Monday, February 29, 2016

What does the color of your car say about you?

2016 Kia Optima Earns Five-Star Safety Rating From Federal Government

The fully redesigned 2016 Kia Optima midsize sedan earned the highest five-star overall safety rating from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

On sale now at Kia dealerships, the 2016 Optima received five stars in the front, side and rollover crash tests.

Previously, the carryover 2016 Kia Optima Hybrid also earned the highest five-star safety rating from NHTSA.

Standard safety equipment on the gasoline-powered 2016 Optima includes antilock brakes, electronic stability control, traction control and seven airbags, including a driver's knee airbag.

Automatic emergency braking, front collision warning and lane-departure warning are optional on the Optima SX 2.0T and standard on the Optima SXL 2.0T.

Key Optima competitors include the Ford Fusion, Honda Accord and Toyota Camry.


Sunday, February 28, 2016

How the new Kia Sportage points towards an autonomous future

When you think about vehicles with the latest in tech, you’re probably not thinking about a Kia Sportage SUV. Climbing into the latest version of the ‘compact crossover’, the large 8-inch screen in the center console (and Bluetooth logo above it) is no longer remarkable, even though you get DAB and Bluetooth connectivity with voice recognition included in everything from the standard model up.

Much of the really cool tech featured here is under the hood, centered around driver aids.

Part of why T3 was present at the launch of the new Sportage is for Kia to promote its future autonomous driving technology. Dubbed DriveWise and launched at CES 2016, Kia hopes it will become synonymous with ADAS (Advanced Driver Assistance Systems). Kia is planning for its cars to have self-drive tech by 2020 and for it to launch a fully autonomous vehicle by 2030. The company has previously said it will spend $2 billion over the next three years to get there.

But we’re not there yet. The top end of the new Sportage range does include some ADAS though, with the top few cars (including the first one we drove) boasting Autonomous Emergency Braking. It does what you’re probably thinking it does, but it’s pretty clever, with two radars; short-range for low-speed (under 43mph) and a longer range (19-50mph), slowing the car if it detects an obstacle. Pedestrians are also detected up to 37mph. Rear Cross Traffic Alert (when reversing) and Blind Spot Alert also warn the driver of approaching vehicles, while there’s also Lane Keeping Assist feature to prevent drivers from straying into the next lane when tired.

It’s not hard to see how these could grow into some of the future systems Kia talked about as part of DriveWise - Emergency Stop System (ESS) – you can guess what that does - Preceding Vehicle Following (PVF) to follow cars, and Traffic Jam Assist (TJA) to take the effort out of being in traffic.

Kia’s stylists have been hard at work to make the fourth-gen Sportage look altogether more poised than its predecessor, and it shows with a wider grille, higher headlamps and recessed fog lamps. But the story isn’t just about looks, there’s been a renewed focus on how the cars drive and the powertrains available - no doubt led by former BMW M Series engineering lead Albert Biermann, who joined Hyundai/Kia in 2014.

This is very much a family car, but the top-end models will appeal to those who like a bit of punch, too. Starting from Nice airport in France, we sped along the motorway to Monaco, starting off driving the six-speed automatic 2.0L diesel 182bhp ‘First Edition’. It may cost in excess of £31,495 (the basic version starts at £17,995) but it was completely effortless to drive and there are enhancements like park assist, powered tailgate and wireless phone charging. Monaco is a mess of twisty urban roads – just the place to check out the navigation system, with our only issued being caused by driver error (we got lost as we turned down the wrong side street).

Although the Grade 1 spec is OK, you want to be spending at least £20K to get one with the second trim level which includes some things we’d consider essentials like automatic lights, aircon, reversing sensors, auto windscreen de-fogging and so on. This also gets you speed limit information on the dash and Lane-Keep Assist. The sweet spot is just above this, the GT-Line around the £24K mark and includes various style enhancements.

Driving the Grade 2 trim after the First Edition was something of a comedown – you don’t get all the sparkly stuff obviously but it felt stripped back – we really noticed the lack of electronic parking brake or start button, for example (we’d been spoilt!). But you still get a lot of car for that money. And it certainly wasn’t sluggish on the road – the 1.6 petrol engine coasted very pleasantly along the French motorway and we were impressed how well the car handled well on some rather twisty mountain roads.

The Sportage isn’t the end of the 2016 excitement for Kia, either – the rumours are that Kia will not only unveil a sports car before too long (apparently dubbed the GT). And then there’s the Optima Plug-In hybrid, making its European debut at the forthcoming Geneva Motor Show before going on sale late in the year.


Saturday, February 27, 2016

Gary Rome speaks out about this may be the best year for sales in automobiles in 20 years

With gas prices dipping below the  $2.00 a gallon benchmark and customers looking to upgrade their automotive technology, car dealers are revving up for a banner year in 2016.

"2015 was an excellent, excellent year", said Edward S. O'Grady, sales manager for Central Chevrolet in West Springfield, pointing out that the dealership was up 23% in sales over 2014. He projects that because of the Chevrolet products and new options on the vehicles that 2016 will be "even bigger than 2015"

Several Chevrolet models have been redesigned including the 2016 Cruze, Volt, Silverado, Malibu, and Camaro. Body styles have been refreshed, new safety devices added (like lane departure warnings and lane-catering technology) and "infotainment" upgraded to allow increased hands-free cell phone use.

An OnStar remote link cell phone app allows users to unlock, lock and remotely start their vehicle from wherever they are. This feature is "even more refined now and more common," O'Grady said.

Gary Rome, president and CEO of Gary Rome Auto Group, is looking forward to 2016 being the "biggest and most robust year we've had in the past 20 years" because of a "pent-up demand" with people looking for new models that are greener and more fuel efficient.

Popular models are CUVs, small sport utility vehicles. The Hyundai Tucson and the Kia Sportage are "very, very hot", Rome said, explaining that many vehicle buyers like the utility vehicles because the "ride like a car" but have more room and get good gas mileage.

All vehicles now come with some popular options like interactive cruise control that automatically slows the vehicle down in cruise control mode if the vehicle in front slows down and then accelerates accordingly. Other options like lane departure warnings are also available on some models.

To work with the latest communications technology, vehicles have a larger display screen to work with Apple or Android devices, the smaller screens of which can be viewed on the larger car screen.

"Car manufacturers have to come up with the next best thing to convince people to buy their cars," said Rome, who sold his first car when he was 16. He sees more hybrids, more electric hybrids and more "trendy, dynamic stylish models" in the offing, "not as many plain, vanilla cars."

Dana A. Calderone, marketing assistant for Lia Auto Group, which includes 18 dealerships in Massachusetts, CT and NY said vehicles are now "techy," with certain models equipped with features that allow the cars to parallel  park or give a swivel back-up view. "A lot of people want to make their lives easier, especially if they are not good at backing up," she said. Such features "make it easier for them to get around in those vehicles."

Last year was a "very good year" and included the opening of a Nissan dealership in Glens Falls, New York, and 2016 looks good for Lia, Caldrone said, with many new models like the Nissan Titan XD and Honda's new Pilot and Civic models.

Rome said the industry-wide estimate is that 17.7 million new cars and trucks will be sold in 2016; more than 15 million in 2015.

"You're going to see more customers drawn to dealerships that can provide them with an atmosphere that is convenient and compliant with their needs," Rome said, giving as example not only loaner cars but facilities that offer customers a place to get work done or a quiet space, food and amenities to make their stay at the dealership more comfortable and even shuttles to shopping malls. "People are busy, and their time is important to them," he said.

Source: The Republican, Powering

Friday, February 26, 2016

Kia Sorento among Consumer Reports top picks

Consumer Reports 2016 Top Car Picks (1:46 sec. - Kia Sorento)

Consumer Reports 2016 Top Picks for cars represent the best of the best of the 260 vehicles recently tested in 10 categories. To be a Consumer Reports Top Pick, a vehicle needs to drive beautifully, have a strong record of reliability and be safe, and it needs to make its owners happy.

The Kia Sorento is a Consumer Reports 2016 Top Pick midsized SUV. For years, Toyota has won this category, but the Kia Sorento has overtaken it. It has a powerful engine, did great in crash tests and got high scores for reliability. And the great thing is that it feels luxurious inside, like you’ve spent a whole lot more money than you actually did.


Kia Motors to launch Niro hybrid SUV in Europe in May

"The Kia Niro will be launched in Europe in May, followed by its introduction to customers in China and the United States in September and November, respectively," the source close to the matter told the English department of Yonhap News Agency.

The Niro comes with a 105-horsepower, 1.6-liter gasoline engine and a 43.5-horsepower electric motor. It boasts a fuel economy of 50 miles per gallon, which translates into about 21.5 kilometers per liter, according to the company.

Following its domestic and overseas launch, Kia Motors plans to bring the plug-in hybrid electric vehicle version to the Korean market in March next year first before starting to sell it in Europe and China in June 2017, the source added.

The EV model is to be showcased at a motor show to be held from March 3-13 in Geneva, Switzerland, ahead of its official launch in the European market.

Kia Motors aims to sell about 65,000 units of the Niro at home and abroad annually.

Meanwhile, for its vehicle launch plans in 2017, the source said that Kia Motors will unveil fully-renovated versions of the Pride subcompact along with those of the K-series, including the K9 flagship large-size sedan.


Thursday, February 25, 2016

Jeep Renegade Vs. Kia Soul: Compare Cars

Believe it or not, the Jeep Renegade and the Kia Soul are frequently compared by buyers seeking a small, square-ish, carry-all utility vehicle. While they're both upright five-door hatchback shapes, each has a distinct personality, and they could hardly be more different.

The Renegade is Jeep's littlest SUV, with exaggerated tough-guy styling and genuine off-road prowess. The Soul, on the other hand, is a style-first urban warrior whose attraction lies in its practicality and cheeky character. It doesn't offer the Jeep's all-wheel-drive or, really, any hardware that could bring it even close to rocky trails or mountain climbing.

Which one is right for may come down to a simple decision: Do you absolutely need all-wheel drive? If so, the Jeep gets the nod. Otherwise, the Kia carries a higher rating from our experts, who gave it better marks for design, comfort and quality, safety, and features.

New in 2015, the Renegade is the first vehicle developed from the ground up for global sale by the combined Fiat Chrysler Automobiles. Its design is every inch classic SUV, with oversize lights and other details for visual interest.

The interior is straightforward, modern, and contains a number of Jeep-brand reminders in the form of "Easter Egg" design elements. The Renegade's front seats are comfortable, but there's not that much room in the rear unless rear-seat riders bargain aggressively with those in the front. The seats are comfortable and nicely bolstered, and the Renegade is clearly wider than other AWD entries, meaning the shoulders of the two front-seat riders are suitably separated.

The Soul's boxy profile, now in its second generation, is like no other. And it capitalizes on the silhouette by offering much more space for people and cargo. The design has a blunt front end, with a roof that seems to float over a blacked-out greenhouse. The rear end is dominated by tall tail lamps, while the front end uses bug-eye headlights.

 Inside, the Soul dials down the funkiness a notch or two, providing the right amount of sophistication with grown-up soft-touch materials, as well as some extras like ambient lighting. The seats are comfortable, with dual-density foam and usefully long seat cushions in front. It's easy to get into or out of, front or back, and the back-seat space is impressive for a car with this small a footprint.

The Jeep Renegade comes with two powertrain options. The base model is propelled by a 160-horsepower turbocharged 1.4-liter four-cylinder engine paired with a six-speed manual gearbox. If you don't want to shift for yourself, you'll move up to the 180-hp 2.4-liter four, which uses the new nine-speed automatic transmission that's increasingly common in new Chrysler, Jeep, and Fiat products. Front-wheel drive is standard, with all-wheel drive optional for both engines. We prefer the manual to the automatic's constant shifts and hunting for gears, but the base engine's lean on power. It's a mixed bag, maybe slightly in favor of the rare base setup.

The Kia Soul comes with a choice of two engines, but we recommend against the base 1.6-liter four, with an output of just 130 horsepower, unless you’re getting the six-speed manual gearbox. Soul Plus and Soul Exclaim versions are fitted with a more powerful 164-hp 2.0-liter, direct-injection four, paired only with a six-speed automatic (an option on the base model). The Soul isn't particularly sporty in any of its combinations, but with the larger engine you’ll find it quick enough—although tall gearing means frequent downshifts on the highway, and the transmission can hunt on long grades.

The Renegade's safety ratings have been only middle-of-the-pack—considering there are now a number of high-rated vehicles in its class. It earned four-star overall ratings from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), including four stars for front impact and five for side impact, while it's received a mix of "acceptable" and "good" ratings from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS). A rearview camera is standard on all but the base model. Optional safety systems include forward-collision warnings with automatic braking, blind-spot monitors, and lane-departure warnings.

The Soul does better, with five stars overall from the NHTSA, including five-star scores in every category except rollover resistance, where it gets four stars. The IIHS calls it a Top Safety Pick. You can opt for forward-collision warning and lane-departure warning systems this year on high-end Exclaim models, but they don't include automatic braking.

The 2016 Renegade comes in four trim levels: the base Sport (starting under $20,000 for the base 2WD version), the mid-level Latitude, and the top-of-the-line Limited. All-wheel drive is a $2,000 option. Then there's the Trailhawk model ($7,000 more) with its greater off-road capability, which only comes with all-wheel drive and the larger 2.4-liter engine with the nine-speed automatic.

The 2016 Soul comes in base Soul (starting just under $16,000), Soul Plus (+), and Soul Exclaim (!) versions. All include alloy wheels, and for a four-figure premium, you can add things like a heated steering wheel, heated rear seats, and cooled/ventilated front seats. Connectivity and infotainment hardware—and the optional navigation system—are fully up to snuff with the systems available in much more expensive, premium vehicles.

Overall, the Kia Soul easily gets the nod in this pairing. It's more capacious, less expensive, and better-rated for safety. Now that we have subcompact SUV entries from not only Jeep but also Chevy, Fiat, and even Buick, the littlest Jeep has tougher competition--including from the Kia Soul.


Wednesday, February 24, 2016

Winter hasn't ended yet, here are some tips on how to stay safe on hazardess roads.

Kia Niro Hybrid: A Fuel Efficient Option for the Crossover Class

The growing popularity of hybrid vehicles is largely driven by stricter fuel economy standards, that in turn press automakers to build more fuel efficient vehicles. As automakers try to meet regulations mandating better fuel efficiency in new vehicles, many turn their sights to building hybrids.

However, despite more car makers diversifying their lineups with hybrids, and the vehicles’ price points going down, hybrids have yet to become truly mainstream; sales are still pretty slow, hindered to a large extent by low gas prices in recent years.

But, sales of hybrid cars are expected to accelerate soon, and many car makers continue to bet on hybrids. Kia is the latest company to step up its hybrid car game, unveiling three new models at the 2016 Chicago Auto Show, with the eco-friendly version of the Niro crossover making the biggest splash.

One of the things that is expected to separate the Niro from other hybrids in its class is its design. Kia says that unlike other hybrids, the Niro manages to deliver hybrid-car level efficiency while boasting a sporty, dynamic design.

It has a nice athletic looks, highlighted by the long roofline and its wide and low proportions. According to Kia, the Niro has an excellent coefficient of drag of .29, which is an amazing figure for a crossover.

On top of offering a more exciting ride than a typical hybrid, the Niro is also distinguished by the fact that it’s more fuel-efficient than a typical crossover, according to Kia. The automaker says that its fuel economy is expected to be rated at 50 mpg combined, which does seem to be achievable, given the efficient powertrain technology it employs and other fuel-saving features.

The Niro is powered by an Atkinson Cycle 1.6-liter, 4-cylinder direct-injected engine, delivering 103 horsepower, combined with an electric motor that provides an additional 43 horsepower, and generates electricity that is used to charge a 1.56-kilowatt hour lithium-ion polymer battery.

Kia has managed to further improve the Niro’s fuel economy by using high-strength steel for the A- and B-pillars, which are some of the key points of a car’s body, resulting in reduced weight and increased fuel efficiency.

The Kia Niro is set to go on sale in later 2016, and the South Korean car maker hopes that it will help them gain a bigger share in the growing crossover segment, in addition to appealing to an environmentally-aware audience.


Tuesday, February 23, 2016

We Hear: Kia Plans Small CUV to Rival Nissan Juke, Honda HR-V

Within the next two years, Kia will offer a small CUV to rival the Nissan Juke, according to a report from Autocar.

“There’s space to grow with SUVs, into lower segments,” Kia’s European marketing director Arthur Martins told Autocar. “This model makes sense for us, and we will bring it in the future, two years maximum.”

The B-segment crossover will likely share a platform with the next-gen Kia Rio, which arrives next year. The plan is part of Kia’s larger goal to launch nine new models by the end of 2018.

Kia just recently debuted the Niro hybrid crossover at the 2016 Chicago auto show. That model has no clear competitor at this point, but rides on Kia’s new dedicated eco-car platform and is targeted to hit 50 mpg. The automaker also unveiled its first D-segment wagon, the Optima Sportwagon, for Europe. And of course, a production version of the GT concept is reportedly on the way to further diversify Kia’s lineup.

The popular subcompact crossover segment is already teeming with options, including the new Honda HR-V, Mazda CX-3, Fiat 500X, Jeep Renegade, and others. The small Kia has promise and could be a more conventional alternative to the Soul. That model was the second-best selling Kia in the U.S. last year.


Monday, February 22, 2016

The Daily Drivers: 2016 Kia Optima SX Limited

For 2016, Kia redesigned the midsize Optima, but that's almost misleading. Sure, it's the fourth generation of the sedan, but it still bears a huge resemblance to the previous iteration that rolled out as a 2010 model. And why not? The Optima is still one of the most stylish sedans in the segment. If it ain't broke . . .

Appearance: The uncluttered design is attractive but not flashy. Credit that to chief design officer Peter Schreyer, who has had a similar influence with Volkswagen and Audi. The changes are minimal: The chassis of the Georgia-built Optima is now slightly wider, longer and stiffer. With its sporty profile and tapered roofline, it would be understandable if you mistook the Optima for a European sedan. The grille, too, is sleeker and covered with a dark-chrome 3D-mesh that houses Bi-Xenon HID headlights. (Dynamic Bending Light models with Auto-Leveling also are available.) Chrome window trim, laser-cut 18-inch alloy wheels and chrome dual exhaust tips further enhanced the look of our SX Limited model.

Performance: There are three engine choices: a base 2.4-liter 4-cylinder, a 1.6-liter turbo 4, and our tester's 2.0-liter, 245-horsepower turbo 4. In the SX Limited, the engine is paired with a 6-speed automatic that can be shifted in manual mode using (plasticky) paddles. (Oddly, this trim doesn't come with the 7-speed dual-clutch automatic that accompanies the smaller turbo engine. We wish it did.) Kia says it has retuned the engine for improved fuel economy, but the acceleration is still peppy if not that of a European sport sedan. Because of a stiffer chassis, the handling feels tighter and more sure-footed than past Optimas we've driven. The ride is firm but not uncomfortable, and the steering is well-weighted if a bit numb. There are three drive modes: Eco, Normal and Sport. (Shocker: We prefer Sport.)

Interior: This is where Kia has really started to set itself apart, especially in its upper trims. First, it's almost luxury-car quiet. That level of refinement extends to the quiltlike stitching of the comfortable perforated and heated leather seats, which adjust 12 ways for the driver and 10 for the front passenger. The rear seats have plenty of space for adults. Our cabin felt even roomier because of the large panoramic sunroof. Other nice touches included lots of soft-touch cabin materials, real metal trim and mesh sunshades for the rear door windows. The focal point of the cabin is an 8-inch angled touchscreen with the UVO infotainment system that always has been one of our favorites. Rearview camera is standard. The top trim also has surround view, which is great for tight parking spaces, and a Harman Kardon premium surround sound system. As with other Kias, the controls are well-placed, with an intuitive combination of dials and large buttons; on-screen interfaces have easy-to-clear icons. Lyra, however, found the voice command didn't always recognize some of the addresses she tried to enter for the navigation system.


What does that light mean?

Sunday, February 21, 2016

New Kia Optima Sportswagon Officially Revealed - Should They Bring It To US?

Kia pulled the wraps off their new Optima Sportswagon ahead of the Geneva Motor Show debut, after an earlier leak today.

Inspired by the Sportspace concept which received a very positive feedback, the new Kia Optima Sportswagon wants to combine the obvious practical gains of a wagon body with a striking exterior design.

Kia’s first D-segment wagon retains the same 4,855mm length as the saloon version, with only the height to have increased by 5mm to 1,470mm. The Optima Sportswagon offers 553lt of cargo capacity (48 more than the saloon model) with the rear seats in place while the latter feature a 40:20:40 split-fold ability.

“This is an important product for Kia in Europe, and it will increase our presence in this hugely important segment,” said Michael Cole, Chief Operating Officer Kia Europe. “In Europe, two thirds of all sales in the D-segment, and three quarters of all fleet sales in this class, are made up of tourers, so the Optima Sportswagon will play a critical role in attracting new private and corporate buyers to the brand. This is an important conquest product for Kia.”

Customers will be able to choose between two petrol units and one diesel engine. The entry-level petrol model is powered by a 163ps 2.0-litre SVVL unit while GT models are equipped with the new turbocharged 245ps 2.0-litre T-GDI engine which is offered only with a six-speed automatic. If you prefer diesel, then Kia also offers the 141ps 1.7-litre CRDi which can be specified with an optional seven-speed double-clutch gearbox.

Inside Kia offers the choice of a single- or two-tone scheme (black or dark grey with light grey) with the company’s latest infotainment system with Android Auto and Apple CarPlay offered with 7.0inch and 8.0inch displays. With soft-touch materials and high levels of soundproofing, the new Kia Optima Sportswagon promises to offer a premium experience from a segment above.

The global debut is scheduled for the Geneva Motor Show on March 1.


Saturday, February 20, 2016

Kia U.S. Exec: Rear-Drive Sports Sedan and Telluride SUV Look Increasingly Likely

At the Chicago auto show, Kia was one of the few brands making big news, showing its 2016 Optima hybrid and plug-in hybrid, as well as its all-new Prius-fighter, the Niro hybrid. We sat down with Kia Motors America COO, Michael Sprague, to see what else Kia may be cookin’ up for next year and beyond.

The most compelling subject of our conversation concerned the recent revelations by company insiders in Korea that Kia is planning to launch a small, rear-wheel-drive sports sedan that would represent a budget alternative to the ubiquitous BMW 3-series. Presumably, that vehicle would look something like the Novo concept (seen at top), a car that, come to think of it, looks an awful lot like a 3-series.

Sprague claims that he was as surprised—and delighted—as the rest of us to learn of this. “Last week somebody in Korea said that, yes, there’s a rear-wheel-drive vehicle coming next year . . . someone close to the situation,” said Sprague. “We read the same article you did. We were like, ‘All right! Cool!’

“It would be great for the brand,” Sprague continued. “The Soul has really been a halo for the brand in terms of that fun, funky coolness. The K900 has pushed us into the luxury space and serves as a halo in that space. It would be great to have a sport sedan to really connect with the enthusiasts.”

Kia does have a pretty good track record of producing its well-received concept cars. “If you look at the history of the brand, we use auto shows to introduce concept vehicles. We introduced a Soul concept and it came to market. We introduced the Niro concept and it came to market in a fashion very close to this. Our history is to introduce these concepts, gauge consumer and media feedback, and if it’s strong, let’s bring it to market. A couple years ago, we showed a rear-wheel-drive sports concept [the GT4 Stinger]. You may be able to link these two together.”

We also asked Mr. Sprague about the production prospects for the full-size Telluride SUV concept, which was unveiled at Detroit last month. While the three-row SUV is a little further out, it looks just as likely to appear, even without rumors from across the Pacific fueling the fire, and Sprague would like to have the big, Borrego-sized ute in the lineup yesterday.

“I think it compliments where the brand is at today. The Borrego, by all accounts, was a great vehicle from a functionality standpoint and what it delivered from packaging and design; it was just launched at the absolute worst possible time. People were fleeing the [full-size SUV] market; gasoline was four or five bucks a gallon, and nobody wanted them . . . which is unfortunate because it’s still sold in other parts of the world.

“But the market has changed; gas prices are a buck/buck-fifty, people are looking for more space, for that ride height that they missed when they shifted back to sedans, and our customers that we’ve been attracting for the last few years are asking for it. They took a chance on the brand . . . customers are now saying ‘I love the experience I’ve had with the brand; I love my car; I bought a Sportage and I needed more space; I bought a Sorento, I needed something bigger; I’m at the point now where I need something even bigger. My kids are bigger; I have more stuff; I want to tow something; I want to go someplace. It’s just a natural progression of where the brand has evolved to.”

But will it actually be produced? Sprague repeated what he said about the rear-drive sedan: “If we go back and look at our history of introducing concept vehicles and how they come to market, it looks pretty good. And if you look at the growth in those segments there’s still a lot left to go.”


Friday, February 19, 2016

2016 Kia Sorento Platinum AWD Review

It has been just over a month since I picked up the Kia Sorento Platinum, yet the number of features this seven-seater SUV includes still surprises me.

Heated front seats are becoming more common these days, but Kia has also added this feature to the second-row seats as well. To make sure the front seat passengers still feel that extra bit special, Kia has also given the forward pews a cooling function (something I have been using regularly during Perth’s recent hot spell).

The Kia Sorento Platinum even has a heated steering wheel. While I must admit that I have not needed that function due to the afore-mentioned heat, I did turn it on briefly to test it out. I can imagine how nice it would be to wrap your hands around a warm steering wheel on a frosty winter morning.

I am also getting accustomed to the radar-controlled cruise control. While I think it is a great safety feature, drivers do need to adjust their driving style slightly to keep the car moving smoothly. For example, if you change lanes after the car has slowed to below the set speed, it can take a little while to react to the open space ahead of you.

While I am only halfway through the trial period, I am already starting to feel quite attached to the Sorento. The 2.2-litre diesel engine is one of the most refined in its class and the six-speed automatic transmission goes about its business with absolutely no fuss.

For a car that is priced under the luxury car tax threshold, there is very little else you would want in regards to luxury options.

However, the main reason for the Sorento spending time in the BoatAdvice garage was to use it as a towing vehicle for boat tests. With a maximum towing capacity of 2000kg when braked (and 750kg unbraked), the Sorento is suitable for all but the bigger trailer boats on the market. This towing capacity also makes the Sorento suitable for a large range of caravans and most camper trailers.

In the first month, the Sorento was used to tow a series of boats that weighed between 1200kg and 1700kg, which is well short of its claimed maximum towing rating.

The towing distances ranged from relatively short trips to much longer journeys that involved using the freeway and traveling at 100km/h. The thing that stood out for me in all of those trips was that there was no sign of trailer sway with any of the boats we towed.

While I tend to nurse any vehicle when towing, allowing it to slow slightly when going up an incline rather than working the engine harder, the 147kW/441Nm 2.2-litre four-cylinder diesel has more than enough torque to ensure the Kia made it comfortably up those climbs. If the transmission did drop down a gear during the ascent, it was virtually seamless. At no time did the six-speed auto start ‘hunting’ for gears.

The only significant change when towing was in fuel consumption, which understandably jumped around 4.0 litres per 100km more with a boat on the back than without.

For all my good impressions of the Sorento, it does have one major pitfall – it can only carry a maximum tow ball weight of 100kg, which is just five per cent of its maximum towing weight. Tow ball weight is an interesting topic because car manufacturers set the figure and then hope that trailer and caravan manufacturers will build a product that matches. To further complicate matters, different markets have different ideas about what is the ideal tow ball weight.

In North America it is generally set at around 10 per cent of the car’s maximum towing capacity, while in Europe it is a much lower figure; generally between 50 and 100kg, irrespective of tow weights.

Research conducted by the Department of Mechanical Engineering at Bath University in the UK in 2009 revealed that the ideal tow ball weight was between six and eight per cent of the trailer’s gross mass, but that is a figure that nobody seems to consider when making cars or trailed items.

All this means is that owners need to be very careful when selecting the right car to tow their boat or caravan.

So how do manufacturers determine the tow ball weight? According to Kia Australia aftersales manager Phil Murray, a range of engineering criteria is used to establish the figure, but in simple terms the rating is the maximum weight the manufacturer believes the vehicle can carry, without compromising safety or performance.

For those who can remember, the first Sorento (the BL which was launched here in 2003) had a towing capacity of 2300kg and a maximum tow ball weight of 280kg. Since then the Sorento’s towing capacity and tow ball weights have been steadily reduced as each new generation has been introduced.

Having said that, the Sorento has also undergone a huge transition over the same period. The original Sorento was a full-blooded four-wheel-drive with a ladder-frame chassis with a high- and low-range transfer box. Today the Sorento is an all-wheel-drive SUV with a monocoque frame and no low range. In other words, Kia has moved the Sorento away from being a hard-edged four-wheel-drive and into a comfortable city car that can occasionally be taken off-road.

Murray said providing maximum towing capacity and tow ball weight is on Kia Australia’s request list at the development stage of every new Sorento model. At the same time, Kia does put a high priority on the ride, handling and performance of its seven-seat SUV. But these are two diametrically opposed requests, considering the effects that towing can have on handling and performance.

“We are aware that this style of vehicle is used for towing and we want to meet market expectations,” Murray said. “But we also need to ensure that we maintain the integrity and safety of the vehicle.”

So what happens if you do increase the weight on your car’s tow ball?

According to Gary Gardiner, a technical support representative for Hayman Reese – Australia’s biggest tow bar manufacturer – you immediately put additional strain on the points where the tow ball is attached to the chassis and the car’s rear suspension. This could potentially be adding forces and strain to the car that it wasn’t necessarily designed to handle.

He added that by increasing the weight on the back of the car you also lift the front of the vehicle, which means you are taking weight off the front axles and wheels. These changes will not only make the car and trailer unstable but will also adversely affect the steering and braking capabilities of the vehicle. The act of braking also adds additional load to the tow, which further exacerbates the problem.

In regards to the Sorento, this means there are going to be some boats and caravans that it cannot tow, despite them falling under the 2000kg maximum tow weight.

But before dismissing the Sorento as a legitimate towing vehicle, there are some quick and easy remedies you can make to adjust your tow ball weight.

Gardiner says the first thing you need to do is to establish the tow ball weight of your trailer or van. The easiest way to do this by purchasing a tow ball weight scale (the Hayman Reese tow ball weight scale will measure up to 350kg and costs under $100). These scales simply fit under the tow hitch of your trailer and give a reading when you lower the trailer onto the hitch. Make sure the trailer is on flat ground and that the wheels are chocked first by winding the jockey wheel down until the scale is taking all the weight.

Gardiner says that if your trailer is too heavy at the tow ball, you can reduce that load by removing some weight off the front of the trailer. With a boat, this could be as simple as moving the spare wheel, while in a caravan it could just mean adjusting the way you pack it by moving some of the internal weight to the back. But this does not mean pushing the load all the way to the back of the caravan, because excess weight can lift the back of your vehicle up by having the load distributed too rearward. Ideally, you will want most of the weight either over the axle of a single-axle trailer or between the axles of a dual-axle trailer.

As an example, I managed to reduce the tow ball weight of my boat trailer from 120kg to 100kg simply by removing the spare wheel from the draw bar.

Tow ball weight is something a lot of us don’t pay enough (if any) attention to, but by taking a few minutes to ensure everything is compliant you could save a life. When the load is done correctly, your car and trailer should be sitting nice and flat with no sign of strain on the front or rear suspension of your car.

Getting it right will also help ensure the trailer tows well, as well as serving to reduce the chances of encountering trailer sway. But remember that it is not just the tow ball weight that plays a part in this. Testing has shown that other factors, like driver skill, speed, heavy-vehicle air turbulence, weather conditions, road surface undulations, wheel bearing condition, trailer-brake adjustment and tire pressures, can all influence trailer sway.

To take the focus back to the Kia Sorento itself, there has been plenty to like about the car as a tow vehicle, from the way it performs under load, to the reversing camera that enables you to back the SUV right under the tow hitch without any assistance or guidance from a friend.

But despite having a maximum towing capacity of 2000kg, as a general rule, it is only going to be suitable for medium to small boats and caravans.


Kia Sedona: Luxurious, elegant and safe

Kia Sedona is a high-end utility car which has received positive responses from customers quickly after it was first launched in the US.

The car is made with modern and luxurious design which perfectly matches Kia signature “tiger-nose” grille and the optimal safety system.

The stylish, multipurpose design has been a success with record sales of 140,000 cars so far, including nearly 37,000 cars sold in the US, which is one of the pickiest automobile markets in the world. The new design has received high praises including the J.D. Power Automotive Performance, Execution and Layout (APEAL) award in the minivan segment in 2015.

In Vietnam, Sedona was introduced in four different versions by Truong Hai Auto Corporation (Thaco) in late October 2015 and immediately became a phenomenon with more than 200 cars sold in the first month.

With competitive prices, beautifully crafted and luxurious features, Sedona is expected to be the top option in the high-end multipurpose car segment.

Sedona is made with great care, and the interiors are designed for maximum comfort with a lot of space and impressive technologies.

The car also won a 5-Star Safety Rating by the US National Highway Traffic Safety Administration in 2014 thanks to the smooth operation and high safety standards. It is equipped with the 6-speed automatic gearbox that allows the car to operate with strong capacity and low fuel cost.


Thursday, February 18, 2016

How the all-new 2016 Kia Optima redefines performance

Many automakers have tried to lure customers away from the Toyota Prius hybrid, which outsells the Ford C-Max 7-to-1 in the U.S. and exhibited such dominance that arch rival Honda pulled its Insight hybrid from the market to regroup.

Kia Motors Corp. thinks it can succeed where others have failed.

With the Niro, its first built-from-scratch hybrid, the Korean automaker hopes to replicate the formula that turned the chunky Soul hatchback into America’s best-selling subcompact car: distinctive truck-like looks and the promise of utility. The hybrid, unveiled this week at the Chicago Auto Show, promises 50 mpg in combined city and highway driving — just shy of the Prius’ benchmark of 52 mpg.

The most important success factor for the Niro is a “design that doesn’t shout “hybrid,'” said Orth Hedrick, vice president of product planning at Kia Motors America. By delivering hybrid fuel economy in a crossover body, he said, “the Niro offers a uniquely alluring yet practical package that consumers haven’t seen before.”

Indeed, few automakers offer hybrid crossovers, as the vehicles’ high-riding posture makes it difficult to deliver the fuel economy gains customers expect. If the Niro gets the promised 50 mpg, it would handily beat the hybrid crossovers on the market today, including the Toyota RAV4 Hybrid (33 mpg) and Subaru XV Crosstrek Hybrid (31 mpg).

Kia plans to disclose Niro pricing closer to the vehicle’s arrival in U.S. dealerships in early 2017.

Built on a dedicated green-car platform shared with Hyundai, the Niro has the same wheelbase as the Prius, 106.3 inches, though Kia’s hybrid is 1.6 inches wider and 7.2 inches shorter. Powered by a 1.6-liter Atkinson-cycle gasoline engine paired with an electric motor, the Niro delivers 146 hp, compared with 121 hp for the Prius.

Power is a sore spot for Toyota, which has tried to mend a reputation for stodgy design and sluggish acceleration since it introduced the fourth-generation Prius. Toyota’s Super Bowl ad this month depicted bank robbers in a bright red Prius leading police on a long-distance chase.

It was a sharp departure for Toyota, which had spotlighted the Prius’ environmental credentials, but needed a new message in an era of low gasoline prices and proliferating green-car choices.

Last week, Kia also introduced hybrid and plug-in hybrid variants of the Optima midsize sedan, which was redesigned in 2015.

The plug-in hybrid Optima, powered by a 2.0-liter four-cylinder gasoline engine paired with a 50-kilowatt electric motor, has a total output of 154 hp. The hybrid, pairing the same engine with a 38-kilowatt electric motor, has a total output of 193 hp.

Kia didn’t release fuel economy numbers for the hybrid and plug-in hybrid variants, but the Hyundai Sonata Hybrid, which shares the same powertrain, promises 40 mpg city/44 highway. The Sonata Plug-in Hybrid promises 40 mpg combined and 99 mpg-e when running on electricity.


Wednesday, February 17, 2016

Kia unveils Niro hybrid crossover

The Niro combines the environmental credentials of a petrol-electric hybrid with the practicality and fashionable looks of an SUV. The design is the result of a collaboration between Kia design studios in Korea and California and features the kind of styling the numerous customers in the market of a crossover expect: so there’s all the robust all-terrain SUV-like looks – including features such as roof rails and a rear skid plate – but toned down slightly for the urban driver, along with wide and low proportions, and the signature Kia ‘tiger grille’.

Size-wise, it fits between the Soul and Sportage models in Kia’s range: its 2,700mm wheelbase is longer than that of a Nissan Qashqai or Volkswagen Tiguan, so it should offer plenty of interior space. There’s also the elevated seating position of an SUV, which should also add to its appeal among buyers.

Power comes from a 1.6-litre, four-cylinder petrol engine that produces 103bhp, which, when combined with a 43bhp electric motor, creates a total of 146bhp. The engine is mated to a six-speed, dual-clutch gearbox, which should be more usable than the continuous variable transmission (CVT) ’boxes found in many of its hybrid competitors.

Safety features include Blind Spot Detection with Rear Cross Traffic Alert and Lane Change Assist, Cruise Control, Lane Departure Warning and Autonomous Emergency Braking.

In addition, a new Eco-DAS (Driver Assistance System) includes Coasting Guide and Predictive Energy Control features: Coasting Guide aims to maximize fuel economy by coaching the driver on when to coast and brake, while Predictive Energy Control uses the navigation system and cruise control to anticipate changes on the road ahead that involve going up and downhill, managing energy flow and working out when its best to recharge the battery and when its best to use the stored energy to optimize efficiency.

Buyers will also get the latest connectivity – including Apple CarPlay and Android Auto – based around an 7-inch touchscreen infotainment system.

The Niro will go on sale in the UK in the summer and, while no prices have yet been announced, it’s thought that Kia is aiming to match – or even undercut – the cost of the new Toyota Prius.


Road tested: 2016 KIA Sorento SXL AWD

The 2016 Kia Sorento has a lot going for it, including good ride, great tech and a quiet interior.
Kia has seen a great deal of success over these past few short years in regards to brand equity and new customers. It’s forged ahead in many areas that have done a lot of good things to its brand perception – this new 2016 Sorento helps bolster those efforts. With a good stance, conservative styling, tech, ride, comfort and all-wheel-drive, the Sorento offers quite a bit to buyers.

It has a decently potent turbo-charged 2.0 liter 4-cylinder engine seems a bit underpowered for the weight of this vehicle. While it does produce 240 peak horsepower, its 260 lb-ft of torque does help a bit but still doesn’t seem to be able to counter the overall weight of nearly 3900 pounds. The six-speed transmission does seem to do a good job of shifting through the gears with little pause or a “hunt for the right gear” syndrome that seems to plague some cars out today.

Kia enhanced the interior trim with soft-to-the-touch surfaces, good-looking “wood” finishes and an overall sense of upper-scale materials that don’t come across as cheap. The leather, including that on the seats, has a great tactical feel to it and most everything is easily within the driver’s reach.

This SXL model comes with dual-zone climate controls, rear camera, and Infinity audio with a great-looking 8-inch display that’s both easy on the eyes and easy to use. Its audio system, has all of the loud, clear audio prowess that we’ve come to expect from a high-end Kia / Infinity partnership – in fact, you’ll be hard-pressed to find a more impressive “stock” audio system in any car at any price.

On-board navigation mapping has a somewhat dated look to it, however, that’s likely not an issue for most people where so many use their smartphone’s built-in navigation anyways. The touch screen is response and doesn’t have much lag time at all.

The way the Sorento drives is where it shines rather well. It has a super quiet cabin while at freeway speeds, does an admirable job of dampening road bumps but yet retains enough rigidity to feel component in mile off-road conditions.

One of the great things about the size of this vehicle is the ample leg room in all the seats. Even the rear passenger area is blessed with enough leg and elbow room to make those long road trips very comfortable.

Cargo area with the rear seats up is a generous 38.8 cubic feet and grows to a whopping 73.5 cubic feet with the seats folded down.

As far as safety goes, Kia has packed the Sorento to the hilt with airbags, four-wheel disc brakes, ABS, front collision alert and lane departure warning. Fuel economy isn’t bad – it’s rated at 19 around town and up to 25mpg on the freeway using regular unleaded. It’s not superb fuel economy for a mid-sized SUV but certainly not the worst we’ve seen, either.

Handing doesn’t leave much to be desired and is rather predictable, in a good way. The all-wheel-drive version we tested didn’t have much understeer whatsoever and the way it goes around corners is surprisingly good. There is some rather modest body roll around the shaper corners but under normal driving conditions, it’s still not bad.

Where the Sorento seems to lose me is at its price tag in this SXL trim package, at $45,000, there are other vehicles to consider. It’s not that there aren’t things to like about the Sorento, it’s just that I’m not convinced at this time it’s worth the asking price.

KIA’s done a heck of a job refining the Sorento into its current iteration – it offers quite a bit for would-be buyers in the crossover SUV market segment. However, at over $45,000, it could be a tough sell to customers who aren’t yet familiar with the quality improvements KIA has made to its entire line-up over the past few years.


Tuesday, February 16, 2016

Can Kia pick Prius' lock on hybrid market?

Many automakers have tried to lure customers away from the Toyota Prius hybrid, which outsells the Ford C-Max 7-to-1 in the U.S. and exhibited such dominance that archrival Honda pulled its Insight hybrid from the market to regroup.

Kia Motors Corp. thinks it can succeed where others have failed.

With the Niro, its first built-from-scratch hybrid, the Korean automaker hopes to replicate the formula that turned the chunky Soul hatchback into America's best-selling subcompact car: distinctive trucklike looks and the promise of utility. The hybrid, unveiled this week at the Chicago Auto Show, promises 50 mpg in combined city and highway driving -- just shy of the Prius' benchmark of 52 mpg.

The most important success factor for the Niro is a "design that doesn't shout "hybrid,'" said Orth Hedrick, vice president of product planning at Kia Motors America. By delivering hybrid fuel economy in a crossover body, he said, "the Niro offers a uniquely alluring yet practical package that consumers haven't seen before."

Indeed, few automakers offer hybrid crossovers, as the vehicles' high-riding posture makes it difficult to deliver the fuel economy gains customers expect. If the Niro gets the promised 50 mpg, it would handily beat the hybrid crossovers on the market today, including the Toyota RAV4 Hybrid (33 mpg) and Subaru XV Crosstrek Hybrid (31 mpg).

Kia plans to disclose Niro pricing closer to the vehicle's arrival in U.S. dealerships in early 2017.

Built on a dedicated green-car platform shared with Hyundai, the Niro has the same wheelbase as the Prius, 106.3 inches, though Kia's hybrid is 1.6 inches wider and 7.2 inches shorter. Powered by a 1.6-liter Atkinson-cycle gasoline engine paired with an electric motor, the Niro delivers 146 hp, compared with 121 hp for the Prius.

Power is a sore spot for Toyota, which has tried to mend a reputation for stodgy design and sluggish acceleration since it introduced the fourth-generation Prius. Toyota's Super Bowl ad this month depicted bank robbers in a bright red Prius leading police on a long-distance chase.

It was a sharp departure for Toyota, which had spotlighted the Prius' environmental credentials, but needed a new message in an era of low gasoline prices and proliferating green-car choices.

Last week, Kia also introduced hybrid and plug-in hybrid variants of the Optima midsize sedan, which was redesigned in 2015.

The plug-in hybrid Optima, powered by a 2.0-liter four-cylinder gasoline engine paired with a 50-kilowatt electric motor, has a total output of 154 hp. The hybrid, pairing the same engine with a 38-kilowatt electric motor, has a total output of 193 hp.

Kia didn't release fuel economy numbers for the hybrid and plug-in hybrid variants, but the Hyundai Sonata Hybrid, which shares the same powertrain, promises 40 mpg city/44 highway. The Sonata Plug-in Hybrid promises 40 mpg combined and 99 mpg-e when running on electricity.


Monday, February 15, 2016

2017 Kia Optima Hybrid brings fuel economy in a familiar body

These days, cars aren't just designed to be powerful or sleek. They're also designed to be eco-friendly from the ground up. Especially with Volkswagen's epic blunder, car makers are putting even more emphasis on fuel efficiency and environment friendliness. At the Chicago Auto Show, Kia is unveiling its own on the trend, blending new and old in one package. With the 2017 Optima Hybrid, the car maker is putting forward its newest fuel efficient powertrain, top of the line intelligent systems, all wrapped in a body inspired by last year's gas-powered Optima sedan.

Kia's goal is to achieve 25% fuel efficiency by 2020 and every year it gets closer to that goal. The 2017 Kia Optima Hybrid isn't its first rodeo with hybrids but it is, so far, it best one yet, boasting of a 10% improvement in fuel economy. This is partly thanks to a new 2.0-liter GDI four cylinder engine with 154 horsepower that replaces the previous model's 2.4 liter engine. On the electric side, it has a 38 kW motor and clutch. Together, they produce a total of 193 horsepower at 6,000 rpm.

Add in a new electric water pump and new electric oil pump and you've got the makings of a very efficient hybrid setup. Power to the electric motor is provided by a lithium-polymer battery pack that is advertised to have 13% more capacity than the last one, capable of delivering 1.62 kWh of power. While more powerful, the battery is also more compact, enabling Kia to hide it under the trunk without taking up precious space.

The engine of the 2017 Optima Hybrid might be new, but its facade will be familiar, especially to those who have kept an eye on the 2016 Optima. At the same time, however, Kia also introduces subtle yet substantial changes to the design to further improve the aerodynamics of the hybrid electric vehicle. For example, there is an active grille that opens or closes automatically at high or low speeds to improve air flow and engine bay cooling. A rear diffuser also assists in that by covering the exhaust tip. Inside, the cabin also takes its cue from Kia's premium sedans, but also adds a few touches unique to the Hybrid line, like model-specific instrumentation panel gauges.

This 2017 model also features Kia's most advanced intelligent systems for assisting drivers and increasing safety. New to the gang is the Eco-DAS (Driver Assistance System) and its Coasting Guide, which gives visual cues of a blinking icon and one audible alert to tell the driver when to best coast and brake. This joins other staples like Autonomous Emergency Braking, Blind Spot Detection, Advanced Smart Cruise Control, Lane Departure Warning System, and Front Collision Warning System.

On the less serious side, the new Optima Hybrid is also an entertainment haven, with drivers and passengers able to connect their smartphones via Android Auto or Apple CarPlay integration with the latest UVO3 telematics. An equally upgraded AVN 4.0 Navigation hooks up with Harman Kardon's QuantumLogic premium surround sound system and 10 speakers and a 630-watt digital amplifier to provide the ultimate audio experience on the road.

Availability details of the 2017 Kia Optima Hybrid have not yet been announced.


Kia reveals three hybrids at Chicago Auto Show despite low gas prices

2017 Kia Niro Concept

Korean automaker Kia revealed the Niro — a compact hybrid crossover — and two other hybrids on Thursday at the Chicago Auto Show, arguing that people don't have to sacrifice style to get stellar fuel economy.

"The Niro offers a uniquely alluring yet practical package that consumers haven’t seen before," Orth Hedrick, vice president product planning for Kia, said in a statement.

Kia, which often uses the Chicago show for big reveals, used a live band to sing popular rock songs ranging from Elton John, Chuck Berry, Queen and the Rolling Stones to set the stage for three new hybrids at a time when hybrid sales are falling and gas is $2 a gallon or less across much of America.

Despite the trends against hybrid sales, Kia also revealed a redesigned Optima hybrid and an all-new Optima plug-in hybrid.
Kia Optima Hybrid

The 2017 Niro, along with the two new Optima hybrids, are part of Kia’s plan to nearly triple the automaker's vow to grow its green car line-up from four to 11 models by 2020.

One of those 11 models will eventually be a plug-in version of the Niro, is a new nameplate that joining Kia's lineup.

Kia describes the Niro as a crossover with wide and low proportions, a long roofline and short overhangs and an aerodynamic shape. While hybrid sales are falling, the Niro is a compact crossover, which is the fastest growing segment in the U.S. auto industry.

“The Niro hits the sweet spot by offering the best combination of outstanding mpg, an engaging driving experience, utility, and most importantly, a stunning design that doesn’t shout ‘hybrid,’” Hedrick said.

The hybrid is powered by an electric motor and a gasoline engine that work together to generate 146 horsepower and 195 pound feet of torque.

The gasoline engine is a 1.6-liter, four-cylinder engine that generates 103 horsepower that works in tandem with a 43-horsepower electric motor. Bringing the whole system together is a compact and lightweight 1.56-kilowatt-hour lithium-ion polymer battery located underneath the rear seat.

The Niro will go on sale early next year. Kia did not announce pricing.

All-new 2017 Kia Optima Plug-in Hybrid

The all-new 2017 Optima Plug-in Hybrid, which goes on sale during the fourth quarter of this year, can travel an estimated 27 miles in full electric vehicle mode and has a total estimated driving range of 600 miles.

The car is powered by a 9.8-kilowatt, lithium-ion polymer battery pack, which is hidden behind the rear seat and tire well, giving Optima Plug-In Hybrid one of the largest cargo areas among its competitors.

The car can be fully recharged in less-than three hours with a 240-volt charger, but it takes about nine hours with a 120-volt charger.

The Optima Plug-in Hybrid is powered by Kia’s 2-liter, 4-cylinder gasoline direct injection engine that produces 154 horsepower. Electric power is produced by a transmission-mounted, 50-kilowatt motor.

Redesigned 2017 Kia Optima Hybrid

Sales of Kia's Optima Hybrid fell 16.6% to 11,492 in the U.S. last year, as sales of all hybrid cars fell, but Kia is hoping that the improved performance of its redesigned hybrid and the additional features it offers will change that sales trend.

Together, the gasoline engine and electric motor generate 193-horsepower. Kia says its 2017 Optima Hybrid will get 10% better fuel economy than the outgoing Optima Hybrid. The automaker is replacing the 2.4-liter engine with a more compact 2-liter, 4-cylinder engine that generates 154 horsepower. That power is boosted by a 38-kilowatt electric motor.

Kia says the new hybrid also has a larger and more comfortable cabin, a number of additional safety features, and new high-tech features such as a hands-free trunk opening system and a wireless phone charger.


Sunday, February 14, 2016

2015 Kia Sedona Long-Term Update: Moving Day

The biggest thing that minivans are known for is their undeniable ability to comfortably carry as many as eight people. What isn't talked about as much is using the minivan for carrying large amounts of gear, and that's exactly why I used our long-term Kia Sedona when getting my family home ready for sale.

If you live anywhere that weather may be an issue, or you want to stow your gear in a big, lockable box, a minivan can be ideal. I had to make several trips to a local charity and to a storage space, and discovered how convenient it was to have the Sedona for several weekends as I got things organized. When the third row is up, you have a large bin that holds a surprising amount of cargo. (A minivan owner on staff frequently uses those bins to hold groceries -- and it can also be quite helpful on runs to a warehouse store for bulk items.) But the third row folds easily, and collapses into that space. Fold down the seats in the second row and you have a fairly flat load floor. However, when you push the second row's center seat forward, it doesn’t exactly lock into place. As long as you have gear there, though, it'll basically stay put.

Low liftover helpful

With that setup, I used the Sedona to carry everything from a vanful of storage boxes, to a portable air conditioner, and even a large piece of furniture, and much, much more, and the van happily obliged. The liftover height is pleasantly low, making it easy to get cargo in and out. And working on some days in the rain, I didn’t have to worry about water damage with anything I had in back. With the seats stowed, you can hear a few more squeaks in the van, but that would be the case in any minivan.

There are definitely times when it's nice to have a truck on moving day, but if you have use of a minivan like our Kia Sedona, you'll be pleasantly surprised by how handy it can be with the seats folded. I know I was.


Saturday, February 13, 2016

Kia Seeks Younger Buyers with First-Ever Sports Sedan

In the past, Kia has mentioned its intention to appeal to younger buyers—and it’s going about it the right way. Kia recently announced that it will be introducing its first-ever sports sedan, creating a younger, sportier image to help turn heads throughout the market.

According to Reuters, the Korean carmaker is looking to appeal to a younger generation of buyers, building off the success within the millennial generation thanks to the Kia Soul. The sporty sedan, which is code named CK, will enter production in May 2017 with an annual output of 60,000 vehicles.

The sporty Kia model is set to compete with the likes of the BMW 4-Series, as well as the Audi A5. Sources say that it will have three engine options, including a 2.0-liter, 2.2-liter, and 3.0-liter, along with rear-wheel drive.

It’s likely this model will easily compete with these higher end German vehicles, especially with the luxury offered in the Kia K900, which is on par with much more expensive models in its segment.

There has been no official announcement about these plans just yet, but it’s likely we will learn more about them later in 2016. Keep your fingers crossed that this sports sedan would also make its way to American soil.