Friday, November 28, 2008

Kia Rondo Wins Drive Car of the Year Award for "Best People Mover"

Have you driven a Kia Rondo yet? A little time behind the wheel is impresses most people. It feels like a large car, yet isn't cumbersome, and its tall ride height and large greenhouse offers excellent visibility all-round. These are just two reasons why the Rondo is appealing, an appreciation of which seems to be global.

The family hauler has just won Best People Mover in Australia's Drive Car of the Year awards, a unanimous decision by the Fairfax Media organization's judging panel. The Rondo, known in some markets as "Carens", bested candidates from Toyota and Peugeot to take away the honors, while beating its own parent company Hyundai as the only Korean company to win a Drive COTY.

"We are very pleased that the Drive Car of the Year judges have confirmed what we at Kia already knew -- the Kia Rondo was the best candidate in the people mover category," commented Mr. S.K. Lee, President & CEO of Kia Motors Australia."Drive judges recognized that Rondo's clever design, spacious interior and value for money delivered the best package for Australian families who need a vehicle with the space and practicality for everyday living."

The Drive judging panel looked to the Rondo's versatility, economy, excellent value for money and five-year unlimited kilometer warranty to support its case, after judging the car and its rivals on a weeklong evaluation covering some 20,000 km (12,500 miles). Key elements for consideration included driving dynamics, engine performance, price, quality and equipment offered, as well as comfort, practicality and safety.

"The Rondo becomes the first car from a Korean manufacturer to receive a Drive Car of the Year award because it offers the best combination of versatility, space and value for money, all key considerations for people-mover buyers," commented the Drive COTY judges in a statement.

Unlike many Car of the Year awards, the Drive COTY judges don't limit their candidates to just all-new models (completely revised or totally new vehicles that enter the market in a given 12 month period), but actually include all models offered in a given category, no matter how long they've been on the market. So when the Rondo won its class, it didn't just win because it only faced one or two all-new models, but because the judges honestly feel it is the best vehicle/value combination in its segment. Commenting on COTY awards given only to "all-new" vehicles, the judges said "consumers don't limit their choices that way."

The Drive COTY awards are annually selected by a judging panel from Fairfax Media newspapers, which include two of Australia's oldest and most prestigious dailies, The Sydney Morning Herald in Sydney and The Age in Melbourne, as well as the company's online automotive website, which oversees the Drive COTY awards program.

Strengthening the Drive COTY award's decision, Kia's Rondo also won the 'Car of Choice' award in the Car of the Year program. is Australia's leading auto site for women.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

2009 Kia Borrego 4x4 Review - First Drive

Kia Joins The Fullsize SUV Class. Will Car Buyers Notice?

It wouldn't seem like a propitious moment for any auto manufacturer to be launching a brand-new V-8 SUV, and truth to tell, it isn't. But unlike pessimists like us, the folks at Kia Motors see opportunities aplenty for their new Borrego seven-seater sport-ute. And in a way, we can see their point-with GM pulling the plug on the TrailBlazer/Envoy next year (sob, sniffle), and Ford more or less abandoning the Explorer until a 2011 relaunch, there's definitely room in this segment for a newcomer such as Kia to pick up some new customers, and company reps informed us that they plan to market and advertise this vehicle aggressively in the coming months. So, keep an eye on your TV screens or your dealer showroom-chances are you'll be catching a glimpse of the Borrego in the next few weeks.

Powering the Borrego is either the base 3.8L V-6 that's good for 276 hp and 267 lb-ft of torque, or the optional 4.6L V-8 sourced from the Hyundai Genesis sedan that puts out 337 hp and 323 lb-ft of torque. (The motor cranks out 375 hp in the car, but Kia engineers detuned it for improved low-end torque.) If we were checking options, we'd take the V-8 since you get better power to weight, as well as the outstanding ZF six-speed automatic behind it (the V-6 gets a ZF five-speed which is decent, if somewhat unpredictable under load).

Saints be praised, the Borrego is not-repeat, not-some overgrown crossover but an honest-to-goodness four-wheel drive that comes with a Borg-Warner Torque-On-Demand two-speed transfer case with a 2.48:1 low-range. Suspension is independent double-wishbone with coil springs up front, and a multilink/coilover setup in the rear. Minimum ground clearance is 8.5 inches, and approach angle is a not-bad-for-this-class-anymore 27 degrees. Towing capacity for the V-8 is 7,500 pounds (yep, it's a body on frame, not a monocoque), and an integrated Class 3 hitch is standard issue. Estimated mileage is 16/21 with the V-6 and 15/20 with the V-8. No off-road-centric options are currently offered, though Kia reps informed us that some dealer-installed options, such as skidplates and rocker guards, should be available within the next few months.

In our brief time behind the wheel, we were impressed with the overall build quality and comfort level of the Borrego; our preproduction unit was very tight, with no noticeable rattles or squeaks, and road noise was minimal for a vehicle of this class. We recalled our first test drives of the first-gen Sportage 10 years ago-noisy, underpowered, and flat-out uncomfortable-and we were reminded of how far this company has progressed in addressing the demands of American consumers in only a decade. The interior of the top-line Borrego XL may not be quite as luxurious as, say, an Eddie Bauer Explorer, but it isn't very far off the mark, and it's still a solid debut effort from a manufacturer that continues to improve its product line with each new iteration. We'll have a Borrego in our field at our 2009 Four Wheeler of the Year test, appearing in our February '09 issue.

What's Hot:
Excellent ZF six-speed; overall fit and finish; competitive pricing.

What's Not:
Slightly spongy suspension tuning; bad time to be launching a V-8 SUV.

Our Take:
A solid first-time effort that should bring some new customers into the Kia fold.

Quick Specs
Vehicle/model: 2009 Kia Borrego
Base price: $30,995 (4x4)
Engine (tested): 4.6L DOHC 32-valve V-8
Max hp & torque (lb-ft): 337/323
Transmission(s): ZF six-speed automatic OD
Transfer case(s): Borg-Warner part-time two-speed
Low-range ratio: 2.48:1
Frame type: Boxed steel
Suspension, f/r: Upper, lower A-arms, coil springs, stabilizer bar/Solid axle, multilink, coilover shocks
Ring and pinion: 3.36:1
Max crawl ratio: 34.75:1
Steering: Power rack-and-pinion
Brakes, f/r: 12.9-inch vented disc/12.8-inch solid disc
Wheels (tested): 17x7 alloy
Tires (tested): P245/70R17 Hankook RA23
Wheelbase (in): 114.0
Length (in): 192.3
Height (in): 71.3
Base curb weight (lb): 4,621 (V-8)
Max approach/departure angles (deg): 27/23
Minimum ground clearance (in): 7.5
GVWR (lb): N/A
Max cargo volume (cu ft): 156.8 (rear seats folded)
Max towing capacity (lb): 7,500 (V-8)
EPA mileage figures, city/hwy (mpg): 15/20 (4x4 V-8)
Fuel capacity (gal): 20.6

Douglas McColloch

Monday, November 24, 2008

2008 Kia Amanti: Sedan offers luxury amenities at a value price

Kia Motor America's flagship model, the Amanti, is a premium midsize sedan that blends entry-level luxury, satisfying performance and safety enhancements into a package with a sub-premium price. It's defined by smooth, curved lines while maintaining a certain sporty flair. Distinctive exterior styling features include chrome accents such as the front grille, door handles and body-side moldings; clear-lens halogen headlights with front projection fog lights; tinted windows; and a dual exhaust.

Since the Amanti received a freshening last year with a lighter platform (250 pounds less to be precise), a more refined suspension and a 3.8-liter V6 engine that produces 264 horsepower, the 2008 model hasn't undergone any radical modifications. Amenities have been added for refinement, though, with optional packages that incorporate such features as 17-inch chrome wheels, power adjustable pedals, leather seat trim and a premium Infinity sound system.

Inside are more luxurious standard features highlighted with tasteful chrome, plush leather and polished wood accents. Door sill plates are finished in bright metal. An eight-way power adjustable driver's seat and four-way power adjustable front passenger's seat provide added comfort, while the leather-wrapped steering wheel features conveniently placed audio and cruise control functions. An optional Leather Package adds leather seat trim, heated front seats with individual driver and passenger settings as well as an Infinity six-disc, in-dash CD stereo with nine Infinity speakers. Adding the Premium Package provides black leather seats, brushed-aluminum interior trim, power adjustable pedals and 17-inch, seven-spoke chrome wheels.

Using a fully independent suspension featuring gas pressurized shocks, a front double wishbone and rear multi-link setup provides a smooth ride, while the precise power rack-and-pinion steering system allows drivers to adapt quickly to sudden driving changes.

My test Kia Amanti was finished outside in Midnight Gray metallic and inside in black leather, highlighted by aluminum trim accents. The Electronic Stability Package, Leather Package and Premium Package elevated the final cost to $31,695.


At first glance, the Kia Amanti brings to mind the Lincoln Towncar. It is the same basic shape, offers nearly the same interior space and sports a trunk that is 15.9 cubic feet, with a wide opening lid for easy loading and unloading.

The acceleration is brisk, especially for the car's size and the fact that it's powered by a V6 rather than a V8, and the handling borders on sporty. The ride quality is a tad on the "floaty" side (another Towncar attribute), but it isn't overly soft.

Safety features include multiple air bags, four-wheel antilock brakes, front active headrests, and LATCH system for child carseats. The 2008 Amanti is also backed by Kia's comprehensive warranty program, which includes a 10-year/100,000-mile limited power train 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.

All in all, a loaded 2008 Kia Amanti provides nearly the same level of amenities as many higher-end luxury cars, but at a value price.

2008 Kia Amanti Sedan

Base price: $25,495
Price as tested: $31,695
Engine/transmission: 3.8-liter, 264-horsepower V6; five-speed automatic
Wheelbase: 110.2 inches
Length: 196.9 inches
Width: 72.8 inches
Height: 58.5 inches
Curb weight: 3,770 pounds
Fuel capacity: 18.5 gallons
Fuel consumption: 17 mpg city/24 mpg highway
Arv Voss
San Fransisco Chronicle

Friday, November 21, 2008

Auto Review - Kia Borrego

What it is: The Borrego is Kia's full-sized SUV that is equipped with either a 3.8L 276hp V6 or a 337hp 4.6L V8. It provides seating for seven in a mid-sized SUV/crossover package. After the under-stimulating Kia Amanti, I had low expectations for the Borrego. Fortunately, I was absolutely blown away with the complete package that Kia provides. The exterior looks wonderful with a stylish hood and front end and big chrome wheels. The interior was incredibly refined and provided much better amenities than previous Kias I have reviewed. Seat warmers, touch-screen navigation, moon-roof, great interior, build quality, perforated leather seating and steering wheel audio controls awaited me in the Borrego. The car has a high profile but not hard to get into, and the interior provided a feeling not necessarily of luxury (a la BMW or Mercedes), but of a high-end Honda or Toyota.

Upsides: The car is a complete package, and performed as such. The sound system, interior fit and finish, exterior looks, suspension and engine were all great. Gas mileage is a very-acceptable: 17mpg/city considering it's a seven passenger, V8 4X4 SUV. The audio system not only offered an aux-in port, but a USB port as well, so you can charge your iPod or other accessory (like a phone) while you are driving around.

Downsides: The engine and car don't have any history, so problems may present themselves down the road, but the car comes with a 10-year, 100,000 mile warranty, so you don't have to worry too much.

Cost: Starts at $26,995 for a V6 2WD and tops out at a little more than $40,000 for a loaded version.

Final word: Very few of the cars I drive would I recommend to someone to buy, and this is one of them. An incredibly competent and complete package paired with a good price and great warranty equals a good deal. Kia is offering 2.5 percent financing and $1,000 cash back on the 2009 models, so it is a great time to buy as well.

Wilson Calvert
© 2008

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Kia Motors America Introduces All-New Soul

Brand-Defining Addition Makes its Debut at the Los Angeles Auto Show

# Soul = Style + ValU + SafeT
# L8st head-trnr will impre$ w/ personality & gr8 options :)

LOS ANGELES, Calif., November 20, 2008 - Kia Motors America (KMA) today announced the North American debut of the all-new and highly anticipated Soul passenger vehicle at the 2008 Los Angeles Auto Show. Designed in Southern California, the Soul is the newest product offering to join the company's ever-expanding line-up, following the introduction of the all-new Borrego midsize SUV earlier this year. Soul's bold and edgy design is indicative of the new Kia design theme, with more package and styling combinations than any previous Kia vehicle. With Soul's arrival as an early model year 2010 vehicle to the C-Segment, it allows young and young-at-heart buyers to have the freedom to truly personalize and emotionally connect with their vehicle.

"The Soul is for those who love individuality but don't like to be categorized by finding the next best thing," said Michael Sprague, vice president of marketing, KMA. "Indicative of the new design direction of KMA, Soul is an attractive and customizable vehicle for those looking for something with a little more personality than other vehicles on the market today.

Edgy and Confident Exterior

Originally debuted as a concept vehicle at Detroit's North American International Auto Show in 2006, Soul's exterior remains true to the original Soul concept design implying power and strength. With an angled window line, rounded nose, large flared back headlamps and chrome grille, the Soul is given a friendly face and exudes a youthful exuberance for coasting along the beach or cruising downtown city streets, redefining the concept of freedom.

The beltline rises from the front wheel arch to create a gentle wedge shape and continues under and around the rear side window. The rear is dominated by the vertical combination rear lamps set into the body color panel with clear outer lenses. The body and wheel arch crease line extends around the bumper for a tough, not rough, style matching the look from the front.

Available in four trims, Soul, Soul+, Soul! (exclaim) and Soul sport, the versatile five-door offers plenty of standard features. The Soul includes black door handles and side mirrors, body-colored bumpers, rear wiper/washer and 15-inch steel wheels fitted with P195/65R15 tires. Upgrading slightly to the Soul+ offers keyless remote entry, solar glass, privacy glass on the rear side and rear windows body-color handles and power side mirrors along with 16-inch alloy wheels with P205/55R16 tires. Enhancing to the Soul! adds power moonroof, fog lights, 18-inch alloy wheels furnished with P225/45R18 tires, while the dynamic Soul sport features side sills, rear spoiler, 18-inch alloy wheels, unique front and rear fascias, wholly personifying the sporty, urban look Soul embodies.

Spacious, State-of-the-Art Interior

Inside the cabin is where Soul really shows its power to surprise. For those who want a personal lounge on wheels or an efficient cargo carrier with 14 storage zones, Soul has it covered. While Soul offers a relatively small footprint, it offers a surprisingly spacious interior. Passengers will find comfort in the roomy cabin. All five adult passengers will find ingress and egress simple and effortless, credited to tall doors and a high seating position, and each Soul will be able to have its own personality thanks to multiple options for interiors with different colors, fabrics and audio system packages available for selection.

The Soul's interior design is decidedly influenced by the car's highly specified audio system. An uncluttered dashboard with a three-dial instrument cluster, LCD illumination, a floating center stack design is the key visual feature and offers enticing access to the AM/FM/CD/MP3 audio system outfitted with SIRIUS Satellite Radio capabilities and three months complimentary service . Standard auxiliary and USB input jacks also can be found in the center console with full iPod® controllability via the audio head unit and steering wheel controls.

Additional standard interior features include a tilt steering column, power door locks, power windows with driver's side auto-down, map lamps and a rear wiper and washer. Stylishly appointed cloth seats provide comfortable seating while a 60/40 split-folding rear seat offers multiple seating and cargo arrangements depending on driver and passenger needs.

Soul+ offers additional standard features including air conditioning, cruise control with steering wheel-mounted controls, Bluetooth® hands-free connectivity, a leather-wrapped steering wheel and shift knob, privacy glass and tweeter speakers. Available upgrades for the Soul+ trim include an audio upgrade package power moonroof and floor mats, which become standard on the Soul!. Advancing to the Soul! adds unique beige-black interior trim and cloth seats and metal-finish trim. For the Soul! and Soul sport, an Audio Upgrade Package enhances the sound with center speaker, subwoofer and 315-watt external amplifier.

For consumers with more athletic and active lifestyles looking for even more excitement, the Soul sport offers a sport-tuned suspension, metal pedals, unique red-black interior trim with sport cloth seats and metal-finish trim.

Advanced Platform/Chassis

Soul is different, right down to its all-new platform. With its own distinctive style, Soul features front-wheel drive, a high roofline and an unusually long wheelbase. Built on a platform with a wheelbase of 100.4 inches, an overall length of 161.6 inches, an overall width of 70.3 inches and overall height of 63.4 inches the Soul offers a comfortable interior with roomy seating for up to five passengers. With more than 70 percent high-tensile-strength steel to enhance structural strength without adding a lot of weight, the all-new, Kia-engineered body achieves high torsional stiffness, benefiting handling, ride quality and refinement. Additional measures to help ensure good noise vibration and harshness (NVH) qualities are fitted throughout the Soul.

Mounted on the front sub frame that supports the engine and transmission, the Soul is fitted with a fully independent front and twist-beam rear suspension system, with front MacPherson struts and coil springs, designed to deliver responsive handling and an agile ride. In the rear, the Soul suspension is sub-frame-mounted with a transverse torsion beam axle with trailing arms for a smooth ride and minimum intrusion into the cargo space. For optimal space, the rear anti-roll stabilizer bar is mounted inside the torsion beam.

Under-the-Hood Options

Soul offers an agile, smooth and spirited ride. Its 1.6-liter, four-cylinder engine is mated to a five-speed manual transmission, which produces approximately 120 horsepower. For those looking for a little more power, a 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine is available with either the five-speed manual or a four-speed automatic transmission. The latter engine produces approximately 140 horsepower, and is available for Soul+, Soul! and Soul sport. Fuel economy for both engines is estimated at 30 or more miles per gallon.

Standard Kia Safety Features

Soul continues to offer the same high level of standard safety equipment as all Kia vehicles, with features such as front seat active headrests, dual front advanced airbags, front seat-mounted and full-length side curtain airbags and a tire pressure monitoring system (TPMS). An antilock brake system (ABS) with electronic brakeforce distribution (EBD), electronic stability control (ESC), and rear disc brakes are standard on Soul+, Soul! and Soul sport models.

Industry-Leading Warranty

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

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Review: 2008 Kia Rondo, the best new family car for the money

The Kia Rondo is an easy car to miss in standard comparison shopping. Its closest market class in the United States is "small station wagon," a segment few consumers seem to have an interest in and whose products are generally dissimilar to the Rondo.

In Europe, the Rondo (sold there as the Carens) has many direct competitors in the class of "compact multi-purpose vehicle." Those cars are tall but have dimensions otherwise similar to the average American-market economy car, and they feature impressive interior space efficiency.

In the US, what do you call a small station wagon that drives like a nice midsize family sedan, has the interior space of a midsize SUV, and costs about as much as a compact economy car?

Though we don't have an "MPV" class, we can certainly call the Rondo a double-take value.

The Rondo isn't a slick-looking car. Few MPVs are. They're all about utility. The slab sides and low window-line may look odd at best from the outside, but from the inside of the Rondo you have comfortable seating for five plus an available third row that offers passable comfort for two medium-size adults. That's more than many larger SUVs can boast. Plus, those jumbo windows give drivers excellent visibility and keeps the outward view within reach of small children.

The driver sits higher in the Rondo than in the average sedan, though it's not quite SUV height. The front seats themselves are high off the floor, like an SUV or minivan, but the Rondo sits lower to the ground. The high roof keeps the chair-high seats from cutting into head space.

The rear bench seat is also high enough off the floor to offer excellent leg support, and there's plenty of space. On seven-passenger Rondos the rear seat adjusts fore/aft, offering the option of whether to allocate leg room to the middle row or third row. That third row is too low to the floor to be called comfortable, but it's passable. Surprisingly few non-minivans offer even that much.

Like the rest of the car, the Rondo's interior isn't very interesting to look out, but it's well-designed and high-quality. Function was clearly chosen over form, but Kia also understands that functional doesn't need to feel junky.

Although passenger accommodations are top-notch, the Rondo's cargo volume doesn't defy its compact dimensions. A low floor and fold-flat front passenger seat help the car offer as much space as it possibly can, but that comes out to a total of 74 cubic feet of cargo space behind the front seats, 32 behind the rear seat, and, if installed, a mere 7 cubic feet behind the third row.

That's not to say the Rondo doesn't have much cargo space. Those specifications are on par with most small SUVs, and there is enough space behind even the third-row seat for a bit of cargo. But while the Rondo's passenger space and comfort makes it a possible alternative to a midsize SUV, someone interested in a larger vehicle for its cargo utility may need more room. Don't write it off if you want a lot of space, but consider this carefully in your buying process.

On the road, the Rondo feels like a family sedan with a slightly higher driving position. It rides smoothly and it's quiet, and it handles like the pleasant-but-boring small car that it is: it's safe and maneuverable but not a driver's car.

The Rondo's standard 2.4-liter 4-cylinder engine is shared with the midsize Kia Optima and Hyundai Sonata midsize sedans, and it offers more pep than many give it credit for. It won't win the modern horsepower war, but it offers comparable power to a 4-cylinder Toyota Camry, the best-selling version of the best-selling car in the country. A 2.7-liter V6 is also offered. Other reviews suggest the V6's extra power is useful in accelerating at high speeds, which may be, but the more obvious difference is that it's quieter. The extra power might be handy if you'll be carrying seven passengers, but the less-expensive and more fuel-efficient 4-cylinder should be the better buy for most.

The Rondo impresses in many areas: for its practicality, comfort, and refinement. The one major place it does not stand out is in its gas mileage. While it is more fuel-efficient than most vehicles with similar interior space, the average 4-cylinder family sedan does a bit better, and it's nothing close to an economy car. The EPA rates it at 22 miles per gallon in mixed driving. (2009 4-cylinder Rondos are rated at one mile per gallon higher than 2008s by the EPA, but 2008s have better sales incentives that more than offset those savings.)

It also bears mentioning that the Rondo is not the only European-style MPV available in the United States. The Mazda5 is a tall compact station wagon with minivan styling and three rows of seats. But its feel is very different from the Rondo's; whereas the Rondo has the solid feel and refinement of a midsize family sedan, the Mazda5 feels more like an economy car. The Rondo also has more power and seating for seven instead of six passengers.

However, for all its strengths, the Rondo does not offer all-wheel-drive to make it a perfect family SUV alternative. (It's still a perfect alternative to a two-wheel-drive family SUV, which still represents a large chunk of that market.) It also lacks a manual transmission, offered in most cars at the Rondo's size and price point (including the Mazda5), which would have improved its gas mileage and lowered its base price.

All that aside, the Rondo impresses for its all-around goodness: that practicality, comfort, and refinement that keeps coming up in this review. But that goodness would not be especially impressive if it weren't for Rondo's value. After all, there are lots of pleasant cars on the market. The Rondo stands out from all those others because of what it offers for the money.

The Rondo offers the feel of a good midsize family sedan and the practicality of a good small SUV (a combination no current small SUV or midsize family sedan can match) while costing less than a comparably-equipped Honda Civic or Toyota Corolla, according to pricing site

A five-passenger Rondo is nicely equipped with the full range of safety and basic convenience features at a sticker price of $18,795, which expects you to be able to haggle down to $16,260. (Add $500 for the third row seat and related accessories.)

If you're looking for a family car of any shape or size, consider the Rondo. If you're interested in anything with a roomy interior, especially if you want to seat more than five passengers, you can't beat $16,260 for a new car with a long warranty. And even at economy car prices, the Rondo doesn't feel at all cheap. Be aware that a midsize SUV or a minivan will have more total cargo volume, but don't buy your next family car without driving the Rondo.

Vehicle tested: 2008 Kia Rondo LX 4-cylinder
Vehicle base price: $17,395
Vehicle price as tested: $18,795
Test vehicle provided by: Kia of Waldorf of Waldorf, Md.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Driving Down the Road with Carey Russ

2009 Kia Borrego Preview

My first experience with the 2009 Kia Borrego came before the official start of its recent introduction to the press, on the drive from Seattle-Tacoma Airport to the event base in Cle Elum, WA, a hundred or so miles inland in a scenic valley in the Cascade Mountains. Several Borregos were parked outside of the airport, and journalists could, if they desired, drive one to the event base.

While waiting for the full complement of passengers to show up, I looked at one of the assembled Borregos. A conservative modern sport-utility in style, I figured it to be Kia's implementation of the Hyundai Veracruz crossover platform. Pure logic there - Kia is owned by Hyundai and, although the end results usually are far away from what is on the Hyundai side, Kia works with Hyundai basics.

When everyone arrived, it was time to get in and drive. A quick glance around the cabin while settling in... hmmm, air vents in the ceiling behind the rear seat, there must be a third row back there. Pleasant design, simple controls, no need to read the probably nonexistent owner's manual, and off we go.

I90 from Seattle over Snoqualmie Pass to Cle Elum is a scenic mountain multi-lane divided highway, with some steep grades and pavement varying from good to rough and bumpy. The V6 in the Borrego I was driving was up to the task, although the transmission did get busy on the steeper uphill sections. Manually holding fourth, or even third, gear made life a little more peaceful. I had left a new Nissan Murano, one of the benchmark crossovers, at the airport after spending a week with it, and the Borrego felt at least as good on the road - unsurprising, considering Kia's ability to tune a suspension for both comfort and handling ability.

When I got to the event base, I found a Kia representative and asked if the Borrego was indeed their version of the Veracruz. Answer: No. Not even.

The Borrego is a body-on-frame SUV.

Such vehicles are more than a little controversial today, given social changes and the high price of gasoline. Socioeconomic changes between the design of a vehicle and its debut can make life interesting. But Kia is not betting the store on the Borrego - it is merely one of many of the Korean manufacturer's offerings, which include quite a few economical sedans and small crossovers. While SUVs are not the trendy aspirational vehicles they were a few years ago, and sales are dropping, there is still an SUV market, and there are still people who need, as opposed to merely want, an SUV.

During the press briefing, Kia representatives called the Borrego a "halo vehicle", one that will attract new, upscale customers to Kia. The target customer is an affluent suburbanite with an active lifestyle and a need for a vehicle that can carry up to seven passengers and tow 5,000 pounds in V6 trim or 7,500 pounds with the V8. Towing is where a body-on-frame design beats a unibody, as by the time a unibody vehicle is reinforced enough to deal with the stresses of towing, it might as well be body-on-frame.

"V8" is also a new word mixed with "Kia". The 4.6-liter engine is that used in parent Hyundai's upcoming Genesis sedan, an aluminum alloy twincam design with 4.6 liters displacement and 337 horsepower (at 6000 rpm) and 323 lb-ft of torque (at a low 3500 rpm). It's matched to a six-speed automatic transmission, with rear or available "Torque On Demand" dual-range full-time four-wheel drive, developed by Borg-Warner.

The V6 is similar in construction, minus two cylinders, for 3.8 liters displacement. It makes 276 horsepower (at 6000 rpm), with 267 lb-ft of torque at 4400 rpm and is fitted to a five-speed automatic. Both transmissions have manual-mode shifting. Fuel economy is a concern, and with EPA estimates ranging from 17 mpg city/ 21 mpg highway for the 2WD V6 through 15/20 for 4WD V8 (and 15/22 for the 2WD V8, thank you six-speed overdrive) the Borrego is at the thriftier end of the mid-size SUV category.

The boxed frame is based on that of the smaller Sorento, but stretched. It's hydro-formed, not pressed and welded, for strength, rigidity, and lighter weight. The rigid body structure is rubber-mounted, to reduce road noise, engine and road vibrations, and harshness. Don't look for old-school solid axles here - the suspension is fully-independent, with double wishbones in front and a multi-link setup at the rear. With 8.5 inches of clearance and standard skid plates, the Borrego should be fine on any semi-improved dirt or gravel road, and should deal with urban and suburban road hazards easily.

At introduction, which should be now, there will be two Borrego trim levels, LX and EX. Both can be had with either engine, and two- or four-wheel drive. Three-row seating is standard, even in the 2WD LX V6. Ditto power mirrors, interior courtesy lighting, a well-appointed interior with standard cloth or optional leather seating, a 60/40 split second row with each part adjustable for fore-and-aft travel and seatback angle, and the 50/50 folding third-row seat. An AM/FM/CD/Sirius satellite audio system is standard. Not only does it have a regular mini-jack for MP3 player compatibility, a USB flash drive with MP3 files can also be used. An optional Infinity system should please audiophiles.

Standard safety equipment includes a full complement of airbags, four-wheel antilock disc brakes with brake assist, and electronic stability control and traction control systems.

This Fall, expect the full-luxury V8 4WD-only Limited model, in any color you want as long as it's black and all the options available on lesser models plus more standard. Pricing? Expect a 2WD LX to start around $26,000 and a fully-equipped EX 4WD to be maybe another ten or twelve thousand.

While I drove a V6 from Sea-Tac, the vehicles on the ride and drive were all EX V8s. And, wonder of wonders, the closest thing to off-road driving on the ride and drive route was a quarter mile of good gravel road. Most of it was on good two-lane mountain roads and freeways. Just like 98.6 percent of most SUV owners' driving experience....

Yes, the V8 has more power than the V6, for better acceleration and less shifting. The six-speed automatic helps even more, with a lower first gear, for low-speed acceleration, hill-climbing, and towing, and a higher sixth, for improved highway mileage. The Kia Borrego, with either drivetrain, is at least as refined in its interior noise levels and road manners as any competitor - and Kia mentioned the Honda Pilot, Toyota 4Runner and Highlander, Ford Explorer, and Nissan Pathfinder - and beats most if not all in its towing ability. Kia is not at present thought of as a premium brand, but the company is hoping that the Borrego will help change that.

If you're wondering about the name, "Borrego" is named after Southern California's Anza-Borrego desert. Many thanks to Kia for not doing the intro there in mid-July, as 110 degrees F is not at all unusual. And, at one point, I did get into the third-row seat. Especially with the second row placed a little forward, it's not at all the purgatory that is most SUV third rows. Space utilization, not usually a trait associated with an SUV, is very good in the Borrego.

2009 Kia Borrego

Base Price $ 26,000 to $36,000
Price As Tested $n/a
Engine Type dual overhead cam, 4 valve per cylinder, aluminum alloy V6 or V8
Engine Size V6: 3.8 liters / 231 cu. in., V8: 4.6 liters / 282 cu. in.
Horsepower V6: 276 @ 6000 rpm, V8: 337 @ 6000 rpm
Torque (lb-ft) V6: 267 @ 4400 rpm, V8: 323 @ 3500 rpm
Transmission V6: 5-speed automatic, V8: 6-speed automatic
Wheelbase / Length 114.0 in. / 192.3 in.
Curb Weight n/a lbs.
Pounds Per Horsepower n/a
Fuel Capacity 20.6 gal.
Fuel Requirement 87-octane unleaded regular gasoline
Tires P245/70R17 std, P265/60R18 opt
Brakes, front/rear vented disc / solid disc, ABS, EBD standard
Suspension, front/rear independent double wishbone / independent multilink
Ground clearance 8.5 inches
Drivetrain longitudinal front engine, rear or dual-range four-wheel drive

EPA Fuel Economy - miles per gallon
city / highway / observed 17/21 V6 2WD to 15/20 V8 4WD
0 to 60 mph 7-9 sec (est)

Monday, November 17, 2008

Next-Generation 2010 Kia Sorento Bound for Geneva, then Showrooms

Kia's latest crossover offering will continue moving ahead with production despite a global auto sales climate where midsize and large crossovers and SUVs aren't exactly selling like hotcakes. The next-generation Kia Sorento, redesigned for 2010, will move away from the traditional body-on-frame chassis on which the current Sorento rides in favor of unibody architecture.

Thanks to the unibody chassis, the Sorento will get better handling, ride quality, and fuel economy due to the lighter chassis. The move to a unibody chassis has been part of an industry trend with increased focus on a more responsive ride and better fuel economy. The downside to the unibody chassis includes losing towing and off-road capabilities due to a slightly less durable chassis.

A wide range of diesel and regular gas powerplants is being planned for placement into the new Sorento due to its future global availability. Final engine decisions will depend on the market. The Sorento's current gasoline engine choices include a 3.0L V-6 making 240 hp and a 3.8L V-6 with 260 hp. Still up in the air is Kia's decision on continuing to offer the European-spec gasoline 2.4L inline-four engine that is available on the current model.

Diesel choices benefit from Hyundai's newly developed "R" series turbodiesel engines, with the availability of three different diesel engines. Two four-cylinder variations will be available in either a 2.0L making 184 hp or a 2.2L making 200 hp. Both four-cylinder variations can be mated to either a six-speed automatic or a manual transmission. The third choice will be a new 3.0L V-6 CRDi making 240 hp. There have also been rumors that Kia might offer a 2WD variation on the Sorento on top of the standard 4WD layout.

Other changes to the Sorento include an expansion in size, giving it an option for seven seats. The interior is influenced by the Hyundai Forte sedan, and the exterior has been slightly modeled after Hyundai's "boxy" KND-4 concept.

The 2010 Kia Sorento will make its global debut at the 2009 Geneva motor show in March 2009. It is then expected to go on sale immediately in Korea, with releases in Europe, North America, and other international markets following in mid-to-late 2009.

By Benson Kong
Source: Carscoop

Friday, November 14, 2008

2010 Kia Soul - First Drive Review

2010 Kia Soul

Scion faces competition from... Kia?

The new Kia Soul begs one big question: Is this thing cool?

The Soul is a five-door hatch about a half-foot shorter than a Scion xB, one of the youth-market vehicles that likely inspired Kia to enter this little niche (the Honda Element is another, ditto the Nissan Cube; the all-new version of the latter will arrive here next spring as a 2009 model). The Soul began life as a very cool concept car in 2006, but the powerful, big-haunch look and a lot of the trick, appealing aspects have been finessed out in the obligatory production compromise.

Looks are the whole ballgame here, because beneath the radically angled window line and the buff fender bulges and the seat fabric that glows in the dark with the word "soul" is basically a good-sized but unspectacular economy box.

Two Hearts for the Soul

The five-place "urban crossover vehicle" goes on sale here in March. Two engines will be offered: a 1.6-liter four-cylinder engine making 122 horsepower and 115 lb-ft of torque, and a 2.0-liter four putting out 142 horses and 137 lb-ft. The smaller engine comes only with a five-speed manual gearbox, while the larger has an optional four-speed automatic. A four-wheel-drive option would have been cool, but no go: it's front-drive only.

The 2825-pound Soul is built on a modified Kia Rio subcompact platform. Its 100.4-inch wheelbase pays real roominess dividends in the back seat, with six-footers having enough headroom to place a fist between their scalps and the headliner. From a comfort standpoint, this little vehicle is a winner.

Kia hopes to price its li'l spunkster in the "low teens," which we interpret subjectively to be start-at-14 and quit-about-17 grand, so kids, it's not gonna look like an Audi inside. Our test car's red dashboard was hard to the touch, but the fabric seats pass muster, the cluster gauges are marvelously sharp and easy to read, and nobody started whining about the center stack before the ignition got a key poked into it.


Thursday, November 13, 2008

2009 Kia Borrego Selected in Editors' Choice Awards

2009 Kia Borrego

All-New Midsize SUV Chosen as "Best Kept Secret" in Sixth Annual Awards

# Rugged midsize SUV recognized for power, comfort and roominess
# Newest Kia offers luxury features and company's most powerful engine to date

IRVINE, Calif., November 10, 2008 - The recently launched 2009 Kia Borrego midsize SUV, already a recipient of a five-star crash safety rating for all seating positions in frontal and side crash tests by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), has been chosen as "Best Kept Secret" in the 2009 Editors' Choice Awards. Equipped with fuel-efficient V8 or V6 engines, Borrego was chosen for its impressive combination of capabilities, comfort and space.

"Borrego is gaining more and more recognition in the press and among consumers and the selection is further proof it is a solid vehicle packed with value" said Michael Sprague, vice president, marketing, Kia Motors America (KMA). "Borrego is a prime example of Kia Motors' new design direction and evidence of more outstanding product offerings to come."

The Editors' Choice Awards, based on a compilation of every new or substantially revised vehicle, assigns the vehicles to the appropriate categories based on factors including segment and price. Each editor voted for the vehicle they would most often recommend, with winners determined by a simple majority. Vehicles also must be available for sale during the 2008 calendar year.

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-leading 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 some other competitors, which require premium unleaded and achieves best-in-class fuel economy of 15/22 city/highway for its V8 with two-wheel drive, and a respectable 15/20 city/highway for its V8 with four-wheel drive.

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 --

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Economy Car Wrapped in a Candy Shell

Those who were disappointed with the upsized and redesigned second-generation Scion xB may have a new vehicle to consider. The 2010 Kia Soul, introduced as a concept at the 2006 Detroit auto show and teased for the last nearly three years, contains the fuel efficiency and smart interior packaging of the first xB, wrapped in a likeable, edgy body unlike anything Kia has ever sold here before.

North American buyers will have a choice of engines: a 2.0L four at launch and a 122-hp, 1.6L later on. The larger I-4 comes with either a five-speed manual or four-speed automatic, the smaller is only offered with a manual. The front-drive Soul will be available with four trim levels: Soul, Soul +, Soul ! (exclaim), and Soul sport, and though pricing hasn't been announced (expect that at the Los Angeles auto show later this month), Kia hinted the MSRP will be highly competitive. When the Soul goes on sale in North America in March 2009 as a 2010 model, we expect it to start around $15,000-$16,000 and top out at $20,000.

At first glance, the Soul looks much like the concept, except that the Peter Schreyer-designed production version is now much more car and much less crossover. Based on a reinforced, stretched version of the Rio platform, the car is cute and instantly likeable and comes in eleven colors (eight at launch) with names like Alien and Dune (Euro-spec cars have much more charming paint colors like Tomato Red and Vanilla Shake). Like the Scion, a strong emphasis is being put on the potential for customization and accessorizing this car. Several options are offered, including a red and black interior, beige and black hound's tooth seats and similar accents on the tailgate and hood, several wheel choices, different bumpers, stereos, and body mods; what we don't know yet is which of these features will be available in the United States.

We spent some time behind the wheel of a Soul + (2.0L, 142-hp four), with the five-speed manual transmission and 16-in. wheel and tire package. The engine provides plenty of power for a vehicle this size, feels significantly quicker than the first-gen xB, and will probably outrun the Fit in a straight line. But it's somewhat unrefined and noisy (which, considering the price point, isn't a serious problem). The five-speed helps eke out all of the power the Soul has to offer -- which is good, because peak hp is at 6000 rpm), but we'd expect the automatic transmission to be perfectly acceptable (more on that once we get to try it). What we don't understand is why the company didn't use a five-speed automatic instead of a four. The five would be more competitive with its rivals, would provide even better fuel economy than the estimated 31 mpg for the 2.0L, and fifth gear would almost definitely be welcome at higher speed.

The Soul is about six inches shorter overall than the new xB and about six inches longer than the first-gen Scion -- and just as long as the Fit, with a 12-in.-longer wheelbase. It isn't a performance car, but does feel sportier than basic cars in this size and price category. Suspension was tuned to provide a firmer ride, which it achieves, but some may not like the amount of bumps and road irregularities transmitted into the cabin. What didn't come through, even in our preproduction model, were any squeaks or rattles. We did notice that in turns, the Soul exhibited a bit more body roll than expected.

The interior is a lot more appealing than a traditional economy car's and less out-there than the xB's. With basic black cloth like our tester's, most of the cabin was black with red LED lighting on the stereo and red accents on the gauges. The red and black cloth interior gives the Soul a much more youthful attitude. Aux and USB jacks are standard, and options include Sirius, Bluetooth, power sunroof, redundant steering-wheel controls, and an eight-speaker system. Front and rear rows are surprisingly roomy, but long-legged passengers should try to get the front seat -- the front seats are backed by hard plastic. There's plenty of headroom, and the car is surprisingly spacious overall.

On the sensible side, the Soul comes standard with dual front, front-seat-mounted, and full-length side-curtain airbags; TPMS; and front-seat active headrests. ABS with EBD, stability control, and rear disc brakes are standard on all but the base model.

The Soul could change the perception of the company as that of a maker of boring, cheap cars, and could bring in a lot of first-time Kia buyers. Kia's hope is that it can sell 50,000 units a year in North America.

The Soul's style, attitude, and charm come with the economy and value Kia is known for, but for young buyers, this has to be the most appealing car Kia has ever made. We'll soon see if Kia can pull Gen Y away from the Scion and the Fit, as well as the upcoming Cube.

Base Price $15,000-$19,000 (est)
Vehicle Layout Front engine, FWD, 5-pass, 4-door hatch
Engines 1.6L/122-hp/115-lb-ft DOHC 16-valve I-4; 2.0L/142-hp/137-lb-ft DOHC 16-valve I-4
Transmissions 5-speed manual; 4-speed automatic
Curb Weight 3000 lb (est)
Wheelbase 100.4 in
Length x Width x Height 161.6 x 70.3 x 63.4 in
0-60 mph 8.5-9.5 sec (MT est)
EPA City/Hwy Econ 28-31/31-36 mpg (MT est)
CO2 Emissions 0.59-0.66 lb/mile
On Sale In U.S. March 2009

By Allyson Harwood
Motor Trend

Tuesday, November 11, 2008


Full-Size Sedan Honored by Leading Research Firm

# Amanti applauded by consumers for value and appeal
# Full-size Kia sedan commended for quality in tough economy

IRVINE, Calif., November 10, 2008 - Kia Motors America (KMA) today announced the Kia Amanti topped the large car segment in the Strategic Vision Total Value Index® (TVI®). The TVI considers complete consumer ownership experience as well as beliefs about the economic consequences of the purchase, either immediate or expected.

"In a tough economic climate it is good to see that consumers are recognizing the Amanti for everything that it has to offer," said Michael Sprague, vice president of marketing, KMA. "Being that the Total Value Index considers not only the overall ownership experience but what buyers feel the economic impact of their purchase will be is a testament to Amanti's quality and value."

Strategic Vision calculates the TVI by taking into consideration statements that owners make about value, including expected reliability, expected fuel economy, price paid and expected resale value, and then incorporating the importance of the variables that make up the ownership experience.

Having recently topped the Strategic Vision SmartGreenIndex(SM) in the large car segment and recently awarded a "Good" rating from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) in frontal and side impact crash tests, Amanti offers outstanding safety features, luxury and overall convenience in the full-size sedan segment. Amanti offers a long list of standard amenities, including: eight airbags; leather seats, 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."

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 -

Monday, November 10, 2008

2010 Kia Spectra gets more power, sedan and coupe versions

The 2010 Kia Spectra is new from the ground up. The five-door model will be discontinued and a coupe will be introduced about two months after the sedan. The sedan will be powered by a 2.4L, DOHC four with an estimated 162 hp and 164 lb-ft of torque (estimates are based on the previous-gen Optima engine, which is said to power the upcoming Spectra).

The car itself benefits from a dramatic redesign and is an inch longer, 1.6 in. wider, and nearly a half inch lower than the current Spectra. Its structure uses 63% more high-strength steel than the current model. Kia also moved the wheels closer to the corners -- track width increased by 2.4 in. in front and 3.1 in the rear.

The engine upgrade adds 24 hp and 28 lb-ft of torque, a difference noticeable even in our extremely brief time behind the wheel. Kia is putting more of an emphasis on sportiness with this car than ever before, and the coupe is likely to be the sportier of the two, with the strong possibility of a larger engine than the sedan's inline-four. (The coupe will strongly resemble the Koup concept revealed at the New York auto show.)

Kia says the new vehicle is such a dramatic departure from the previous-gen Spectra that it may make more sense to rename it. They're considering three names -- Forte (current Spectra name in Korea), Cerato (Spectra's name outside of Korea and North America), and Spectra. As of right now, Forte appears to be the frontrunner (which, of course, could change).

Source: Motor Trend

Friday, November 7, 2008

"Autobytel Inc. Announces 2009 Autobytel / Editors' Choice Awards"

The editors and analysts of Autobytel Inc.'s automotive information sites and today announced their sixth annual Editors' Choice Awards, revealing the vehicles on the current market that they'd most recommend to car buyers.

"With a shrinking economy, radically changing buyer tastes, the green and the powerful on a collision course, and more choices than ever before, the industry is in total flux, which made choosing our 10 picks more difficult but ultimately more significant than ever," said Autobytel/ Road Test Editor Keith Buglewicz. "Buyers really need help navigating this market - and we're happy to provide it."

And the Winners Are...

Best Kept Secret: 2009 Kia Borrego

The 2009 Kia Borrego is a V-8 powered, four-wheel drive SUV that's capable, comfortable, roomy, and a worthy competitor to any other mid-sized SUV. Sure, the market for trucks like this is shrinking, but even in contracting markets, there's money to be made and customers to be won, and seeing such a winning formula from Kia was a pleasant, but definite, surprise.

Car of the Year: 2009 Hyundai Genesis

When Autobytel/ editors first drove the 2009 Hyundai Genesis, they opined that they were on the verge of a sea change in the automotive landscape on par with the introduction of the Lexus luxury brand in 1990. After more time with the Genesis, they stand by this claim, and award Hyundai the Editors' Choice Car of the Year award.


Autobytel's editors compiled a list of every new or substantially revised vehicle, assigned them to their respective categories based on factors such as segment and price, and deleted vehicles not driven by at least one editor prior to voting on Oct 28, 2008, with the exception of the Dream Car category. To be considered, a vehicle must be available for sale during the 2008 calendar year. Each editor voted for the vehicle they'd most often recommend, with winners determined by a simple majority.

For more information, or to speak with an Autobytel editor about this year's selections, please contact: Melanie Webber at 949-862-3023 or

About Autobytel Inc.

Autobytel Inc. (Nasdaq:ABTL) is an Internet automotive marketing services company that helps dealers and manufacturers sell cars and related products and services. The company owns and operates consumer-facing automotive websites, including its flagship site,, which is designed to help consumers find, see, buy and learn anything related to automobiles. The company's other websites are:,,,,, and

By providing a convenient and comprehensive automotive consumer experience across the purchase and ownership lifecycle, Autobytel seeks to provide dealerships with opportunities to connect with a steady, diverse stream of motivated, serious shoppers, while providing manufacturers with precision-targeted brand and product advertising opportunities. In addition to its websites, the company generates leads and advertising opportunities for dealers and automakers through its marketing network, which includes the AutoReachsm ad network, co-brands, such as, and marketing affiliates such as AOL, Edmunds and Kelly Blue Book.

Thursday, November 6, 2008

2009 Kia Sedona Named as a "Best Buy" by Consumers Digest

Minivan Chosen for Value, Convenience and Style

# Kia minivan offers abundance of standard safety features and amenities
# Value-laden minivan honored once again for design and performance characteristics

IRVINE, Calif., November 5, 2008 - Already a recipient of numerous awards and accolades, including a "Good" rating by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS), a five-star crash safety rating from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) and topping Strategic Vision's Total Quality Index (TQI) survey, the 2009 Kia Sedona is now named as a Consumers Digest "Best Buy" for the second consecutive year.

"It is an honor to have Sedona recognized yet again" said Byung Mo Ahn, group president and CEO of Kia Motors America (KMA) and Kia Motors Manufacturing Georgia (KMMG). "Being named a 'Best Buy' by Consumers Digest goes to the heart of Kia Motors' commitment to offering consumers value-minded and comfortable vehicles with outstanding safety features.

Basing its decision on a vehicle's purchase price and ownership costs in relation to factors including comfort, performance, styling and utility, Consumers Digest determines a "Best Buy" by evaluating each vehicle against a checklist of various design and performance characteristics, including styling, interior ergonomics, seating, accessories and amenities, cargo space, fit and finish, starting and acceleration, shifting/transmission, steering and handling, braking, ride quality and fuel economy.

The current generation Sedona, both Long and Short Wheel Bases, offers standard safety features including six standard airbags (dual advanced front and front seat-mounted side air bags, and full-length side curtain air bags for all three seating rows), a four-channel, four-sensor, antilock brake system (ABS), electronic brake distribution (EBD), a traction control system (TCS), a brake assist system (BAS) and a tire pressure monitoring system (TPMS).

In addition to superior standard safety features and amenities offered on the previous generation model, the 2009 Sedona also now offers SIRIUS satellite radio capability, with auxiliary and MP3-USB connection, standard on all trim levels with three months complimentary service and an optional navigation system for the EX trim line.

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 --

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

2009 Kia Borrego Review - First Drive

The Latest 4WD Mid Sized SUV

This 4WD segment is stuffed to the gills. That's because every automaker saw this midsize SUV platform as a hot potato three years ago, when many began to build the models driven in America today. Who knew then we'd be oversaturated with vehicles in a world turned upside down, with a gas-centric market and quickly decreasing dollars? However, the midsized segment is actually predicted to grow as folks migrate down from fullsized SUVs.

That said, it's worth taking a look at Kia's '09 Borrego. This seven-passenger SUV brings fuel efficiency, muscular power, a touch of luxury, and a spacious interior wrapped in a sleek brawny frame, and the best part is it comes with a V-8 and a six-speed auto tranny in two- and four-wheel drive, with a low range. Standard amenities are plentiful and include air conditioning and an AM/FM/CD/MP3 six-speaker audio system with USB and an auxiliary input jack and a battery saver. And, a Kia-first, Sirius Satellite Radio comes with three months of complimentary service. Pricing starts at $26,245 (V-6 2WD) and tops out at $32,995 (V-8 4WD).

What helps make the Borrego particularly attractive at this time of high fuel prices is its ability to drink regular gasoline-unlike competitor Pathfinder, which requires premium unleaded. Kia calls its fuel economy "class-leading"; the EPA estimates 15/20 mpg city/highway for four-wheel-drive models. Fuel economy improves when the V-6 is under the hood, enabling Borrego to achieve a competitive 16/21 city/highway (4WD).

Fuel economy comes in part from Borrego's all-aluminum engines-Kia's most powerful to date. The 3.8L V-6 generates 276 hp at 6,000 rpm with 267 lb-ft of torque at 4,400 rpm, while Borrego's first-ever DOHC 4.6L V-8 engine serves up top-notch 337 hp at 6,000 rpm with 323 lb-ft of torque at 3,500 rpm, ratings that Kia claims best competitors Toyota 4Runner, Nissan Pathfinder, Honda Pilot, Ford Explorer, Chevrolet Trailblazer, Jeep Grand Cherokee, and GMC Acadia.

The V-8 Borrego can tow 7,500 pounds; the V-6 tugs 5,000. The Borrego's 4WD is the second generation, full-time Torque-on-Demand system from Borg Warner, which is seamless and quiet. Its electronic sensors read the conditions underneath, sending power to the appropriate wheels for more responsive, sure-footed performance. Underneath are a double wishbone suspension in the front and a multilink in the rear combined with coilover springs. Gas shock absorbers and a stabilizer bar are integrated into the front suspension; a damper and stabilizer bar are combined in the rear to improve ride on and off road. All 4WD models get skidplates and tow hooks.

Tech Specs
2009 Kia Borrego 4WD
Base Price: $28,295

EngineS: Six- and eight-cylinder
Horsepower: 276 @ 6,000 rpm (6-cyl); 337 @ 6,000 rpm (8-cyl)
Torque (lb-ft): 276 @ 4,400 rpm (6-cyl); 323 @ 3,500 rpm (8-cyl)
Transmissions: Five- and six-speed autos
Transfer case: Borg Warner
EPA Mileage (city/hwy mpg): 16/21

Curb Weight (lb): 4,460
Wheelbase (in): 114.0
Length (in): 192.1
Width (in): 74.5
Height (in): 71.3
Seating Capacity: 7
Head Room (in, front/rear/3rd row): 40.1/39.9/38.0
Leg Room (in, front/rear): 41.7/37.4
Max. Cargo Volume (cu. ft.): 12.4
Approach Angle (deg): 27.3
Breakover Angle (deg): N/A
Departure Angle (deg): 22.5
Ground Clearance (in): 8.5

Sue Mead

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Heels on Wheels: 2009 Kia Borrego Review

The roomy 7-passenger Kia Borrego is new to the market and ready to elevate the ordinary by claiming it's a "new kind of luxury SUV." However, the Borrego doesn't necessarily stand out from other mid-size SUVs in its class -- and that's not an insult.

For a newcomer, the Borrego merges easily, fitting somewhere between the more traditional-looking SUVs like a Honda Pilot or a Ford Explorer with its contemporary styling, third-row seating, and not-too-big presence. It does everything any regular SUV can do: tow up to 7,200 pounds; handle inclement weather and steep grades with its 4-wheel drive components; 0-60 mph in under 7 seconds.

The Borrego can cost a few thousand less -- the 375-horsepower V8 engine with sunroof, leather seating and rear AC controls will run you about $32,795 -- which is more of a second-row, smaller SUV price. First viewed by critics as entering the market a little too late due to the high rise of gas, each day fuel costs go down is another day the Borrego finds an edge with a consumer who wants affordability and size.


Stylish But Comfortable Results: Getting in, I find flexible steering wheel adjustment, along with power and heated seating. Center console looks like the engineers gave thought to iPods -- you can hide your working MP3 player in the center system nicely and keep cords hidden. Turn dials for 4-wheel drive components mounted on dash (easy to use). Second row climate controls are a bonus -- three back here would be comfortable. Easy access to optional third row. Back lift gate is not automatic. There is a removal mat in the cargo area, which is nice for keeping things clean.

Reliability & Safety Factor: You get a great 10-year/100,000 mile warranty with Kia Motors. It does have all the goods: anti-lock brakes; stability control; front, side and overhead airbags;

Cost Issues: A standard Borrego with a V6 engine and 4WD drive runs you $28,295; with the V8 about $30,995. And then there are the features and options. Add on power driver's seat and leather seating trim for $1,200. The Luxury Package (heated seats, memory seating, 17-inch chrome wheels) cost $1,500; the Premium Package adds more to that (sunroof, rear AC with controls, exterior running boards) for $1,800 -- the former is actually a better deal.

Activity & Performance Ability: The Borrego is effortless on upgrades and acceleration, but I found that the independent coil-spring rear suspension lacks a sense of stability -- steering more than 4,500 pounds of steel is serious business. Suspension is bumpy and not much is absorbed during your on or off-road drive.

The Green Concern: Fuel consumption is more or less the same as any other mid-size SUV. EPA estimations for the V6 are 17/21-mpg in 2-wheel drive and 16/21 mpg for 4-wheel drive. The V8 gets 15/22-mpg on 2-wheel drive and 15/20-mpg in 4-wheel drive.

I think Kia has something wonderful going with the compact SUVs like the Sportage -- the Borrego might have a slight edge in its class with affordability, but women need to test drive to see if the body-on-frame build and rear independent suspension meets their idea of stability.

©2008 Katrina Ramser

Monday, November 3, 2008

Kia's 2008 Sorento has pluses; it's just a victim of changing times

We see the sun rise and set, watch the seasons change, and realize that in just two months it will be 2009. It's still hard to believe how quickly and inexorably times and tastes change.

One day the Yankees are a Major League Baseball dynasty, then seemingly overnight they're on the golf course watching the Phillies celebrate a world championship.

Time also seems to skip a beat in the automotive world. It seems like only yesterday that everybody was buying SUVs and manufacturers couldn't come out with new models quickly enough to sate the public's appetite for them.

Now nobody seems to want one.

True, crossover SUVs -- vehicles that look like trucks but are built on car platforms -- are still somewhat popular. But real SUVs that can cross streams, slog through mud and shake off blizzards are being shunned like a vegetarian at a Texas barbecue.

That makes vehicles such as the 2008 Kia Sorento that I tested last week an afterthought to most consumers.

The smallish and stylish Sorento looks like a new breed crossover, but one glance at its EPA fuel economy rating tells you it's not. Most crossovers get better than the Sorento's 15 city and 20 highway miles per gallon.

Looking beyond the window sticker confirms the Sorento's real nature. On two-wheel drive models, the rear wheels push the Sorento instead of the front wheels pulling it like most crossover SUVs.

And unlike crossovers, the Sorento is built on a true frame chassis braced by nine cross members. That kind of robust construction enables a vehicle to withstand the rigors of real off-roading that would turn the average crossover into a bucket of loosened bolts.

The problem is that most consumers don't need that kind of robustness any more than Louie Anderson needs a Krispy Kreme gift certificate. Rugged, body-on-frame construction requires compromises that get you in the end, like the calories in a box of doughnuts.

That's apparent in the Sorento, which weighs nearly 4,500 pounds in the 4x4 configuration and EX trim of my test vehicle. That's portly for an SUV that slots somewhere between compact and midsize.

A vehicle's weight affects its fuel economy, which helps explain the Sorento's EPA mileage ratings.

The biggest mileage factor, of course, is typically a vehicle's engine. Kia offers two different V6 engines on the Sorento. Base and LX trim levels get a 3.3-liter version that produces 242 horsepower and 228 pounds-feet of torque. The top-of-the-line Sorento EX gets a 3.8-liter that puts out 262 horsepower and delivers 260 pounds-feet of torque.

The smaller engine only gets slightly better mileage and won't tow as much as the 3.8; 3,500 versus 5,000 pounds.

Both of those numbers are beyond the capability of most crossover SUVs. But the best crossovers also deliver a better combination of ride and handling than the Sorento.

That's not to say that the Sorento is a slacker in either department. Its ride is reasonably comfortable, and it does a decent job of muting wind and road noise.

But it's not as good as the best crossovers in those areas. For example, the Sorento's suspension includes a solid rear axle that isn't as compliant as the independent rears on most crossovers. Big bumps and potholes are more noticeable in the Sorento. And the Sorento leans more when navigating corners than most crossovers.

None of that means the Sorento handles poorly. Its behavior is simply more truck-like than car-like. Such characteristics would have been overlooked just a few years ago, when truck-based SUVs were all the rage. In fact, the Sorento was named's "Most Wanted SUV Under $25,000."

But that was for 2004. The Sorento hasn't gotten worse; our sensibilities have changed. It remains a good value in a body-on-frame SUV that delivers robust performance and ruggedness.

Scott Wasser