Tuesday, March 31, 2015

2016 Kia Optima First Look

Here’s our first look at the all-new 2016 Kia Optima sedan debuting next week at the 2015 New York Auto Show. It was at the New York event back in 2010 that Kia broke off the shackles of lame, design by committee styling when it unveiled its striking, third-generation Optima. The vehicle quickly became the brand’s bestseller here, a title it’s held for the past three years, and now, five years later, Kia is launching a successor model.

The latest design isn’t quite the revolution Kia’s design team made with the previous model, and we have to admit feeling a little letdown after seeing the impressive teaser sketches and recent Sportspace concept, but we’ll reserve final judgement until we see the 2016 Optima in full.

Kia says the 2016 Optima will offer multiple engine choices, which we’re expecting to include a naturally aspirated 2.4-liter mill, a turbocharged 2.0-liter unit and at least one hybrid option. The car is closely linked with the Sonata from sister brand Hyundai, meaning we’re likely to see the new Optima pick up most of the upgrades offered on the latest version of the Sonata, which comes with both hybrid and plug-in hybrid powertrains.

We’ll have all the details soon, as the New York Auto Show gets underway April 1. To see what else will be at the show, head over to our dedicated hub.

Sunday, March 29, 2015

Kia’s 2016 Sorento Is Focused On Safety and Family Comfort

When developing the latest version of the Sorento, Kia’s engineers focused on strengthening the structure and increasing the safety of this family centric SUV.

Keeping your family safe are a number of features like seatbelt anchor pretensioners, six airbags; active safety features include Electronic Stability Control (ESC), Traction Control System (TCS), Brake Assist System (BAS), Hill-start Assist Control (HAC), Electronic Brake Force Distribution (EBD) and Antilock Braking System (ABS).

Models with AWD come with additional technologies such as Roll Over Mitigation (ROM) and Cornering Brake Control (CBC), giving an even more surefooted feel.

A raft of driver aids like, Forward Collision Warning System, Smart Cruise Control, Blind Spot Detection, Rear Cross Traffic Alert and Surround View Monitor (SVM, further prove Kia’s commitment to providing a secure family vehicle.

The new Sorento has been updated to deliver a quiet and comfortable ride. To that end the rear suspension has been revised to provide improved travel on rutted roads.

The lively steering feel is provided by the electric power steering system that offers an improvement in handling characteristics over the outgoing model.

The AWD system will function autonomously, but with the flick of a switch, the driver can engage a 4WD lock mode that balances the delivery of engine power evenly to all 4 wheels.

This system also comes with a torque vectoring function that will come to the rescue if the system senses understeer.

The 2016 Kia Sorento is available in a FWD or AWD format.

With the choice of 3 engines, the Sorento can be setup to fulfill anyone’s needs.

The engines are a 2.4-liter inline-4 GDI, a 3.3-liter V6 GDI and a new 2.0-liter inline-4 GDI turbocharged powerplant.

The base 2.4L delivers 185 hp, which is adequate for daily duties.

The 2.0L turbo pumps out a frisky 240 hp, and is the choice for those who want to balance power and fuel economy.

The most powerful engine in the stable is the 3.3L V6. The 290 hp it produces allows the Sorento to tow up to 5,000 lbs when paired with the AWD system.

All of these engines are paired to an electronically controlled 6-speed automatic.

The interior is large and can be optioned to seat up to 7 passengers. The overall cargo volume has increased from 72.5 to 74 cu.ft, and the space available behind the 3rd row is now 11 cu. Ft.

To add convenience the second row seatbacks can be folded via a lever mounted on the side of the luggage area.

Options like heated and ventilated seats, including heated rear seats, a panoramic sunroof and 630-wat 12 speaker Infinity stereo give the Sorento a premium ambience.

Kia has included a full range of connectivity that is accessed through an 8-inch capacitive-touch color screen, with an available navigation system that features SD card storage for MAP DATA and USB 2.0 support for high-speed updates as well as integrated rear backup camera, Bluetooth hands-free support and UVO voice recognition.  A 4.3-inch TFT color touch screen is standard and also incorporates Bluetooth, and UVO voice recognition capability.

The 2016 Kia Sorento offers consumers a safe, versatile and handsome way to transport their family through daily life.

Pricing starts at $24,900, and fuel economy estimates are 21 mpg city and 29 mpg highway for the 2.4L FWD.

Saturday, March 28, 2015

Kia Optima Renders Hint at a Sexy and Futuristic Next-Gen Model

Earlier in the century, Kia was widely considered a joke in the automotive industry, with its poor-performing vehicles and their mostly uninspiring design.  But thanks to the Optima, automotive pundits learned to take Kia seriously, and now the Korean automaker has become a solid, if still unspectacular performer in terms of vehicle sales.  But with the current Optima desperately needing a refresh after five years on the market, new renders have emerged, right ahead of the next-gen model’s scheduled launch at the 2015 New York International Auto Show.

The renders should not be mistaken as the actual vehicle we’ll be seeing in New York this April, but they do point to the direction in which Kia wants to go, which appears to be a very futuristic one.  The Optima renders suggest a curvier, more futuristic-looking vehicle, and if you remember the Sportspace concept from the 2015 Geneva Motor Show earlier in March, the renders do show a bit of similarity to that car, particularly in the roofline and headlights.

While these Kia Optima renders tell us a bit about possible design language, little is known about the new car’s engine and interior features.  So far, Kia Motors Europe Chief Executive Michael Cole teased the chance of the new Optima being a performance model, but we really wouldn’t know for sure until the car makes its much-anticipated debut in New York next month, some five years after the original Optima’s launch at the 2010 NYIAS.

Friday, March 27, 2015

2015 Kia Rio S Review

Plenty of new car choices are available for under $20 grand on the road, but pretty much all are in the light car or smaller micro car segments.

In total, some 26 models are available from about 15 manufacturers which gives consumers a wide selection to choose from. Offerings come from all quarters... India, Thailand, Japan, Korea and Europe with the lion's share of sales going to Mazda2 and Toyota Yaris with Hyundai's i20 and Suzuki's Swift on the scent.

Kia is in there too with the Rio, arguably one of the better lookers in the segment and priced from an affordable $15,990…. plus on roads which takes it to about $18 grand... drive away.


We were interested in the bottom dollar car - the one that, on price alone, would get you, the buyer, through a Kia dealer's door. We couldn't actually do that because the absolute base model wasn't available so we drove the next one up - the five door, manual, Rio S hatch that sells for $16,990 plus on roads.

Kia recently freshened Rio adding some kit and fiddling the model range adding some more choices. Rio's sporty style has been enhanced with a revised bumper, grille and other minor body hardware changes while the interior gets a new style centre fascia, audio unit design and metallic highlights.

Not much at all really but enough to stay in the race in the face of a new generation Mazda2, Honda Jazz and revised Yaris.


The Rio S is powered by a 1.4-litre, fuel injected, four cylinder petrol engine that achieves 79kW/135Nm output. If you want the more up to date direct injection engine you'll have to go for the 1.6-litre car at significantly more money. It also gets an optional six speed auto whereas the 1.4 engine makes do with an old school four speed auto. Why?

The manual across all Rio variants is a six speeder offering a smooth shift action and relatively closely spaced gear ratios. It needs them in the 1.4 because engine performance is OK as long as you are prepared to work the gearbox.

Fuel economy is a claimed 5.7-litres/100km, a figure we got close to on test and it runs on regular unleaded which is a bonus.


Kia Australia takes great pains to give its cars a sporty 'Euro' feel on the road and such is the case here with the Rio S delivering a sporty ride with a decent level of comfort and control. The same applies to the car's steering and overall dynamics and it has disc brakes all round unlike many competitors which have drum rear brakes - say what?

Kia takes its cars out into the Aussie countryside with a bunch of suspension parts, laptops and engineers to get the ride/handling right. The process works a treat with the Rio ahead of most rivals in this area even with a fairly rudimentary strut front/torsion beam rear suspension. Pity it weighs so much as 1221kg for the one we drove.


The test car had a reasonable amount of kit including air conditioning, trip computer, Bluetooth phone and audio, steering wheel audio controls, trip computer and phone controls, hill start assist, remote central locking, OK cloth upholstery, gear shift indicator, reasonable seats (no lumbar adjustment) and a 60/40 folding rear pew.

Happily, the Rio has a full size spare which isn't matched by many of its competitors. It also scores a five star crash rating with all that brings.


Rio is OK on this score... at the better end of the scale thanks to its dynamics but is no firecracker that's for sure. The silent at idle engine is 'adequate' and when you put the foot down you get more noise and a bit more acceleration. Best as an urban runabout.


Rio is a handsome little beast from all angles and is acceptably modern inside even though there's too much hard grey plastic

We like the look of the Rio with its distinct European lines setting it apart from most of the competition many of which are stylistically challenged (ugly).

In contrast, Rio is a handsome little beast from all angles and is acceptably modern inside even though there's too much hard grey plastic. Plenty of storage compartments are provided and it's an easy car to drive and live with.


A bit more go from the 1.4-litre engine would be welcome as well as lumbar support adjustment but as it is, the price, warranty, capped price servicing drive feel and look of the car are hard to resist.

Thursday, March 26, 2015

All-New 2016 Kia Optima Looks Awesome…In Official Teaser Sketches

These sketches are our first teaser glimpse at the production version of Kia's new generation Optima sedan, due for a world premiere at the New York Auto Show on April 1.

Naturally, as with all teaser sketches, they're a bit on the optimistic side – heck, the Optima here looks more aggressive than the Geneva Motor Show Sport Space concept that hinted at the design direction for the mid-size sedan as well as a possible estate addition to the range.

What we'll take from these official renderings is the more sculpted sides and the pronounced wheel arches together with the more angled rear window and a glasshouse that has a strong resemblance to the current model that was introduced at the 2010 NY Auto Show.

The only piece of information we get from Kia is that the new Optima was "passionately designed and obsessively crafted".

We do know that it will share its platform with the latest Hyundai Sonata, so it should offer a similar engine lineup in North America, including a 1.6-liter turbo, a 2.4-liter naturally aspirated four and a 2.0-liter turbocharged unit.

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

2016 Sorento Keeps Enhancing Kia’s Image

The 2016 Kia Sorento represents the third generation of the Korean automaker’s popular crossover utility vehicle. It is based on the Cross GT concept vehicle that bowed two years ago at the Chicago Auto Show. Kia is also celebrating its 20th anniversary in the U.S. and has grown from two available vehicles to 12.

This latest Kia Sorento hits the ground running, featuring a stronger body structure, a wheelbase that’s 3.1 inches wider and an overall length that’s three inches longer as well. The CUV comes in either a versatile two- or three-row seating configuration and comes loaded with enhancements in driving dynamics and technological advancements.

Overall cargo volume in the new Sorento increases from 72.5 cu.-ft. to 74 cu.-ft., while cargo volume behind the third row increases from 9.1 cu.-ft. to 11 cu.-ft., providing increased space for essentials and active-lifestyle equipment without sacrificing rear-passenger room.

The 2016 Kia Sorento will be available in five distinctive levels of trim: the base L; an LX that moves up the scale in terms of features and equipment; the EX, SX and the flagship SXL. Dependent upon the trim level, the 2016 five-passenger Sorento comes with a 40/20/40 folding second-row as standard fare (4-cylinder models) or in a 50/50 folding third-row seven-passenger seating configurations (V6 models). For added luxury, heated and ventilated front seats, heated rear seats, a 14-way power driver and 8-way power passenger seats, driver’s seat thigh extension, a four-way headrest with one-button adjustment, dual-zone HVAC and Kia’s second-generation panoramic sunroof, as well as available premium Nappa leather trim seating surfaces, similar to those found in Kia’s luxury flagship sedan, the K900 are all available.

Second- and third-row passengers will enjoy enhanced comfort thanks to a .5-inch increase in rear passenger space for both rows and a roomier flattened second-row center floor. Access to third-row seating is improved with 1.5 inches of additional boarding space, while headroom throughout the cabin is also increased.

The new Kia Sorento has improved in its visual appeal, drawing some of its design inspiration from nature. Overall, the Sorento displays a more athletic and planted stance, communicating a pleasing edginess. The profile presents a clean and simple image that’s easily recognizable as a Sorento, with stronger shoulders and a long hood that delivers a more aerodynamic and sleek persona. The Sorento’s packaging is more efficient, allowing for greater interior room. The front end is aggressively styled, and with its narrower headlight design, is an evolution of the upper fascia seen on the Cross GT concept, while bearing a strong family resemblance to the all-new Kia Sedona multipurpose vehicle. Distinctive LED positioning lights set the Sorento apart from others in the midsize CUV segment.

Sitting below the headlights, the lower intake and fog lamp pockets are more prominent, showcasing a sportier appearance that blends harmoniously with the overall styling proportions. Premium enhancements include available LED rear dimensional tail lamps and LED fog lamps. The body rides on four new alloy wheel designs, ranging from 17 to 19 inches, depending on trim level.

In terms of progressive technology, four additional UVO eServices are now available: Geo-fencing, Speed Alert, Curfew Alert and Driving Score. Additionally, with the introduction of the Kia App store, select apps may be downloaded at no charge from iTunes or Google Play. The Kia app connector is available for partnership with the content community for downloading apps such as Yelp, while Soundhound, Pandora and iHeart Radio will come preloaded at a later date.

Accessed through a crystal-clear 8-inch capacitive-touch color screen, the available navigation system features SD card storage for MAP DATA and USB 2.0 support for high-speed updates as well as an integrated rear backup camera, Bluetooth hands-free support and UVO voice recognition A 4.3-inch TFT color touch screen is standard, which also incorporates Bluetooth and UVO voice recognition capability.

Safety issues are addressed by such features as: seatbelt anchor pretensioners and six airbags, with all Sorento models providing standard active safety features such as Electronic Stability Control, Traction Control System, Brake Assist System, Hill-start Assist Control, Electronic Brake Force Distribution and Antilock Braking System. Additional technologies such as Roll Over Mitigation and Cornering Brake Control on AWD models also were added as standard equipment for improved dynamic control and safety.

New available driver aid technology, includes: Vehicle Stability Management, Forward Collision Warning System, Smart Cruise Control, Blind Spot Detection, Rear Cross Traffic Alert and Surround View Monitor.

Sorento will continue to offer an advanced AWD system that automatically routes power to the wheel with the most traction. Should conditions require more sure-footed capability, a 4WD Lock Mode splits engine power evenly between the front and rear drive shafts. The system also provides drivers the added stability of Torque Vector Cornering Control, which is activated when yaw and steering sensors detect unwanted understeer. V6 models are capable of towing up to 5,000 pounds.

During the national media launch of the 2016 Kia Sorento, I was able to experience time behind the wheel of both the new 2.0 T and V6 powered versions in AWD and in SXL Trim. The Turbo model wore an exterior coat of Titanium Silver metallic, while the V6 sported a Snow White Pearl effect exterior. Base pricing ranges from $24,900 for the 2.0T to $43,100 for the V6. I later spent time piloting the SXL AWD 2.0T on my home turf with an exterior finish of Titanium Silver, and the interior executed in silver and black tones. Its base price was set at $41,700. Which increased to $45,095.after adding the SXL Technology Package and the Inland Freight and Handling Fee.

SUMMARY: Driving the all-new 2016 Kia Sorento powered by either the 2.0T turbocharged 4-cylinder or the 3.3-liter V6 provided a most pleasurable experience. Both engines provide satisfying performance levels in terms of acceleration, while the four-banger obviously has to work a little harder and emits a little more noise in the process, but not an objectionable amount.

The transmission shifts smoothly, almost imperceptibly in either fully automatic mode or in manual mode, which proves to be somewhat more responsive.

The interior ambience and the ride quality are quite pleasing — not too firm and not too soft. Handling characteristics consist of an on-center steering feel and a planted stability.

The 2016 Kia Sorento will be built at Kia’s U.S. manufacturing plant in West Point, Ga., where the Optima is also built.

In final analysis, the 2016 Kia Sorento in virtually any of its configurations or trim levels, delivers a solid value in a package that is not only good looking, but is capable of fulfilling a wide variety of functional desires and individual requirements.

The Buzz

“The 2016 Kia Sorento represents the third generation of the Korean automaker’s popular crossover utility vehicle.”

The Specs

2016 Kia Sorento CUV

Base Price: $41,700.

Price as Tested: $45,095.

Engine Type and Size: 2.0T, DOHC, 16-valve, turbocharged inline four-cylinder with dual CVVT and Gasoline Direct Injection.

Horsepower (bhp): 240 @ 6,000 rpm.

Torque (ft./ lbs.): 260 @ 1,450-3,500 rpm.

Engine Type and Size: 3.3 –L, DOHC, 24-valve GDI with dual CVVT.

Horsepower (bhp): 290 @ 6,400 rpm

Torque (ft./ lbs.): 252 @ 5,300 rpm

Transmission: Electronically controlled six-speed automatic, overdrive, with Sportmatic manual shift.

Drive Train: Transversely mounted front engine / FWD or AWD with torque on demand and locking center differential.

Suspension: Front — Independent MacPherson struts, coil springs and stabilizer bar. Rear — Independent, Multi-link, stabilizer bar, DFD (Dual Flow Dampers).

Brakes: Power-assisted four-wheel discs (vented front) with ABS, ESC, TCS, BAS, HAC and CBC.

Tires: Michelin Premiere 265/55 R19 mounted on 5-“Y”-spoke alloy wheels with painted inserts.

Wheelbase: 109.4 inches.

Length Overall: 187.4 inches.

Width: 74.4 inches.

Height: 66.5 inches — with roof rails.

Curb Weight: 4,101 lbs.

Turning Circle: 36.2 ft.

Fuel Capacity: 18.8 gallons.

EPA Mileage Estimates: Not yet certified.

Drag Coefficient: 0.33.

0 - 60 mph: Not tested.