Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Borrego traverses rough terrain

The 2009 Kia Borrego is the one of several large-vehicle launches that are on the horizon for 2009. Also on the agenda, we have vehicles like the Hummer H3T, the Dodge Ram and the Ford F-150. I don't know what you're thinking, but the question on my mind is: What are they thinking?

Easier asked than answered, I suppose. But part of the answer is the planning. Five years ago when these vehicles were just ink blots on a sketchpad, the national average for gasoline was in the $1.75 per gallon range. Who could have imaged that prices at the pump would more than double by the time these gas-hungry vehicles became a reality?

So, given the current economic climate, it was with a fair share of skepticism that I attended the Kia Borrego press preview. Luckily, this seven-passenger, midsize SUV has a great story to tell.

So, we'll jump right in with the most pressing issue: Fuel economy.

The Borrego isn't a miracle SUV that will get city and highway economy topping 30 mpg. But, it pretty much beats Kia's key competitors in the midsize SUV segment, namely the Ford Explorer, Nissan Pathfinder, Jeep Grand Cherokee, Honda Pilot and Toyota 4Runner.

The Borrego offers two engine options and two drivetrains. So, on one end of the scale, we have the two-wheel drive V-6 model that gets 17 mpg in the city and 21 mpg on the highway. On the other end of the scale, there's the four-wheel drive V-8 model that gets 15 mpg in the city and 20 mpg on the highway.

While V-6 mileage numbers show overlap with its competitors, the V-8 Borrego blows the competition out of the water. The 2WD Borrego with the V-8 gets city/highway mileage of 15/22 mpg. Compare that to the Grand Cherokee (13/19 mpg), the 4Runner (15/19 mpg), the Explorer (13/20 mpg) and the Pathfinder (13/18 mpg). The Pilot doesn't currently offer a V-8 model.

In this rough climate, higher mileage estimates are a huge selling point in a segment that has plummeting sales numbers.

As Tom Loveless, vice president of sales, pointed out, Kia doesn't currently have a vehicle in the midsize SUV segment, so there's a lot of opportunity for the brand to expand their offerings and attract new customers. It doesn't hurt that their product will beat out many of their competitors in terms of not only fuel economy but also luxury amenities.

"It helps to be the best or among the best in the segment," Loveless said.

The best value, the best fuel economy, the best equipment, the best overall package. That's the argument Kia makes for the Borrego.

In fact, throughout the press conference, we were bombarded with a message brimming with optimism. And, I suppose, if any automaker is in a position to be optimistic, it would be Kia. They are, after all, breaking sales records in an automotive market that's struggling.

Tim Chaney, director of marketing, said that he thinks the content and quality of the Borrego will offset the SUV concerns.

I do still have to insert that healthy dose of skepticism here, but after spending some quality time in the vehicle, I have to say that Chaney just might be right.

I was actually stunned by the number of "luxury" amenities that are standard on the base Kia Borrego. You'll find that their new ad campaigns really capitalize on this, coining a new tagline for Kia: A new kind of luxury SUV.

While the LED turn signals on the side mirrors, integrated towing hitch, third row and three-row side-curtain airbags are a nice additions to the standard list, there are three other standard items that are particularly surprising: rear parking sensors, Hill Start Assist Control and Downhill Brake Control.

The Borrego, in addition to being a value proposition, is a proving ground of Kia firsts. In an effort to move its way up the food chain, Kia is now offering features like navigation, a rear backup camera, smart key access and Bluetooth connectivity. This is also the first time Kia is offering a V-8 engine in one of their vehicles.

The up-level 4.6-liter V-8 is the same Tau engine offered in the new Hyundai Genesis, and it delivers 337 horsepower and 323 pound-feet of torque at 3,500 rpm. With this engine, the towing capacity is a class-leading 7,500 pounds. Yet another "best" for the Borrego.

The base engine is a 3.8-liter V-6 engine that delivers 276 horsepower and 267 pound-feet of torque. This model can tow up to 5,000 pounds and comes equipped with a five-speed automatic transmission. The V-8 is mated to a six-speed automatic transmission, which happens to be the same six-speed in the BMW X5.

I had the opportunity to drive both the V-6 and the V-8 models during the preview. My first time in the driver's seat was a brief stint on the highway behind the wheel of the V-6. The vehicle was comfortable and quiet. Road noise was minimal, and cruising speeds were easily achieved. I did notice a little sluggishness during hard acceleration, but it was nothing out of the ordinary for a V-6 engine, and it wasn't off-putting.

The V-8 model, however, was more responsive during aggressive acceleration, and it was easier to pass and merge with highway traffic.

I spent an equal amount of time in the driver's seat and the front passenger seat, and I found both positions to be comfortable. For a larger vehicle, the Borrego's controls and gauges were easy to see and reach. I particularly appreciated the fact that the mirror adjustments were located on the driver's door. I didn't have to lean forward or stretch to adjust my side mirrors, which means I got the position correct the first time.

I like the looks and layout of the interior. The brushed silver trim is an elegant touch, and the leather seats included with the Convenience Package ($1,200) were firm yet supportive. The interior is certainly upscale for Kia, but Lexus, Jaguar and BMW it is not. I'm not trying to say the interior materials are cheap, but they're not going to be as plush as a luxury automaker's.

The standard third-row seat is surprisingly roomy if not entirely comfortable. Entry into the third-row is relatively easy with a quick slide of the second-row seat. However, settling into the seat was a little like sitting on the floor. With my feet planted flat on the floor, my backs of my knees were raised off the seat. And I'm only 4-foot, 11-inches. The upside: I didn't feel squashed because there's plenty of knee room.

During the preview, I also spent time fiddling with flattening the second- and third-row seats. The third-row seat goes down easily, and even with my petite height, I could bring the seat upright while standing at the back of the vehicle. That may not seem like much, but there are several vehicles with third-row seats that require me to climb into the vehicle to bring them back up. The second row also went down easily, but bringing it back upright was a little more of a struggle, and I really had to get my weight under the seat to push it back in place.

The exterior of the Borrego has a familiar shape, but the bold blocky headlights and angular lines help set it apart. While the exterior isn't stunningly original, it is attractive in its own right. I'm not a particular fan of the gray cladding, which creates a two-tone color effect when combined with a lighter paint color. But, if you choose a dark color (my favorite was the Midnite Blue), the cladding blends with the paint, and the overall effect is classic.

Inside and out, I think the Borrego is a nice vehicle that has the potential to beat the pants off its competitors in terms of amenities and fuel economy.

The one thing that's going to hurt the Borrego is the pricing. It's pretty well stocked at $26,995, but Kia is still building brand equity in the U.S. So, even with all the extra standard features, I think a base price of $27K going to be a hard sell. Especially since the all-new Pilot is only priced slightly higher at $27,595, and the Explorer is actually priced lower at $26,195.

The Borrego is just now hitting dealers and is currently available as base a LX ($26,995) and up-level EX ($28,745) models. Later this fall, top-of-the-line Limited model will be available.

If you are in the market for a midsize SUV, the new Kia Borrego should top your list of vehicles to test drive. It handles well and offers standard features that cost extra on other vehicles in this segment.

2009 Kia Borrego
Engine: 3.8-liter, V-6; 4.6-liter, V-8
Transmission: 5-speed automatic (V-6); 6-speed automatic (V-8)
Horsepower: 276 (V-6), 337 (V-8)
Torque: 267 lb-ft (V-6); 323 lb-ft (V-8)
Drivetrain: 2WD, 4WD
Wheelbase: 114 inches
Height: 71.3 inches
Length: 192.3 inches
Width: 75.4 inches
MPG (city/hwy): 17/21 (V-6, 2WD); 16/21 (V-6, 4WD); 15/22 (V-8, 2WD); 15/20 (V-8, 4WD)
Base price: $26,995 (V-6, 2WD); $29,045 (V-6, 4WD); $31,745 (V-8, 2WD); $31,745 (V-8, 4WD)

July 24, 2008
BY JILL CIMINILLO SearchChicago -- Autos Editor

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Kia line fueling gas savings

Getting the best mileage possible out of your vehicle has never been more important.

And finding a new car that makes that goal possible has never been easier.

With gas prices easily topping $4-a-gallon, Kia Country is now offering two of their best-selling models - already thousands below comparable models carried by other manufacturers - with rebates and financing specials that when coupled with the 30-plus miles per gallon each car averages makes it a no-brainer for most motorists.

"People are paying a lot of money for gas today, and getting the most out of your car is important," said Kia Country Sales Manager Dan Espino. "With the Kia Spectra and the Kia Optima, you know you're getting the best mileage possible with the best warranty you'll find anywhere."

Currently both the Spectra and the Optima are being offered with rebates up to $3,000 and financing as low as zero-percent for approved buyers - enhance their appeal to buyers across the board looking to stretch their dollar and find the best buy.

With fuel averages that can reach as high as 38 miles per gallon, the Spectra has long been a favorite with commuters and first-time buyers that are looking for a reliable vehicle that doesn't cost an arm and a leg.

The surprisingly spacious Spectra sedan - that boasts the most interior space of any vehicle in its class - also includes standard features that you won't find anywhere else like a six-speaker audio system with a dual-band radio and an in-dash CD player and an auxiliary input jack for your favorite MP3 player.

Equipped with a sporty 2.0-liter engine that puts out 138-horsepower, the Spectra holds the edge over the Toyota's base-model Corolla when it came to output.

The Optima offers everything that you'd expect to find in the Spectra in a larger package that has been equally successful at attracting buyers thanks to its value and appeal.

While some might think that stretching your dollar means sacrificing some of the features that you find in a car, the Optima helps change that mentality in one of the most important and often looked-over regions of the automotive marketplace.

When tested by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, the Optima garnered the highest possible rating - five stars - in front and side-impact crash tests as well as the best marks in the front and rear-impact class when tested by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety.

Throw-in a 10-year, 100,000-mile warranty that includes a 5-year, 60,000-mile roadside assistance plan on every new Kia and you've got a package that can't be passed up. Jason Campbell
Manteca Bulletin

Monday, July 28, 2008

TCC Drives: 2009 Kia Borrego

We've just driven the all-new 2009 Kia Borrego. During our press-only activities, Kia attempted to convince us that their new body-on-frame mid-size SUV is a player against luxury SUVs.

It's not.

But here's what it is: a handsome, competently engineered, well-executed sport ute with loads of features offered at a typically low Kia price. See if you agree, as the Borrego officially goes on sale at the end of July.

While some may question the wisdom of introducing a non-crossover SUV with an available 337-horsepower V-8 as gasoline closes in on $5 per gallon, realistically, truck-based SUVs are not going to disappear. Experts who prognosticate about such things expect that mid-size SUVs will continue to sell over 1 million units per year for the next several years. This represents a big target for nimble Kia.

In addition to competing for mid-size ute shoppers alongside Jeep, Honda, Nissan, and Toyota, Kia sees an opportunity with the mid-size Borrego as buyers flee full-size SUVs. Today, mid-size is the new full-size, and this ute's V-8 economy of 15 mpg city/22 mpg highway (two-wheel drive) looks better than what some drivers have been living with.

As for our impressions of the 2009 Borrego, we spent most of our time in the V-8-powered top-of-the-line EX model shown above. Its exterior is attractive and totally free of anything controversial. The base LX models looks much the same.

Inside, our EX's leather-lined interior gains fame not so much for its luxurious fitments but for its ample room (more than a Ford Explorer), high level of equipment, and thoughtful layout of its controls. Three rows of seats are standard, and the third row is not a penalty box as it is on some SUVs such as the Toyota Highlander.

Regarding performance, our experience in a 276-horsepower, 3.8-liter V-6 Borrego EX proved the powertrain to be completely adequate. But fitted with the 4.6-liter V-8 (based on the V-8 developed for the Hyundai Genesis sedan) and a ZF-sourced six-speed automatic, our EX performed with refined gusto. The quiet V-8 smoothly powered our Borrego to well past 100 mph, and the four-wheel disc brakes hauled it back down again with genuine alacrity.

The chassis handled well, even over broken pavement. Thanks to the body-on-frame construction and available V-8 power, the Borrego can be outfitted to tow up to 7,500 pounds. ABS and electronic stability control are standard.

As we have come to expect from all Kia vehicles, the company loads up its vehicles with standard safety features. Six airbags are standard, including a side curtain system that extends back to protect all three rows of seating.

One day in the not-too-distant future, Kia won't have to beg for credibility. Its products will have spoken for the brand, and its rightful place as a serious manufacturer of high-quality vehicles will be secured.

By Marty Padgett July 21st, 2008
The Car Connection

Thursday, July 24, 2008

2009 Kia Borrego Test Drive: SUV Delivers 337 Ponies, but Too Late to the Party?

CLE ELUM, Wash. - Kia probably wishes they had a time machine. Five years ago, the Kia Borrego would have made Detroit very nervous. Here's a seven-passenger SUV with a 337-hp V8 that can tow 7,500 pounds. It has an independent suspension at each corner and a nicer interior than most in the class. Explorer? Trailblazer? No thanks. I'll take this Borrego.

But it's not 2003. Cheap gas prices and the bullish SUV market that went along with them are, well, history. And with Ford expecting to make a key shift today from trucks to small cars, the bigger-is-better trends may be officially headed for the graveyard. And despite the rise of the crossover, Kia says there's still a portion of the market that wants SUVs for its hauling and trailer towing capability. We tend to agree. After all, not every American has Ebay'd his fishing boat, horse trailer or SCCA track car just because gas prices have gone up.

The timing of the 2009 Kia Borrego's introduction may be off, but there's still plenty to like about this capable, roomy sport utility vehicle. -Ben Stewart

The Specs
Think the Borrego is simply a stretched Sorrento? Not so, says Kia. The longer new Borrego rides on a unique body-on-frame chassis with a double wishbone front suspension and a multi-link arrangement in the rear. The frame rails are hydroformed to increase rigidity and shed a few pounds, too. And 64 percent of the steel in this chassis is of the high strength variety, according to Kia. The Borrego looks nearly identical to the Mesa concept vehicle that Kia debuted in 2005. And with a wheelbase of 114 in., a length of 192.3 in. and a width of 75.4 in., the Borrego lies slightly larger than a Trailblazer, Grand Cherokee or a 4Runner. Yet it's slightly narrower--and about 4 in. shorter--than a Dodge Durango.

The big news? The Borrego is the first Kia to get a V8 engine. The Borrego's optional 337-hp, 4.6-liter "Tau" V8 generates 320 lb.-ft. of torque. This is a detuned version of the same V8 that comes in Hyundai's Genesis luxury sedan. Here it comes paired to a ZF six-speed automatic and, on 4WD models, joins forces with a revised version of Borg Warner's capable Torque On Demand (TOD) four-wheel-drive system with a 2.48:1 low range. With that V8, Kia says the Borrego can tow a whopping 7,500 pounds. Don't need the V8? The base Borrego is equipped with a 278-hp 3.8-liter V6 with 267 lb.-ft. of torque mated to a five-speed automatic. That model can tow 5,000 pounds. All Borregos get 12.9-in. front and 12.8-in. rear discs backed by ABS, traction control and stability control.

Inside, the Borrego offers standard seven-passenger seating and has 156.8 cu-ft. of total interior volume. The 12.4 cu-ft. of cargo space behind the third row of seats is less than some large crossovers like the Mazda CX-9 (17.2 cu.-ft.) and the new Honda Pilot (at 18 cu.-ft.). So that big beach cooler might not fit with all seven seats deployed. But with every seat (except the front ones) folded flat, the Borrego can swallow an impressive 97.6 cu.-ft. of gear.

The Drive
We spent the majority of our drive behind the wheel of the full-time 4WD V8 Borrego model. We had expected the 300-hp-plus V8 to have serious off-the-line thrust. But instead, the power builds slowly off idle, until the engine winds out to 3,000 or 4,000 rpm. It feels more like a high-revving car engine than a torque-rich truck V8. But once that V8 starts making the power, acceleration is quite brisk. If drag-race chops are what you're after, the 2WD V8 model is the pick--it was noticeably quicker. In either case, this is a very quiet, smooth and refined motor.

Opting for the V8 doesn't mean you have to pay a huge fuel-economy penalty either. Six-cylinder 4WD models deliver 16 mpg city and 21 mpg on the highway, while V8 4WD models return 15 in the city and 20 on the highway. We saw about 16 mpg throughout our drive in the 4WD V8 trucks, comprised mostly of hard driving on two-lane switchbacks. That's not great if you're comparing the Borrego to a four-cylinder family sedan, but it's on par with most V8 entries in this class.

Hustle the Borrego through a mountain pass, and it feels not unlike a better damped and more refined Ford Explorer. The handling certainly won't embarrass a crossover, but it takes more speed and tighter twisties than we thought it might to finally activate that stability control system. And the steering is actually quite precise for an SUV. On rougher roads, however, the Borrego's truckish chassis shows its roots. The suspension is bouncy over rough terrain and doesn't have the crossover smoothness of, say, a Hyundai Veracruz.

From behind the wheel, the Kia's tall seating position and relatively low dashboard provide excellent visibility. And speaking of the dash, the materials used in this cabin-no matter the trim level-are better than most domestic SUVs, and the best we've seen in any Kia product thus far. Next to the console shifter is a small, flip-open door for USB ports-a nice touch. Pack the Kia with seven people, and each is likely to find comfort. The rear seats provide enough legroom for a six-footer without crowding the driver. And that reclining second row is certainly not a bad place to spend time. We particularly liked the intuitive controls for the optional rear air-conditioning system and the nicely padded center armrest. We folded ourselves into the third row, too. But to gain proper knee clearance, we needed to click the second row seatback forward by one notch.

The Borrego can be had with a long list of optional equipment, from a rear-seat entertainment package to a rear-camera display and nav system. And we like that a backup warning system comes standard--a solid safety feature for those with kids. But our inner tech geek wonders why Bluetooth is merely an option. More and more states are requiring hands-free devices for on-road cellphone conversations. Shouldn't Bluetooth be standard?

The Bottom Line
Base 2WD Borregos will start at $26,245. But add the V8, 4WD and check every option box, and that pricetag can swell to more than $38,000. The Kia Borrego may, indeed, be late to the truck party. But it does offer a compelling case for those considering one of the traditional midsize SUV nameplates. The towing capacity, seven passenger seating and V8 power makes this a good choice for those wanting to move out of their full-size SUV and into a more manageable package.

Source: Popular Mechanics

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

First Drive: 2009 Kia Borrego

Could there be an any worse time to debut a brand new body-on-frame SUV like Kia has done with the new 2009 Borrego? Gas prices have most every new car shopper running from SUVs into small cars with four-cylinder engines. In fact, many SUV early adopters are now driving much smaller sedans like those models that make up Kia's bread-and-butter line. Enough new Korean vehicles were sold in America so far this year that the Hyundai-Kia Automotive Group managed to outpace mighty Honda in total sales as it roared into the number five worldwide automaker spot. Therefore, our immediate thought is that Kia must be crazy to go ahead and introduce the new Borrego in the American market... but Kia would have you believe otherwise.

As Kia's sales team sees it, since the Korean automaker currently offers no contenders in the true midsize SUV category, any slice of the dwindling market is a win. Is the Borrego good enough to win over any remaining SUV buyers? Read on.

The new Borrego breaks no new ground in terms of styling. The blocky 'ute features corners just smoothed-over enough to eschew the current box-it-came-in trend, though the upswept side sightline, also currently en vogue, is present and accounted for. A large chrome grille dominates the front view, while dual rhombus-shaped headlights flank that massive mug. Pronounced wheel arches bring the current Acura line to mind -- perhaps not the wisest choice of automakers to copy. Standard light gray body cladding and bumpers are also featured all around the vehicle as is common on vehicles of the genre. It seems that Kia managed to locate and include all of the common sport utility vehicle trappings. While the look is a bit played out, the Kia manages to remain anonymous enough that it's not likely to turn off many prospective buyers based on looks alone.

Inside, the look is fairly upscale. In fact, Kia sees its new vehicle as a bargain-priced option when compared with the current entry-level luxury utility vehicles, going so far as to include the Lexus RX330 on some promotional slides shown to us during our early-morning press briefing. While it would be hard-pressed to live up to that early billing, the fit and finish of the interior was considerably better than expected and reminded us again how far Hyundai and Kia have come in initial quality. Panel gaps were tight and the graining on the soft-touch plastic was agreeable enough.

There were a few sour points, though, including the actual instrument cluster and the shiny plastic covering in which it was festooned. An oversized speedometer looms large front and center in the binnacle, flanked by a tach on the left along with temperature and fuel gages on the right side. Individual gauges those other bits of info would be more fitting in an upscale interior. Still, everything was easy to see in both daylight and at night. A totally different cluster will be standard on Limited models, which are expected to appear later in the year.

At the price point the Borrego is able to hit -- starting around $26 grand and hitting $40,000 after all the boxes are checked -- and especially since Kia intends to position it as a luxury offering, there are some expected features that are either not standard or not available. For instance, keyless starting is nowhere to be found, and Bluetooth is only available as a non-factory installed accessory. Controls for the rear air conditioning and heat are optional, though the ducting out back is well designed and part of the standard equipment. Heated seats are also optional both front and rear along with a power sunroof. A high-end Infinity sound system is optional, as is voice-activated Navigation.

We found the Borrego very easy to enter and exit, and the second row of seats fold neatly away for entry into the standard 50/50 split third row. Of course, leg, hip and shoulder room is a bit lacking back there, but it was certainly on par with what is available elsewhere. Our test vehicles were equipped with a leather interior that seemed more durable than plush and very ready to stand up to the day-to-day grind. Ten cup-holders are also available for the morning trip to Starbucks. One feature that we really appreciated was the console-mounted axillary audio jack and USB slot. Mounted just to the right of the shifter and covered by a nice and sturdy plastic door, cables can be kept free of the important buttons and levers filling up the center of the dash.

Driving the Borrego again proved that Kia has studied the segment carefully. While current trends dictate a car-like ride and handling compromise, Kia left those adjectives to its corporate sibling, the Hyundai Veracruz. As is befitting a large full-frame SUV, the Borrego rides firm and feels substantial. For those looking to haul lots of people along with their stuff, the Borrego feels ready for the job. Towing also proved a strong point, as the Borrego comes equipped with a hitch as standard equipment. Powered by either a 3.8L DOHC V6 with 276 horsepower and 267 lb-ft of torque or Kia's first-ever V8 engine that displaces 4.6L and offers 337 horsepower and 323 lb-ft of torque, the Borrego can tug between 5,000 and 7,500 pounds. A five-speed auto is hooked to the six while the V8 comes with a ZF-supplied six-speed automatic.

Both the V6 and V8 engines had plenty of power for around-town driving, though we preferred the six-speed tranny from the V8 in all circumstances. Fuel mileage stands at 17 city and 21 highway for the 2WD V6 model, which drops one mile per gallon in the city when 4WD is added. Somewhat surprisingly, the V8 is able to achieve 15 city and 22 highway in 2WD -- one better on the super slab than the six -- while highway mileage stoops to 20 mpg with 4WD. Surely, the bigger V8 engine is working less hard in situations where the driver calls up some extra forward thrust, especially as it's equipped with an extra gear, but the V6 expected to make up the bulk of sales will prove perfectly adequate in all but the most demanding of situations.

When the Borrego program was first started, Kia surely didn't expect the price of gas to skyrocket as high as it has and quite so quickly. Regardless, it's a credible contender to such SUV stalwarts as the Ford Explorer, Toyota 4Runner, Nissan Pathfinder and Jeep Grand Cherokee. Considering that none of these models has exactly been setting the world on fire when it comes to sales, nor have they have been substantially updated in years, Kia will likely be happy if it can just eke out enough sales to break even on the project. The Borrego is certainly good enough that midsize SUV shoppers should take a good look at it before making any buying decisions.


Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Kia Sedona offers more power, space

With a stronger engine, more features than ever and a roomier interior, today's Kia Sedona is a much-improved minivan compared with its first-generation model.

So, why isn't the second-generation Sedona -- with pleasing ride, attractive styling, comfortable seating for seven and top safety ratings -- selling as well as its predecessor?

Chalk it up to pricing changes, less than stellar reliability and quality ratings, consumer obsession with gasoline mileage and, of course, the lackluster image that all minivans bear as "mom-mobiles."

When the seven-passenger Sedona originally debuted in the 2002 model year, it had the lowest starting price of any V-6-powered minivan on the U.S. market.

Today, while the 2008 Sedona is offered in a downsized version with short wheelbase that starts at $21,420, the Sedona models that are sized and equipped on a par with major minivan competitors have a starting manufacturer's suggested retail price, including destination charge, of $24,320.

This is $1,850 more than the base, 2008 Dodge Grand Caravan with starting retail price of $22,470, and it's a tad more than the Chrysler Town and Country with starting retail price of $24,185. In addition, the starting price tag for a 2008 Sedona long-wheelbase model is just $805 shy of the starting MSRP, including destination charge, for a 2008 Toyota Sienna CE.

Kia has had its quality issues, too -- never rising in recent years much above average in the annual J.D. Power and Associates Initial Quality Study. And the 2008 Sedona has a "worse than average" predicted reliability rating from noted Consumer Reports magazine.

The newest challenge for the Sedona and other minivans comes as U.S. car buyers seek high-mileage, smaller vehicles. With a federal government rating of only 16 miles per gallon in city driving, the Sedona doesn't look, on first blush, all that fuel efficient.

Of course, that's before a shopper takes into account that the Sedona can carry seven people with ease, with wide side doors for entry into the back seats. So on a per-passenger basis, the Sedona's fuel economy is great -- except that there's no guarantee that every time the Sedona travels, it will have a full load of passengers.

By the way, the highway mileage rating for the Sedona is 23 mpg, but during the test drive, the test top-of-the-line Sedona EX recorded a combined city/highway mileage of 18.5 mpg.

There's plenty of cargo room inside, including a deep well behind the third-row seats that capably handles tall items. When need be, this carpeted well serves as a storage spot for the fold-down third-row seats instead.

The most memorable feature of the 2008 Sedona is the good power that comes from the 3.8-liter, double overhead cam V-6. This engine is larger than the 3.3-liter unit that was in the original Sedona, and the punch from its 253 foot-pounds of torque at 3,500 rpm is satisfying, especially since the more than 4,360-pound Sedona is a substantial, weighty van.

In fact, the test Sedona EX moved sprightly in all kinds of traffic conditions, and more times than not, I found myself pulling my foot back from the accelerator pedal to return to speed limit territory.

Horsepower from the V-6 tops out at 250, which is a bit better than the 244 horses in the Honda Odyssey.

The Sedona's torque is more than the 245 foot-pounds at 4,700 rpm in Toyota's Sienna. But both the Sienna and the Odyssey have slightly higher fuel mileage ratings than does the Sedona.

The Sedona's V-6 also is used in the Hyundai Azera up-level sedan. Hyundai is the parent company of Kia, and both brands are based in South Korea, which is also where the Sedona is built.

The Sedona uses an electronically controlled five-speed automatic transmission that shifted smoothly in the test van.

It is one of the few mainstream vehicles to include a shift-it-yourself mode that lets the driver move the shifter through various drive gears without having a clutch pedal. This can help modulate speed and reduce the need to use the brakes on steep downhills, for example.

The ride in the front-wheel-drive Sedona is what you'd expect in a minivan -- compliant and forgiving on most road bumps. Passengers feel some body lean in turns and curves, and there's a sense of the tall, 5.8-foot height that gives passengers good views out.

Steering is mainstream, neither sporty nor isolated.

The 17-inch tires on the test Sedona EX didn't transmit much road noise, and wind noise on the highway was minimal.

All safety items come standard, including curtain air bags, traction control, brake assist, electronic stability control and anti-whiplash head restraints for the front seats.


THE VEHICLE: 2008 Kia Sedona EX, a front-engine, front-wheel drive, seven-passenger minivan

BASE PRICE: $20,695 for base van; $23,595 for LX; $26,195 for EX



ENGINE: 3.8-liter, double overhead cam, 60-degree V-6 producing 250 horsepower

TRANSMISSION: Five-speed automatic

EPA MILEAGE: 16 mpg city, 23 mpg highway

LENGTH: 202 inches

WHEELBASE: 118.9 inches

CURB WEIGHT: 4,646 pounds

BUILT IN: South Korea

Associated Press

Monday, July 21, 2008

Kia Borrego takes on Pathfinder, 4-Runner

7-passenger comfort, reliability with Kia value

Kia is raising the bar.

Just last week, Manteca's Kia Country received their first shipment of the Borrego - the seven-passenger SUV expected to rival larger models like the Nissan Pathfinder and the Toyota 4-Runner in the full-size import SUV market.

While value and reliability have always been associated with the Kia name, now rolling out a massive V8 model to to take on its biggest competitors seems like the next logical step - especially as the season where off-roading becomes a necessity to reach the highest elevations of the Sierra to take advantage of the snow pack.

"We just got this in, and we've already had customers coming up to us asking when they're going to be available," said Kia County Sales Manager Dan Espino. "People are looking for the seven-seaters so that they can pile their entire family in, and they know that they're getting the reliability that only Kia can offer them."

Ever since they first emerged on the American auto market, Kia has been famous for their 100,000-mile, 10-year limited warranty on all new cars that are sold through dealerships.

The addition of a 5-year, 60-000-mile roadside service package only aids in comforting drivers that they'd be taken care of if the unexpected happens.

And while Kia models are routinely thousands less than similarly equipped in-class models, the manufacturer doesn't cut any corners when it comes to preserving the safety of those inside.

The combination of electronic stability control (ESC) and a traction control system (TSC) helps keep the Borrego safe even during uneven conditions.

A special blend of braking assist mechanisms also help ensure adequate slowdown times without losing control, while an advanced airbag system projects almost every inch of the interior of the vehicle if it were to unfortunately be involved in an accident.

There aren't a whole lot of places where you're going to find safety with the price tag that you're going to find on the Borrego.

If it's performance that you're looking for to exacerbate the luxurious comfort - which includes optional in-dash navigation and stitched leather seats - then the Borrego will give you all you need with a 337-horsepower 4.6-liter V8.

"You throw all of that together in a package and you realize that it's a great buy for a family looking for everything," Espino said. "You can't beat that warranty, and when you look at that car, you can't beat that style."

Jason Campbell

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

All-New Kia Borrego Latest Entry in Midsize SUV Segment

Newest Addition Brings Strength, Luxury and Sophistication to Ever-Expanding Kia Line-Up

* New midsize SUV presents a bevy of features to the Kia line-up
* Available V8 engine and six-speed automatic transmission - firsts for Kia

CLE ELUM, Wash., July 15, 2008 - Having made its global debut earlier this year at the North American International Auto Show in Detroit, Kia Motors America (KMA) today officially launched the 2009 Borrego midsize SUV. Borrego is one of the first production offerings based off of the new design direction Kia continues to unveil through concept vehicles including the Kue, KND-4, Kee and KOUP. Given a straightforward and clean look, Borrego is intended for those who enjoy an active yet uncomplicated lifestyle.

Outstanding Performance and Capabilities

Borrego is offered with a DOHC, all-aluminum 3.8-liter V6 as well as Kia's first-ever DOHC 4.6-liter V8 engine, also all-aluminum; both engines are more powerful than any in Kia's line to date. While the V6 produces a competitive 276 horsepower at 6,000 rpm with 267 pound-feet of torque at 4,400 rpm, the all-new V8 generates a class-leading¹ 337 horsepower at 6,000 rpm with 323 pound-feet of torque at 3,500 rpm - more powerful than the Toyota 4Runner, Nissan Pathfinder, Honda Pilot, Ford Explorer, Chevrolet Trailblazer, Jeep Grand Cherokee and GMC Acadia. Borrego runs on regular unleaded fuel compared to the Pathfinder, which requires premium unleaded. Both engines also are available in either two-wheel drive (2WD) or four-wheel drive (4WD).

With class-leading towing of 7,500 pounds when partnered to the V8, and 5,000 pounds with the V6, the new midsize SUV offers unmatched capabilities for a weekend of camping or outdoor lifestyle activities. Borrego models with 4WD feature the second generation full-time Torque-on-Demand® system from BorgWarner, which uses electronic sensors to monitor road conditions and distribute power to the appropriate wheels. Improvements have been made to deliver a fast response and a quieter operation. The result is responsive, sure-footed performance in varying road conditions, all of which is practically seamless to driver and passengers.

Combining its impressive horsepower and torque with the unique-to-Borrego and new-to-Kia six-speed automatic transmission mated to the V8 engine, the midsize SUV is able to achieve best-in-class² fuel economy for an engine of its kind with an EPA rating of 15/22 city/highway for the V8 with 2WD and 15/20 city/highway for the 4WD - perfect for families on the go as well as for long road trips. When the V6 is under the hood, Borrego is able to achieve competitive fuel economy of 17/21 city/highway (2WD) and 16/21 city/highway (4WD).

Borrego's muscular exterior sits on a front double-wishbone and rear multi-link suspension matched with coil-over springs. The front suspension integrates shock absorbers and a stabilizer bar, while the rear incorporates a damper and stabilizer bar, providing an optimal riding experience, on- or off-road. Borrego is built on a hydro-formed frame structure that increases durability and rigidity. Improved fuel efficiency because of its lighter weight is a result of the hydraulic forming process as opposed to traditional welded press forming. Its body-on-frame construction and insulated rubber mounting provide improved reduction in noise, vibration, and harshness, and help absorb vibrations from the road surface and powertrain yielding a smooth, quiet ride for driver and passengers.

Powerful, Persuasive Exterior

Embodying a certain rugged refinement, Borrego's aggressive, wide stance evokes an image of stability and strength while flared back headlamps, an upright grille and chiseled hood project a strong presence. LED side view mirrors and chrome accents add to its polished look. Contemporary front and rear fascias suggest modern luxury while optional 18-inch alloy wheels offer increased off-road capabilities, allowing consumers to live an energetic life in style whether it's cruising around town or trekking through the mountains.

Built on a platform with a wheelbase of 114.0 inches, 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 wide stance allows for a roomy, comfortable interior with standard three rows of seating for up to seven adult passengers.

Luxurious and Functional Amenities

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 to keep its passengers entertained and comfortable. 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 amusement³.

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.

With the EX trim level, consumers also are optioned with the Luxury and Premium Packages. The Luxury Package includes: nicely appointed leather seats; heated front seats; power tilt and telescopic steering wheel; and memory settings for the driver's seat, outside mirrors and steering wheel. Progressing to the Premium Package includes everything in the Luxury Package in addition to a sunroof, a 10-speaker Infinity audio system, rear air conditioning with controls, running boards and a rear camera display for enhanced visual assistance.

In the fall, Borrego will offer the top-of-the-line, Limited trim level in addition to the LX and EX trims, which will come only in a black monotone exterior with black interior trim. Exclusive features to the Limited edition include push button start/smart key, Supervision™ meter cluster, power adjustable pedals, chrome accents on outside door handles and rear garnish, heated second row seats, Bluetooth®, Limited exterior badging and floor mats. Limited trim also includes the Luxury and Premium package content, less the running boards.

With Borrego's 156.8 cubic foot interior volume, it offers more room for its seven passengers than Explorer, Pathfinder, 4Runner, Grand Cherokee and the all-new Pilot. Depending on passenger or driver requirements, Borrego comes with a sliding second row for easy ingress and egress to the third row, as well as fold-flat second and third row seats to optimize cargo space, which measures an impressive 12.4 cubic feet with all seats utilized, 97.6 cubic feet with all seats folded flat.

Exceptional Standard Safety

Borrego ups the ante in safety, offering the same high level of standard safety equipment as all Kia vehicles, including additional features exclusive to the midsize SUV. Standard equipment includes front 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) including Electronic Stability Control (ESC) and traction control system (TCS), electronic brake distribution (EBD), brake assist system (BAS) and a tire pressure monitoring system (TPMS). Borrego's technologies all work together to provide a technically sophisticated safety package for the driver and passengers.

Working with the standard ABS with ESC, EBD and TCS, the system can apply individual brakes selectively to control oversteer and understeer as needed to help the driver maintain control on slippery surfaces or during certain emergency maneuvers. Being able to control any or all of the brakes allows the ESC system to provide responsiveness, control and enhanced accident avoidance capabilities to help the driver, although ESC is not a substitute for safe driving procedures.

The TCS uses brake and engine torque intervention to enhance traction during launch and acceleration on road surfaces. If the ABS system detects wheel slip, it signals the engine control unit to adjust engine torque output accordingly. TCS also senses when one or more wheels spin faster than the vehicle's speed, and if this condition is present it applies the brakes to that wheel or wheels. Working together, the two systems limit wheel spin and help the driver maintain control.

A standard back-up warning system provides an audible warning using ultrasonic sensors to detect and help prevent hitting hard-to-see objects. Borrego also includes Hill Start Assist Control (HAC), which helps prevent the vehicle from rolling backward when trying to pull away from an uphill gradient, as well as Downhill Brake Control (DBC), which helps keep the vehicle moving straight and steady down steep grades. Both functions are new to Kia.

Industry-Leading Warranty

Like all Kia models, Borrego is covered by a comprehensive warranty program, which offers unprecedented consumer protection. Included in this program are a 10-year or 100,000-mile limited powertrain warranty, a five-year or 60,000-mile limited basic warranty, and a five-year or 100,000-mile anti-perforation warranty. A five-year/60,000-mile roadside assistance plan is also part of the comprehensive coverage program.

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."

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 -

¹Compared to '08 midsize SUVs

²Borrego '09 EPA estimates compared to '08 EPA highway estimates for midsize SUVs with V8/2WD. (Actual mileage may vary)

³Customers must renew SIRIUS subscription after trial period if they wish to retain service.

Monday, July 14, 2008

Kia Sportage: Rugged, solid mileage, & safety

Customers have more than enough to choose from when they're searching for a new mid-sized SUV.

The abundant market makes it hard for people to distinguish one vehicle from another.

At least, until, they've taken their spin behind the wheel of the Kia Sportage. It is the only SUV armed with America's best warranty plan and a reputation that holds up.

According to staff at Manteca's Kia Country, the Sportage continues to be a hit with customers looking for a vehicle that holds up to the demands of daily driving, as well as one that can tackle the rigors of the weekend without being asked twice - from off-road navigating to adapting to become a cargo hauler thanks to the spare tire under the cargo floor that adds extra space for whatever it is that you're bringing along.

Models are available to suit just about anyone's particular style.

Kia Country Sales Associate Ted Muniz says that the combination of savings available through purchasing a 2007 model and the rebates available for new buyers makes it one of the perfect times to buy a new car, especially if they're looking for something that will blend the experience into the fabric of the summer in the San Joaquin Valley.

Looking for something with air conditioning that works every time you turn the key?

Want a rig that will get you back into your favorite fishing or swimming hole without getting stuck?

How about a ride that provides your precious cargo with enough safety features to earn the National Highway Transportation Administration five-star crash safety rating made possible by side-curtain airbags, high impact door beams, and independent MacPherson-strut anchored front suspension and front and rear stabilizer bars that help create the full package even in the most extreme of circumstances?

The Sportage has it all.

Drivers looking for additional power can also find solace in the fact that Kia recently added a 2.7-liter, 24-valve V6 engine with 173-horsepower that gets you where you want to go with confidence and enough gas left to make it home - something that buyers are becoming more worried about as the price of fuel inches towards $4-a-gallon.

Other available features include a tow hitch, bike roof attachment, side step running board, and various power train combinations including those with the Sportmatic transmission that allows for clutch-free manual shifting for the necessary power.

Jason Campbell

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Kia Rio: Thrifty Fun on the Cheap!

For a number of years I shied away from recommending cars built in South Korea, recognizing that the low quality of these vehicles wasn't worth the cheaper price for the cars. Models from Hyundai and Kia are typically priced as much as twenty percent less than comparably equipped Japanese cars, but until recently their long term durability was an issue.

Apparently, that issue is no longer a factor.

J.D. Power & Associates, Consumer Reports, and other automotive experts have seen both Hyundai and Kia improve their quality considerably over the past several years, while maintaining their distinct pricing advantage. Even in this tough economy Kia is benefiting, seeing a sales increase for the first six months of this year over the same period in 2007, something few other manufacturers can boast of.

What I do like about Kia, particularly in an entry level vehicle such as its Rio, is that this car isn't completely stripped even in its base edition. True, at $11,540 the base model may not be as appealing as one with an automatic transmission and air conditioning, but with $500 cash back, a 10 year/100,000 mile warranty, and six airbags standard, it is worth a look. Besides, 32 mpg on the highway is a good number, likely a lot better than what most used cars your son or daughter would consider.

What You Get

Powered by a 1.6L I4 engine paired to a five speed manual transmission, the Rio's engine is peppy and thrifty. With the ability to carry as many as five adults (squeeze in, please) the Rio affords more interior room than the Honda Fit, while bringing savings of $2500 when choosing the Kia.

An independent front suspension featuring MacPherson struts, coil springs and a stabilizer bar combined with a semi-independent rear suspension provide good handling while the engine-speed-sensitive power rack-and-pinion steering system adds balanced control which helps to create a smooth, comfortable ride. 14 inch wheels are standard with 16 inch alloys available.

Inside, the sedan offers full cloth trim, an eight-way adjustable driver's seat with a fold-down armrest, a rear defroster and dual 12-volt power outlets. Numerous storage areas, a center stack tray, a front passenger luggage hook and a rear mesh seatback pocket are also included in every model. By choosing the LX trim (there are five trim levels available) an AM/FM/CD audio system, auxiliary audio input jack, rear seat adjustable headrests, and 60/40-split folding rear seats can be added.

Rio's Roomy Interior
A spacious interior provides 92.2 square feet of passenger volume and about 12 square feet of trunk space. Push down the 60/40 split seat in the five-door version of the Rio and cargo space quadruples -- a nice feature when your son or daughter has to haul stuff from home to campus and back.

Kia offers low rate financing or $500 cash back on the 2008 Rio, but you're probably better off taking the rebate and seeking auto financing elsewhere. Use a auto loan calculator to determine the best financing deal for you.

Even with popular options added (air conditioning and automatic transmission) a nicely equipped Rio can be had for about $14,000 after rebate, but including taxes. Considering the price of many other small cars, you get one for less money and your college student's vehicle is much more reliable than the old family sedan you thought about buying.

One final thought: the end of the model year is nearing, therefore additional deals may spring up. Do your research and you could shave off a few hundred more dollars and come away with a Kia Rio for less.


Wednesday, July 9, 2008

J.D. Power and Associates Reports: Ranks Highest Among Manufacturer Web Sites in Satisfying New-Vehicle Shoppers

Regular Enhancements to Manufacturer Sites Can be as Effective as Redesigns in Increasing Usefulness

WESTLAKE VILLAGE, Calif., June 30 -- ranks highest among automotive manufacturer Web sites for usefulness in new-vehicle shopping, according to the J.D. Power and Associates 2008 Manufacturer Web Site Evaluation Study(SM) (MWES) - Wave 2 released today.

The semi-annual study measures the usefulness of automotive manufacturer Web sites during the new-vehicle shopping process. New-vehicle shoppers evaluate Web sites in four key areas: appearance, speed, navigation and information/content.

Kia ranks highest with an index score of 872 on a 1,000-point scale -- marking a nine-point increase from the last wave of the study, which was released in January 2008. Closely following Kia in the rankings are Ford (871) and Mazda (870), with Ford performing particularly well in the appearance factor. Also performing significantly above the industry average are Honda, Jeep, Lincoln, Porsche, BMW, Cadillac and Subaru.

"Over the years, Kia has successfully satisfied shoppers with its straightforward, intuitive Web site by providing pages that load quickly and that are easy to navigate," said Arianne Walker, director of marketing/media research at J.D. Power and Associates. "By focusing on these key aspects of the Web site experience, Kia has continually met the expectations of its customers. In fact, this marks the fourth time in 10 reporting waves that Kia has ranked highest."

On average, most manufacturer Web sites undergo a major redesign every two to three years. While redesigns can eventually lead to increased satisfaction, small updates to improve critical areas on a manufacturer Web site -- such as information and content and ease of navigation -- can also positively impact the customer experience in a more cost-effective manner.

In particular, Ford and Porsche have made frequent tweaks and updates to their sites, all leading to a steady increase in satisfaction scores during the past four years, without a major redesign. Specifically, after enhancing navigation following the second wave of MWES in 2007, these manufacturers have also made significant improvements in speed since January 2008.

"Ford and Porsche provide a great example of how targeted, consistent improvements to a site can really pay off," said Walker. "With limited resources at many of the manufacturers and their advertising agencies, choosing to stick with a well-thought-out master design while consistently improving site content, framework and behind-the-scenes programming can prove not only more cost effective, but just as successful as a major site redesign in meeting the needs of shoppers."

The study also finds the following key patterns:

-- Satisfaction with a manufacturer Web site tends to increase shopper visits to the dealership, as 75 percent of shoppers who give high ratings on a site are more likely to go to a dealership to test drive a vehicle.

-- Overall satisfaction with manufacturer Web sites has increased to 849 -- eight points more than the previous wave of the study. In particular, satisfaction with loading speed has increased as manufacturer Web sites have employed a variety of techniques -- such as better navigation schemes, more aggressive caching, better page load order and pre-loading of content -- to offer rich content that loads quickly.

The 2008 Manufacturer Web Site Evaluation Study - Wave 2 is based on evaluations gathered in April 2008 from more than 11,400 new-vehicle shoppers who indicated they would be in the market for a new vehicle within the next 24 months.

Manufacturer Web Site Ranking
(Based on a 1,000-point scale)
Manufacturer Index
Kia 872
Ford 871
Mazda 870
Honda 868
Jeep 867
Lincoln 867
Porsche 867
BMW 864
Cadillac 864
Subaru 863
Toyota 858
MINI 857
Acura 855
Lexus 854
Saab 853
GMC 852
Nissan 852
Infiniti 851
Mitsubishi 850
Land Rover 849
Suzuki 849
Industry Average 849
Mercury 848
Mercedes-Benz 846
Chrysler 845
Chevrolet 843
Jaguar 842
Saturn 842
Volvo 842
Hyundai 838
Buick 836
Dodge 832
Volkswagen 832
Pontiac 816
Audi 807
Scion 802

About J.D. Power and Associates

Headquartered in Westlake Village, Calif., J.D. Power and Associates is a global marketing information services company operating in key business sectors including market research, forecasting, performance improvement, training and customer satisfaction. The company's quality and satisfaction measurements are based on responses from millions of consumers annually. For more information on car reviews and ratings, car insurance, health insurance, cell phone ratings, and more, please visit J.D. Power and Associates is a business unit of The McGraw-Hill Companies.

About The McGraw-Hill Companies

Founded in 1888, The McGraw-Hill Companies is a leading global information services provider meeting worldwide needs in the financial services, education and business information markets through leading brands such as Standard & Poor's, McGraw-Hill Education, BusinessWeek and J.D. Power and Associates. The Corporation has more than 280 offices in 40 countries. Sales in 2007 were $6.8 billion.

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

Kia Motors America Announces Best June and Best Quarter Ever

IRVINE, Calif., July 1, 2008 - Kia Motors America (KMA) today announced its best June ever with record sales of 28,292 units, an increase of 7.6 percent over the same period last year, and year-to-date sales of 157,619 units, an increase of 2.1 percent over the same period last year. For the just completed quarter, the company reported sales of 89,405 units.

Kia's June record sales were led by Spectra and Optima, with 7,131 and 6,865 units sold respectively. Small car Rio and family vacation favorite Sedona also had strong sales with 3,337 units and 3,719 units respectively, both increases over the same period last year.

"As the economy continues to fluctuate, consumers are turning to vehicles that are known for value and quality," said Byung Mo Ahn, group president and CEO of KMA and Kia Motors Manufacturing Georgia (KMMG). “Thanks to a strong marketing plan and the hard work of the Kia dealer network, Kia continues to have success during this difficult economic time."

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 -

Model 2008 2007 2008 2007
Rio 3,337 3,173 20,961 16,240
Spectra 7,131 6,946 42,957 37,154
Optima 6,865 3,106 28,808 20,781
Amanti 1,117 326 2,090 4,340
Sportage 2,001 4,069 19,252 24,157
Sorento 1,950 2,466 11,257 18,539
Sedona 3,719 2,063 16,320 23,185
Rondo 2,172 4,139 15,974 9,996
Total 28,292 26,288 157,619 154,392

Monday, July 7, 2008

Revealed! 2010 Kia Forte Sedan images hit the Web

Well, it's official: Kia's replacement for the aging Spectra model will be called the Forte when it hits U.S. showrooms next summer as a sedan and coupe.

Incorporating much of its edgier design language was critical to Kia Forte lead designer Peter Schreyer, who is best known for his penning of the first generation Audi TT and Volkswagen Beetle. The car's styling evokes many of the same "corporate" elements implemented on the Kia Koup and Kee Concepts such as the distinct front grille and sweeping headlight configuration.

During the automaker's opening of an all-new design center in Southern California, Kia officials stated its new model was specifically targeted to attract younger, hipper buyers attuned to sharper auto designs. Head of Hyundai-Kia R&D Lee Hyun-soon also mentioned that the hatchback version of the car will not be sold stateside, anticipating "the coupe will sell better than the hatchback." European customers will have the opportunity to buy a three-door hatchback version of the Forte under the cee'd moniker.

Powering both two and four-door versions will initially be a 1.6-liter four-cylinder, with a bigger 2.0-liter unit coming later during its debut year. Korean customers will get first dibs on the new sedan August 22, followed a few months later by the coupe. The Forte is slated to hit North America by mid-2009.

Source: TheCarBlogger via Kia

Thursday, July 3, 2008

2009 Kia Borrego

Let's clear the air: we get that the sudden drop in large SUV sales casts the launch of the 2009 Kia Borrego in a questionable light. But when work began on the body-on-frame utility nearly four years back, truck sales in the U.S. totaled 9.6 million units and were predicted to increase each year until 2009. We can't blame Kia for wanting a piece of that pie.

That pie certainly is smaller today, but there are still consumers who want, if not need, to sidle up to an SUV. Commuters may not find solace in the truck-like capacities (and a voracious thirst for fuel), but there are buyers who actively tow, venture off the beaten path, and need to carry more than five passengers in comfort. For those folks, an SUV may still be the ideal vehicle - and Kia hopes the Borrego will be their ideal choice.

The Borrego isn't Kia's first venture into the world of body-on-frame sport utilities, but it is their biggest. The new truck towers over the mid-size, body-on-frame Sorento, although it's not what we'd call a true full-size SUV. Measuring in at 192" long and riding on a 114" wheelbase, the Borrego's stature is closer to that of a Dodge Durango or Ford Explorer than that of the Chevrolet Tahoe or Ford Expedition.

The new SUV, however, is Kia's first foray into V-8 engines. Although both EX and LX trim levels come standard with the 276-hp 3.8-liter V-6, a 4.6-liter DOHC V-8 is optional fare. Both engines are also found in near-identical forms within Hyundai's Genesis sedan, although the V-8 curiously produces less power in the Borrego. Kia rates the V-8 at 337 hp and 323 lb-ft of torque, down nearly 38 hp and 10 lb-ft of torque from its Genesis counterpart.

Drivers used to engines with gobs of low-end torque will need to adapt to Kia's V-8; the 4.6-liter begs to be revved, with peak torque kicking in at 3200 rpm. Sure enough, we can feel the engine really come alive somewhere between 3000 and 4000 rpm, and the Borrego - all 4900 lbs of our V-8 tester - suddenly sprints forward. This may prove to be an issue for those who intend to use all of the V-8 Borrego's 7900 lbs of towing capacity, but isn't worrisome for those who rarely mash on the throttle.

Our pre-production V-8 EX model came with a six-speed automatic transmission, standard on all models equipped with the 4.6-liter engine (six-cylinder models sport a five-speed auto). Power was split to all four wheels via a part-time transfer case, but we're told by Kia this won't make its way to customers. Instead, look for a full-time Torque-on-Demand four-wheel-drive system (similar to that in the Sorento) as standard equipment on 4x4 models. The combination is said to return 15 city/22 highway mpg; we averaged an indicated 17 mpg over a mixture of city and highway driving.

Mating the V-8 and six-speed leaves little to be desired; upshifts and downshifts occur smoothly and with little lag time. Although we didn't have a chance to trailer anything, in everyday driving, the transmission doesn't hunt around. We did notice a considerable amount of whine from the transmission during low-speed cruising, usually at around 35 mph in third or fourth gear. The noise seemed to go away once the Borrego hit 50 mph or so, but it was boisterous during brief jaunts around town.

Perhaps more refined was the Borrego's ride and handling. Albeit fairly smooth over most surfaces, there was no mistaking the Borrego for anything other than a body-on-frame truck. Dreams that the SUV will ride like a car are quickly broken on poor road surfaces, although many of the secondary vibrations typically found in similar SUVs are noticeably reduced - certainly thanks in part to the use of independent rear suspension. We were pleasantly surprised to see that, in spite of a fair amount of body roll, the Borrego handled corners quite well, displaying quick turn-in and well-weighted steering.

We were also surprised to find how well the Borrego was suited to long, high-speed cruising. During a weekend filled with highway travel, the cabin remained well insulated from the outside world. We scarcely noticed any wind noise, and even sounds from loud sources (e.g. motorcycles, semi trucks, the Borrego's own horn) were considerably muted to those inside.

Speaking of passengers, all Borregos - regardless of trim level - are fully capable of seating eight across three rows. We loaded our tester with several full-size adults, and even those in the third row found a reasonable amount of headroom and legroom, provided the second row was slid forward a smidge.

Drivers will find their cockpit to be cleanly laid out, with large, legible instrumentation straight ahead and controls that easily come to hand. We questioned the position of some switchgear (the temperature control's position is a bit unusual), but we were impressed with their solid feel. Overall fit and finish was good, although we caught a few rough edges on the top of the center stack.

Perhaps equally clean is the Borrego's exterior, although it may not be extremely memorable. While evocative of Kia's 2005 Mesa concept, many of the design cues seem lifted from other manufacturers. Few bystanders turned their heads for a second look; those that did found the Borrego resembled a "butch" Subaru Tribeca from the front. We certainly see that, as do we note some resemblance to a host of Nissan SUVs - perhaps most notably the Armada - from the rear.

Still, Kia keeps exterior appearances tasteful, with chrome accents on select surfaces and restrained use of argent-colored cladding. The sunset metallic paint on our tester was virtually flawless; coupled with tight gaps between body panels, the look was that of a more expensive vehicle - certainly not that of a $30,000 vehicle.

Such bang-for-the-buck may well be how the Borrego wins over most customers. LX models include cruise control; power windows, locks and mirrors; roof rails; a hitch receiver; an MP3-capable stereo with USB and auxiliary inputs; stability and traction control; front side and full curtain airbags - among many other features - as standard equipment. And at $26,245 (excluding destination), we'd say that's very well equipped.

Even our test vehicle, which didn't seem to lack anything we could imagine, should ring in somewhere around $32, 995. Even if it had arrived with every option package Kia plans to offer, we likely wouldn't see the price go beyond $40,000. That's not something we can say about either the Dodge Durango or Ford Explorer, both serious competitors in the Borrego's playing field.

Rag on the launch timing all you want, but given the Borrego's mixture of comfort, capability and value, we expect it to find buyers when it goes on sale this summer - no matter how dirty a word "SUV" is these days.

By Evan McCausland
Automobile Magazine

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

Kia Sorento Awarded Top Ranking in 2008 AutoPacific Ideal Vehicle Awards

Kia SUV Named Best-in-Class in Midsize SUV Segment

IRVINE, Calif., June 30, 2008 - The 2008 Kia Sorento has been given the top ranking in the midsize SUV segment in AutoPacific, Inc.'s 2008 Ideal Vehicle Awards (IVA). These awards are considered quantitative gauges that measure how closely a vehicle matches to an owner's expectations. Sorento received a higher rating than the Jeep Liberty, Nissan Xterra, Dodge Nitro and HUMMER H3.

"Having Sorento recognized yet again by AutoPacific is a tremendous honor as these awards directly reflect the satisfaction of Kia owners," said Tom Loveless, vice president of sales, Kia Motors America (KMA). "We are pleased to know that Sorento's characteristics and overall appeal are recognized and appreciated by our customers."

Based on survey responses from more than 33,500 vehicle owners, the 2008 IVA measure the combination of trust, anticipation, expectations and reality within specific product segments by having respondents rate 15 attributes concerning whether they would change them after having owned their vehicle for 90 days. An "ideal vehicle" is one that meets the owner's expectations based on how few attributes they would change. Sorento received a score of 1,250 out of a possible 1,500.

Recently, the 2008 Kia Sorento also achieved a top ranking in AutoPacific's Vehicle Satisfaction Awards (VSA), was recognized as a "Best Bet" in the Midsize SUV category by The Car Book and received the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) five-star crash safety rating in all four seating positions.

In addition to Sorento being named best-in-class in its segment, Kia Motors also ranked among the top 10 in the 2008 IVA Mainstream Brand segment, as did the 2008 Kia Spectra and Rio in the Compact Car and Economy Car segments, respectively.

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."

Government star ratings are part of the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration's (NHTSA's) New Car Assessment Program ( Model tested with standard side-impact airbags (SABs).

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

Quick Test: 2008 Kia Optima EX

If you've been diligently researching four-cylinder family sedans, then you likely know about the new 2009 Hyundai Sonata, which received such significant upgrades -- a more powerful engine and an all-new interior. Well, as Kia showed at last April's New York auto show, the Optima, which just happens to be the Sonata's corporate sibling, will receive similar enhancements for '09 as well. Which brings us to what you're already thinking -- yes, we tried to get the new 2009 Optima, but were told none was available until later in the year. Too bad, because the Kia probably would have impressed us more than it did.

Naturally, our 2008 Optima EX amazed us with its value. Carrying a base price of just $20,135, it included a 162-hp engine, a five-speed automatic with manual control, four-wheel disc brakes, six airbags, automatic climate control, leather seat trim, an eight-way power driver's seat, heated mirrors, an auto-dimming rearview mirror, a leather-wrapped steering wheel, and, of course, a stellar warranty. Our tester boasted four options -- $700 Appearance Package (17-in. wheels, blackout exterior trim, black interior trim), $600 Electronic Stability Package (electronic stability control, traction control, ABS, brake assist), $1300 Premium Package (Infinity sound system, sunroof), $700 Convenience Package (heated front seats, power front passenger seat, power adjustable pedals, rear sunshade)-that added a lot of show for not much dough, bringing the bottom line up to only $23,435.

While that represents big bang for your buck, it doesn't exactly equate to the best bang for your buck. For example, a beautifully equipped 2009 Sonata SE with an automatic, sunroof, and 17-in. wheels goes for just over $22,000.

Nevertheless, buying an Optima does not make you foolish -- far from it, in fact. Not only is it aggressively priced, but it's also well-built, loaded with content, and respectably capable at the test track, posting 0 to 60 in 8.8 sec, the quarter mile in 16.7 at 84.3 mph, 60 to 0 braking in 130 ft, and lateral acceleration of 0.79 g.

Overall, we'd rate this Kia mid-pack. As senior editor Edward Loh summarizes the Optima: "It's not a bad car by any stretch, but not a great one, either."

2008 Kia Optima EX
Drivetrain layout Front-engine, FWD
Engine type I-4, alum block/head
Valvetrain DOHC, 4 valves/cyl
Displacement 144.0 cu in/2359cc
Compression ratio 10.5:1
Power (SAE NET) 162 hp @ 5800 rpm
Torque (SAE NET) 164 lb-ft @ 4250 rpm
Redline 6500 rpm
Weight to power 20.5 lb/hp
Transmission 5-speed automatic
Axle/final 3.25:1/3.17:1
Suspension, front; rear Struts, coil springs, anti-roll bar; multi-link, coil springs, anti-roll bar
Steering ratio 14.1:1
Turns lock-to-lock 2.9
Brakes, f;r 11.0-in vented disc; 10.3-in disc, ABS
Wheels 6.5 x 17-in, cast aluminum
Tires 215/50R17 90V M+S, Michelin Pilot HX MXM4
Wheelbase 107.1 in
Track, f/r 61.5/61.1 in
Length x width x height 186.4 x 71.1 x 58.3 in
Turning circle 35.5 ft
Curb weight 3325 lb
Weight dist., f/r 61/39 %
Seating capacity 5
Headroom, f/r 39.8/38.0 in
Legroom, f/r 43.7/37.8 in
Shoulder room, f/r 54.5/54.7 in
Cargo volume 14.8 cu ft
Acceleration to mph
0-30 2.9 sec
0-40 4.6
0-50 6.7
0-60 8.8
0-70 11.7
0-80 15.2
0-90 19.3
Passing, 45-65 mph 4.4
Quarter mile 16.7 sec @ 84.3 mph
Braking, 60-0 mph 130 ft
Lateral acceleration 0.79 g (avg)
MT figure eight 28.6 sec @ 0.56 g (avg)
Top-gear revs @ 60 mph 1975 rpm
Base price $20,135
Price as tested $23,435
Stability/traction control Yes,/yes
Airbags Dual front, front side, f/r curtain
Basic warranty 5 yrs/60,000 miles
Powertrain warranty 10 yrs/100,000 miles
Roadside assistance 5 yrs/60,000 miles
Fuel capacity 16.4 gal
EPA city/hwy econ 21/31 mpg
CO2 emissions 0.79 lb/mile
MT fuel economy 21.8 mpg
Recommended fuel Unleaded regular

By Ron Kiino
Motor Trend