Monday, November 30, 2015

2016 Kia K900 news: sedan gets updated look and addition of 3.8-liter V6 engine

Kia has recently announced some exciting news for its award-winning flagship, the K900 sedan. The 2016 K900 model will receive a new powertrain option as well as a redesigned new look.

The entry-level 2016 Kia K900 sedan will be powered by the all-new 3.8-liter V6 engine that produces 311 horsepower. Power is sent to the rear wheels by an 8-speed automatic transmission. Fuel economy is rated at 17 mpg for city driving, 26 mpg for highway driving and 20 mpg for combined driving.

The 2016 Kia K900 will still be offered with the 5.0-liter V8 engine that produces 420 horsepower.

The new sedan also gets a new look for the new model year. It has a revised front grille and an updated rear design. The front fascia now features Kia's signature grille with chrome elements. The rear now comes with chrome accents, new exhaust pipes, designed taillights and a new bumper.

The V6 model comes with new 18-inch wheels while the V8 model comes with 19-inch wheels. All trim levels can avail of a new steering-wheel mounted paddle shifters.

Some of the sedan's new features include Smart Power Trunk, which opens the trunk automatically when key fob is near, and Smart Shift and Drive. The optional Autonomous Emergency Braking system uses the front camera and the advanced smart cruise control to adjust vehicle speed or even bring the sedan to a complete stop.

Inside, the sedan features a 9.2-inch high-definition infotainment system with premium audio and UVO3 luxury services including remote start/stop, remote climate control and remote lock/unlock via the UVO app.

The 2016 Kia K900 will be offered in three trim levels. The base Premium V6 model is priced at $49,950 and comes with navigation, leather interiors and a panoramic sunroof as standard features.The Luxury V6 trim will be priced at $54,950. The top-tier Luxury V8 trim will be offered at $62,850.

All prices mentioned will incur an additional $950 for destination charge.


2017 Kia Optima Sportswagon

Back at the 2015 Geneva Auto Show, Kia revealed the 2015 Kia Sportspace Concept. The car itself was basically a sporty version of the Optima Sedan reimagined as a station wagon. As Kia put it, the Sportspace was “a totally new breed of grand tourer that promises to bring sportiness and utility under the same roof.” At the time, we didn’t know for sure if the concept would ever make it into production form, but our spy photographers have recently caught the Kia Optima Sportswagon hitting the road under camouflage, and it shares a striking resemblance to the Sportspace concept.

Naturally, Kia has gone to the extreme to conceal a lot of the design characteristics of the Sportswagon, but we can see enough to get excited about. The car itself seems to resemble the Euro version of the Optima Sedan, but as you can see in the images, the roof line from the Sportspace concept was carried onto this mule.

Given the fact that the Sportswagon is this far in the testing cycle, it’s likely that we’ll see it officially revealed at the 2016 Geneva Auto Show before going on sale for the 2017 model year. With that said, let’s take a deeper look at these new spy shots.


Sunday, November 29, 2015

Say hello to the all-new Kia Cadenza

The Kia Cadenza is a bit of an also-ran. Stuck between two of its own family members -- the Hyundai Genesis and the Kia K900 -- the Cadenza has never been a huge seller outside of Korea. It's currently pushing less than 1,000 units out the door per month in the US. But that's not going to stop the automaker from rolling out an all-new generation with an aesthetic redo that should help turn some additional heads in the Cadenza's direction.

Kia unveiled its new Cadenza in South Korea (where it's called the K7) today, but details are deliberately scant. For the time being, we're left with just two pictures. The automaker promises "high levels of interior quality and contemporary luxury," but there isn't much to back up those claims just yet.

Up front, the Cadenza gains a far more aggressive countenance. The lines in and around the front bumper are sharper, and the Cadenza's new grille is similar to the one on the also-recently-refreshed Optima sedan. Kia's traditional quad-lens fog light design returns in full force, as well.

The rear end continues to draw a bit of inspiration from other, better-established luxury brands. We see a hint of Lexus ES in the general form of the taillights, from the chrome strip spanning the trunk lid to the way the lights travel upward along the quarter panel. The trunk looks significantly less long than the Lexus', though, which gives the Cadenza more of a fastback-style rear end that's becoming increasingly popular in every segment.

It's a handsome car, there's no doubt about that. And it might be enough to put the Cadenza in a good position against others in its segment, including the Toyota Avalon, Chrysler 300 and Buick LaCrosse. We'll find out when the car debuts in multiple markets some time in 2016.


Saturday, November 28, 2015

Hyundai, Kia Motors Ranks First, Second in Chile’s Best-selling Car List

South Korean auto giant Hyundai Motor Co. and its smaller affiliate Kia Motors Corp. became the two best-sellers in Chile last month, the most recent numbers show.

According to data from Chile’s auto association ANAC, Hyundai Motor sold 2,353 vehicles in October to top the list of best-selling brands in Chile, closely followed by Kia with 2,306 cars.
Last year, Hyundai Motor and Kia Motors ranked second and third with annual sales of 32,757 and 31,477 units, respectively, following the U.S. rival Chevrolet which sold 47,054 units.

This year, Hyundai Motor topped the list of best-selling cars in Chile in January, while Kia Motors took the first place in June and September. However, it was the first time for the two companies to become the two best-sellers, pushing Chevrolet to third place in monthly sales in the Chilean market.
However, the U.S. carmaker still remains ahead of both Hyundai and Kia in accumulative sales this year.

It sold 26,935 cars in the first 10 months of the year, while Kia Motors has sold 23,190 cars and Hyundai 20,649.

With good performance in Chile, the market share of Hyundai-Kia Motors has also slightly increased from last year.

So far, the combined market share of Hyundai and Kia in the market has gained 0.2 percentage points, rising to 19.2 percent from 19 percent last year.

Although the Chilean auto market is not that big, with annual sales of 400,000 on the standard of sedans, 70 global automakers are intensely competing in the market.

The good result of Hyundai and Kia in the auto market is largely due to aggressive promotion campaigns based on the effects of the Korea-Chile free trade agreement (FTA) that was signed in 2004. With tariff elimination from the FTA, Hyundai and Kia Motors have been able to be in the upper ranks, holding an advantageous position compared to other competitors.

In particular, the two companies have maintained dominant positions in the market, though the FTA between Japan and Chile has come into effect from 2007.


Friday, November 27, 2015

Group test - Kia Soul vs Ssangyong Tivoli

SUV styling usually comes at a premium, but not always. Here we have two high-riding, vaguely off-road-looking, VW Golf-sized hatchbacks that can be yours for less than £16,000.

We’re not talking about basic versions with weedy petrol engines, either. That £16k gets you a punchy diesel motor and plenty of standard luxuries, including alloy wheels, air-conditioning, a DAB radio and, in the case on one of our contenders, heated leather seats.

The question is, which of these big-on-space and even bigger-on-value Korean-made rivals should you consider spending money on?

Kia Soul 1.6 CRDi 134 Connect
Kia's funky-looking Soul is cheap to buy, well equipped and remarkably spacious

Ssangyong Tivoli 1.6 D EX
The Korean brand's best effort yet is astonishingly cheap and packed with standard kit

What are they like to drive?
Make no mistake, neither car delivers the sort of acceleration that’s going to get your pulse racing. However, both will hit 60mph in around 11 seconds, which is enough oomph to keep pace with fast-moving traffic and even perform the odd high-speed overtake without your heart venturing too close to your mouth.

However, while there’s little to split these two for outright performance, the fact the Ssangyong’s engine pulls more willingly from low revs makes it more relaxing to drive swiftly, and means you need to change gear less frequently. It’s just a shame that when you do need to use the 
Ssangyong’s gearbox you’ll find it a bit stiff and notchy; the Kia’s is much lighter and slicker. In fact, the Kia is altogether the more refined choice. Its engine is smoother and quieter, and less wind and road noise finds its way into the cabin at a motorway cruise. You can hear the suspension working away in both cars, particularly around town, but again the Ssangyong is marginally the less effective at suppressing this annoying noise.

Neither of these SUVs handles as well as the best family hatchbacks, but the Kia certainly doesn’t disgrace itself. There’s plenty of grip and the Soul always feels stable and secure, even though its high-sided body sways about a little through tight twists and turns. Its somewhat vague steering doesn’t inspire much confidence through faster corners, although it is light enough to making parking a doddle.

The Ssangyong’s steering is heavier, no matter which of the variable weight settings you choose (by pressing a button on the dashboard). However, there still isn’t much in the way of feedback, which is a bit of an issue given that the Ssangyong’s front tyres don’t grip the road particularly well – especially in the wet.

Ride comfort will understandably be of more concern to many buyers and again the Kia has a clear edge. It never becomes too firm or unsettled, even over potholes, although you’ll notice your head tossing from side to side along scruffy town roads. The Ssangyong, meanwhile, is less effective at smoothing out battered surfaces; its larger-diameter wheels and lower-profile tyres are no doubt partly to blame.

What are they like inside?
You’re unlikely to have much trouble finding a comfortable driving position in either of these cars. Both have steering wheels that adjust for height and reach, and they also have height-adjustable driver’s seats and decent all-round visibility – particularly in the Kia thanks to its slimmer rear pillars. The Kia also has the more comfortable front seats, although a shortage of lower back support in both cars puts a dampener on long-distance comfort.

You won’t have many issues with the dashboard layout in either, although the Kia’s is that bit more user-friendly, thanks to its bigger, squarer and more clearly labelled buttons and dials. Everything you touch feels sturdier and more classily finished. Mind you, the Ssangyong’s interior doesn’t feel at all low-rent, despite the use of harder and less-appealing plastics throughout.

Both of these SUVs are remarkably practical family cars. Their high-sided, boxy shapes give them huge amounts of head room, not only in the front but also in the back. Rear leg room is equally impressive in both cars, and the Kia’s broader cabin makes it better for those occasions when you need to carry three in the back.

Tall, square and wide-opening doors make both cars easy to get into and out of, even though the Ssangyong’s rear wheelarches jut in to the door opening slightly more than we’d like. However, it’s rather worrying that the Ssangyong’s rear head restraints don’t rise up high enough to be of any use for taller people.

Outright boot space is similar in both. The Kia’s load bay isn’t quite as wide as the Ssangyong’s, but it’s that bit longer and taller. Annoyingly, though, while top-of-the-range Kias come with a height-adjustable boot floor that helps negate the big lip at the boot entrance – and the hefty step in the floor when the rear seats are folded down – you can’t add this feature to Connect models, even as an option.

What will they cost?
A bit of haggling with your Kia dealer will soon slice £1775 from the price of the Soul, whereas our Target Price shoppers were unable to find any Ssangyong dealers prepared to barter. The upshot of that is that the Tivoli will cost you £1025 more to buy at the outset.

However, consider the cost of ownership over a three-year period and there’s less to split them. The Ssangyong is still the pricier option, but the fact it’s predicted to shed its value at a slightly slower rate, qualifies for a cheaper band of road tax and is more economical in real-world driving narrows that gap to just £883.

The Kia makes more financial sense if you’re buying on finance, too. Put down £5000 up front on a three-year PCP agreement and you’ll pay £153 a month, compared with £166 for the Ssangyong. Both deals have an annual mileage limit of 12,000 miles and require you to pay a hefty final ‘balloon’ payment at the end of the term if you want to own the car outright, although at this point most people will simply sign up to a new agreement.

If you’re looking at either of these as a potential company car then forget the Kia. Its high CO2 emissions make it a seriously pricey option – a £22,000 Nissan Qashqai 1.5 dCi 110 Acenta will cost you less each month in salary sacrifices. The Ssangyong’s lower emissions and cheaper list price make it more attractive to company car drivers, although anyone planning to lease may be put off by its higher contract hire rates.

Both cars come surprisingly well equipped considering their reasonable price tags. Alloy wheels, air-conditioning, cruise control, four electric windows, a USB socket, a DAB radio, Bluetooth and a reversing camera are standard on both, while the Ssangyong even gets climate control and heated leather front seats. White is the only no-cost paint colour available on either car, although several metallic finishes are available if you’re prepared to pay extra.
Like all Kias, the Soul comes with a seven-year, 100,000-mile warranty as standard, compared with the five-year unlimited mileage cover that’s provided as standard by Ssangyong.

Our verdict
Ssangyong has always been a fairly niche player in the UK car market, and with good reason – its models have been temptingly cheap, but mediocre in other respects. However, the Tivoli is a big step forward and deserves consideration if you’re looking for as much space and equipment as you can get for as little outlay as possible. That said, the Soul is an altogether better car, and will actually cost you less in the long run – no matter if you’re paying cash or buying on finance..


2017 Kia Sportage Preview Video

Hatchback, crossover, or SUV? Whatever you might call the Kia Sportage, you can add "all-new" this year.

The Sportage has looked more like a sporty hatchback than an SUV, and the athletic look adds more muscle in the new model. The front end is taller, with bigger air intakes and a more sculpted body--like it's been powerlifting.

Inside, the Kia Sportage has a two-tier dash. The top level houses the gauges and the touchscreen. Below the beltline, there are big controls for climate, audio, and other secondary controls. The interior has more soft-touch surfaces, and some models get glossy black trim, stitching on the dash, and paddle shift controls.

With either of the Sportage's four-cylinder engines, you'll get a six-speed automatic transmission. But one of those engines has a far bigger punch. The base engine's a 181-horsepower 2.4-liter four, but it taps out in favor of a turbocharged 2.0-liter, 241-horsepower four in the Sportage SX.

All-wheel drive with a locking center differential is an option on every Sportage trim level.

Kia says a redesigned body and suspension will give the Sportage better ride and handling. The steering has been revamped for better response, and the rear suspension has been redesigned for better roadholding; the SX Turbo has its own, firmer shocks too.

There's a little more room in this new Sportage. The wheelbase is up 1.2 inches, and overall length has grown by 1.6 inches. Rear-seat space has been improved, and so has cargo space, which adds an available hands-free power tailgate.

Kia is aiming for top crash-test scores, and the new Sportage will offer available blind-spot monitors, forward-collision warnings with automatic braking, and a rearview camera.

Finally, a new infotainment system adds new telematics features to go with standard Bluetooth audio streaming, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. They're all smartphone-driven, and they're free on EX and SX Sportages.

Pricing hasn't been announced, but the new Sportage goes on sale early next year.


Thursday, November 26, 2015

Kia Optima And Sedona Win Hispanic Motor Press Awards®

Kia's Best-Selling Midsize Sedan and Award-Winning Multi-Purpose Vehicle Stand Out as Top Vehicles for Hispanic Families

IRVINE, California, Nov. 20, 2015 /PRNewswire-HISPANIC PR WIRE/ -- On the heels of recent honors from Kelley Blue Book® and J.D. Power®, the 2016 Kia Optima and Sedona continue to accumulate awards and accolades with both being named amongst best cars of the year for Hispanic families by the Hispanic Motor Press Awards®. The all-new 2016 Kia Optima topped the Family Sedan category, while the 2016 Sedona was named the best minivan of the year. 

"Passionately designed and obsessively crafted, the all-new Optima and our Sedona minivan appeal to families of all backgrounds by delivering world-class styling and quality, cutting-edge technology and tremendous value," said Orth Hedrick, vice president of product planning, KMA. "The Hispanic market is an incredibly important audience for Kia as well as the entire auto industry, and this recognition from the Hispanic Motor Press Awards validates two of our most recently redesigned vehicles as favorites amongst this group."

Started in 2010, the Hispanic Motor Press Awards considers over 100 vehicles before selecting three final contenders in different categories. Each vehicle's features were assessed as they relate to the typical Hispanic family in the United States. The award vetting process includes test drives, mass market availability, and affordability data valuations. Judges also take into account overall design, comfort, safety, performance, functionality and overall value package when making their final selection. 

About Kia Motors America
Kia Motors America (KMA) is the marketing and distribution arm of Kia Motors Corporation based in Seoul, South Korea.  KMA proudly serves as the "Official Automotive Partner" of the NBA and LPGA and set an all-time annual sales record in 2014, surpassing the 500,000 unit mark for the third consecutive year. KMA offers a complete line of vehicles, including the rear-drive K9001 flagship sedan, Cadenza premium sedan, Sorento CUV, Soul urban passenger vehicle, Soul Electric Vehicle2, Sportage compact CUV, Optima midsize sedan, Optima Hybrid, the Forte compact sedan, Forte5 and Forte Koup, Rio and Rio 5-door subcompacts and the Sedona midsize multi-purpose vehicle, through a network of more than 765 dealers across the United States.  Kia's U.S. manufacturing plant in West Point, Georgia, builds the Optima* and Sorento* and is responsible for the creation of more than 15,000 plant and supplier jobs.

Information about KMA and its full vehicle line-up is available at For media information, including photography, visit  To receive custom email notifications for press releases the moment they are published, subscribe at 

About Hispanic Motor Press Awards®
Since 2010 the objective of the awards has been to select the best offerings in overall design, comfort, safety, performance, functionality, driver satisfaction and consumer final cost to select the vehicles that offer the best value for the Hispanic family. The Hispanic consumer deserves to know the truth about which vehicles are the best values in the market. For more information and to find out about previous winning vehicles visit:


Wednesday, November 25, 2015

2016 Kia Forte: Have it your way

The 2016 Kia Forte is all things to all people — or at least, several different versions of a compact car that can meet a lot of needs.

Although every large volume manufacturer offers a compact car these days, few offer one with as many different body, engine, transmission and trim choices as the Kia Forte. It can be ordered as a coupe, sedan or four-door hatchback, with a 1.8, 2.0 or turbocharged 1.6-liter inline four cylinder engine, with a six-speed manual or six-speed automatic transmission, and in trim levels ranging from LX to high end SX.

KIA NORTH AMERICA - The interior of the 2016 Kia Forte is refreshingly clean and functional.
KIA NORTH AMERICA - The interior of the 2016 Kia Forte is refreshingly clean and functional.
Regardless of your choice, all Fortes are attractive, feature a surprising amount of interior room, come with a lot of standard equipment, can be loaded up with practically every conceivable comfort, convenience and entertainment option, and won't break the bank even if you max them out.

For example, our test Forte with a two-door Koup SX with the turbo 1.6 and automatic transmission, a sport tuned suspension and 18-inch alloy wheels, a leather interior included heated front bucket seats, a power sunroof, an upgraded stereo, a navigation system with a 4.2 inch color screen and rear view camera, a wealth of safety systems, and all the connectivity a teenager could want, thanks to Kia's Uvo infotainment platform. And even with all of that, the suggested retail price was under $27,000.

With its sleek lines, the Koup looks sporty but restrained, a style that should age well. The interior is clean and refreshingly gimmick free, with easy-to-use controls laid out where you expect to find them.

KIA NORTH AMERICA - The optional turbocharged 1.6-liter available in the 2016 Kia Forte delivers good performance and mileage.
KIA NORTH AMERICA - The optional turbocharged 1.6-liter available in the 2016 Kia Forte delivers good performance and mileage.
On the road, the little turbo engine had plenty of pep. Although small turbocharged engines are becoming increasingly common, the Koup's was well balanced between performance and economy. It gave the front-wheel-drive two-door a fun personality and is still rated by the EPA at 25 average miles per gallon, 30 on freeways.

Handling was also impressive, thanks to the sport tuned suspension, which was not too firm for rough pavement. It also felt glued to the road during heavy rains were encountered over our week long test drive, even without all-wheel-drive. If that's something you want, the Kia Sportage is a good choice for a compact crossover.

The Forte was redesigned in 2014 and only tweaked a little for 2016. Although not as refined as some competitors — including the Mazda3 with SkyActiv engineering and the upcoming redesigned Honda Civic — it is still a value leader that comes with Kia's impressive 10 year/100,000 mile limited powertrain warranty.

Not too long ago, compact coupes were considered disposable "secretary's cars" aimed at underpaid young women without children. But the Kia Forte Koup is a solid performer that should hold up well for years to come, especially in the SX trim.

2016 Kia Forte
Base price: $18,590
Price as tested: $26,435
Type: Compact coupe, sedan or hatchback
Engines: 1.8-liter inline 4 (145 hp, 139 lbs-ft); 2.0-liter inline 4 (173 hp, 154 lbs-ft); turbocharged 1.6-liter inline 4 (201 hp, 195 lbs-ft - as tested)
Transmissions: 6-speed manual; 6-speed automatic (as tested)
EPA estimated mileage: 22/30 (as tested) to 25/37
Overall length: 179.5 inches
Curb weight: 2,968 pounds
Final assembly: Korea


Kia's Sprague Keeps Focus On Products And Brand On Message

Kia with a perception issue? Today? Its vehicles are highly regarded both in design and quality, and it has a strong message and position in the market, with key, high-visibility relationships such as its official partner status with the NBA. J.D. Power awarded Kia second place in initial quality among all auto brands this year, behind Porsche. 

Michael Sprague, who became Kia Motor America’s chief operating officer last spring, points out that five years ago, Kia was at the bottom of that list. The brand is indeed on the move, but Marketing Daily caught up to Sprague at the Los Angeles Auto Show.

Q: I can't imagine Kia has anything like the perception issue it used to have.

A: There is still an issue in the marketplace, particularly for those consumers who have been holding onto their vehicles for 10 to 12 years, which more and more people are doing. Ten years ago, we were a much different company than we are now. Our portfolio has become all new over the past five years. So if you weren't in the marketplace over the last couple of years, you wouldn't know how Kia has changed, because you weren't shopping. So we have had to continue to reinforce all the great things about the brand. 

Q: What are the keys to achieving that? 

A: It's more than just the advertising, when consumers consume media in so many different ways now. You are talking traditional broadcast, new channels, PR, showing the SEMA vehicles as we are doing here. It's the experiential programs — the ride-and-drive events, showing up at unexpected places; it's in-cinema, where you know you have captured someone who is there to be entertained and has a more open mind. The NBA partnership has continued to strengthen. We patch our patch on jerseys in the All-Star Game, and that will raise awareness of the brand as well. It's the Super Bowl for the seventh consecutive year with a 60-second spot in the third quarter. It's social, and all aspects of digital. 

Q: Kia has traditionally focused communications on the product, and let the products speak for the brand.

A: …because we continue to launch new vehicles and that's part of building the awareness for the brand. I'd love to be able to do a big brand campaign, but in 2016 we are launching the all-new Optima, the all-new Sportage, a dedicated hybrid coming out later this year, a new Cadenza, so there are lots of things we have to keep telling consumers about, and each vehicle has a target customer we are going after, so the marketing plan for one is going to be very different from the plan for another because of who we are targeting. 

Q: Is it enough that the products speak to what the brand is, what it represents? 

A: The products need to support what the overarching brand stands for. From my perspective, if you look at the brand over the last six years, we have always considered ourselves a challenger in terms of the products we come out with and how we go to market. We have been talking about this idea of “defy ordinary,” meaning we don’t want to do things that everyone else is doing. Consumers are attracted to that. People want to stand out and be different from the crowd. From a product standpoint, we positioned ourself as a youthful, sporty, fun-to-drive car. I think that's the position of the brand, and the products need to deliver upon that, and I think they do. 

Q: Your agency [L.A.-based David & Goliath] has a strong vision, and, based on the work, a lot of creative autonomy. It’s a long-term marriage. Is there ever friction? 

A: There can be some creative tension between what our vision is and what their vision is, and I think that helps spark cool ideas that then become campaigns, whether it's Blake [Griffin], Lebron [James], the [Kia Soul] Hamsters, the Super Bowl, or whatever. We have a pretty lean organization, so there are not those layers and layers of reviews, where ideas get watered down. The agency comes in, and it's myself, [VP marketing] Tim Chaney, and the agency. They understand who we are, our vision for the brand, and have helped us articulate that vision.

Q: Will you do another Hamsters campaign for the Soul (compact crossover)?

A: We did not one this year, and it's one of those situations where the agency and client might become bored with it quicker than the consumers have. But our dealers love it, and the research shows the consumers still love it, so it hasn't outlived its usefulness. Whether or not we come out with another campaign, that's the subject of another story in the future.


Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Looking for a new car? Kia makes research easy with our Gary Rome Kia Pinterest Board

  Gary Rome Kia Enfield, CT ·
Gary Rome Kia of Enfield Serves Bristol,
 East Hartford and West Springfield, MA with new and used Kia cars. 

 Choosing a car can be a difficult decision. What if you could get a wide variety of reviews and articles on Kia and Hyundai cars right from where you are?

Gary Rome Kia and Gary Rome Hyundai have set up Pinterest boards where you can find new articles and videos posted every day! Not only do we find you reviews but you can see all Gary Rome Kia weekly and monthly deals.

Not in the market for a car? Not a problem! We have boards catering to all of your interests. Find both DIY and available accessory ideas for your car, recipes for the holidays and humor to put a smile on your face.

Gary Rome Hyundai Pinterest & Gary Rome Kia Pinterest.

Kia Will Flood The Green Car Market By 2020

Kia’s Hwaseong, South Korea manufacturing plant is synonymous with the Optima, Spectra, Forte, the Sportage, and more. There will be a new name entering the Kia family, and it will go on sale the second half of 2016. The Niro is the newest hybrid crossover vehicle to hit the market.

Kia has plans to introduce an entire range of green vehicles, a fleet if you will, by 2020. This would bring the numbers up to about 11 models, from the Soul EV and the Optima Hybrid. The Korean automaker has several manufacturing plants and several design facilities as well.

“Our new model is designed to offer buyers everything they could want from a compact SUV in terms of practicality and styling, ” said CEO Hyoung-Keun Lee, “providing the typically low running costs associate with a dedicated hybrid powertrain.”

The Niro will have a 1.6 liter gasoline engine with  power running to the wheels through a 6 speed dual clutch transmission. It will have a 32kw electric motor and will have a 1.56 kw/hour lithium polymer battery pack for excess energy storage. With the rear of the vehicle having plenty of room and hardly any overhang, because the wheels are at the corners, it has typical features expected of a Kia.


Monday, November 23, 2015

All-New 2016 Kia Optima And Sorento Win 'International Car Of The Year' Awards

Kia Brand Wins Road & Travel Magazine's International Car of the Year (ICOTY) Awards for Fourth Consecutive Year.

Sorento wins International SUV of the year award for the first time
Optima claims the International Car of the Year (ICOTY) award for second time in four years

IRVINE, Calif., Nov. 18, 2015 /PRNewswire/ -- In conjunction with the 2015 Los Angeles Auto Show, Road & Travel Magazine (RTM) has named the 2016 Kia Optima as its International Car of the Year. RTM jurors praised the all-new edition of Kia's perennial best-seller for its aggressive design, long list of available features, impressive powertrain options and great value.  RTM also named the 2016 Sorento its International SUV of the Year.  The Sorento garnered acclaim for its combination of premium interior amenities, extensive safety features and all-wheel drive capability.  Together, the awards propelled Kia to an extraordinary fourth consecutive win of the prestigious ICOTY brand award.  The ICOTY jurors honored Kia's K900 luxury sedan in 2015, the Cadenza premium sedan in 2014, and the previous-generation Optima in 2013.

"The Optima and Sorento are two of Kia's best-selling vehicles and both were instrumental in the transformation of the brand," said Michael Sprague, chief operating officer and EVP, KMA.  "To win the prestigious ICOTY award four years in a row, with two models winning their categories this year, is a clear indication that our products continue to offer a world-class balance of design, amenities, craftsmanship, safety and value for today's savvy consumers."

2015 marks the 20th anniversary for RTM's annual "Of the Year" judging, which includes three awards: International Car, International SUV, and International Family Vehicle of the Year.  In addition to product attributes such as style, comfort and performance, award criteria also factor in how well each brand connects emotionally with consumers through its marketing efforts.  The winner is chosen by the ICOTY jury, which consists of nationally renowned automotive journalists from respected publications such as Consumer Guide® Automotive, MSN Autos, New Car News Syndicate and RTM.

"We've never had one brand win this award four years in a row, but Kia has done it.  It goes to show just how exceptional the new Kia models are, providing clear direction of where the Kia brand is headed," said Courtney Caldwell, editor-in-chief of Road & Travel Magazine.  "We are near speechless at the level of progress the Kia brand has made in spite of the stiff competition.  It is without a doubt the brand that gets the most 'wows' from our staff and is truly an industry success story that we can relate to in many ways."

About the 2016 Kia Sorento
The completely redesigned 2016 Sorento CUV, which raises the bar in the segment with its refinement and first-class amenities, is larger and more capable than ever with more room for passengers and cargo.  Copious standard features and luxurious amenities span the line of five trim levels, and the Sorento is now offered with three engine choices, including a 240-hp 2.0L turbo-charged inline-4.  The Sorento is built at the brand's U.S. manufacturing plant – Kia Motors Manufacturing Georgia – in West Point, Georgia.*

About the 2016 Kia Optima
The all-new 2016 Optima is passionately designed and obsessively crafted with European styling, a refined premium interior and significant ride and handling improvements. Kia's best-selling nameplate challenges the midsize sedan segment with three engine choices, including a new 1.6-liter turbocharged four-cylinder that's mated to a seven-speed Dual Clutch Transmission (DCT), making the Optima more confident on the road than ever before. The roomier, more luxurious cabin features an impressive level of craftsmanship that comes standard across five trim levels. The all-new Optima is built at Kia's plant in West Point, Georgia.*

About Kia Motors America
Kia Motors America (KMA) is the marketing and distribution arm of Kia Motors Corporation based in Seoul, South Korea.  KMA proudly serves as the "Official Automotive Partner" of the NBA and LPGA and set an all-time annual sales record in 2014, surpassing the 500,000 unit mark for the third consecutive year. KMA offers a complete line of vehicles, including the rear-drive K9001 flagship sedan, Cadenza premium sedan, Sorento CUV, Soul urban passenger vehicle, Soul Electric Vehicle2, Sportage compact CUV, Optima midsize sedan, Optima Hybrid, the Forte compact sedan, Forte5 and Forte Koup, Rio and Rio 5-door subcompacts and the Sedona midsize multi-purpose vehicle, through a network of more than 765 dealers across the United States.  Kia's U.S. manufacturing plant in West Point, Georgia, builds the Optima* and Sorento* and is responsible for the creation of more than 15,000 plant and supplier jobs.


2017 Kia Sportage makes debut at LA auto show

LOS ANGELES — The fourth generation of the Kia Sportage compact crossover made its North American debut today, ready to do battle with the 2017 Ford Escape which is also on display at the 2015 Los Angeles Auto Show.

They compete in the market's hottest-selling segment, one led by the Honda CR-V and getting more competitive each year as buyers continue to migrate from small cars to small utility vehicles that offer similar fuel efficiency in a more functional vehicle.

For 2017 the Sportage has a more sophisticated look inside and out as well as improvements to how it will drive and handle on the road.

Engines include a turbocharged 2-liter in the top-of-the-line SX Turbo model, generating 241 horsepower and 260 pound-feet of torque and retuned for better fuel efficiency and mid-range torque. The LX and EX trim levels have a 2.4-liter engine that produces 181 horsepower and 175 pound-feet of torque. All-wheel drive is available.

The car offers more head and leg room and has a stiffer structure, new suspension, improved steering and adds advanced driver assistance systems.

Every body panel is new and the utility vehicle has a new more aggressive face with changes to the grille and headlights. The wheelbase and overall length of the vehicle add more than an inch each.

A dual-level cargo floor means more luggage area, and the sunroof is bigger than the outgoing model.

The cockpit was designed with the dashboard, touchscreen and center console all angled to the person behind the wheel.

The Sportage is the first Kia to offer UVO3 telematics system with music storage, access to onscreen apps and free Wi-Fi tethering capability.

“Simply put, the Sportage is a breed apart in the compact CUV segment,” said Orth Hedrick, vice president, product planning KMA. “Instead of bland utility, the Sportage combines distinctly European and sporty styling with thoughtful design and functionality, including innovative packaging, premium materials, a turbocharged engine and surprising features."

"Sales of compact CUVs are on a sharply upward trajectory, and the all-new 2017 Sportage hits the sweet spot by providing an alternative for those seeking to express themselves with a vehicle that’s versatile enough to suit their unique lifestyle,” Hedrick said.

Sportage is Kia's longest-running nameplate. It will be built in Gwangju, Korea, and goes on sale next year with a choice of three trim levels: LX, EX, SX Turbo. Pricing has not been announced.


Sunday, November 22, 2015

New Kia Optima Arrives, Sleek and Stylish

BEFORE the Nike Air Jordan, there was the Converse Chuck Taylor — a classic design that stood the test of time. But even the classics evolve. Chucks were recently tweaked to be more cushioned and comfortable.

The Kia Optima may not be a classic, but, like Chuck Taylors, it’s among the most stylish cars, regardless of price. Now, the designers of the sleek new-generation Optima have been careful not to mess with a good thing.

Still, cars must be more than just good-looking. Affordability, comfort, safety, fuel economy and reliability are all important. The departing third-generation Kia was a solid effort, with road noise and the lack of steering feel being its biggest foibles.

A few miles in, the new Kia Optima proves those shortcomings have been addressed. The more mature driving dynamics have risen closer to the expectations set by the svelte exterior lines. Think Air Jordans, not Chuck Taylors. And the Optima is more hushed now.

A cleaner — I’ll argue less emotional — cabin replaces the cockpit vibe of the previous generation. Eyes and fingers will appreciate the materials in the SX model tested, save for the fake molded-in stitching on the instrument panel. Real thread can be had on the highest SX Limited trim level.

Room and comfort are not an issue. In back, three average adults will be fine. Outboard passengers get rump roasters with 12-volt and USB ports for charging phones. There are even side sunshades.
Starting at $22,665, Kia has abandoned the bargain-basement pricing for a bang-for-the-buck approach. As tested, the SX at $33,215 is stuffed with a panoramic glass roof, heated steering wheel, heated and vented front seats and an iPad-like interface. Many of these features are not offered on the Altima, Accord, Camry, Fusion and Mazda 6. Spend more and the Optima can be had with auto emergency braking, adaptive cruise control and a surround-view camera system.

There are several 4-cylinder engine choices. SX gets the most powerful — a 2-liter turbo making 245 horsepower and 260 pound-feet of torque with regular-grade gas. This engine and the 2.4-liter nonturbo motor are bolted to a 6-speed automatic that turns the front wheels. Optima’s 1.6-liter turbo engine gets a 7-speed dual clutch. Drive modes adjust throttle response and steering weight.

It takes about seven seconds to nail 60 miles an hour from a standstill. Turbo lag and torque steer (that tugging of the steering wheel under hard acceleration) are all but eliminated. Optima closes the handling gap on the Accord and Mazda 6. Know that the SX uses a different steering rack setup than lower models.

The SX scores 24 miles a gallon in the city and 35 on the highway, according to the Environmental Protection Agency. Go with the 1.6-liter turbo engine and that rises to 28 and 39. I saw 24 in heavy city driving.

Some will grumble that Kia played it too safe with the new Optima’s design. On the other hand, its sister car, the Hyundai Sonata, took a strikingly conservative turn and was criticized for it. Kia kept Optima’s strengths and eliminated the weaknesses. That’s a good-looking strategy for taking on the competition.

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Friday, November 20, 2015

Optima PHEV and hybrid models set to arrive in 2016

With the goal of improving average fuel efficiency by 25 percent by the year 2020, Kia will expand its Optima lineup to include a new plug-in hybrid model. In addition, Kia will also update the powertrain in the current Optima Hybrid to improve power and efficiency.

The newest addition to Kia’s lineup will be the automaker’s first plug-in hybrid for global markets. The Optima PHEV will be powered by a 9.8-kWh lithium-polymer battery pack paired with a 50-kW electric motor, which will allow for pure-electric mode at higher speeds. Engineers estimate the plug-in to have an electric range of 27 miles.

Combined with the 2.0-liter four-cylinder GDI I-4 engine, the hybrid electric drivetrain in the Optima plug-in hybrid will produce roughly 202 hp and 140 lb-ft of torque transmitted through a six-speed automatic transmission. Early estimates see the new model delivering 99 MPGe combined, with 40 mpg targeted in charge-sustaining mode. Utilizing a Level 2 charger, the Optima PHEV will fully charge in less than three hours. Using a standard 120-volt power outlet will take closer to nine hours to get a full charge.

With the goal of improving average fuel efficiency by 25 percent by the year 2020, Kia will expand its Optima lineup to include a new plug-in hybrid model. In addition, Kia will also update the powertrain in the current Optima Hybrid to improve power and efficiency.

The newest addition to Kia’s lineup will be the automaker’s first plug-in hybrid for global markets. The Optima PHEV will be powered by a 9.8-kWh lithium-polymer battery pack paired with a 50-kW electric motor, which will allow for pure-electric mode at higher speeds. Engineers estimate the plug-in to have an electric range of 27 miles.

Combined with the 2.0-liter four-cylinder GDI I-4 engine, the hybrid electric drivetrain in the Optima plug-in hybrid will produce roughly 202 hp and 140 lb-ft of torque transmitted through a six-speed automatic transmission. Early estimates see the new model delivering 99 MPGe combined, with 40 mpg targeted in charge-sustaining mode. Utilizing a Level 2 charger, the Optima PHEV will fully charge in less than three hours. Using a standard 120-volt power outlet will take closer to nine hours to get a full charge.


2017 Kia Cadenza news: next-generation luxury sedan teased in new images

Kia is gearing up for the release of the second-generation Cadenza, the automaker's large front-wheel drive luxury sedan. The next-generation Cadenza is set to succeed the current model, which was released in South Korea back in 2010.

"The all-new Kia Cadenza will set new benchmarks for cutting-edge design, interior quality and contemporary luxury when in goes on sale in overseas markets in 2016," said Kia in a press release.
Kia has released three teaser images that preview the Cadenza. From these images, it is clear that the forthcoming sedan will feature a restyled exterior and will be built using more premium materials.
The 2017 Kia Cadenza seems to have been inspired by Kia's Sportspace and Novo Concept cars. There are also design similarities with the 2016 Kia Optima.

The Cadenza sedan comes with a sleek and sporty design. With a wide and low stance, it looks sharper and more aggressive. The new Cadenza will come with an elongated bonnet, Kia's signature "tiger-nose" grille, tapered headlights, grid-patterned fog lamps and square exhaust tips.

The tall sedan also comes with sharper styling lines including a high-set beltline, clean body panels and a long sloping roofline. With its unique design, the next-generation Cadenza will be instantly recognizable.

The 2017 Kia Cadenza may still be powered by the current model's 3.3-liter V-6 engine mated with an eight-speed automatic transmission. It is also rumored that Kia will unveil a second powertrain option – a smaller four-cylinder hybrid engine.

The upcoming four-door luxury sedan will also come with a fresh, updated and elegant new look. While the sedan's interiors maintains the horizontal layout of its predecessor, it will feature more premium and high-quality materials. Car enthusiasts can look forward to seeing soft-touch materials and metal accents inside the cabin. The 2017 Kia Cadenza will also be more spacious than its predecessors.

The 2017 Kia Cadenza sedan is expected to make its official debut next year and arrive at U.S. dealers by fall 2016.


Thursday, November 19, 2015

Hyundai, Kia Plan to Launch Autonomous Cars by 2020

Above: Kia Soul EV
Kia is playing catch-up on autonomous driving technology, with plans to eventually reach SAE Level 2-4 automation and to complete a dedicated Hyundai-Kia autonomous proving ground in California next year. On the way to its goal of full autonomy by 2030, the Korean automaker will spend $2 billion by 2018 for the first of its Advanced Driver Assistance System (ADAS) technologies as part of parent Hyundai Motor Group’s effort.
The initial technology available by 2016 will include drive assist, park assist and active safety features. Also in 2016, Hyundai-Kia will open an autonomous driving proving ground in California City, as part of its 10-year-old U.S. proving ground near Mojave, California. 

Kia aims to improve average fuel efficiency by 25% by 2020

Kia Motors has announced plans to become a leader in the low emissions car market by 2020 - including launching a hybrid utility vehicle, Niro.

The manufacturer anticipates that the five-year development plan will see it further increase its investment in research and development into fuel-efficient technologies and new products, with a range of all-new models and highly advanced powertrains for global markets.

The new investment by Hyundai Motor Group, Kia’s parent company, totals £6.2 million, for the development of a range of new eco-friendly models and building the facilities required for the brand’s efforts to further reduce its CO2 output.

Ki-Sang Lee, senior vice-president, eco-friendly vehicle R&D centre, Kia Motors Corporation, said: “Global market demand is shifting to electric vehicles, with oil prices predicted to rise in future.
The electric and plug-in hybrid vehicle market will grow rapidly in the coming years, and this investment will enable Kia to meet the growing demand with a range of advanced new products and technologies.

“We don’t believe that there is any one ‘silver bullet’ that can satisfy the demand for low emission technology within the car industry, so we foresee a wide range of eco-friendly powertrains co-existing for an extended period of time.

"The plans we’ve announced today represent Kia’s ambition to become a worldwide leader in advanced propulsion technology.”

By 2020, Kia’s current green car line-up is expected to grow from four current models to 11.
This expanded range of environmentally-friendly vehicles will encompass a wide range of advanced powertrains, from hybrids and plug-in hybrids to battery-electric and fuel cell electric vehicles.
Before 2020, Kia will also replace seven out of its 10 current engine ranges with next-generation petrol and diesel units, while increasing the number of turbocharged engines.

Higher-efficiency, multi-speed transmissions are also planned, while Kia engineers are targeting a 5% reduction in the average weight of new car bodies through greater application of ultra-high strength steel.

The first models to be launched featuring new types of powertrains under the brand’s 2020 vision for low emissions cars will be the Kia Optima PHEV (plug-in hybrid electric vehicle), which will feature a high capacity lithium-polymer battery pack and electric motor, and the Niro hybrid utility vehicle (HUV), which will target CO2 emissions of 90g/km.

Niro, which is due to be unveiled next year, will pair the manufacturer's 1.6 GDI petrol engine (105hp) with a 1.56kWh lithium-polymer battery pack and 32kW electric motor.

Production of Niro is scheduled to start in late 2016, while a plug-in hybrid powertrain is due to be added to the car's line-up later in its lifecycle.

Kia is targeting a 2020 launch for mass production of an all-new hydrogen fuel cell vehicle, featuring next-generation hydrogen fuel stack technology.

The manufacturer is working alongside 300 partner companies to develop the next-generation FCEV technology for global markets.

Production of the new Kia FCEV is aimed to be around 1,000 units per year, a figure expected to rise as demand for fuel cell vehicles increases.

Kia’s FCEV will feature a fuel stack similar in size to a 2.0-litre internal combustion engine, which development teams believe will offer drivers a high level of durability and power density from the advanced powertrain.

Kia engineers are planning to develop the brand’s next-generation fuel cell stack to be 5% more efficient and offer 10% greater stack performance, despite being around 15% lighter and 15% lower in volume, compared to current generation fuel cell stacks.

The result is a targeted range of more than 500 miles from a single fill-up and a top speed of around 106mph.


Wednesday, November 18, 2015

A Kia Optima Station Wagon Could Look Like This

What would say to a more practical, estate version of Kia's updated Optima, which is currently available only as a sedan?

These renderings were made by Theophilus Chin who based the design on the recent Kia Sportspace Concept.

This iteration keeps similar taillights to the ones found on the sedan, along with a sloping roofline and a tailgate with a small spoiler. The rest of the exterior remains identical to the sedan, which has a starting MSRP of $21,840 in the States, without destination.

The engine lineup includes a new 1.6-liter turbo and the 2.4-liter GDI and 2.0-liter GDI turbo, carried over from the previous generation. The most expensive version of the Kia Optima is the SXL, which can be bought from $35,790.


Get an extra early peek at the 2017 Niro, ​Kia's first dedicated hybrid model

I've seen the all-new Niro Hybrid, Kia's new dedicated HEV model, and while it didn't make a very good first impression with its design, it more than made up for that with well-sorted performance during my subsequent drive.

The hybrid utility vehicle

Before you get too excited, no, this is not the same scissor-doored, sharply styled Niro as the concept that debuted previously. Only the name has been recycled for this small hybrid crossover.

The new Niro slots in between the Soul and Sportage. It's identical in wheelbase to the Toyota Prius liftback (106 inches), but slightly shorter at 171 inches overall. The Niro also has the slightly elevated ride height of a tiny SUV, a more upright hatchback and a wider stance. Kia calls the Niro an HUV (hybrid utility vehicle), which sort of makes my eyes roll.

Presented in Plain Jane silver on a drab overcast morning at Kia's Namyang Design Center in South Korea, the Niro was finished with black cladding around its lower bumpers, rockers and wheel arches. This cladding is supposed to make the Niro look rugged and tough, but ultimately made it just look a bit cheap in my opinion. The crossover's rounded headlamps make it look a bit bulbous and doughy -- especially when parked next to the sharply styled Optima Hybrid and Plug-in Hybrid models. On the other hand, the design may pop a bit more in a bolder color, and the understated design has its appeal when compared to the new (and over-designed) fourth-generation Prius.

1.6L hybrid powertrain

When you look past the form to the function, things start getting more interesting.
The Niro is powered by a 1.6-liter direct-injected "Kappa" gasoline engine. The Niro's mill is the largest displacement engine in Hyundai/Kia's Kappa series of three-bangers, making a nominal 103 horsepower and 108 pound-feet of torque. The engine is mated to a six-speed, dual-clutch automatic transmission (DCT), but not directly.

The Niro uses Kia's TMED hybrid architecture (transmission mounted electric drive), sandwiching an e-motor between the engine and the transmission. The 32kW electric motor connects to the engine with a clutch and sends its 125 pound-feet of torque to the front wheels via a direct connected to the DCT. Kia says this setup affords a smoother transition between full-electric and hybrid operation modes and allows the Niro to use a conventional transmission rather than an eCVT like Toyota's Hybrid Synergy Drive system.

Storing juice for the electric motor is a 42kW and 1.56kWh lithium polymer battery pack. Because Kia is still calibrating the hybrid system, it's not yet stating official economy numbers, but the automaker states that a target combined 50 mpg rating.

Driving the Niro

On the roads around Namyang, I was able to get behind the wheel of a camouflaged, preproduction Niro to get a feel for the hybrid utility vehicle.

Acceleration and power from the electrically assisted 1.6-liter feels much better than I'd anticipated. Kia couldn't (or wouldn't) state a total system output for the Niro's hybrid system, stating instead that it hasn't finalized the tuning of its hybrid system and would release a number closer to the production launch. My butt dyno estimates that the Niro's total torque is in the neighborhood of the Nissan Juke's 177 pound-feet, which nets the heavier HUV decent off-the-line pickup and passing power.

When cruising, the Niro is very quiet. Around town, the Niro's powertrain handles the electric-to-hybrid transition smoothly. The electric motor also seems to work well with the dual-clutch automatic transmission, shifting quickly and efficiently.

The chosen route around Namyang was generally well maintained, so my test didn't include tossing the suspension into any potholes or over very rough pavement. There was, however, an absurd number of speedbumps on the route. The Niro's ride felt well composed; soft, but not in a floaty way. The steering felt (dare I say?) sporty and direct.

Of course, I wasn't able to drive long enough to get a good idea of efficiency, and Kia is still working on the tuning, so the ride characteristic and hybrid powertrain performance could change by the time the Niro starts production next year. But if this preproduction example was any indicator, I'll be looking forward to spending more time with Kia's first dedicated hybrid next year.

Efficiency tech

Helping the powertrain towards its efficiency goals are a suite of eco technologies. An active air flap hidden in the grille opening closed at highway speeds to smooth the Niro's aerodynamics. And that's the simple part.

More advanced is the Niro's ECO-DAS driver aid software with predictive energy control. The system integrates with the navigation and GPS systems to make the most efficient use of hybrid powertrain based on chosen route's slope, curvature, and so on.

For example, ECO-DAS may be more liberal with using the battery's charge for electric assist leading up to an extended downhill segment, because it knows that it will be able to recoup the energy through regen. Alternatively, it can save up battery power to reduce the impact of increased emissions during an uphill passage. When approaching a navigation turn event, ECO-DAS can also suggest that a driver lift from the throttle and start coasting early, based on the current speed and the distance to the turn, saving energy that would be wasted by braking at the last minute. Kia says that this coasting coaching can net up to a 3 percent fuel economy boost.

Cabin and driver aid tech

In addition to efficiency tech, the Niro is also equipped with a respectable loadout of standard and optional infotainment and driver-aid tech, starting with a very trick looking instrument cluster that integrates digital and physical elements in a very attractive way.

Smartphone fans will appreciate an available wireless charging tray that Kia says is big enough to fit a Samsung Galaxy Note or an iPhone 6 Plus. While the phone is charging, Android users will be able to enjoy standard Android Auto screen mirroring and connectivity. Kia says that CarPlay connectivity for Apple phones is coming shortly after launch, which is weird because the current Hyundai Sonata and Kia Optima already support both smartphone technologies.

In addition to Android Auto, the Niro will also support Kia's UVO suite of navigation, digital media and connectivity technologies.

Rear seat passengers will also have access to a 220V AC power outlet to charge their laptops or other devices on the go. Will no doubt be swapped with a 110-120V inverter when the Niro makes US landfall.

Available safety tech starts with a standard rear camera mounted high on the rear liftgate, just below the pivot point of the rear wiper. Kia says that it's the first manufacturer to put the camera here and that the high camera position will both keep the lens cleaner and afford a better view of the area behind the car.

The automaker also stated that the Niro would be available with autonomous emergency braking for its forward collision-warning system, adaptive cruise control, blind-spot monitoring and a lane-departure warning system.

Looking further forward

Even with the ridiculous level of early access to the Niro, Kia was pretty guarded about many details. However, the company did let slip that a plug-in hybrid (PHEV) version is being developed, possibly reaching the market once the HEV is settled. This PHEV variant would get a lighting upgrade, swapping the standard Bi-Xenon units with LED headlamps. Styling changes would include white wheel covers, "eco/plugin" emblems and "eco blue" color accents to the bumpers and body. Of course, there'd also be a plug-in port on the driver's front fender and a larger battery pack that would grant the Niro an extended electric-only driving mode. Beyond these details, Kia would not speak on estimated EV range or projected efficiency.

Kia's first dedicated hybrid model should debut to the public sometime in late 2016 as part of a larger green car five-year plan that includes the launch of hybrid and plug-in hybrid versions of the Optima sedan and culminates in the launch of a fuel cell vehicle by 2020. Closer to the Niro's production launch, we should have more information regarding price, specific efficiency and a timeframe for availability.


Tuesday, November 17, 2015

2016 Kia Optima Is the Best Kia Ever

2016 Kia Optima Chosen as One of Twelve Elite Winners

The new 2016 Kia Optima has earned the Best Buy Award from Kelley Blue Book’s Best Buy Award and top honors from The Trusted Resources in the midsize sedan category. The 2016 Kia Optima was one of twelve winners, and it was recognized for the series’ evolution.

2016 Kia Optima Has Had Great Evolution

The midsize sedan has some of the competitive cars in the automotive industry, and it’s clear indication that the Optima series has matured and elevated the Kia brand some further. According to KBB, the car was recognized for the optimal design, the improved features, which set the Optima apart from every other car in its class.

Kia cars have always had a respectable reputation in the midsize sedan class and SUV, and this award just goes to prove that they have had a steady growth. With other companies going hybrid and experimenting with new vehicle technology, the 2016 Kia Optima might just take that step in the future.

2016 Kia Optima Specs

The 2016 Kia Optima comes with a 1.6 liter turbocharged four-cylinder engine with a seven-speed Dual Clutch Transmission, and it sports luxurious cabin features in five levels: LX, LX 1.6T, EX, SX and SXL. The 2016 Kia Optima is built at the Kia plant in West Point, Georgia.


Kia Makes Improvements to Sedona Minivan

I drove the new Kia Sedona this year and, frankly, it had a few issues. I liked much the minivan had to offer then, and now. The 2015 model I tested had vague steering, a sometimes choppy ride in back, a heavy feel and a radio that unexpectedly jumped from FM to AM to satellite.

The tested 2016 SXL, a dark blue metallic top-of-the-line model, had none of those issues.
Steering — there are three choices at the push of a button — was much more responsive, no matter the mode. Normal delivers a firmer feel, but not as heavy as it seemed in my previous test. Eco mainly tames acceleration to increase gas mileage. The comfort setting delivers a lighter feeling wheel, but not as sloppy and vague as before.

The last time I drove the Kia Sedona was in January, so I suspect its stiff rear suspension was a product of cold winter weather. The new model rode smooth and well-controlled in all circumstances, including a drive on some of Bay View's bumpiest streets.

The heavy feel of the earlier test drive was handled, I feel, by this van's steering being more responsive. And the psycho radio? I had no issues with this one. Dial in a station, touch the screen and it locks in the channel.

Sedona is a fine minivan from many perspectives, a key one being that this one will seat up to eight passengers, with a second-row bench. The interior is quiet and the van looks as sharp as a minivan can look. Kia uses a less angled nose that it believes makes Sedona look more like an SUV.
I like the 3.3-liter V6 engine, which features continuously variable valve timing and direct injection. The van gets up to highway speeds in a respectable distance and without much engine noise to bother the folks inside.

The 6-speed automatic is smooth and efficient. Braking is good, with traction and stability control standard. The SXL comes with 19-inch tires, up from 18-inchers on lower-level models.
The base L model starts at $27,295 and features the same engine and transmission as this top level SXL. The test van starts at $39,900 with an $895 delivery fee. This one also added a tech package for $2,800 and a rear-seat entertainment system for $1,095. The screen for that flips up from the rear of the front seat's center console, a bit different from other vans. Most screens flip down from the roof.
Interior room is generous; no one will feel cramped.

The SXL features a third-row seat that folds down into the cargo area behind the seats. That area is deep, so even with three rows of seats in place you can carry a hefty amount of cargo. Middle-row seats slide up and back to create more legroom. If the third row is folded down and you're carrying cargo and kids, the second-row passengers can adjust the seats to boost legroom. Kia calls these Slide-N-Stow seats, and they are standard even on the base L model. They flip forward and stow against the front seat backs.

The test van's dash was light gray over charcoal gray, same for the doors and seats. The SXL features leather seating. There was black gloss trim around the dash gauges and screen and on the console.
I liked the seats, which were fairly flat, but comfortable with mild side-contouring on the seat bottom and backs. The driver's seat includes power lumbar support and two memory settings, controlled by buttons on the door.

Sedona's dash layout is attractive, with two main gauges and a large digital computer readout between the speedometer and tach. All buttons on the dash are large and easy to use, as are five knobs to adjust the radio and dual heat controls. Even the buttons on the touch screen radio are large and easy to use.

Kia wisely puts buttons to open the power sliding side doors and hatch on the key fob and overhead inside the van.

Standard is a voice-command navigation system, blind-spot warning system, Infinity surround sound audio system, backup camera, heated steering wheel and UVO telematics.

The technology package adds a lane departure and forward collision warning system, Xenon headlights, smart cruise control, chrome side sill trim and a 115V power inverter in the cargo area. The package also includes a surround view monitor, which is helpful in tight parking spots, plus just cool to watch as you back up.

I got 19.9 mpg this time in about 60% city driving. That compares with 17.2 mpg in similar driving, but in below-freezing temps, on the earlier test. The EPA rates this van at 17 mpg city and 22 mpg highway.