting. Second-row seats slid fore and aft and reclined.
-Ambience. Befitting a premium machine, controls felt good to operate, surfaces were appealing to eye and hand, and the design and layout inside were attractive.
-4x4. Borrego's the good kind. You can leave it in automatic four-wheel-drive mode or lock into 4x4 high for challenging roads or 4x4 low for true off-roading. Kia says the system sends up to 35% of power to the front wheels and anticipates the right power split based on acceleration and other factors.
It was flawless in heavy rain with barely a peep from the rears before the fronts clawed for grip.
-Features. Thoughtful touches include a little extra cargo space under the rear floor, standard skid plates underneath, a 115-volt power outlet on some models, easily deciphered three-zone climate control on deluxe versions and optional heated seats in the second row instead of only in front.
-Noise. Not much.
But, no, the Borrego's not a home run, because:
-Ride. Too much pitch and toss; too stiff even for truck-lovers, and jarring on sharp bumps.
-Price. The V-8 test truck was $39,295; the V-6, $36,295. Yet, both lacked rear-seat DVD, backup cameras, power tailgates and one-touch windows. Back-up camera and rear DVD are options. Kia expects to have one-touch up/down windows in the 2010, and plans a power gate in a few years.
A Limited model with most features standard is planned this fall. Kia has not set that price yet.
On the other end, Borrego starts at about $27,000, similar to the Ford Explorer, a truck-based SUV that is its closest rival. Compared with Explorer, Borrego has a stiffer ride, but a classier interior, better drivetrain and better mileage.
Borrego starts about $1,300 less than the new-design 2009 Honda Pilot midsize crossover SUV (Test Drive, May 8). Borrego rides and handles worse than the Honda and uses more fuel.
If you like truck-based, midsize SUVs, Borrego is a very good example of a vanishing breed.
2009 Kia Borrego What? Madness: A truck-based SUV at a time nobody's buying them. Midsize. Four doors. Three rows of seats. Choice of V-6 or Kia's first V-8 engine. Rear-wheel or four-wheel drive (4x4). When? On sale since mid-July.
Where? Made in South Korea.
Why? Kia didn't anticipate Americans fleeing truck-based SUVs for mpg's.
How much? Starts at $26,995 including shipping for rear-drive V-6. Top-of-the-line V-8 4x4 starts at $31,745.
How powerful? V-6 is 3.8-liter rated 276 horsepower at 6,000 rpm, 267 pounds-feet of torque at 4,400 rpm. Optional V-8 is 4.6-liter rated 337 hp at 6,000 rpm, 323 lbs.-ft. at 3,500 rpm.
V-6 with five-speed automatic, V-8 has six-speed. Both have manual mode.
How lavish? Standard features include stability control; side-impact and head-curtain air bags; anti-lock brakes with brake-force distribution and assist; back-up warning system; air conditioning; power steering, brakes, windows, locks, mirrors; AM/FM/CD/MP3/Sirius-ready audio; cruise control; slide/recline second-row seat; remote locks.
Four-wheel-drive option has full-time automatic setting, 4x4 high/low ranges.
How big? Near a Ford Explorer but about 200 pounds lighter: 192.1 inches long, 75.4 in. wide, 71.3 in. tall on a 114-in. wheelbase; 4,248 lbs. to 4,5621 lbs. Tows 5,000 lbs. (V-6) or 7,500 lbs. (V-8).
Cargo space in cubic feet listed as 12.4 behind third row, 43.1 with third row down, 97.6 with second, third down.
Turning circle is listed as 36.5 ft.
How thirsty? V-6 is rated 17 miles per gallon in town, 21 highway, 18 combined with rear-wheel drive; 16/21/18 with 4x4. V-8 is 15/22/18 with rear-wheel, 15/20/17 with 4x4.
In combined suburban, freeway driving, trip computer showed 15.3 mpg in V-6 4x4 test truck, 14.6 in V-8 4x4.
Regular (87-octane) gasoline is specified. Tank holds 20.6 gallons.
Overall: Stiff-riding and some versions pricey, but a generally nice truck.
Wednesday, September 17, 2008
As a noun, a desert refers to an arid, hostile environment. As a verb, it means to abandon or forsake someone or something.
Kia's all-new 2009 Borrego is named for a desert in Southern California. It arrives at a time when both meanings describe the climate that greets it.
The Borrego is a mid-size, body-on-frame, seven-passenger SUV with V6 or V8 power, a type of vehicle that only recently was wildly popular. But with gasoline prices seemingly stuck at more than $4 per gallon, it faces a forbidding environment, with buyers deserting these vehicles in droves.
It's unfortunate because the South Korean manufacturer has produced an exceptional first effort in a segment in which it has not competed. The company views that as a reason for optimism because each sale is a plus it would not have otherwise.
"Kia has never been in this segment before," said Tom Loveless, the marketing vice president. "We used to be always the second car in the driveway. This gives us a chance to be the first."
As a body-on-frame SUV, the Borrego competes with truck-based SUVs like the Ford Explorer, Nissan Pathfinder, Toyota 4Runner and Jeep Grand Cherokee. It also targets the Honda Pilot, which is a unit-body crossover utility vehicle.
Generally speaking, truck-based SUVs are more rugged, have more power, better towing capability and, with four-wheel drive, more suited to off-road adventures. Crossovers, on the other hand, usually deliver better handling and fuel economy, and have all-wheel drive mainly for adverse on-road conditions.
Despite its underpinnings, the Kia Borrego does not have a truck-like feel. The impression is more crossover than SUV, not unlike that of the Hyundai Veracruz or Toyota Highlander. It cruises serenely on the highway, with confident handling and little intrusion of wind, mechanical or road noise.
However, despite a good ride on smooth surfaces, the suspension system is harsh, transmitting road shocks to the passengers' behinds when the going gets choppy.
But the Borrego has all the attributes, including its available V8 engine, regarded as important by customers who tow boats and trailers, and take their vehicles off-road.
With the 337-horsepower V8, an all-new design that, with different tuning and transmission gearing also powers the new Hyundai Genesis, the Borrego can tow up to 7,200 pounds.
Moreover, with four-wheel drive (a $2,000 option), the Borrego can be shifted with a dash-mounted switch from on-road all-wheel drive to high- or low-range four-wheel drive for adventures into the wilderness.
The Borrego has three rows of seats with a surprising amount of flexibility for passengers and cargo. The third-row seat actually can accommodate two people up to six-feet tall in reasonable comfort, though it takes some agility to get back there.
The second row seats, divided two-thirds and one-third, can be adjusted fore and aft. There's about a foot of travel with four locked positions to divvy up the space among the three rows. The seatbacks also recline.
There's more than adequate room in the second row for three adults, with a nearly flat floor, although the center position is shortchanged on cushion comfort and the intrusion of the center console.
Kia touts the fuel economy as best in the class. On the V6 with rear drive, the city/highway EPA rating is 17/21 miles per gallon. The V8 model actually does slightly better on the highway side, at 15/22, owing to its newer design and the use of a six-speed automatic transmission instead of the five-speed automatic on the V6 model. With four-wheel drive, the V6 rating is 16/21 and the V8 gets a 15/20 rating.
Buyers have come to expect a lot of stuff for the bucks from South Korean manufacturers, and the Borrego is no exception. The base Borrego LX two-wheel drive model starts at $26,995, which is about what some compact two-row crossover SUVs cost.
Standard equipment includes a full complement of safety equipment: electronic stability control, antilock brakes, side airbags and side-curtain air bags, tire-pressure monitoring, backup warning system, and, for off-road duty, downhill brake control, hill start assist, tow hooks and underbody skid plates.
Also standard are air conditioning, an audio system with satellite radio, 17-inch alloy wheels, cruise control, remote locking, and power windows and mirrors. The upholstery is a comfortable, sturdy cloth and the supportive front seats are adjustable for height.
An unusual item of standard equipment is a power closing system for the tailgate, not unlike those featured on luxury cars that snub down the trunk lid. When the tailgate makes contact, the mechanism pulls it tightly closed.
The test Borrego was a V8 model with four-wheel drive. It had a base price of $33,745 and, with options, topped out at $39,295. That included leather upholstery on the first two rows of seats (the third row has a vinyl covering), a motorized sunroof, heated front seats, dual-zone automatic climate control, rear air conditioning, running boards, power tilt-and-telescoping steering wheel, a memory system for the seats, mirrors and steering wheel, and an upgraded audio system.
By FRANK A. AUKOFER, Scripps Howard News Service
(Distributed by Scripps Howard News Service)
Monday, September 15, 2008
In the passenger-car business, the vast gap in the level of quality between the leaders and followers can now be measured in mere inches instead of miles. One of the four-doors that fits within that miniscule gap is Kia's redesigned Optima sedan that arrives this fall.
From humble beginnings back in 2001, the Optima represented an attempt by Hyundai's offshoot division to compete with more established sedan major-leaguers such as the Honda Accord, Toyota Camry, Chevrolet Malibu plus a sprinkling of other players. Less than a decade later, the Korean-built car runs neck and neck with the pack, especially since the Optima has been restyled and upgraded less than three years after launching its previous-generation model.
Although the previous Optima used the same basic platform as its Hyundai Sonata counterpart, overall length was shorter by about 2.5 inches. That minor shortfall has been addressed, with both models (the Sonata has also been updated for 2009) now virtually equal in size. Most of the Optima's gain is due to a complete redesign of the front end, now displaying a more prominent grille and logo. Also more substantial is a new front bumper and available fog lights, while, conversely, the headlamp pods have been downsized and now blend in with the new grillework. Other physical changes include revised side trim, rear deck lid and taillamps.
The Optima now displays more character, a vital ingredient in getting prospective buyers to connect with the Optima on an emotional level instead of simply relying on its practical nature to generate new or conquest sales from competing sedan brands.
Interior changes include a new dashboard and control panel layout for easier identification and intuitive function. As well, a spot has been created for the navigation system, a first-time offering on the Optima.
The base 2.4-liter four-cylinder now delivers 175 horsepower, a gain of 15 ponies, while the optional 2.7-liter V6 gains five horsepower for a total of 190. Kia claims both engines produce improved economy, although exact figures have not been released.
Interestingly, among the significant platform and component sharing that exists between the Optima and the Hyundai Sonata, the 2.7 motor remains exclusive to the Kia. Meanwhile, the Sonata's upgraded-for-'09 249-horsepower 3.3-liter V6 is not available in the Optima.
A five-speed manual transmission, or optional five-speed automatic is offered with the four-cylinder, while V6 models come with the automatic.
For 2009, the Optima lineup has been increased to three versions: LX; EX; and SX. Base cars include air conditioning, power windows and door locks, six-speaker audio system, multi-adjustable (non-power) driver's and front passenger's seat and a comprehensive rundown of airbags and other safety gear. The EX adds climate control, leather-covered seats, power adjustable driver's seat, tilt and telescopic steering wheel and auto-dimming rearview mirror.
The new-for-2009 SX's exclusive features include a sport-tuned suspension, unique grille and headlight trim, outside-mirror-mounted turn-signal lights, aluminum interior trim with metal accelerator and brake pedals and 17-inch wheels (both LX and EX run on 16-inch rims).
Along with a new navigation package, Optima buyers can add a power sunroof, premium sound system and a wealth of other goodies.
Enough can't be said about Kia's five-year/60,000-mile bumper-to-bumper warranty and 10-year/100,000-mile powertrain coverage, which has yet to be matched by any of its major competitors, save for Hyundai. That level of protection is yet another reason why the Optima's hair's-breath distance from other mainstream sedans deserves serious consideration by sedan shoppers.
What you should know: 2009 Kia Optima
Type: Four-door, front-wheel-drive mid-size sedan
Engines: 2.4-liter DOHC inline four-cylinder (175 hp); 2.7-liter DOHC V6 (190 hp)
Transmissions: Five-speed manual (I4 only); five-speed automatic (opt. on I4, standard on V6).
Market position: As with the similar Hyundai Sonata, the Optima offers plenty and style and content for the money and should continue to attract new customers.
Points: * Slightly larger and more distinctive-looking than outgoing version. * Restyled interior should add customer appeal. * Surprising that Sonata's larger 3.3-liter V6 option not offered in the Optima. * Long warranty inspires buying confidence. * A challenger to Accord, Camry and Malibu sedans, but likely won't beat them in sales. * Definitely worth a look-see for sedan shoppers.
Safety: Front airbags; side-impact airbags; side-curtain airbags; anti-lock brakes;traction control; stability control.
The numbers: MPG (city/hwy), 22/32 (2.4, MT); Base price, $19,000 (est., incl. destination)
By Malcolm Gunn | Wheelbase Communications
Friday, September 12, 2008
You would think It would be hard to pick a time worse than now to launch another midsize SUV, but don't tell Kia.
"Four-dollar gas plus SUV is an equation that doesn't necessarily add up," said Kia's vice president of sales, Tom Loveless. "[But] we bring features and value, and all of that spells opportunity for Kia."
Besides, since Kia has never offered a midsize SUV, it's all profit for the giddily optimistic carmaker. This one comes with your choice of 3.8-liter, 276-hp V6 or 4.6-liter, 337-hp V8. Those are mated to five- and six-speed automatics, respectively. Both come in two- or four-wheel drive. Front suspension is double-wishbone, not usually seen in this class, while the rear is multilink.
The features list is as long as your arm--if you're of medium height, anyway. You can get a voice-controlled nav system and 10-speaker Infinity audio, Bluetooth, USB auxiliary jack, auto-locking tailgate and power-adjustable pedals. Six airbags standard, along with 10 cup-holders and 16 air vents (air vents are the new cupholders, Kia says). Prices range from $26,995 for an LX V6 4x2 to $33,745 for an EX V8 4x4.
"The focus groups were surprised that the Borrego had all the features they would expect in the class," said Tim Chaney, director of marketing.
The class includes Ford Explorer, Nissan Pathfinder, Toyota 4Runner, Honda Pilot and Jeep Grand Cherokee, according to Kia. The Borrego outpowers all of those in either engine configuration. It costs a bit less, but once you juggle the availability of one competitor's features versus another, all you get are angry letters from car-sales professionals who feel slighted. The Borrego has a good list of the things midsize-SUV buyers want at a good price, plus the ridiculously long warranty: 10-year, 100,000-mile powertrain plus other coverage standard on all Kias.
We drove it all day over somewhat twisty roads and even some dirt. The ride isolation is quite good; it's a quiet cruiser. On big bumps, we could feel a little more of the unsprung bits, as is the case with big SUVs, but nothing totally out of line. Curb weight ranges from 4,460 pounds to 4,909 pounds, about the middle of the pack. We did a nonscientific 0-to-60-mph run in a V8 4x4 with three people in it on what might have been a flat surface and got 10 seconds. Even though the V8 looks better on paper, you might not notice as big a difference between the V6 and the V8 from behind the wheel, unless you're towing something. That suggests you might want to save some money in the powertrain. Your gas savings would be a wash, since the V6 2WD gets 17/21 mpg, while the V8 2WD manages 15/22. Crazy, no?
With an all-new body-on-frame platform, wouldn't it have made sense to offer a few versions to amortize the cost of development? There were plans for Kia and Hyundai pickups based on this, but they were canceled because of the lousy business climate.
But wait, you say, then why launch this thing? Because Kia believes it can sell enough of them to make money.
By MARK VAUGHN
ON SALE: Now
BASE PRICE: $26,995
DRIVETRAIN: 3.8-liter, 276-hp, 267-lb-ft V6; 4WD, five-speed automatic
CURB WEIGHT: 4,460 lb
0-60 MPH: 11 sec (est)
FUEL ECONOMY (EPA): 19 mpg
Thursday, September 11, 2008
New Borrego comfy, classy competitor.
Anyone who pays attention to automotive advertising has noticed the Kia spots promoting the new Borrego sport-utility vehicle. The ads claim it's "a new kind of luxury SUV."
Your first question should be: Why would Kia introduce a new body-on-frame SUV when sales of that segment have taken a dive? And what could possibly be new about a luxury SUV when every luxury accessory and trapping imaginable has already been sold for years?
The Borrego was inspired and designed when sales of heavy SUVs were sizzling and no end was in sight. The introduction just came a year or two late. But now it's a buyer's market, and that's good for you.
What's new about this SUV? The Borrego is the first truck-framed, V-8 SUV to come from South Korea, a source of pride to Kia and a hint that the sky's the limit now that Kia, and its Korean sister company Hyundai, are building cars about as good as any. Luxury? Sure, but be prepared to spend. New luxury? Nah.
Kia had the advantage of analyzing established SUVs and was able to deliver a very appealing truck. It's not like anything else, although the Borrego's size and masculine styling suggest the Nissan Pathfinder, Dodge Durango or Jeep Grand Cherokee.
The Borrego's towing capacity of 7,500 pounds is competitive with other trucks, and a selectable "auto-high-low" four-wheel-drive system is available, though without a locking differential. I consider that an essential feature for anyone headed to the backcountry in wet weather.
My Borrego test unit, an EX trim showpiece with all luxury options and the 337-horsepower, 4.6-liter V-8, was stickered close to $39,295. About $2,000 of that was for the 4x4 system; $1,500 was for navigation.
A base Borrego with a 3.7-liter V-6, which I have not driven, starts at $27,000. Fuel mileage is just one mile per gallon better with the V-6, at least in Environmental Protection Agency estimates. I'd expect the V-8's combined city-highway mileage to be in the high teens.
The V-8 is $3,000 extra, and probably well worth it for the added capability, smoothness and its sweet six-speed automatic transmission. Compare Borrego prices with those of established SUVs and the new Kia looks even better, although discounts on all brands are juicy in this soft SUV market.
Unusual for a rugged, tow-capable SUV, an independent rear suspension smooths the Borrego's ride and aids in control during cornering.
Its handling competence and steering seem to approach or equal the Pathfinder's and Toyota 4Runner's, my top picks in this SUV class.
The Borrego's normally comfortable ride is jiggly and stiff over rough pavement, especially at freeway speeds. Noise isolation in the cabin is quite good.
My Borrego's cabin was posh indeed, as it should be for the price. Fit and finish, ergonomics, colors and textures, and build quality were excellent. I'd characterize the style as handsome functionality. The navigation system had sensible controls, but an electronic glitch had the little voice inside demanding repeatedly that I make a turn I'd already made a couple of miles back.
The third-row seat was larger than most in the class, though I found egress difficult. Third-graders will not have a problem.
The middle-row seats had adequate legroom and comfy cushions, and the front passengers had room to stretch out.
Altogether, it's a comfortable, competent vehicle and a worthy effort from Kia.
In his 27 years of writing a column for the Austin American-Statesman, Pete Szilagyi has driven more than 1,400 new cars and trucks. You may reach him at email@example.com.
According to Pete ...
Target audience: Nissan Pathfinder and Toyota 4Runner shoppers spooked by sticker shock; happy owners of smaller Kias; drivers who need an SUV, regardless of the price of gas.
Highs: Butch styling, comfort, fit and finish, willing engine, six-speed transmission.
Lows: Sometimes choppy ride, no serious off-road package, fuel mileage.
Bottom line: The timing may be late, but the product is right on.
EPA rating for greenhouse gas emissions (10 is best): Not yet rated
By Pete Szilagyi
SPECIAL TO THE AMERICAN-STATESMAN
Tuesday, September 9, 2008
The teeter-totter of a few cents every week at the gas pump is enough to drive anybody crazy.
But if you're a proud owner of a 2009 Kia Spectra - a vehicle that offers as much in terms of amenities as it does for economical factors like fuel-efficiency and reliability - there isn't a whole lot that you're going to be worried about.
With sleek style rolled up in an affordable package, the Spectra has easily become Kia's top-selling vehicle in a campaign that has secured a customer base that runs the gamut from commuters to first-time buyers to those who just don't want to spend an arm and a leg every time they head to the pump for a fill up.
"Right now, people are definitely concerned about fuel-economy, and with the Spectra they know that they're getting an efficient vehicle," said Kia Country Sales Manager Dan Espino. "It's reliable and it has one of the best warranties in the business.
"That's why it remains our best-selling vehicle by far."
If it's style that you're in the market for, the Spectra is available in two different models - including the ground-hugging and easily customizable Spectra5 that brings a different look to the traditional compact hatchback.
Even the standard Spectra sedan is something that will attract attention - especially with the EX package that includes a rear spoiler, customized exhaust, and interior accents that keep the car looking new long after it's driven off the lot.
The best benefits of being a Kia owner, however, are the ones that you can't see.
While most other new car purchases included standard base warranties with optional upgrades at an inflated cost, every new Kia comes standard with a 10-year, 100,000 mile powertrain warranty, and a five-year, 60,000-mile roadside assistance program that adds the comfort of knowing that you'll be taken care of if anything ever goes wrong.
And to safeguard against the unthinkable, Kia has outfitted the Spectra with a coveted safety system anchored by an Anti-Lock Braking System that gives the vehicle more control on wet or uneven surfaces, and an advanced airbag system that includes six strategically placed airbags throughout the car to protect passengers in the event of the extremely-dangerous side collision or a rollover.
Adding to the total package, the Kia-Hyundai Corporation announced earlier this year that they had formed a partnership with Microsoft to incorporate the software giant's technology into future models. They will add systems that will only enhance the driving experience, and add another selling point for what has become one of America's most cost-effective cars.
"Right now we have a lot of models in stock, and there are big savings available," Espino said. "With gas prices the way that they are, it's a perfect choice for somebody who drives a lot."
New Spectra models are available with rebates up to $2,000 and financing as low as 2.5 percent for 60 months.
Monday, September 8, 2008
Highest Possible Ratings for All-New Kia Mid-Size SUV in Frontal and Side Impact Crash Tests
# All-New Borrego joins four other Kia models with five-star crash safety rating
# Bevy of standard equipment outshines competition
IRVINE, Calif., September 5, 2008 - The all-new 2009 Kia Borrego has achieved a five-star crash safety rating, the highest rating possible, for all seating positions in the latest frontal and side impact crash tests conducted by the U.S. Department of Transportation's National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). This is the first time Borrego has been tested by the government agency.
"Borrego is Kia's newest vehicle and it is a prime example of our commitment and dedication to providing the best and most up-to-date standard safety features in vehicles for consumers," said Byung Mo Ahn, group president and CEO of Kia Motors America (KMA) and Kia Motors Manufacturing Georgia (KMMG). "Borrego joins four other Kia models - Optima, Sportage, Sorento and Sedona - in garnering a five-star crash safety rating, and further positions Kia as a serious up-and-coming contender in today's competitive and economically challenging automotive market."
The seven-passenger Borrego is the latest entry in the midsize SUV segment and offers the same high level of standard safety equipment that has become synonymous with the Kia brand as well as additional features exclusive to the midsize SUV. Standard safety features include: advanced airbags, front seat mounted side airbags, full-length side-curtain airbags for all three rows and driver's knee airbag (V8 models only); four-wheel disc brakes with an antilock brake system (ABS), Electronic Stability Control (ESC), and traction control system (TCS); tire pressure monitoring system (TPMS); electronic brake distribution (EBD); and a brake assist system (BAS).
Borrego is available with a 3.8-liter, 276-horsepower V6 or a 4.6-liter, 337-horsepower V8. Borrego combines outstanding power with exceptional performance. Towing capacity is 5,000 pounds for the V6 and a class-leading 7,500 pounds for the V8. Fuel economy also is impressive for a midsize SUV with a best-in-class EPA rating of 15/22 city/highway for the V8 with 2WD and 15/20 city/highway for the 4WD. When partnered with the V6, Borrego is able to achieve a competitive EPA rating of 17/21 city/highway (2WD) and 16/21 city/highway (4WD).
Kia Motors America (KMA) is the sales, marketing and distribution arm of Kia Motors Corporation based in Seoul, South Korea. KMA offers a complete line of vehicles through more than 640 dealers throughout the United States. For 2007, KMA recorded its 14th consecutive year of record U.S. sales. Kia Motors subscribes to a philosophy of building high value, high quality, safe and dynamic vehicles. Kia Motors prides itself on producing vehicles that are exciting and enabling and evoke the Kia tagline "The Power to Surprise."
Kia Motors America is the "Official Automotive Partner of the NBA." Information about Kia Motors America and its full vehicle line-up is available at its Web site - www.kia.com. Government star ratings are part of the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration's (NHTSA) New Car Assessment Program (NCAP) (www.safercar.gov). Vehicle Tested with Standard Side Airbags (SABs).
Thursday, September 4, 2008
In short: A large SUV at a low price.
Looking for a seven-passenger SUV that's loaded with value but won't entice you to mortgage the house? Then you probably want to test drive the all-new Kia Borrego (called Mojave elsewhere in the world), which is built on an exclusive platform and powered by an equally exclusive 4.6-liter V8 engine. The Borrego is also available with four-wheel drive or with a V6. We very much liked what we drove and were impressed by all the new technology--somewhat unexpected from the usually miserly brand--loaded in the Korean company's roomy, 5,000-pound vehicle.
Kia Motors can finally say that they offer a full lineup of cars, from their trusty econoboxes such as the Rio and Spectra to their luxurious Amanti sedan and their practical Sedona minivans. Now the automaker tops its lineup with this self-dubbed "new kind of luxury SUV," a vehicle that will take the family camping in style. Play with the seat arrangement and you get a serious cargo ship that can tow 7,500 pounds, to boot. Did you know that the second row of seats not only slides but reclines, too? You also get active headrests and a backup warning system. We counted ten, yes TEN, cupholders and enjoyed the easily adjustable climate control system while driving from hot plains to cool mountain passes. How about a retractable trailer hitch? Yes, it has one of these, and even runs on regular fuel--not to forget a few Kia firsts along the lines of a rear camera display, a sophisticated navigation system, a smart key with a start/stop button and Bluetooth connectivity. All of this contributes to making an arrival at the Opera House totally acceptable.
The Borrego is easy to drive, corners quite decently (all things considered) and above all, is very quiet. You certainly get a luxurious feeling while riding. Along with fully independent all-wheel suspension and traction control, the Borrego offers downhill and hill assist controls to help maintain stability on uneven terrain. In the cabin, SIRIUS satellite radio (with complimentary service for the first three months) and an in-dash, six-CD changer powered by a 600-watt Infinity audio system add to the driving pleasure. Plug in your USB jump drive loaded with your favorite music, and tunes play immediately without even pushing a button. For a reliable, safe and powerful value-packed and luxurious SUV, please head to your local Kia Motors dealer and see if the Borrego can seduce you.
Warranty/Service: Ten-year/100,000-mile powertrain warranty; five-year/60,000-mile basic warranty; five-year/100,000-mile anti-perforation warranty; and a five-year/60,000-mile roadside assistance plan.
Base Price: $30,995 / As Tested: $36,545
Vehicle type: front-engine, four-wheel drive, 7-passenger, 5-door SUV
Engine: 4.6-liter, 32-valve DOHC V8
Horsepower: 337 hp @ 6,000 rpm
Torque: 323 lb-ft @ 3,500 rpm
Transmission: ZF 6-speed automatic with overdrive
Curb weight: 4,621 lbs
Wheelbase: 114 in
Length/Width/Height: 192.1/75.4/71.3 in
Turning circle: 36.5 ft
Brakes: all-wheel disc with ABS, electronic brake distribution, and brake assist
Suspension: independent in front and rear with coil-over springs
Traction: electronic stability control and traction control, downhill assist control and hill assist control
0-60 mph: 7-8 seconds (est)
Top Speed: n/a
EPA City: 15 mpg
EPA Highway: 20 mpg
Safety: dual front advanced airbags; dual front seat-mounted side airbags; full-length side curtain airbags with rollover sensor; driver’s knee airbag; three-point seatbelts for all seating positions; backup warning system; front active headrests; tire pressure monitoring system; side-impact door beams; front and rear crumple zones; impact-absorbing steering column
Likes: space, value, price
Dislikes: rough on bumps
Wednesday, September 3, 2008
More Images of 2010 Kia Soul Break Loose
We still haven't witnessed the official launch of the 2010 Kia Soul at the 2008 Paris motor show, but it appears the folks at Kia just can't wait. Another two images of the five-door hatchback made their way onto the official PR site this morning.
Outside of yet another hue (a metallic pale green), there's little revealed in these shots that we haven't already seen. It's in the attached numbers that we find some interesting facets - the Soul is over 63.4 inches tall, four inches more than a Volkswagen New Beetle. Part of that height comes from its stance - 1.7 inches taller than, according to Kia, a "typical compact car."
Although we're lacking interior photos of the production car, Kia claims the Soul has plenty of room inside. Headroom is rated at 40.1 inches for front-seat passengers and 39.5 inches for those in back. Front and rear legroom measures 42.1 and 38.9 inches, respectively.
Perhaps most interesting to those eying the car as a possible future purchase is the confirmation of a 2.0-liter I-4 engine in Souls destined for the U.S. The engine, similar to that in the Spectra, produces 142 hp.
Expect more details on the Soul to leak out before and during its Parisian debut, so stay tuned to Automobile Magazine for all the latest news.
by Evan McCausland
Tuesday, September 2, 2008
Kia's Compact Entry Offers Class-Leading Safety, Spaciousness and a Host of Standard Features
IRVINE, Calif. -- In an ever-growing and increasingly competitive segment, the Kia Spectra and Spectra5 continue to prove their mettle and gain ground on long-standing class leaders such as the Toyota Corolla and Honda Civic. Style, substance and class-leading safety features combined with exceptional value have garnered the Spectra model line numerous awards since being redesigned in 2006.
Considered a 2007 "Best Bet" by The Car Book in the Compact category and receiving two distinctions from Edmunds.com ("Consumers Most-Wanted - Wagons under $25,000" and "Top 10 Cars under $15,000"), the Spectra sedan and five-door will only continue to further impress consumers and media in 2008.
Following Kia's core philosophies of providing value, safety, warranty and fun to the driving experience, the Spectra lineup is available in several trim levels (LX, EX, and SX four-door; SX five-door) and offers a host of standard amenities to appeal to a wide range of consumers.
Spectra and Spectra5 vehicles are powered by a 2.0-liter DOHC four-cylinder engine, which features Continuously Variable Valve Timing (CVVT) and multi-port electronic fuel injection. Producing 138 horsepower and 136 lb.-ft of torque , the Spectra lineup offers a more powerful punch than stable mates Toyota Corolla and Ford Focus. Outfitted with a standard five-speed manual transmission for 2008, the option of an automatic transmission extends to the LX four-door sedan making the electronically controlled four-speed automatic transmission available for all trim levels.
Built on a front-wheel-drive unibody frame, standard equipment coil springs and stabilizer bars complement an independent front suspension featuring MacPherson struts and an independent dual link rear suspension to provide the optimal balance of ride comfort and engine responsiveness. An engine-speed-sensitive, power-assisted rack-and-pinion steering system adds the finishing touch for precise handling. In keeping with the sporty essence of the SX model line, a sport-tuned suspension and strut tower bar come standard to offer a tighter grip for more spirited driving.
Larger than Kia's entry level Rio, the Spectra lineup personifies a more grown-up exterior body with smooth, clean lines yet hints at the below-the-surface complexity of youthful spirit. All trim levels feature body-color exterior door handles, body side moldings and rear garnishes to create a sleek canvas on which to outfit aggressive subtleties such as clear-lens halogen headlights.
LX and EX models smile at onlookers with a newly designed front grille, which is presented with a sportier blend of black and chrome. SX models are fitted with an aggressive black mesh grille and the addition of fog lights, a wing-type rear spoiler (SX four-door models only), side sills as well as unique front and rear fascias. Sixteen-inch, five-spoke alloy wheels matched with 205/50R16-sized premium tires complete the bold SX look. Fifteen-inch wheels and 195/60R15-sized tires are standard on LX and EX equipped models.
High-quality full cloth-trimmed seats are merely quiet echoes to the Spectra and Spectra5's host of standard features that scream behind-the-wheel comfort and convenience. A six-way adjustable driver's seat, tilt steering column, 60/40 split-folding rear seat, rear defroster and dual 12-volt power outlets in the center console are driver-conscious luxuries standard on every vehicle. Music aficionados are not forgotten either with an AM/FM/CD stereo featuring six speakers and an auxiliary audio input jack (new for 2008) for MP3 player connectivity as standard features. EX and SX models offer additional touches such as: power windows and door locks; remote keyless entry; air conditioning; dual front and rear cup holders; and floor mats.
Upgrades for the Spectra and Spectra5 SX models include an interior fashioned with metal-finish trim and sport-cloth seats with matching door panel inserts. A leather-wrapped steering wheel, leather-wrapped gearshift knob, metal sport pedals and cruise control are other standard features. An AM/FM/MP3 stereo with a six-disc in-dash CD changer and a power sunroof also are available as SX-only options.
Considered compact by its overall dimensions, small does not equate to the Spectra and Spectra5's true sense of size. With the four-door sedan boasting 97.0 cubic feet of passenger volume and the five-door providing a welcoming 98.1 cubic feet of passenger volume, the Spectra line offers more breathing room than the Toyota Corolla, Honda Civic, and Ford Focus. Storage space does not take a backseat either with an ample 12.2 cubic feet of cargo volume available in the Spectra, while 18.3 cubic feet is offered in the Spectra5. When the 60/40-split rear seats are folded flat, storage capacity in the five-door expands to 52.8 cubic feet.
Earning a five-star frontal crash safety rating by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), Spectra and Spectra5 provide class-leading safety with an extensive, across-the-board list of standard technology, which includes: dual front advanced airbags, dual front seat-mounted side airbags, full-length side curtain airbags, front and rear three-point seatbelts, front seatbelt pretensioners and force limiters; Lower Anchors & Tethers for Children (LATCH), and a tire pressure monitoring system (TPMS).
Four-wheel solid disc brakes also are standard on EX and SX models while a four-sensor, four-channel antilock brake system (ABS) is an available option on SX four-door and five-door vehicles.
To complement its standard safety features, the 2008 Spectra and Spectra5 are backed by Kia's comprehensive warranty program, which offers unprecedented consumer protection with a 10-year/100,000-mile limited powertrain warranty, a five-year/60,000-mile limited basic warranty, a five-year/100,000 mile limited anti-perforation warranty and a five-year/60,000-mile 24-hour roadside assistance plan.