Wednesday, September 30, 2015

2016 Kia Rio Sedan and Hatchback: They're Still Here

While the Kia Trail’ster concept was busy hogging all the attention at the automaker’s Chicago auto show press conference, the updated 2016 Kia Rio sedan and hatchback were waiting in the wings for a spotlight moment that never came. They were mentioned only as an aside during the closing remarks, leaving us to ask: “Wait, what? The Rio was refreshed for 2016? And it’s here?” Well, it was, and we’ve got the particulars on all the changes.
The refresh is led by revised front and rear fascias, the Rio adopting the corporate geometric grille mesh pattern seen on the Optima and the Soul. The headlamps get moved slightly inward imparting a more contemporary vibe, and new fog-light surrounds with satin bezels encircle projector lenses. The lower valance also gets some horizontal style lines. The treatment continues at the rear, where the newly designed taillamps have been moved to the far corners of the vehicle, and—in some cases—new lower horizontal lines echo those found on the front. Two new color options, Urban Blue and Digital Yellow, also make the scene for 2016. Inside, some trim bits have been slightly altered, and Kia has increased the use of high-density foam in the A- and B-pillars to reduce NVH levels.
Acceleration, never the Rio’s forte, gets no help in the refresh. Power for both the sedan and the hatchback comes from the same naturally aspirated 138-hp 1.6-liter four-cylinder as before. In the sedan, its 123 lb-ft of twist are funneled to the front wheels via either a six-speed manual or a six-speed automatic. Sadly, the manual is no longer available in the hatchback.
The Rio’s three trim levels—LX, EX, and SX—are largely unchanged. The parsimonious LX comes with crank windows and manual door locks, although it does offer some niceties, including air conditioning, a six-way manual driver’s seat, satellite radio, USB and auxiliary audio jacks, and steering-wheel-mounted audio controls. The LX Power package adds keyless entry plus power windows and door locks. LX sedan buyers who spring for the automatic transmission get Bluetooth and Kia's efficiency-minded Active Eco System in the bargain.
The mid-level EX comes standard with power windows, cruise control, remote keyless entry, and a tilt/telescope steering column. For 2016, the available Eco package is upgraded to include a backup camera and Kia’s updated UVO eServices Telematics system. A new Designer package dresses up the interior with natty black cloth and gray leatherette upholstery with gray stitching, padded gray door-panel inserts, as well as gray stitching on the steering wheel, center-console armrest, and shifter boot.
The top-dog SX trim—if such a bold claim can be made for such a humble transportation device—is focused on sportiness. To wit, we find 17-inch aluminum wheels; a sport-tuned suspension; 11-inch, front brake rotors; shift paddles; and a leather-wrapped steering wheel. The SX also adds a backup camera, navigation, push-button start, leather seating surfaces, heated front seats, and a sunroof.
At Chicago, the 2016 Rio waited in vain for its moment in the spotlight, but buyers won’t have to wait long to get their hands on one. The Rio arrives in dealerships in the next month or so—which is a lot more than the Trail’ster can say.

Ride & Drive: 2016 Kia Soul

The five-passenger, front-wheel drive Kia Soul is one of the biggest small cars you’ll ever drive.
It’s fun. It’s sporty. It’s practical. And for the 2016 model year, it has even more features.
I’ve been a big fan of the Soul since its introduction for the 2010 model year.
With a base price starting less than $16,000, the Soul delivers a lot of value — as well as superb ride and handling capabilities, versatility and features.
Initially marketed to hip, urban, young adults, I remember telling Kia officials at the product launch in 2009 they were missing the boat because the Soul was an ideal car for folks my age because we tend to see past the slick television commercials and focus on value and comfort rather than hip and trendy.
They told me they would be happy to sell me a Soul, but their marketing campaign featuring dancing hipster mice wasn’t changing.
Six years later, the Soul is one of the hottest-selling nameplates in the industry. Guess what? Turns out a lot of folks my age are Soul owners.
Kia media folks have also been quick to point out, they have also sold a lot of Soul models to hip urban young adults. So we were both right.
Available in three trim levels — Base, + and ! (Or in English, Base, Plus and Exclaim), the 2016 Soul includes a number of new available features including forward collision warning and lane departure warning system, as well as a new designer collection that includes a two-tone paint scheme and unique elements.
That’s in addition to the already long list of standard features on all three models.
Soul Base models are powered by a 1.6-liter I-4 engine delivering 130 horsepower and 118 lbs.-ft. torque. Mated to either a six-speed manual or six-speed automatic transmission, it has an EPA fuel economy rating of 24 mpg city, 30 mpg highway on regular unleaded gasoline.
The Soul + and ! trim levels are powered by a 2.0-liter I-4 engine delivering 164 horsepower and 151 lbs.-ft. torque. Mated to a six-speed automatic transmission, it has an EPA rating of 24 mpg city, 31 mpg city, also using regular unleaded gasoline.
Featuring a five-door body style, the Soul provides a great deal of versatility, including 61.3 cubic feet of cargo space with the rear seat folded (24.2 cubic feet for cargo with rear seat in use for passengers).

For those in the market for a great vehicle and a great value, the 2016 Kia Soul is a must for the test drive list.

Neal White has been covering the automotive industry for more than 20 years and is affiliated with the Texas Auto Writers Association.

The Nuts and Bolts


2016 Kia Soul
5-seat compact 5-door  
Front-wheel drive

Trim packages:

Base, +, !




1.6L I4 (130 hp/118 T)
2.0L I4 (164 hp/151 T)


6-speed manual
6-speed automatic


24/24 mpg city, 30/31 mpg highway (Base/+ and !)


 Regular unleaded


Electronic stability control and traction control
LENGTH:163 inches
WHEELBASE:101.2 in.
WIDTH: 70.9 inches
HEIGHT: 63 inches
WEIGHT: 2714-2837 lbs.
TRACK: 62/62.5
FUEL TANK: 14.2 gallons
TIRES: 16-, 17-, or 18-inch
CARGO: 24.2/61.3 cubic feet (behind 2nd/1st row).


Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Kia’s New Sportage: Do You Like Its New Look?

The sheetmetal lines are clean and crisp, and aside from the peculiar face, the rest of the Sportage’s design is conservative and taught. Some BMW-ish scalloped tail lights add some flair to the rear, and the dual exhaust ports at least try to make you think that it’s sportier than it probably is.
Initially — since we haven’t had the chance to sit in one yet — it looks like rearward visibility my be compromised due to the high belt-line of the rear tailgate and beefy C-pillars. Otherwise, the Sportage seems to offer a pretty decent greenhouse out the sides and the front.

The quirkiness and character outside seem to be lost in the interior, where it’s all very sensible, simple and entirely unoffensive. But that’s important for a car like the Sportage, which will undoubtably be seen more as a suburban appliance than any kind of statement. Though it’s stuffed-animal like attitude will likely draw in many for its cute factor, there’s really no reason for Kia to try to make the same statement on the inside.
Chances are we won’t get the manual transmission that’s equipped on the model being shown at the Frankfurt Motor Show, and everything under the hood will probably stay familiar to U.S. buyers — a 2.4-liter four-cylinder as standard for base models, with the higher-end SX serving up the 2.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinder that’s available on the current Sportage.

Overall, the new Kia Sportage is what you’d expect in a new Kia Sportage. Long gone are the cheap materials and tin-can construction the Kia was once infamous for. With each passing generation, its cars just get that much better. From a build quality and fit-and-finish perspective, Kia’s up there along the rest now, it’s no longer the cheap outlier it was.
However, it’s coming into a market rife with hardy competition. Volkswagen finally got around to addressing its Tiguan crossover, which is new from the ground up. Honda’s CR-V, Toyota’s RAV4, and the Ford Escape are all selling in volume as well, and Kia will also have to contend with Hyundai’s new Tucson — essentially the same car underneath, but at the same time fighting for consumer dollars. Fortunately, the Sportage now has the character to set it apart.

Kia will expand the Optima lineup with a station wagon and a plug-in hybrid model

The station wagon is expected to borrow more than a handful of styling cues from the Sportspace concept (pictured) that was presented earlier this year at the Geneva Motor Show. That means it will look strikingly similar to the Optima from the tip of the front bumper to the B-pillar. Beyond that, it will gain a longer roof line, a rakish, almost shooting brake-like D-pillar, and sharp horizontal tail lamps. Mechanically, the wagon will be all but identical to its sedan counterpart, meaning it will be available with gasoline- and diesel-burning four-cylinder engines pulled straight from the Kia parts bin. On the Old Continent, the range-topping, GT-badged wagon will benefit from a turbocharged 2.0-liter four-banger tuned to make 241 horsepower at 6,000 rpm and 260 pound-feet of torque from 1,350 to 4,000 rpm.

The turbo four sends the sedan from zero to 62 mph in 7.4 seconds, and on to a top speed of 150 mph. The wagon will be a little bit slower because it will inevitably be heavier.

Monday, September 28, 2015

2016 Kia Forte5 Overview

While the compact hatchback segment is quite competitive, there’s one vehicle that truly stands out: the 2016 Kia Forte5. With two engine options and three trim levels to choose from, there’s no doubt the Forte5 will make you love driving all over again. Add its combination European style, an abundance of technology, and a versatile interior, and it’s likely you will want to drive away in the 2016 Kia Forte5.

What’s New for the 2016 Kia Forte5

The Kia Forte5 gets an entirely new base trim level—LX—for the 2016 model year. This base trim comes with standard Remote Keyless Entry, while a rear-camera display comes standard on the EX and above. The 2016 Kia Forte5 is offered in three trim levels: LX, EX, and SX.


If you’re looking for a touch of European style in your next vehicle, then look no further than the 2016 Kia Forte5. This sophisticated hatchback offers an aggressive stance, clean lines, and a rounded body, which makes it a force to be reckoned with in its segment. Add the Forte5’s crisp 16-inch alloy wheels and you have an unexpectedly elegant five-door option.


The 2016 Forte5 comes with two engine choices. For the standard powertrain, Kia offers a 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine, which generates an impressive 173 horsepower and 154 lb-ft of torque. The top-notch SX trim comes with a spunky 1.6-liter turbocharged four-cylinder that gives the hatchback a power boost with 201 horsepower and 195 lb-ft of torque. While the LX and EX trim levels come with a standard six-speed automatic transmission, the SX comes with a six-speed manual that adds to the Forte5’s fun-to-drive experience.


Depending on the engine option you choose, fuel efficiency for the 2016 Forte5 varies. The 2.0-liter engine comes with an EPA-estimated 28 mpg combined. The turbocharged 1.6-liter is rated at a 24 mpg combined, regardless of the transmission you choose.


The 2016 Kia Forte5 offers a combination of amenities, technology, and comfort. Soft-touch materials, standard 60/40-split rear seats, and plenty of cargo space make the Forte5 the most practical choice in its segment. A standard SiriusXM Satellite Radio, Bluetooth connectivity, and a variety of other technologies make it easy to stay connected while out on the road. The Forte5’s cabin provides consumers with high-end appointments at an affordable price.

Interior available on LX:
  • Soft-touch dash and door panels, LCD trip computer, Dual 12-volt outlets, Day/night interior rearview mirror, Knit and woven cloth seat trim, Power doors and windows,
  • AM/FM/CD/MP3 audio system, USB/aux input ports, Sirius Satellite Radio, Bluetooth

Interior available on EX:

  • Trip computer Dot-matrix LCD, Cooling glove box, Leather-wrapped steering and shift knob
  • FlexSteer, Rear camera display

    Interior available on SX:

    • Shift indicator (M/T), Door handle pocket light, Metal pedals
    • Push button start with Smart Key, Immobilizer (theft-deterrent)


    Kia always puts safety first, which is why it comes as no surprise that the 2016 Kia Forte5 has a long list of standard safety features. With all the newest safety technology, the Forte5 is sure to give you peace of mind while you’re out on the road.

    Standard Safety Features

    • Advanced dual-stage airbags
    • Anti-lock brakes (ABS)
    • Electronic Brake-force Distribution (EBD)
    • Brake Assist
    • Electronic Stability Control (ESC)
    • Traction Control
    • Vehicle Stability Management
    • Hill-start Assist Control
    • Tire Pressure Monitoring System
    • LATCH child safety system

    On The Road: Kia Sorento – Car Review

    The Kia Sorento is the kind of car that will cause acquaintances to ask, “What are you driving now?” when you arrive. If you like that kind of thing – and God knows, I love it – you’ll burst with pride. It has a slightly militaristic exterior, more imposing in black, I should think; in white more redolent of plain money. It’s long, wide and low, spacious inside, bullish on the road. There are potentially three rows of seats, though I never needed them and left the boot as was. As low as it is, the boot is an extremely high jump for an elderly dog, not that I would ever put a dog in his twilight years in a review car, oh no.

    City driving, as with anything not designed for a city but that city people love to drive, is not ideal: it’s sluggish in the lower gears. If you’re in first and second a lot, you may feel vexed by the effort. But cruising is a pleasure: give it an A road or a motorway and it will take care of itself. The acceleration is confident, the steering is true, the traction is reassuring, the handling invites trust, the leather seats make you feel as though everything’s going to be OK.

    The driving position is well thought-out, everywhere from the posture to the armrest. The room in the cabin really tells if you’re one of those people who lurches into a car with two litres of water and a load of handheld devices you forgot to charge. The satnav, from its classy 8in screen to the intuitiveness of its controls, is a pleasure: it is one of the injustices of the world of cars that you feel moved to comment on satnav only if it sucks. Then, once in a while, it’s great, and you remember to mention it.

    It is the first time, by popular lore, Kia has ever come up with anything you’d want to spend 30 grand on, so they’re naturally pretty proud. 0-62mph in nine seconds is quite fun, though you never feel as though you’re taking off. It has the safety features du jour, which revolve mainly around an insane number of airbags and a lot of alarms – blind spot, lane discipline and rear cross traffic alert (this translates in the real world into a noise you don’t understand, until the hazard passes you or recedes) – and the fuel consumption is decent.

    The question is, would you fall in love with it? If you think of SUVs as a bid for status, then a moderately priced one would seem pointless. But if you genuinely need a giant car that a dog can’t get into or out of, then it’s a good, solid, novel entry into the class.

    Sunday, September 27, 2015

    Kia Rises To Top Of Minivan Competition

    When it comes to family drama, deciding whether to let a minivan sneak into the garage must rise to the top of the decision list.

    There's no beating a minivan when it comes to sheer practicality. But many just can't stomach the minivans' frumpy image. They don't want to be accused by neighbors of being stuck in the 1980s.

    That's a shame, because minivans still have some big advantages when it comes to space and fuel economy that most crossover SUVs can't match.

    With that in mind, and PBS' Motorweek set out to find the ultimate minivan, pitting five of the big names against each other in a competition to find the best model under $50,000.

    "Although minivans get a bad rap as outdated "mommy-mobiles," they remain both popular and effective," says Patrick Olsen, editor-in-chief of "Last year, about 500,000 of them sold in the U.S. They provide lots of family-friendly features, tons of cargo space, and they drive more like cars than ever before."

    The contenders were the 2015 Chrysler Town & Country, the 2015 Dodge Grand Caravan (a corporate sibling of the Chrysler), 2015 Honda Odyssey, 2015 Kia Sedona and the 2015 Toyota Sienna. About the only notable omission was the Nissan Quest. Nissan declined to participate.

    The winner was a vastly refreshed model, the Kia Sedona. The judges scored it high for its SUV-like looks, but also its plush interior, tech features and quietness.

    The price cap was intended to let automakers show what they could do for for the money. Many car shoppers never foot into a showroom without having set a maximum amount in their heads of how much they are willing to spend.

    Each of the vehicles were tested for a week. They were driven on a 135-mile loop around Milwaukee to check fuel economy, driven back-to-back on the same course and then scored.

    The expert judges were Jennifer Geiger, assistant managing editor for; Kelsey Mays, senior editor for, Jennifer Newman, assistant managing editor for and Brian Robinson, producer for PBS' "MotorWeek."

    The test also included a family. Andrea and Andrew Thueme of Manhattan, Kan., and their two children, Adaline, 2; and Arthur, five months. They put the cars through their paces in driving segments around Milwaukee, where the competition was held.

    Andrew, 36, serves in the U.S. military and Andrea, 35, recently left the service.

    Scoring was according to a formula. It was weighed 65% from the experts, 15% from the family shoppers, 10% from IIHS crash-test scores and 10% from the finish in the gas mileage drive.

    While some vehicles clearly stood out, one area where the results were the closests was for fuel economy. Though minivans have a generally good reputation for gas thrift, the vehicles are so big that they aren't looking so good compared to other classes of vehicles.

    All finished about a half-mile per gallon apart, The best was the Dodge Grand Caravan, with 23.9 miles per gallon during testing. Worst was the Sedona, with 23.3 mpg. Here is how the vehicles fared:

    •2015 Kia Sedona SXL. High marks for the looks, interior, lounge-style seats, surround camera and how quietly it rode. Negatives were least amount of storage, configuration for cargo and the way it rode when fully loaded.

    •2015 Toyota Sienna Limited Premium. The sales leader in the segment has nice all-wheel drive, drove well overall and lots of space. But there was some road noise, a higher price without the most safety features and it was harder to get into the third row of seats.

    •2015 Honda Odyssey Touring Elite. Hey, it's got a built-in vacuum cleaner. Besides that notable feature, Odyssey has ample space, including in the third row of seats. The seats were also among the most comfortable. But the interior looked cheaper than the others, some of the tech features were hard to figure out, the ride wasn't that great and it cost more than the others.

    •2015 Chrysler Town & Country Limited Platinum. The flip seats, called Stow 'n Go seats, in the second row were a hit. So was the accelaration. But the electronics are dated and some testers didn't like the handling, transmission or steering feel.

    •2015 Dodge Grand Caravan SXT Plus. The one provided the most for the money, coming in around $33,000. But it has the same advantages and disadvantages as its corporate stablemate, the Chrysler.

    Saturday, September 26, 2015

    2015 Kia Cadenza: Real World Review - Video

    Kia has really upped its game in recent years -- and the 2015 Kia Cadenza proves it.

    If you haven't heard of the Cadenza, it's a full-size premium sedan that boasts luxury-car comfort and performance. It offers two trim levels -- the well-equipped Premium, which starts around $35,000, and the fully loaded Limited, which starts at just over $40,000. While the Cadenza lacks a V8 or hybrid option, it does offer a powerful 293-horsepower 3.3-liter V6 engine that's paired to a 6-speed automatic transmission.

    Although a $40,000 Kia may be a hard pill for some shoppers to swallow, we think the Cadenza's build quality and sleek styling are on par with rivals such as the Chrysler 300 and Toyota Avalon. In fact, we think the Cadenza is better-looking than both of those sedans.

    While the Cadenza was clearly designed with the driver in mind, it doesn't offer the razor-sharp handling of a sporty German luxury sedan. But we think a lot of drivers will like the Cadenza's quiet, comfortable ride. Drivers will also appreciate the spacious cabin, which features heated leather seats and power seat adjustments for both the driver and passenger seat. There's also a well-designed dashboard and an intuitive 8-inch touchscreen, which makes the interior feel modern and sophisticated.

    As for equipment, standard technology features -- such as a backup camera, a navigation system and Kia's UVO infotainment system -- are all easy to use. Extras include heated rear seats, a panoramic sunroof and a power sunshade. And if you upgrade to the technology package, you'll get cutting-edge safety features such as adaptive cruise control, rear cross-traffic alert and a blind spot monitoring system.

    In terms of drawbacks, we can only name a few -- like the fact that there's no fold-down rear seat and that cars equipped with the panoramic sunroof can get especially warm in the summer.

    The bottom line: If you want full-size comfort and performance for under $40,000, we think the 2015 Kia Cadenza is absolutely worth a try.