Monday, January 26, 2009

Kia Soul is probably the least expensive new car in USA

A 2010 model car for less than $14,000? Yes, it's true. It's the Kia Soul. Even if you stuff it with every option available, including a moon roof, this bargain on wheels still comes in under $18,000.

The Soul has been popular in Japan, and Kia is bringing it to North America this spring as a 2010 model. Kia is holding down costs by making just four trim levels available.

The basic model is the Soul, plain and simple, with an MSRP of $13,330. Even when you add in the $695 delivery charge, you are still under 14-thou. Next up is the Soul+, which starts at $14,950 and includes keyless entry remote and 16-inch alloy wheels.

The Soul! -- a car with its own exclamation point -- comes with a power moonroof, fog lights and 18-inch alloy wheels, and you get it all for $16,950. The top-of-the-line model is the Soul Sport. Kia says this model is 'designed for those with active lifestyles' -- whatever that means, more active than just driving the car to the grocery store, I suppose, although I think you could drive the Exclamation Point to the beach, too. Anyway, the Sport will look better at the beach or the Superbowl tailgate party with its rear spoiler, 18-inch alloy wheels and pumped up front and rear fascias that make it look like a tuner version of itself. The super Sport starts at $16,950 and tops out at $18,600 with every possible bell and whistle added.

It's the same boxy style as the new Nissan Cube and the Scion xB. And Kia has its eyes on same youthful market, marketing the Soul as "a personal lounge on wheels". It's also an efficient cargo carrier, with 14 storage zones and a 60/40 rear seat split. Although at that price, it's sure to become a second car for a family, or a first car for retirees on a strict budget. That's what happened to the Scion, much to Toyota's surprise, and even the retro-looking Chevrolet HHR.

The basic engine is a 1.6-liter, four-cylinder mated to a five-speed manual transmission, that kicks out around 120 horsepower. Not exactly a Ferrari, but enough horses to get you around town. Or, you can upgrade the Plus, Exclamation Point or Sport to a 2.0-liter four-cylinder 140 hp engine in your choice of five-speed manual or four-speed automatic. Fuel economy for both engines is estimated at 30 or more mpg.

Because of its tall, boxy shape, it sits five adults comfortably. The interior features an uncluttered dashboard with just three dials that handle just about everything, and an instrument cluster brightened by LCD lighting. Even at this price, there's a USB jack in the center console to plug in your iPod. And Kia is offering SIRIUS Satellite Radio capabilities and three months complimentary service..

Like all Kia models, Soul is covered by a comprehensive 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. There's also a five-year/60,000-mile roadside assistance plan included in the coverage program -- which is a lot of insurance for a car this inexpensive.

by Evelyn Kanter
Green Car Examiner

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Top Cars for Tough Times

Though falling gasoline prices have eased driving costs in recent weeks, economic uncertainty and the feeling that $4.00-a-gallon fuel may come around yet again is causing those in the market for a new car to consider ones that are not only more fuel efficient, but are inexpensive to purchase. Fortunately there are several small cars out there these days that fit the bill, and while they're far from being the most luxurious vehicles in existence, they don't necessarily make their owners feel unduly penalized for their frugality, either.

Here's a quick look at several subcompact sedans and hatchbacks for 2009 that are not only the lowest-priced models on the market, but generally carry fuel economy ratings that are surpassed only by costlier hybrid-powered models. They're not the top performers on the road, certainly aren't the roomiest and for the most part only offer a modicum of features, but they get the job done and do so with inherent thrift as their main virtue.

* Hyundai Accent. As of this writing the lowest-priced car sold in the U.S. at $9,970 (for the hatchback; the sedan starts at $12,920), the subcompact Accent affords essential four-passenger transportation and good fuel economy without feeling overly cheap. It's 1.6-liter four-cylinder engine produces a barely-adequate 110 horsepower, though the reward comes with an estimated 27-city/35-mpg fuel economy. Six air bags, a 100,000-mile warranty and a five-speed manual transmission come standard, with a four-speed automatic gearbox available.

* Kia Rio. Corporate cousin to the Hyundai Accent, the Kia Rio comes in specific, curvier styling, though it's likewise offered in sedan and hatchback models and packs a 110-horsepower 1.6-liter four-cylinder engine and a choice of a five-speed manual or four-speed automatic transmission. Its sticker price starts at $11,495, though the hatchbacks are priced higher. Six air bags and a 100,000-mile warranty are included. As with the Accent, the Rio remains a worthy alternative to a used Toyota Corolla or Honda Civic for about the same price.

Pougkeepsie Journal

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Kia Borrego surprisingly strong new contender in midsize truck-based SUV segment

Who would have thought? A V8-powered, midsize, truck-based, body-on-frame SUV that seats seven, can tow up to 7,500 pounds, and competes hard against the Nissan Pathfinder, Honda Pilot, and Toyota 4Runner -- from Kia. That's the story on the all-new 2009 Kia Borrego.

The Borrego is offered in both 2-wheel drive and true 4-wheel drive (the latest generation built by BorgWarner, which features high and low ranges), in two trim levels: LX and EX. There's a choice of the standard 3.8-liter V6 with a five-speed automatic transmission and 17-inch alloy wheels, or an optional 4.6-liter V8 with six-speed automatic with 18-inch alloy wheels.

The LX, which stickers at $26,245 offers cloth upholstery, eight-way driver's seat, manual A/C, and six-speaker AM/FM/CD with MP3 audio. The LX V6 is available with four-wheel drive for $28,295. The V8 LX is priced at $30,995, and features standard 4-wheel drive, with an available navigation system and a rear-seat entertainment system.

MSRP on the Borrego EX is $27,995 in the 2-wheel drive V6 configuration, and $29,995 for the V8, while $30,995 buys the 4-wheel drive V6 and $32,995 will get you the V8 version. It comes with leather seating, dual-zone climate controls, and upgrades such as heated mirrors, trip computer, power front passenger seat, steering wheel controls.

Walkaround: Like Toyota, Kia isn't known as a styling leader, so the Borrego looks just about like every other SUV -- your basic box. The hood is rectangular, with two large, contoured bulges that from behind the wheel, make the Borrego feel bigger than it is. There's abundant glass on all sides, with three pillars forming a third rear window for good rear visibility. The large rear window is part of the one-piece liftgate, so it doesn't open separately.

The headlights are trapezoidal and symmetrical, with taillights spread over the liftgate and wrapping around the fenders. There's also some plastic cladding apparently to protect the sheetmetal when driving off-road. Underbody skid plates and tow hooks are standard, and one exclusive feature is a standard tow hitch hidden behind the rear bumper. And while the LED turn signals on the sideview mirrors are pretty cool, overall, it's still pretty vanilla-looking.

Interior: The interior is clean and well laid out, with white on black instrumentation, and easy to use controls. The four-spoke steering wheel features cruise control on the right, sound system on the left. There's big rectangular vents on the dash, and the center stack houses the climate controls and optional navigation system. The front console features twin cupholders in front of an armrest positioned far enough back that, depending on your physical size, may really be just an elbow rest.

The seats are comfortable, with leather that's surprisingly soft, and comparable to more upscale vehicles like Mercedes and Lexus. The Borrego seats seven, in three rows. With overall interior volume greater than the Jeep Grand Cherokee, Ford Explorer, Nissan Pathfinder, Toyota 4Runner, and the new Honda Pilot, the ample third-row legroom subtracts from the cargo area behind the third seat. However, with the 50/50 third seat folded flat, there's still ample cargo room, and a hidden storage compartment under the cargo floor. The 60/40 second row also drops down and slides forward for easy access to the third row. The new Ford Flex crossover and Saturn Outlook, are each about 10 inches longer than the Borrego, yet offer less than half an inch more third-row legroom.

Safety equipment on all models include frontal airbags, side-impact front seat airbags, and full-length airbag curtains. Also standard are ABS with electronic brake distribution and brake assist, downhill brake control, electronic stability control, traction control, backup warning, and a tire pressure monitoring system. The V8 models add a driver's knee airbag.

Under The Hood: The Borrego comes with either a 3.8-liter V6 engine mated with a five-speed automatic transmission, or a 4.6-liter, 337-horse, V8 coupled to the same six-speed automatic found in the BMW X5 luxury SUV. It delivers 323 pound-feet of torque at a fairly low 3500 rpm, making it strong on acceleration as well as towing. Both powerplants are all aluminum with dual overhead cams -- and built by Kia. The V8 delivers more horses than the Hemi in the Jeep Grand Cherokee. The V8 Borrego will tow 7,500 pounds, and the V6, 5,000.

Behind The Wheel: The Kia Borrego is a truck-based, body-on-frame SUV -- meaning the ride isn't as soft as a crossover (car-based SUV) like the Toyota Highlander or Honda Pilot for example. Insulated rubber mountings between the body and frame smooth out the ride, which I found solid and comfortable. On some less-maintained roads, thanks to the double-wishbone front suspension, multi-link rear, the Borrego bounced some, but not much.

The Borrego offers two standard safety features for on and off-road: Hill Descent Control and Hill Ascent Control. With an automatic, Hill Ascent Control isn't really necessary but Hill Descent Control can make going down a steep, muddy or icy incline a whole lot less scary. The ABS activates and throttle is controlled, so the vehicle maintains a steady, safe and slow speed. Braking by the way, is excellent, and the rack-and-pinion power steering, is light, with a 36.5-foot turning circle -- tighter than some smaller SUVs.

V8 fuel economy is rated at 15/22 City/Highway with 2-wheel drive and 15/20 mpg with 4-wheel drive. The V6 is slightly better, at 17/21.

Whines: There's not much to find fault with in the Borrego. I found the defroster somewhat slow to clear the windshield, and slight wind noise at highway speeds. The V6 engine may be a modern DOHC aluminum powerplant, but if it only gets one more mpg than the V8, with 60 less horses and 55 less pound-feet of torque, well, what's the point?

Bottom Line: When benchmarked against almost any other midsize luxury SUV, the new 2009 Kia Borrego is a major standout. It's solid and comfortable, with terrific acceleration and towing power, and all the goodies -- at a price point that delivers value well beyond what you'll expect. Kia. Who would have thought it?

By Lary Coppola
Kitsap Peninsula Business Journal

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

The 2009 Kia Borrego and a Korean Style BBQ Burger at Diego Zhang's

As an adult, I have endeavored to learn patience when it comes to the multifaceted art of tasting food (rather than devouring it like a ravenous bear). I use a comparable methodology to the one I use for evaluating vehicles. In this, I have failed with the food. I took the Korean super SUV (the KIA Borrego) to Diego Zhang's to eat a Korean style barbeque burger-thing.

Let me explain: Diego Zhang's is a yummy Burger Cafe located at 12073 East Arapahoe Road (next to an Einstein's Bagels and a few shops away from a Starbucks Coffee). They take the flavor of a region (like Korea) and compress it into a bite-sized burger. In this case, the burger of the month was a Korean BBQ burger that tasted EXACTLY like a scrumptious Korean BBQ! Instead of smelling, checking for consistency, evaluating each bite and allowing my taste buds and saliva to comingle with the food -- I gulped the food down in about 7.8 seconds. That matches the KIA Borrego's 0-60 time.

The KIA Borrego straddles the midsized and full sized segments (in truth it's a full size that handles like a midsize). Everything from the Ford Explorer, Chevrolet Tahoe, Nissan Pathfinder and the Toyota 4Runner are in the KIA Borrego's sights. Despite poor timing, (it's no fun to unveil a V8 SUV when gas prices hit 4 bucks a gallon) this is a good market compromise.

I've eaten at Diego Zhang's a few times and enjoyed every morsel. I highly recommend breakfast, along with their fantastic coffees. The food is real, even the morning fare is cooked rather than microwaved (like the aforementioned breakfast establishments). Prices are good too.

Okay, now read the allegory below.

I've driven the KIA Borrego a few times and enjoyed each ride. The 4.6 liter, 337 horsepower V8 I highly recommend along with the upper level leather package. The power is good, even the 3.8 liter, 250 horsepower V6 is useable and just as good as the competition. Prices are nice too.

Base price for the KIA Borrego starts at (fairly well equipped) $26,245 for the V6 rear-drive LX and a sneeze under $40,000 for the loaded-up-to-gills Borrego EX. I managed a respectable 18 mpg while driving many miles off-road like a squirrel with its tail on fire.

There are a few issues with both the Borrego and Diego Zhang's. Both are a little underwhelming in substance. Diego Zhang's portions are very small (I wasn't the only one who could gulp down one of their burgers in no-time-flat, they're tiny!), but you can supplement the burgers with outstanding soups and salads -- just don't expect French-fries as the closest thing they provide is Boulder Chips.


The KIA Borrego lacks in its self-proclaimed luxury. It is comfortable and the interior is well laid out, but Lexus and Mercedes have nothing to worry about. EVERY time I enter or exit, I have to leap past the outside step to prevent dirt from getting on my pants.

The KIA Borrego does okay on dirt and is great in snow, but the serious stuff is best left to something else (it's just too low). I must say, the traction control and auto 4WD with manual 4-hi/4-lo worked very well.

Still, there is something to this KIA Borrego that is compelling (it took me week to figure this out). This is a great tow vehicle. 7,500 lbs is a class leading tow rating. For any of you who tow small to medium trailers and need a long distance hauler, the KIA Borrego could be your rig.

Like Diego Zhang's -- there is a lot to like with the 2009 KIA Borrego. If you can overlook a few shortcomings, both restaurant and vehicle can satisfy.

by Nathan Adlen
Denver Autos Examiner

Monday, January 19, 2009

Kia Motors America Showcases The Soul'ster Concept at 2009 North American International Auto Show

Open-Air Concept Heats Up the Show

# Distinctive design portrays style, practicality and efficiency
# Kia Motors America design team delivers another high-style concept

DETROIT, Mich., January 11, 2009 -- Bringing a sunny beach feeling into Cobo Center on a cold day in January, Kia Motors America (KMA) arrives at the North American International Auto Show (NAIAS) in Detroit with the Soul'ster open-air concept, a variation of the highly anticipated Soul, arriving at Kia Motors retailers this spring. With young buyers' budgets in mind, the Soul'ster is an efficient front-drive car based on the production model Soul, recently introduced at the 2008 Los Angeles Auto Show.

"Soul'ster delivers something new, intriguing and relevant to today's buyers -- a fun, affordable convertible for active people who like to share good times with friends," said Tom Kearns, chief designer, KMA. "Defying categorization and providing utility and practicality, the Soul'ster exhibits distinctive design cues and satisfies multiple consumer needs."

Stylin' Soul'r Yellow Design

A two-door concept with roadster roots, the brightly colored Soul'r yellow Soul'ster projects a hip industrial look with screw borders, reminiscent of a rivet design found on a fighter jet. The windshield is shortened for a sportier and hunkered down appearance. A two-piece top enables passengers to expose the front and back seating areas independently, using elbow-grease technology. The roll bar serves a dual purpose and includes a place for the slider tracks, while providing protection not found in traditional convertibles.

With a unique face, Soul'ster has a tough but refined character. The toughness is expressed through details like the anodized skid-pad insert, which matches the fender vents, roll bar header and wheels.

Soul'ster's attitude incorporates lighting that shines through with an amber glow under the headlamps. The side vents, side-mirror turn signals, unique LED headlamps, fog and tail lamps incorporate blue shades.

The energetic, distinctive look carries from front to rear with dual chrome exhaust and polished aluminum exhaust tips featuring carbon-fiber interior sleeves. The large 19-inch, five-spoke aluminum alloy wheels perfect the Soul'ster's appearance. Regardless of Soul'ster being viewed from front, back or side, it offers innovative perspectives derived from the original Soul.

Inside Out

Once inside, Soul'ster takes even more progressive variations from Soul beginning with the new four-passenger seating design, a diversion from Soul's five-passenger arrangement, lending spacious versatility for long summer weekends. The surprisingly flexible Soul'ster provides real seating for two in the front with comfortable seating for two more adults in the back. Fold-flat passenger and rear seats combined with ample headroom make this the perfect car for social outings outdoors and on the beach with friends. Making basic features hot, its crank-up windows are a purposefully key interior design element as are the dashboard-integrated audio speakers.

Adding to the edgy design scheme, the non-floor-mounted cantilevered seats project the illusion of being suspended in space when viewed from the side allowing for increased rear legroom. Storage compartments below each of the fold-flat rear seats, offer room for myriad cargo needs. In addition to the spacious cargo area, dual storage compartments also can be found in the rear and underneath the cargo hold area.

All Revved Up

With young buyers in mind, Soul'ster offers an agile, smooth and spirited ride. As with its Soul cousin, Soul'ster's can be made available with a myriad of engine choices depending upon each market's needs. A 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, producing approximately 140 horsepower. Fuel economy for both engines is estimated at 30 or more miles per gallon. Other markets might choose the 1.6-liter four-cylinder engine producing 124 horsepower or a 1.6-liter turbodiesel.

2009 Product Line

Kia Motors America offers a dynamic and diverse product line of 11 vehicles to meet the needs of all lifestyles. The 2009 vehicle line features the functional Rondo CUV and award-winning Sedona minivan along with a wide variety of popular passenger cars, including the refined Amanti full size sedan, purposeful Optima mid size sedan, versatile and compact Spectra and Spectra5, and sporty yet fuel efficient Rio and Rio5 subcompacts. The vehicle line also features the all-new and affordably luxurious Borrego, rugged Sorento and value-packed Sportage SUVs. The Soul will further complement the lineup when it arrives in dealerships this spring.

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 2008, KMA recorded its 14th consecutive year of increased U.S. marketshare. 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."

Friday, January 16, 2009

Behind the Wheel: 2009 Kia Borrego

Joining a Parade That's Moved On

When Kia was busy designing its first midsize sport utility vehicle several years ago, few would have predicted that 2008 would turn out be a year of reckoning in the truck market.

At the time, building a 7-passenger S.U.V. like the Borrego seemed a logical way for Kia to cash in on consumers' appetite for big trucks, a plan that had worked so well for the Big Three over the years. But the arrival last year of the Borrego turned out to be spectacularly ill-timed. Kia joined the big-truck parade as the marching bands were disappearing over the horizon.

Designers for Kia, whose lineup had been filled with small cars and tidy little S.U.V.'s, got the basics for this vehicle class right, even sticking with classic tough-truck construction. Many of today's utility wagons are built like cars; called crossovers, they aim for a softer ride and better handling and usually weigh less. But the Borrego has the hardier body-on-frame construction and competes directly with vehicles like the Ford Explorer and Toyota 4Runner.

Prices start at $26,995 for the LX with rear drive, a 3.8-liter V-6 (276 horsepower) and 5-speed automatic transmission. Four-wheel drive adds $2,050.

For those who want a V-8 (4.6 liters, 337 horsepower) and 6-speed automatic, the least expensive model is $31,745. That's for either a 4-wheel-drive LX or a fancier 2-wheel-drive EX.

The model I tested, the ultimate Borrego, was a 4-wheel-drive EX. A long list of options, including a sunroof, heated seats, leather upholstery, chrome wheels and a navigation system, brought the total to $39,295.

One of the strengths of the Korean automakers has been low prices, although those have been creeping up in recent years. Nonetheless, a similarly (but not quite identically) equipped Explorer or 4Runner would run several thousand dollars more.

All models come with important safety gear like electronic stability control to help reduce the chance of skids; air curtains that deploy from the ceiling to offer head protection for passengers in all three rows; antilock brakes; and air bags mounted in the front seats to protect the torso in a side-impact crash.

The Borrego has received the government's top ratings, five stars, for frontal and side-impact crash protection.

There is enough room in the first two rows to accommodate four 6-foot adults comfortably in practical and pleasant surroundings. In the third row, however, the seat cushion is so close to the floor that it is best suited for small children.

Kia says cargo space behind the third row is about 12 cubic feet; fold down the third row and cargo capacity increases to 43 cubic feet, making it competitive with the Explorer and 4Runner.

My test drive started on the challenging Kancamagus Highway, which wiggles through the White Mountains from Lincoln to Conway and is a favorite of tourists and driving enthusiasts. The Borrego handled what the locals call the Kanc reasonably well, although it could not conceal the fact that it is a 4,600-pound truck.

The steering seemed a bit inconsistent, turning the vehicle a bit more or less than one would expect. Often that required fiddly little corrections in the middle of a curve.

The Kanc's pavement is smooth. When I turned onto the rumpled, broken Bear Notch Road, the Borrego's big weakness emerged. Suddenly it became the great communicator, sending each impact -- without any apparent mitigation -- into the cabin.

Closer to Bartlett, it got worse; the combination of rough surface and challenging turns asked a lot from the suspension, and the Borrego had no acceptable response. Even at a prudent speed the vehicle felt jittery and ill at ease. The suspension lacked depth.

Power was never a problem. The 4.6-liter engine is Kia's first V-8 (though borrowed from the Hyundai Genesis entry-luxury sedan, made by Kia's corporate parent). This engine offers readily accessible torque for no-wait acceleration. But around 1,700 r.p.m. it sent a tremor up through the vehicle -- not what one expects from a large V-8. The real powertrain star is the impeccable 6-speed automatic that comes only with the V-8. It responds quickly and transitions slickly from gear to gear.

With either the V-6 or V-8, and with either 2- or 4-wheel drive, the Borrego's mileage is rated higher than that of the Explorer or 4Runner. In some versions it is only 1 m.p.g. but in others it is 2 or 3. But that's a nice achievement considering that the Borrego's engines are also more powerful than the V-6s or V-8s in the Ford and Toyota.

"Better" fuel economy is still relative; with a V-6 and rear drive, the Borrego is rated 17 m.p.g. city and 21 highway. My V-8 test truck was rated at 15 city and 20 highway. In 441 miles of law-abiding highway driving, often through the mountains, I averaged 17 m.p.g.

One advantage of body-on-frame construction is towing ability. Kia says the Borrego V-6 can tow 5,000 pounds. The V-8 is good for 7,500 pounds, which is more than the Explorer or 4Runner.

The Borrego has a 4-wheel drive system that is constantly engaged, although under normal driving virtually all the power goes to the rear. If the rear tires begin to slip, up to 35 percent of the power is automatically sent to the front wheels. A dashboard switch lets the driver select a high gear range setting, to direct at least 35 percent of the power to the front wheels. There is also a low-range setting for slow off-roading.

When Korean automakers entered the American market, they demonstrated that being Asian did not assure greatness. Both Kia and Hyundai had serious quality problems at first.

Studies by J. D. Power & Associates show that Hyundai quality has improved significantly and is now above the industry average. But Power's Vehicle Dependability Study, which evaluated how 2005 models held up for three years, put Kia third from the bottom.

On the other hand, Consumer Reports magazine recently ranked Kia as the 10th-best automaker over all. A spokesman for the magazine said that the far higher evaluation of Kia reflected improvements in newer models that are only one or two years old. Kia does offer a long warranty: 10 years or 100,000 miles on the powertrain and 5 years or 60,000 miles bumper-to-bumper.

What to do? If one still wants a midsize body-on-frame S.U.V., the Borrego has a lot going for it. It beats the 4Runner and Explorer in towing, fuel economy and power. But Kia has flubbed a crucial element, the suspension. And consumers who are particularly wary may want to consider Kia's limited and inconclusive reliability record.

New York Times

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Big, brawny, rugged new SUV

Kia's midsize Borrego is an off-road, beefy bad boy that can accelerate as well as it can tow.

The times have not been kind to the once but not future king of the road.

Four-dollar gasoline dealt a severe sales concussion to the big, thirsty SUVs. And even after fuel prices fell, the recession and the nation's gathering greenosity kept pummeling sales.

In other words, this doesn't seem like the ideal time for Kia to get into the sizable-SUV game with a heavy, seven-passenger vehicle that gave me an average of 17.5 miles per gallon on the highway.

To make things even tougher for the Kia sales folk, the midsize Borrego is not a trendy crossover, or car-based SUV. It is a traditional, truck-based SUV.

The crossover has become more popular because of its more carlike ride, handling and fuel economy. But because it lacks low-range gearing and drive-train protection, it is essentially an on-road vehicle. A truck-based SUV like the Borrego, on the other hand, is built for off-road use. It has a low range, a rugged ladder frame, skid-plate protection for the transmission, big tires, and usually greater road clearance.

While most of the SUV market has shifted to crossovers, it's only fair to point out that a customer base remains for a big, brawny, honest-to-goodness SUV like the Borrego. There are people whose work and play take them to unpaved places. And there are those who want the generous passenger, cargo and towing capacity that a Borrego provides.

The Borrego boasts three rows of seats that seat seven comfortably - even in the third seat. The exceptional third-row legroom means the cargo compartment behind it suffers a bit, but it is still adequate for food shopping. And when you fold down the second and third rows of seats, the 12.4 cubic feet behind the third row turns into a cavernous 98 cubic feet.

Towing capacity is equally ample. The Borrego pulls 5,000 pounds when equipped with the base 276-horsepower V-6. When fitted with the gutsy 337-horse V-8 as the tester was, the towing tally rises to a hefty 7,500 pounds.

Indeed, Kia's first V-8, a 4.6-liter aluminum affair with dual overhead cams, is a beefy boy that accelerates as well as it tows. Thanks to the engine's size and output, as well as the Borrego's weight and billboard aerodynamics, gas mileage isn't great. In rear-drive form, the Borrego V-8 has EPA mileage ratings of 15 city and 22 highway. In the four-wheel-drive version most Philadelphia-area people want, the numbers drop to 15 and 20. I got 15.6 in mixed driving, and 17.5 on the highway.

Interestingly, the EPAs don't get much better with the smaller, 3.8-liter V-6. In the 4WD model, the V-6 is only one mile per gallon better, at 16 and 21.

The Borrego V-6 is equipped with a five-speed automatic transmission. The V-8 I drove was fitted with the same silky six-speed automatic employed in the BMW X5 SUV.

Given its passenger, hauling and towing capacities, as well as the extensive nature of its standard equipment list, the length of its safety-gear litany, and its exceptional warranty, the Borrego is a legitimate bargain.

The vehicle starts at $26,245 for the base LX V-6 with rear-drive and goes on up to $32,995 for the upmarket EX V-8 with 4WD that I tested.

Although fairly generic, the Borrego's styling is still pleasing and endowed with the SUV's mandatory machismo. The test car's interior was quite contemporary and cleanly designed, and it reflected the sumptuous nature of the leather-upholstered EX.

Indeed, this guy does have a luxury-car equipment list. The only option I could find in the tester was a $1,500 navigation system, which I liked a lot. Safety equipment was another plus. Besides a plethora of air bags (including a driver's knee bag in the EX), the Borrego boasts a slick downhill brake control that keeps the vehicle at a safe crawl even on steep grades.

The Borrego gets five stars on the federal crash tests and four stars for rollover resistance.

By truck-based SUV standards, the Borrego rode and handled quite well. Driving feel was enhanced by the unusual use of rack-and-pinion steering.

Kia Borrego

Base price: $32,995 (inc. shipping).

As tested: $34,495.

Standard gear: 4.6-liter engine, six-speed automatic, all the usual luxury-car suspects, such as leather and power seats.

Fuel economy: 15 m.p.g. city, 20 highway.

Engine performance: Gutsy.

Handling: Controlled.

Comfort: Easy rider.

Styling: Pleasing but generic.

Warranty: Five years/60,000 miles bumper-to-bumper roadside assistance.

Al Haas

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Introducing the All-New 2009 Kia Borrego

The Kia Borrego is a new SUV that was designed to attract attention to its styling while offering new levels of refinement, comfort, and convenience with a list of standard features for unsurpassed luxury.

There is an expansive interior with plenty of room for family, friends, and any other cargo necessary for a driving adventure.

Standard three-row seating for seven gives everyone enough room for people to stretch out comfortably. Available rear air-conditioning keeps everyone cool, whether it's fussy kids or grumpy in-laws.

Interior features include an USB port for your MP-3 player, a rear entertainment system and Sirius Satellite radio. The navigation and back-up warning system keep the driver alert and informed. The six-speed automatic transmission helps improve the 4.6L 32 Valve DOHC V8 engine fuel efficiency. The 110-volt outlet provides power to a laptop computer, DVD player, or anything else you might bring along.

The Borrego is offered either in 2- or 4-wheel drive, with class-leading towing capacity of 7,500 pounds. This strength compares approvingly with Ford and General Motors products.

Borrego has an array of safety features like, a traction control system, antilock breaking system with brake assistance, and electronic stability control, which all adapt automatically to help maintain control on or off the road. With Downhill Assistance Control and Hill Assistance Start, steep and slippery hills are no match for the Borrego's sure-footed agility. Passive features such as dual front airbags with rollover sensors and front seat-mounted side airbags are there for protection.

But even with these features, the Borrego ride was a little bumpy and rough on changing roads and seemed to need a little more steering attention on sharp curves.

The Borrego I drove was fully loaded and the suggested retail price was listed as $39,295. The provided fuel economy estimate was 15 mpg in city and 20 mpg highway.

The weather was bad in North Texas the week I drove the Borrego. But even with icy streets and a hard blowing north wind, the Borrego managed to get better than the estimated gas mileage.

By Durhl Caussey
The Epoch Times

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Kia Amanti Achieves High Marks in the 2008 Strategic Vision Customer Delight Index® Report

Full-Size Sedan Tops Large Car Segment in Customer Delight

# 2008 Amanti recognized for meeting driver needs while remaining a great value
# Full-size sedan applauded for offering impressive design, engineering and fuel economy

IRVINE, Calif., January 12, 2009 -- Garnering another significant accolade, Kia Motors America (KMA) announces the upscale Amanti topped the large car segment in the 2008 Strategic Vision Most Delightful® Vehicle study. According to the San Diego-based research firm, Most Delightful vehicles meet owners' foundational needs while maintaining optional desires which include thoughtful engineering, alluring design cues, performance and fuel efficiency.

"As a safe, reliable and attractive full-size sedan, Amanti meets drivers' needs at an exceptional price point," said Michael Sprague, vice president of marketing, KMA. "Leading the Strategic Vision Most Delightful Vehicle study is another example of Amanti's strengths and of Kia Motor's commitment to providing a line-up embodying quality, fuel efficiency and value."

Having also topped the Strategic Vision SmartGreen Index(SM) and Total Value Index® in the large car segments and a recipient of a "Good" rating from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) in frontal and side impact crash tests, the well-appointed 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. 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."

Friday, January 9, 2009

Borrego ready to hit the trails

The South Korean automaker Kia entered the U.S. market in the mid-'90s with a compact sport utility as its primary product -- the versatile Sportage, a roomy five-passenger.

That first generation of the Sportage was a truck-based SUV with a capable four-wheel-drive system, complete with low-range gearing for serious off-road driving. Since then, the Sportage has been discontinued and then reintroduced as a car-based compact crossover, no longer offered with off-road four-wheel drive.

But in the meantime, Kia added the Sorento midsize SUV to its lineup, initially to replace the Sportage. This model is like the original Sportage in that it has the traditional body-on-frame SUV design, as well as a four-wheel-drive system with low range. Now, a third sport utility, the Borrego, has entered the Kia lineup for 2009, the largest and most capable model yet from this automaker.

Prices begin as low as $26,245 (plus $750 freight) for the base LX V-6 model with rear-wheel drive to $32,995 for the uplevel EX V-8 model with four-wheel drive.

Some critics might argue that this is a bad time to be introducing a truck-based SUV, and they're probably right, to a point. Most of the new sport utilities are of the crossover variety -- built on unibody car chassis and lacking the ruggedness and the four-wheel-drive systems to allow for serious off-road use.

But those of us who enjoy going where no car-based SUV has gone before will find the Borrego quite pleasing. And even though it is as capable off-road as some of those traditional SUVs born in the 1990s, such as the Jeep Grand Cherokee and Ford Explorer, the Borrego has a modern design that makes it a great on-road family hauler, as well.

It's also equipped with a third row of seating, something lacking until now in any Kia sport utility. There is room for up to seven people.

Before the SUV became the latest automotive fad in the early '90s, embraced by soccer moms as the replacement for minivans and station wagons, those of us who like to go into the wild had been buying sport utilities as our weekend getaway vehicles. My first was a 1965 Jeep Wagoneer, in the days before the term "sport utility vehicle" had been coined.

And for those of us who enjoy the off-roading hobby, those newer crossovers just won't do. While there are plenty of crossovers on the market today, the choices of traditional SUVs are dwindling. So I applaud Kia for bucking the trend and offering the Borrego. It's probably destined to be a niche vehicle, though, so it may not last long.

The Borrego's name comes from one of my all-time favorite places for four-wheeling -- the Anza-Borrego Desert State Park near Palm Springs, Calif. Kia began development of the Borrego about four years ago when no one was worrying much about fuel economy.

The Borrego would have been a harder sell about six months ago when gasoline prices were topping $4 a gallon, but it's probably more palatable now that the average gas price has dropped to about $1.65.

But this is not exactly a gas hog. A Borrego with the base, 276-horsepower, 3.8-liter V-6 engine has EPA fuel economy ratings as good as -- or even better than -- those of some of the popular crossovers: 17 miles per gallon city/22 highway with two-wheel drive and 16/21 with four-wheel drive. In comparison, the all-wheel-drive Honda Pilot is rated at 17/22, and its upscale cousin, the Acura MDX, is rated at just 15 city/20 highway.

Optional on the Borrego and not offered on most crossover utility vehicles is a 337-horsepower, 4.6-liter V-8, borrowed from the new Hyundai Genesis luxury sedan. This is the first V-8 in either a Kia or Hyundai vehicle (Kia is a subsidiary of Hyundai), and some would argue that it's a little late coming, especially now that consumers have been abandoning V-8s in favor of less powerful but more efficient four- and six-cylinder engines.

We tested the Borrego EX V-6 model with four-wheel drive ($29,995 plus freight), so we weren't able to check out the additional power offered by the V-8. But it's not a gas hog, either -- with two-wheel drive, it's rated at 15 city/22 highway; and with four-wheel drive, it's 15/20, the same as the Acura MDX crossover.

V-6 models come with a five-speed automatic transmission, while the V-8s have a six-speed. That extra gear helps give the V-8 its decent highway mileage.

The Borrego gives Kia its most powerful and best-equipped vehicle yet, and it shows consumers that the brand once known mostly for value and economy can field a credible entry in a near-premium vehicle segment.

The vehicle has a roomy and comfortable interior that looks more like that of a luxury sedan than an off-road-capable SUV. We packed it with adults and kids for a long highway run, and found it to be a delightful trip vehicle. And once we got to where we were going -- the Great Smoky Mountains of Tennessee and North Carolina -- the four-wheel drive came in quite handy for those rugged off-road trails.

Highway handling is more carlike than you would expect; and off the highway, the Borrego was very much like a Jeep SUV.

Kia says the Borrego has more interior space than the Explorer, Nissan Pathfinder, Toyota 4Runner, Grand Cherokee or the redesigned 2009 Pilot. As with most of these three-seat midsize sport utilities, though, cargo space behind the third seat is tight -- just 12.4 cubic feet, about the same as in a compact car.

The Borrego, which is sold as the Mohave in markets outside North America, was designed with safety in mind. It has earned the highest five-star crash safety ratings from the U.S. government for all seating positions.

Among standard safety features are advanced front air bags, front seat-mounted side air bags, side-curtain air bags for all three rows of seats, a driver's knee air bag (V-8 models only); four-wheel anti-lock disc brakes; electronic stability control and traction control; a tire-pressure monitoring system; electronic brake-force distribution; and electronic brake assist.

For those with boats, horse trailers or small travel trailers, towing capacity is 5,000 pounds for the V-6 models and 7,500 pounds for the V-8.

Standard amenities include air conditioning, an AM/FM/CD/MP3 six-speaker audio system with USB and auxiliary input jack, power windows/mirrors/door locks with remote, and Sirius satellite radio.

Extras on our tester included 18-inch chrome wheels ($750); the Premium package ($1,800), which added a sunroof, rear air conditioning, running boards and uplevel Infinity audio system with 10 speakers, MP3 playback and CD changer; a navigation system ($1,500); and the Luxury Package ($1,500), which tacked on such amenities as leather seats for the first and second rows, heated front seats, power tilt-and-telescopic steering wheel, and a memory feature for the driver's seat, outside mirrors and steering wheel.

Total sticker price for our vehicle was $36,295, including freight and options.

G. Chambers Williams III
San Antonio Express-News

Thursday, January 8, 2009

All-New Kia Soul Priced Well Under $14,000

IRVINE, Calif., January 7, 2009 - Kia Motors America, Inc. (KMA) today announced pricing for the all-new highly anticipated Kia Soul will begin at $13,300. Even with the $695 freight charge included, Soul's price tag of $13,995 is still under the $14K mark. And with all boxes checked on the highest trim level Soul sport, the vehicle will still come in below $20,000. Recently debuted at the 2008 Los Angeles Auto Show, Soul will join the C-segment as an early 2010 model year vehicle and allow buyers the chance to truly personalize their vehicle with more packaging and styling combinations than any previous Kia model.

The 2010 Soul will be available in four trims: Soul, Soul+, Soul! (exclaim) and Soul sport. Soul+, which includes standard keyless entry remote, solar glass and 16-inch alloy wheels, will start at $14,9501 and top out at $17,100 when options including the Audio Package and power moonroof are included. Enhancing to the Soul! will add the power moonroof, fog lights and 18-inch alloy wheels and will be priced beginning at $16,9501 and peak at $17,900 with all available options included. The Soul sport, designed for those with active lifestyles, will include side sills, a rear spoiler, 18-inch alloy wheels and unique front and rear fascias, and will start at $16,9501 and end at $18,600 with all available options included.

2009 Product Line

Kia Motors America offers a dynamic and diverse product line of 11 vehicles to meet the needs of all lifestyles. The 2009 vehicle line features the functional Rondo CUV and award-winning Sedona minivan along with a wide variety of popular passenger cars, including the refined Amanti full size sedan, purposeful Optima mid size sedan, versatile and compact Spectra and Spectra5, and sporty yet fuel efficient Rio and Rio5 subcompacts. The vehicle line also features the all-new and affordably luxurious Borrego, rugged Sorento and value-packed Sportage SUVs. The Soul will further complement the lineup when it arrives in dealerships this spring.

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. 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, January 7, 2009

Kia gets funky with Soul

Is Kia cool?

Maybe not, but it's got Soul, a funky new funmobile designed to establish some street cred among the young.

The Soul train starts next year when the South Korean carmaker sends the wagon out to compete with the boxy Nissan Cube, a co-star at the 2008 Los Angeles Auto Show. Already circling the block are Toyota Scion's Xb, Honda's Element, a couple of counterintuitive crates that seem to have captured the fancy of fashion-resistant trendsetters.

"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 for Kia Motors America. "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."

Cars like the Soul are sometimes called "multipurpose vehicles" because they're not quite sport utilities and typically taller than the compact or subcompact wagons. They've also been called "urban crossovers." Members of the segment fit somewhere between the Chrysler PT Cruiser and the Honda CRV.

Unveiled as a concept vehicle at Detroit's North American International Auto Show in 2006, Soul features an angled window line, rounded nose, large flared back headlamps and chrome grille. The large windshield and the tapered roofline seem to emphasize the forward view. The beltline from the front wheel arch creates a subtle wedge shape and continues under and around the rear side window.

The production version of the car, designed in Southern California and manufactured in South Korea, is expected to arrive in U.S. showrooms in April.

Available in four trims - Soul, Soul+, Soul! and Soul sport - the five-door model will be priced "in the teens," Kia says.

Two engines will be offered, both four-cylinder versions. The base transmission in the Soul is a five-speed stick, but you can upgrade to a four-speed automatic.

While the Soul won't blow anyone's doors off, fuel economy, not yet announced, should be much more encouraging. The comparable Nissan Cube is expected to get more than 30 miles per gallon with the stick shift.

Soul's warranty covers the power train for 10 years or 100,000 miles, while providing five years or 60,000-mile coverage for the other parts.

2010 Kia Soul

Price: TBA.

Where built: Gwangju, South Korea.

Key rivals: Toyota Scion xB, Nissan Cube, Honda Element.

Power: 2-liter 142-horsepower, inline four-cylinder engine; four-speed auto transmission.

Fuel economy: TBA.

Chassis: Independent front and twist-beam rear suspension with front MacPherson struts and coil springs, rear suspension is subframe-mounted with antiroll stabilizer bar; power rack-and-pinion steering; antilock brakes; 18-inch alloy wheels.

Length x width x height: 161.6 x 70.3 x 63.4 inches.

Standard: Tilt steering column, power locks/mirrors/windows, map lamps, rear wiper and washer, 60/40 split-folding rear seat, air conditioning, cruise control, Bluetooth hands-free connectivity, leather-wrapped steering wheel and shift knob, privacy glass, AM/FM/CD/MP3 stereo with 315-watt amplifier and subwoofer, power moonroof, floor mats.

By Scripps Howard News Service

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Will You Embrace The Kia Soul?

When the Kia Soul makes its debut, buyers will have the ability to customize their rides thanks to a variety of from the factory and aftermarket decal options including the one pictured here.

When the Kia Soul makes its debut, buyers will have the ability to customize their rides thanks to a variety of from the factory and aftermarket decal options including the one pictured here.

Young drivers have been flocking to Scion ever since Toyota introduced their fleet of youth oriented people movers earlier in the decade. Along with the Honda Element and the newly released Nissan Cube, these models have been embraced by drivers who love their value, room and creature features.

Kia, the Korean automaker, has until now hasn't fielded a car that has been widely desired by new drivers. True, the Elantra and the Rio have sold fairly well, but neither model has that distinctive look, that special feel that generates buzz and attracts young buyers.

This Spring, the all new 2010 Kia Soul will make its debut, a five passenger mobile box that Kia believes will finally win the hearts of college aged drivers. This past November I was present at the car's unveiling at the 2008 Los Angeles Auto Show and, like so many others who were there, was wowed by the Soul's design. Now I've been wowed by its starting price.

There is nothing plain about the Souls interior. Lots of room, many of the technological and safety features you crave are built right in, and the style is sure to please most young drivers.

According to published reports, including Autoblog, the base model Soul will retail for just $13,995, a price that includes destination charges. That base model will be well equipped, and will feature a 122 horsepower 1.6L four-cylinder engine, ABS, electronic stability control, six airbags, air conditioning, an audio system featuring CD, MP3 (USB and AUX inputs) and Sirius Satellite radio, as well as power windows and locks.

Option packages will add one to three thousand dollars to the price, but even the most well equipped Kia Soul should still roll off of showroom floors for under $20,000, well within the budget of what many new grads as well as current college students can afford.

The first Souls are expected to appear in Kia showrooms in March with some 50,000 units earmarked for the U.S. Market. Clearly, Kia has raised the bar by lowering the entry level price for a youth oriented vehicle, the sort of good news that first time car buyers love to hear.

by Matthew C. Keegan

Monday, January 5, 2009

A little snow won't stop Borrego

All-new Kia performs well in winter weather

The new 2009 Kia Borrego midsized sport utility vehicle got Motor Mouth through this week's Boston snow storm without breaking a sweat.

My test Borrego EX 4x4's four-wheel-drive system, high ground clearance, standard rear wiper and hefty tires easily handled all that the snow-covered Mass Pike could throw at me.

Oh, and the Borrego - an all-new model for 2009 - also looks good, seats seven and carries a nice price (base sticker: $26,245).

On the outside, the model offers a sophisticated if admittedly suburban look.

My test model's large front grille swept back to standard side running boards, optional six-spoke alloy wheels ($750) and large doors with folding side mirrors.

Inside, the driver's and front passenger's seats come standard on the EX 4x4 with electric seat adjusters, offering good legroom, headroom and hiproom.

My test Borrego also featured optional heated seats and stitched-leather upholstery, part of an optional $1,500 Luxury Package.

The Borrego's dashboard features a large speedometer and tachometer, along with smaller fuel and temperature gauges. My test car also came with an optional 10-speaker Infinity AM/FM/CD/MP3/iPod/Sirius stereo, part of a $1,500 Premium Package.

The Premium Package also added a three-zone climate system and a power sunroof. Additionally, my test Borrego came with a great optional navigation system ($1,500).

In back, the SUV's 60/40 split fold-down rear seats offer decent legroom, along with good hiproom and headroom.

Surprisingly, the center seat offers the most room of all, as Kia strategically placed the Borrego's center console far forward in the passenger cabin.

The model's rear seats can realistically accommodate three adults (a rarity in the auto world), although grown-ups might find things cramped after perhaps 20 minutes.

The Borrego's second row of seats also fold forward easily, providing good access to the model's standard third-row seating.

These third-row seats offer good headroom, legroom and hiproom for two people. Again, this space can comfortably accommodate adults for brief trips, or kids for longer rides.

With all seats in use, the Borrego provides a decent 12.4 cubic feet of cargo space: Enough for one large suitcase or perhaps five knapsacks.

But the second- and third-row seats both fold down flat when not in use, creating a mammoth 97.6 cubic feet of storage space. That's enough for a tent, hockey gear or other bulky items.

On the road, the EX 4x4's 276-horsepower V-6 engine and four-wheel-drive system provide a solid ride in virtually any type of weather.

The Borrego offers a "high-up" road view, corners well and brakes crisply. The SUV also accelerates smoothly, although Motor Mouth found the model's ride a bit bumpy.

Still, backing up and parking the Borrego are relatively easy, thanks to a standard parking assistant that beeps if you're about to hit something.

The Borrego EX 4x4 also comes standard with "Downhill Brake Control," which automatically applies brakes for you when going down steep declines. Likewise, a standard "Hill Assist Control" helps prevent the EX 4x4 from rolling backward when you're stopped at a light on the top of a hill.

As for fuel efficiency, the EPA rates the Borrego EX 4x4 at 16 mpg/city and 21 mpg/highway. During a week of test drives, Motor Mouth logged a combined 14.6 mpg city/highway - so-so fuel economy.

However, the Borrego shines when it comes to pricing.

The model's $26,245 base price handily beats that of competitors like the Honda Pilot ($29,195) or the Saturn Outlook ($33,035).

By Jerry Kronenberg / Motor Mouth

Boston Herald