Saturday, April 30, 2016

2016 Kia Optima Review

Why is it that some cars fly under the radar? You think more people would know about a certain vehicle and embrace its goodness. And yet, for whatever reason, the model doesn’t catch on with the mainstream.

Such is the case with the Kia Optima. It’s more eye-catching than other family sedans, but Kia sells half as many Optimas as the safe-bet Toyota Camry and Honda Accord.

A redesign for 2016 brings a new air of mainstream opulence to the Optima. It has improved ride comfort, better handling and braking, and a roomier interior. But it’s also so loaded with standard and smartly priced optional features that you feel like you got more than you paid for.

We tested a midlevel EX, which has a smooth 185-hp, 2.4-liter four-cylinder, mated to a quick-shifting six-speed automatic transmission.

Its 8-second 0-to-60 time is about a half-second quicker than the equivalent Camry and is sprightly for freeway merging. Though the Optima’s fuel economy is a respectable 28 mpg, a few competitors do get more than 30 mpg.

And unlike many family sedans that provide a smoother ride at the expense of precise handling, the Optima strikes a fine balance between comfort and sharp cornering.

There’s a firmness to the Optima’s ride that’s evocative of higher-priced European sedans. However, tire noise becomes noticeable on coarse pavement. The brake pedal has a firm feel, and the Optima has a shorter stopping distance than many competitors have.

Understated competence reigns inside the new Optima. Its large door openings make it easy to get in and out, and the wide and supportive leather driver’s seat is tearoom plush, complete with four-way power lumbar adjustment.

The 2016 Kia Optima has a sloping, tapered roofline that mimics the shape of other trendy, modern sedans. Such a silhouette can make rear seats seem claustrophobic, but the Optima’s commodious cabin has plenty of room.

The array of infotainment and climate controls is well-placed and easy to use, with a businesslike arrange­ment of familiar knobs and buttons.

Not that everything is perfect. The low dash vents are more likely to freeze your elbow than cool your face. And scrolling through music is irritating on the small, 5-inch radio screen.

Safety systems aren’t well distributed across the model line. Blind-spot detection and rear cross-traffic alert are optional on the EX, but you’re forced to step up to the SX if you want forward-collision warning with automatic emergency braking; even then, it’s part of a $4,800 option package.

Aside from that overpriced option array, the Optima is a great value story. At $25,860, our EX came with 17-inch wheels, dual-zone automatic climate control and leather seats (heated up front), along with a heated steering wheel. Comparably equipped competitors cost thousands more.

Kia’s reliability record has been improving, although not to Camry levels. With the 2016 edition, the new Optima offers an enjoyable driving experience, along with considerably more substance and refinement. It may be time to switch away from the easy choice.


Friday, April 29, 2016

Kia announces its TCR customer racing programme

Kia Motors has now formally announced its TCR racing programme following an earlier social media tease of the new project, with Austrian rally driver Manfred Stohl’s STARD team tasked with developing the new Kia Cee’d GT TCR for the low-cost touring car formula.

STARD (Stohl Advanced Research And Development) has long been associated with the South Korean brand, and also works with the manufacturer on its successful China Touring Car Championship with the Cee’d close relative, the K3S.

The Cee’d TCR is currently in development, and will run with a 2.0 litre turbocharged engine with an output of 330bhp, a sequential paddle-shift gearbox and a safety package compliant with the FIA’s latest requirements.

The car will be officially launched later this year and made available to customers, the first customer programme by the Kia brand in motorsport.

“The combination between the TCR International Series and the Kia Cee´d appeared absolutely perfect from the very beginning,” said Manfred Stohl. “A huge demand among interested customers even before the official release equally demonstrates how anticipated the appearance of Kia-cars was in the motorsport world and how right the choice was with the TCR International Series. We even have requests from Australia.”

Stohl’s business partner, Michael Sakowicz, CEO of STARD, added:

“We are already in discussions with some teams that are primarily interested in international activities. To satisfy their needs in the best possible way, already during the development stage, we plan to cooperate very closely with at least one team in order to provide a customer friendly car since the beginning. The testing schedule is fixed and will be completed strictly as planned. Reliability and a perfectly functioning car are the most important factors for a successful TCR project.”


Kia Motors Q1 profit grows 4.6 %

Kia Motors Corp., South Korea's second-largest automaker, said Wednesday that its first-quarter net profit increased 4.6 percent from a year earlier, driven by strong demand for its SUVs and newly-launched models.

Net income came to 944.6 billion won (US$822.7 million) during the January-March period compared with a profit of 903.2 billion won a year earlier, the company said in a regulatory filing.

Operating income also jumped 23.8 percent on-year to 633.6 billion won and sales rose 13.2 percent to 12.65 trillion won, it said.

Its first-quarter earnings were much higher than the market consensus. Major brokerages predicted a net profit of 590.5 billion won in a poll conducted by Yonhap Infomax, the financial news arm of Yonhap News Agency.

"The won's descent against the dollar, impact from newly-launched models such as the Sportage and K7 and expanded sales of our recreational vehicles were behind the marked improvement in profit," the company said in an emailed press release.

The better-than-expected earnings pushed the shares of Kia Motors higher from a weak start. They traded at 49,850 won as of 10:13 a.m., up 0.2 percent from the previous day.

Demand slumped much in China and other emerging markets, but Kia Motors said that its relatively brisk performance in the U.S. and Europe helped offset much of the drop. Its global sales in the first quarter edged down 0.7 percent on-year.

2017 Kia Sportage
Such SUVs as the Soul, Carnival and Sportage led the sales in the U.S., while the all-new Sportage played a major role in Europe, the company said. In China, however, the automaker suffered a setback, with its first-quarter sales dropping 12.7 percent from a year earlier.

Kia Motors' domestic sales here, meanwhile, expanded 11.4 percent as its SUVs such as the Carnival and Sportage were among popular models.

Aided by strong sales of high-margin vehicles coupled with favorable currency market conditions, Kia Motors saw its operating profit ratio rise to 5 percent in the first quarter, up 0.4 percentage points from a year earlier.

Kia Motors still remained cautious in its projection of market outlooks down the road, citing fierce competition and volatile market situations.

The overall profitability, however, will likely improve further as the Sportage SUV will be launched in more foreign countries while such new models as the K7 and the Niro hybrid SUV will result in a hike in demand.

Kia Motors also hopes that its auto plant in Mexico to be launched next month will strengthen its foothold in Central and South American countries.

"Kia Motors will continue efforts to raise its brand recognition with products with competitive edge and quality, while at the same time focusing on improving profitability through stable management," the company said.


Thursday, April 28, 2016

Kia Motors Returns To Mom 2.0 Summit For Second Straight Year

Fast-Growing Automaker to Share World-Class Products and Discuss Trends at the Sold-Out Professional Conference for Influencers Who Create Content Online and On-Air

- Over 700 leading bloggers, entrepreneurs and marketers can test-drive and create unique content with five of Kia's award-winning vehicles

- Kia's Kimberley Gardiner will share insights regarding content creation and social media partnerships in a panel discussion titled "A Candid Conversation about Collaborative Campaign Development"

Kia Motors America (KMA) returns this week as Presenting Sponsor and Official Transportation Sponsor of the Mom 2.0 Summit in Laguna Niguel, Calif., a forum intended for sharing ideas, developing creative digital content and highlighting unique programs and platforms that engage audiences, online and beyond. As a Southern California-based company, KMA looks to foster an open dialogue and build relationships with digital influencers while providing content creation opportunities featuring the brand's world-class vehicles – many of which were designed in Orange County – and several national and local philanthropic partnerships representing Kia's expanding corporate social responsibility efforts.

While at the summit, Mom 2.0 attendees can get behind the wheel of several Kia models, including the all-new 2017 Sportage CUV, the completely redesigned Optima midsize sedan, the award-winning Sedona minivan and Sorento CUV as well as the Soul Electric Vehicle.

"Mom 2.0 is truly unique in that it allows influencers and brands to talk openly about what's next for content creators online and in the marketplace," said Kimberley Gardiner, director of marketing communications, KMA. "As a company that never stops thinking about the future, the summit's focus on family, social responsibility and digital engagement is a natural fit for Kia and we look forward to comparing notes and sharing ideas."

In addition to test-drives, Kia has enlisted one of its local philanthropic partners – The Ecology Center, a non-profit eco-educational center – to provide information and insights on a variety of important topics including sustainability and developing environmental solutions at home, the workplace and the community. Joining The Ecology Center in the Kia suite at Mom 2.0 will be the Pacific Marine Mammal Center, Girls Inc. of Orange County and B.R.A.K.E.S. (Be Responsible and Keep Everyone Safe) Teen Pro-Active Driving School.

Mom 2.0 co-founder Carrie Pacini is excited to continue the strong partnership between the two brands. "Kia's return as one of Mom 2.0's premier sponsors speaks volumes about the growth of the parent media industry as well as Kia's continued brand evolution and smart engagement of the influencers and tastemakers," Pacini stated. "The participants who attend the Mom 2.0 Summit are creating vibrant, sustainable media businesses built around a narrative of parenting and family. The fact that Kia continues to engage this highly influential community shows their commitment to today's families, and how forward-thinking they are as a brand. We're honored to have Kia back with us this year as our Official Transportation Sponsor."


Wednesday, April 27, 2016

Test Drive: Rockin' the Road Across Florida in the 2016 Kia Optima SX Turbo

Brand unity is something that the folks at Kia Motors USA have really nailed over the past few years. Whether you're driving an entry-level model, or a fully-loaded luxury vehicle, the experience is distinctly Kia, and there's a comfort level in that feeling that's hard to surpass - no matter if you're in a car, crossover or minivan. When I last found myself behind the wheel of their best-selling nameplate, the Kia Optima, it was the 2014 Hybrid model. While we enjoyed that car, the 2016 Optima has been redesigned, and I recently had the opportunity to do a little roadtripping in Florida at the helm of the SX Turbo Edition - the perfect family ride for rockin' the road.

When the crew from DriveShop Miami delivered the brilliantly-colored Remington Red Optima to us at the Walt Disney World All-Star Movies Resort, that feeling of comfort that I mentioned was immediate. We'd flown down with our car seats from Illinois so The Rock Daughters™ would feel right at home, but the feeling was mutual for my wife and I - even though I was piloting a vehicle that I'd never driven before, all while navigating unfamiliar roads in central Florida. Familiar, yet completely new.

Aside from comfort, the styling was also immediately striking - a Disney employee walking over to sneak a peek as well after my initial walkthrough. While the bulk of my daily driving at home is running errands and doing drop-offs and pick-ups at school and activities, I want a stylish ride - and the Optima delivers on that note.

Our days at Disney World were fun (stories for another time), but the real reason for our Florida adventure was my brother-in-law's wedding over in St. Pete. With our daughters set to be Flower Girls, a road trip that I wish was longer found us clipping across the state after a late morning stop at Disney Springs for some shopping and lunch.

With the optional Panoramic Sunroof (a feature I loved on the Sorento) opened wide, we were off and rolling, music from the Harmon/Kardon QLS Premium Sound System providing the soundtrack. The 2.0L Turbo engine felt bigger than a 4-cylinder, with the 6-speed automatic transmission quietly and effortlessly running underneath. A little off-route sightseeing was also in order, aided by Kia's outstanding UVO Infotainment and Connectivity Platform - the benchmark for my wife when it comes to navigation and entertainment. Out of all the vehicles we drive, she finds the ease-of-use and overall display of the UVO system to be top-notch, and I can't disagree.

Our stay in St. Pete was short, but having the Optima on-hand was a great thing come Friday night. The travel of the week had taken its toll on the family, and that was none-more-apparent than with our oldest, who came down with a fever and a case of "swimmer's ear," prompting me to leave the reception with her early. By 3:30am, I was cruising St. Pete Beach on a supply run, needing some medicine for the little one, who was having a real tough go of things. But the following morning, we took a family walk and it all ended well...

As a kid I played with Hot Wheels (still do), and as an adult I've been fortunate to have the opportunity to spend a lot of time playing with a host of full-sized rides, and while we haven't pulled the trigger just yet, when it comes time for our next vehicle purchase, the possibility of officially becoming a #KiaDad is pretty high up on the list.


2018 Kia GT Spied in Production Form & It Looks Glorious

Remember the Kia GT Concept from 2011? The South Korean automaker is actively working to get that car ready for its debut in 2016 for the 2018 model year.

Even though it isn’t as wildly stylized as the concept, the production model packs a visual punch. The exclusive photograph published by shows how ambitious Kia is in its quest to deliver a coupe-like four-door sedan, one to compete with the likes of the BMW 4 Series Gran Coupe and Audi A5.

Despite the camouflage, the GT looks the part, doesn’t it? The Kammback-type rear end, the intricate shape of the C-pillar, the quad exhaust tips protruding out of the rear valance, everything is blending together quite nicely. The chrome finish gills located where the front fenders meet the front doors aren’t bad either.

On the oily bits front, the platform of the 2018 Kia GT will be shared with the 2018 Genesis G70 compact executive sedan, itself previewed by a concept. To put it bluntly, you’re looking at a rear-wheel-drive chassis that may be propelled by a 3.3-liter turbocharged V6 with 389 horsepower and 394 lb-ft (534 Nm) of torque. Selecting ratios will be the duty of an eight-speed automatic transmission as used by the 2017 Kia Cadenza full-size sedan and 2017 Genesis G90 full-size sedan.

Rumor has it a hybrid could also be offered, combining a 4-cylinder engine and an electric motor. The rumor mill also points out that the 2016 Paris Motor Show is where the Kia GT will make its first public outing. Production is due in early 2017, which means that America will get the GT for the 2018 model year.

This being Kia, the most important question to pose about the GT four-door coupe is whether it will undercut its German rivals from BMW and Audi regarding pricing. Common sense inclines me to reply yes, that assumption is spot on.


Monday, April 25, 2016

Hyundai and Kia offer new electric, hybrid cars at Beijing auto show

BEIJING, April 25 (Yonhap) -- Hyundai Motor Co. and its affiliate Kia Motors Corp. rolled out their new electric and hybrid cars on Monday as they seek to capitalize on Chinese consumers' growing affection for more fuel-efficient and small sport utility vehicles (SUV).

At this week's Beijing auto show, the second-largest of its kind in China after Shanghai, Hyundai and Kia said they plan to begin selling the Ioniq electric car and Niro hybrid crossover vehicle in the Chinese market later this year.

Auto sales in China have shown signs of slowdown as the Chinese economy hit its weakest growth in 25 years last year.

According to data by industry group China Association of Automobile Manufacturers, total vehicle sales in China grew 4.7 percent in 2015 to 24.6 million units. That is down compared to 6.9-percent annual growth in 2014.

With overall auto sales growth expected to fall further this year as the Chinese economy cools, the market for electric cars and smaller sport utility vehicles is widely forecast to enjoy steady sales growth as the Chinese government continues to encourage consumers to buy eco-friendly cars to help ease air pollution.

Also, China's growing middle-income consumers have shown growing interest in small-size SUVs.

Equipped with a motor that can produce up to 120 horsepower, Hyundai's Ioniq car can run over 180 kilometers on a single charge.

Hyundai also unveiled a China-only version of its Verna subcompact car, which is still in the concept stage, at the Beijing show.

Lee Byung-ho, head of Hyundai's joint venture with its Chinese partner, said Hyundai aims to "showcase its innovative vehicles and new lifestyle based on Hyundai Motor's own philosophy of mobility and eco-friendly technologies at the Beijing auto show."

Kia's Niro hybrid crossover is equipped with a 1.6-liter gasoline engine and a 32-kW motor system. It can produce up to 141 horsepower.

Kia also showed off its new K3 compact car with the aim of wooing China's young drivers.

"The K3 Turbo model is expected to meet demand for consumers," said Kim Kyeon, head of Kia's joint venture with its Chinese partner.

Meanwhile, South Korean automaker Ssangyong Motor Co, which is owned by India's Mahindra & Mahindra, said it will start selling its Tivoli Air compact sport utility vehicle in China in June.

"We plan to increase sales with an aggressive marketing strategy in the Chinese sport utility vehicle market, which is expected to maintain its high sales growth," said Ssangyong CEO Choi Johng-sik.

About 2,500 carmakers and auto parts companies are at the event this year to show off new models and concept cars. The show will run through May 4, according to the event's organizers.


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

The 2016 Kia Forte compact sedan earned the highest five-star overall safety rating from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

On sale now at Kia dealerships, the 2016 Forte received four stars in the front crash test, five stars in the side crash test and four stars in the rollover crash test.

The 2016 Kia Forte hatchback and Kia Forte Koup have not been rated yet by NHTSA.

Every 2016 Forte comes standard with antilock brakes, traction and stability control, front side airbags and side curtain airbags.

A rearview camera is optional on LX and standard on EX.

The optional Uvo eServices telematics bundle includes roadside assistance, emergency crash notification and secondary driver monitoring features that include notifications when curfew, vehicle speed and vehicle location limits are exceeded.

The 2016 Forte sedan received "good" ratings in Insurance Institute for Highway Safety crash tests, but a "marginal" rating in the small overlap front crash test. The test is designed to replicate what happens when the front corner of a vehicle collides with another vehicle or an object like a tree or utility pole.


Sunday, April 24, 2016

Kia expects SUVs to dominate in 2016

The trend has been apparent for a long time, but this year Australian consumers will buy more SUVs than passenger cars.

Damien Meredith, Chief Operating Officer at Kia Australia, says that SUV sales will slide past passenger car sales in our market this year.

“We’re pretty positive that SUV sales will overtake passenger vehicle sales for 2016,” Meredith told local journalists during the launch of the Picanto micro hatch earlier this week.

The rise of the SUV in the Australian market has been rapid, although the growing share for SUVs is exacerbated by the offset decline in passenger car sales. Last year, with 35.4 per cent of the total market, SUVs had increased share by 3.7 per cent, but passenger vehicles, with 44.6 per cent of the market, had headed backwards to the tune of 3.1 per cent.

A year earlier, passenger vehicles had represented 47.7 per cent of the market, and in 2013 passenger cars had dropped from over half (51.7 per cent) in 2012 to 49.9 per cent. So the decline has been steady and utterly predictable. In 2012 as much as 27.6 per cent of the market comprised SUVs.

Ironically, SUVs have become progressively more popular as they have become softer and more like passenger cars. In 2001 SUVs – or all-terrain wagons as they were at the time – were purchased by just 15 per cent of the market. At that time there was no such thing as an ‘all-terrain wagon’ with just two driven wheels. Since the introduction of Ford’s Territory in 2004, two-wheel drive SUVs command a substantial component of the aggregate sales – the majority, in the case of the Territory.

The growing demand for SUVs in 2016 will help push the market to a new record, says Meredith.

“We’re of the view [that] this year – the market’s up nearly three per cent – we believe the market will be 1.19 [million]…” Meredith also said, and noted too that some of the portents of doom in and around the industry are actually unsustainable.

“The market’s still very robust, still very strong. We’re confident that it will continue to grow. There are obvious variables that are in play. Affordability, obviously, is a big one. Certainly the economic situation is still quite strong, so we’re in pretty good shape to do about 1.19 million.”

That would be around three per cent growth, year on year, if it comes to fruition. Kia itself intends to do better still – by a considerable margin.

“We’ll sell 39,000 cars in 2016,” Meredith said. “That’s a jump of nearly 16 per cent, year over year. For the first quarter we’re at 9549 sales. That is up 21 per cent.”

The projected sales will tail off later in the year due to the manufacturer’s inability to meet demand, Meredith explained.

“Simplistically, our quota of vehicles that we can get from Korea is built around that 39,000 [figure]. If we can get more, we may sell a few more. Right now we’re calling 39,000 for 2016.

Such sales growth would result in market share of 3.3%. That’s a more-or-less arithmetic progression from the importer’s market share of 2.5% in 2014 and 2.9% in 2015.


Friday, April 22, 2016

2016 Kia Soul EV Wagon Review: Happy Earth Day!

What's New for 2016

Introduced last year, the Kia Soul receives just minor changes for 2016. There's a new trim level (EV-e) and a new option package for the Soul EV+ that includes a panoramic sunroof.

The Kia Soul EV joined the still-growing field of conventional economy cars converted to electric powertrains in 2015. As such conversions go, the Soul EV is off to a promising start, with a stylish exterior, a long list of standard equipment and hatchback versatility. In short, the 2016 Soul EV is blessed with strong fundamentals, but Kia has done a credible job with the EV part, also. The result is a fully competitive product with an EPA-estimated 93-mile driving range.

This impressive range is largely a function of its 27 kWh (kilowatt-hour) lithium-ion polymer battery, which gets its juice from one of two charging ports concealed behind a sliding panel in the grille. The AC port accepts either household-grade 120-volt current (requiring 24 hours for a full recharge) or 240-volt current (5 hours), while the special DC port's 480-volt current provides an 80 percent charge from empty in a claimed 33 minutes. Of course, 480-volt power sources don't exactly grow on trees, but Kia has equipped a number of its EV dealerships in California with DC charging stations, enabling Soul EV owners to (at least in theory) to go on extended road trips with minimal downtime. The company has also partnered with PlugShare to aid in finding the nearest charger, as well as the Greenlots charging station network to facilitate additional long-distance travel.

The 2016 Soul EV's flush grille and special alloy wheels are the most obvious visual clues to the Electric's identity.

But what about states other than California? That's the significant issue with the Soul EV. Although Kia does plan to offer it in five additional states by the beginning of 2016, the Golden State will be the focal point for the immediate future. If able to buy or lease a Soul EV, however, you'll find little to argue with. The only functional compromise relative to the regular Soul is a modest loss of rear leg- and headroom; even so, a couple of adults can still sit in back in reasonable comfort. Surprisingly, cargo space isn't affected by the battery under the floor, and the Soul EV actually feels more responsive around town -- despite its additional heft -- than its gas-powered counterpart due to the electric motor's instantly available 210 pound-feet of torque.

The 2016 Soul EV compares favorably especially for those who enjoy the conventional Soul's unconventional vibe.

Body Styles, Trim Levels, and Options

The 2015 Kia Soul EV is a four-door hatchback with electric power and seating for five. For 2016, it's available in three trim levels: EV-e (CA only), EV (what used to be termed "base") and + (also known as plus).

The EV-e's standard equipment includes a 120-volt charge cable, a DC fast-charge port, a 6.6-kilowatt onboard charger, 16-inch alloy wheels, automatic headlights, heated side mirrors, rear privacy glass, keyless ignition and entry, automatic climate control (with a "driver only" function to save energy), a height-adjustable driver seat, cloth upholstery, a heated tilt-and-telescoping steering wheel, 60/40-split folding rear seatbacks, Bluetooth phone and audio connectivity, and a six-speaker sound system with a CD player, satellite radio and a USB port.

Kia's Soul EV is similar but has an 8-inch touchscreen with a rearview camera, a navigation system and Kia's Uvo infotainment system (with additional electric-vehicle-oriented features). The EV trim (and EV+) also come with a heat pump for the climate control system, helping to improve energy efficiency and maximize driving range.

The Soul EV+ adds aerodynamic windshield wipers, foglights, front and rear parking sensors, power-folding mirrors, an auto-dimming rearview mirror, leather upholstery, heated and ventilated front seats, leatherette (premium vinyl) dashboard and console trim, heated rear seats, a luggage net, a cargo cover and a 12-volt cargo area power outlet. New for 2016 is an optional Sun & Fun package, which provides a panoramic sunroof and LED interior lighting.

Among other similarly priced electric vehicles, the Kia Soul EV is one of the best suited for carrying luggage and cargo.

Powertrains and Performance

The front-wheel-drive 2016 Kia Soul EV is motivated by a 90-kW electric motor (109 horsepower and 210 lb-ft of torque). Energy comes from a 27-kWh lithium-ion battery pack. There are two basic drive modes, Drive and Brake; the latter provides more aggressive regenerative braking when lifting off the accelerator, maximizing range by converting the car's forward momentum into energy for the battery. A separate Eco mode further promotes energy conservation.

In Edmunds testing, a Soul EV accelerated from zero to 60 mph in 9.5 seconds, which is consistent with similarly priced all-electric competitors.

EPA efficiency estimates peg the Soul EV's range at 93 miles, which is quite good for the class. The agency also projects that the Soul EV will use 32 kWh of electricity per 100 miles driven, which is roughly average for the segment (remember here that the lower the number of kilowatt-hours used, the better). Its actual, observed energy usage of 24.9 kWh on our evaluation route is on par with most competitors.

All Soul EVs come with a 6.6-kW onboard charger and the aforementioned dual grille-mounted ports. On 240-volt AC power, a full charge from empty takes between four and five hours; at five hours this is an hour longer than the Leaf, though the Soul compensates with its superior driving range. The standard quick-charge DC port enables a charge from empty to 80 percent capacity in a claimed 33 minutes, which is comparable to other EVs with DC ports.

Standard safety equipment for the 2016 Kia Soul EV includes four-wheel antilock disc brakes, a brake assist system, hill-start assist, stability and traction control, front seat side airbags and side curtain airbags. The Soul EV also comes with a pedestrian warning system that emits a soft, artificial noise at 12 mph and under.

In Edmunds brake testing the Soul EV came to a stop from 60 mph in 125 feet. This is average for the segment, but 14 feet longer than a gasoline-powered Soul we tested. Like most cars equipped with electric powertrains, braking is a byproduct of tires with a lower rolling resistance and an EV's higher curb weight.

Specific government crash tests of the EV remain unavailable as of this writing, but the regular Soul received a top five-star rating overall, with five stars for total frontal impact safety and five stars for total side-impact crash safety. The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety gave the gasoline-powered Soul its highest possible rating of "Good" in its small-overlap frontal-offset, moderate-overlap frontal-offset, side-impact and roof strength tests. The Soul's seat/head restraint design was also rated "Good" for whiplash protection in rear impacts.
Interior Design and Special Features

The 2016 Kia Soul EV's cabin inherits the modern look and expressive styling of its conventional counterpart, with quality materials that add an unexpectedly premium character. There are also some EV-only flourishes, including a central control layout that evokes Apple's iconic designs. Additionally, the Soul EV gets a unique gauge cluster with an information display, and the 8-inch touchscreen (on EV and EV+) includes readouts for power flow, battery status and other expected metrics.

Kia equips the Soul EV with an impressive amount of equipment, though there are a few things missing from the regular Soul's options list.

The Soul EV doesn't offer all of the regular Soul's extras, however, and that might disappoint some shoppers. If you want an upgraded Infinity audio system, you won't find it here; neither are there optional xenon headlights or the 10-way power driver seat. Of course, these are energy-intensive -- either by electrical draw or additional weight -- that would compromise the EV's driving range.

Because the Kia Soul was engineered from inception with electrification in mind, it doesn't suffer the usual losses in trunk space (as in the Focus EV and others). There remains 18.8 cubic feet of cargo space behind the rear seats, expanding to a handy 49.5 cubic feet with the 60/40-split rear seatbacks folded down (61 cubic feet when you remove the cargo floor and undertray). This is better than most, though the e-Golf is even roomier, offering 22.8 and 52.7 cubic feet, respectively. Since the Soul's battery is placed under the rear passenger area, leg- and headroom are reduced versus the regular model, but not to a degree that many passengers will notice.

Driving Impressions

The 2016 Kia Soul EV is a remarkably easy car to drive in the cut-and-thrust of the daily commute, and fully relaxed at highway speeds, with the exception of some wind noise. As with all EVs, its maximum torque output is available immediately. Moreover, the EV's transmission has but one speed, so you never wait for a downshift as in a conventional car. The regenerative braking system may take some adjustment for those new to an EV; when you lift off the accelerator in Brake mode it feels as if you just pulled the cord on a parachute, but the sensation become second nature with a little time behind the wheel, and is a likable feature when you're stuck in traffic (you rarely have to press the brake pedal).

In its handling the Soul EV isn't what we'd term sporty; lateral grip is compromised by its low-rolling-resistance tires. Behind the wheel it feels nimble, but competitors like the Ford Focus EV and Fiat 500e are sharper and more precise. The adjustable-effort steering is also predictably short on feel, even with a standard adjustable system offering three different levels of effort. On the upside, the Soul EV's modest 16-inch tires have plenty of sidewall, improving ride quality and reducing road noise.


Kia considers diesels for North America

The Hyundai Group, of which Kia is a part, has recently upgraded the emissions cell facilities at its technical centre just outside Ann Arbor, Michigan, to include diesel testing.

While this could, at first sight, appear to be an ill-timed move in the wake of the Volkswagen Group diesel emissions-cheating scandal, Kia insists that the travails of VW and 'dieselgate' will have no bearing on its decision about whether to introduce diesel to the US.

"We don't see that the VW scandal has impacted upon us in respect to diesel at all," says John W Juriga, Director of Powertrain at the Hyundai-Kia America Technical Centre Inc (HATCI).

"The biggest impact is not from the consumer but from the price of fuel. With diesel the same price as gas [petrol] or cheaper, is there enough of a differential to create an incentive?"

Diesel powertrains would be well suited to the Sorento which Kia produces in the US at its West Point, Georgia, manufacturing plant. They would also sit well in any replacement for the large Mojave/Borrego SUV, previewed by the Telluride concept unveiled at the North American International Auto Show in January.

"Diesel is something we have been investigating for quite a few years," says Juriga, "CO2 is a huge issue here. US customers may not care as much [about it] as those in Europe, but we still have to meet greenhouse gas and CAFE [Corporate Average Fuel Economy] regulations. We will work with Europe on diesel, although how we run the tests will be different. But the engines wouldn't be made in the US."

Diesel will add yet another layer of complexity to the work done at Ann Arbor, which is already having to come to terms with all-electric vehicles (Soul EV), hybrids (Optima HEV and forthcoming plug-in PHEV) and, in time, fuel-cell cars.

And the Korean Group already knows all about the long reach of America's Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), having paid $700 million in fines and compensation at the end of 2014 for overstating the fuel economy of several models.

While those failings were on nothing like the scale of the emissions-cheating by the VW Group, they demonstrate how difficult it can be to keep on the right side of American bureaucracy.

So, have new safeguards been incorporated into HATCI's testing methods to ensure Hyundai and Kia are never caught out again?

"Just wait there a minute," says Juriga as he disappears from the room. A minute later he returns with a book about three inches thick and running to more than 1,000 pages.

"That is the Code of Federal Regulations [CFR] on the protection of the environment, and while not all of it relates to the auto industry, a lot of it does," he says. "The problem is that there are a lot of variations. In places it uses phrases like 'use good engineering judgment'.

"The problems we had were not related to this site but went back to Korea, and although our procedures had a lot of ability they were open to different interpretations. The EPA outlined certain things we needed to do as a company, so we sat down with them to review our procedures.

"We've standardised our procedures and processes and edited the CFR down to something more manageable. We've instituted a checklist just like a 747 pilot might use, introduced more individual accountability for each test and brought in an outside company to review what we've done."

HATCI Michigan has been in place for almost 11 years, although Hyundai and Kia have had a presence in the Ann Arbor area since the 1980s. The location was chosen because it is close to the EPA headquarters, and also because Hyundai and Kia had – and still have ¬– access to Chrysler's proving ground at nearby Chelsea, in a deal dating from the days when the two groups had a joint manufacturing agreement for the Korean Theta engine.

"Any car the EPA selects for certification comes to us first, including electrified vehicles," says Juriga. "We started as a powertrain lab, and every powertrain for the US still comes to Ann Arbor first.

"Then it goes to metropolitan Detroit, then Encino in California and also Denver for altitude testing and Phoenix for hot city driving, and finally we have a flexible choice of locations – Quebec, Florida, Death Valley and International Falls for winter testing, because there it's as cold as it can get in the US.

"Our Focus is on engines made in the US – the Theta 2.0-litre turbo and 2.4 naturally aspirated engines and the Nu 1.8- and 2.0-litre. The Gamma 1.6 is soon going to be made in Mexico, so we'll be involved with that. V6s are now made in Korea so they're not tested in the US.

"We also support the Alabama engine and Georgia manufacturing plants with a strenuous durability schedule. We do some vehicle engineering, primarily on interiors, tuning things like seats and cupholder sizes for the US. We have a store full of coffee cups common in the US.

"We work on connectivity optimization for North America, component testing like the opening and closing of doors, and we have polymer and metallurgical labs to test things that come in from suppliers.

"More and more we are involved with validation and advanced development projects, looking at using EGR [exhaust gas re-circulation] in more ways than in the past, and even compression ignition for petrol engines.

"Down the road we are also going to need greater electrification of vehicles – starter generators, higher voltage systems, smaller pumps, changes to vehicle architecture and new battery technology and chemistry. A lot of new technology we have worked on will be introduced in the coming years."


Thursday, April 21, 2016

2017 Kia Sportage Comparison With The 2017 Ford Escape

Power, agility, strength, brute force and stunning horsepower are just among the features that make a car ideal. These are the same features that signify supremacy and for Ford Escape 2017 vs. the Kia Sportage 2017, knowing the various specs can initiate awareness and better options for the car enthusiasts all across the globe.

The race is on and the competition has just gotten fiercer for Ford Escape 2017 and the Kia Sportage 2017. As the journey to victory looms on the horizon, both cars are displaying the unparalleled features and specs that can set the bar higher over its competitors.

In a post from Gizmag, "The 2017 Ford Escape will be the first Ford to feature Sync Connect when it goes on sale next month, providing drivers with remote access to their vehicle via a mobile device. In addition, though, it is being offered with two new engines and the first major rollout of Ford's Auto Start-Stop feature."

It stands out that the new 2017 Ford Escape boasts of technological advancements and innovations by utilizing the Sync Connect feature. The technological enhancements integrated on the car grants the drivers the ability to bypass control by remotely locating, unlocking, locking and starting the car in a separate area, as well as check the fuel level. It also allows users to start their vehicle's engine remotely, so that it is warm and defrosted when they get in on cold mornings, according to the same post.

Other noted advancements are adaptive cruise control, collision warning with brake support use sensors to regulate the vehicle's speed in traffic, lane-keeping system and the first high-volume appearance of Ford's Auto Start-Stop technology.

Meanwhile for Kia Sportage 2017, "The 2017 Sportage is a complete re-engineering and a little larger, wider and longer. Also, the five-seat Sportage may look Audi-like, more in tuned with European style. It was designed in Frankfurt (Germany) and Korea and tuned at the California proving grounds, as reported by San Diego Tribune.

The giant carmaker company has shifted their gaze not into technological enhancements but more on the car itself. The Kia Sportage 2017 offers precision and craftsmanship, upgraded the seats, integrated soft-touch materials and enhanced its soundproofing capability. The body is far more rigid with 50 percent more advanced high-strength steel, which makes a stronger foundation to hang the suspension and brace the engine for reduced noise, vibration and harshness, as described by the same post.

Other added features for the Kia Sportage 2017 is the full metal jacket of safety features, such as packages for autonomous emergency braking, blind-spot detection. Moreover, it offers the similar features that 2017 Ford Escape has and that is the lane-change assist, rear cross traffic alert, forward collision warning and lane-departure warning.

It remains uncertain on how buyers and car enthusiasts would choose and decide. With the Ford Escape 2017 and Kia Sportage 2017 specs and features compared, the verdict awaits.


Wednesday, April 20, 2016

2016 Kia Forte Koup Overview

If you want sporty style that offers some premium features, but don’t want to pay a hefty price, then the 2016 Kia Forte Koup is the vehicle for you. With a starting price tag of $19,890, this two-door sedan offers an endless list of standard features that you would most definitely have to pay for with other models. Features like standard SiriusXM satellite radio, steering wheel-mounted controls, and a 4.3-inch touchscreen display make the Forte Koup the perfect luxury vehicle. Add Kia’s top-notch UVO infotainment services, and it’s likely you won’t find a better coupe—or should we say Koup?—in the industry for its price.

What’s New for the 2016 Kia Forte Koup?

There have been a few minor revisions to the list of standard and optional features for the 2016 Kia Forte Koup. The 2016 Kia Forte Koup comes in two trims: EX and SX.

2016 Kia Forte Koup Exterior

If the fact that the Forte Koup is a two-door doesn’t give away the fact that this car is meant to be sporty, then a single glimpse of the exterior will do just that. The 2016 Forte Koup brings athleticism to life with sculpted body lines, sweeping curves, and a standout front fascia that sets this model apart from its competition. Add the Koup’s available eye-catching HID headlights, and there’s no doubt that you will turn heads as you drive down the road.

Exterior available on the EX:
16-inch alloy wheels, Chrome door handle inserts, Dual heated power-folding side mirrors with LED turn signal indicators, Solar control glass, Variable intermittent windshield wipers, Heated rear glass with timer, Project beam headlights, Auto light control, Front fog lights, LED positioning lights, Locking fuel-filler door

Exterior available on the SX:
LED front fog lights, Dual chrome exhaust tips

2016 Kia Forte Koup Performance

The 2016 Kia Forte Koup comes standard with a 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine. Despite the Forte Koup’s relatively small size, this 2.0-liter engine pumps out some peppy power with 173 horsepower. This engine is only available with a six-speed automatic transmission.

For true power, consumers can turn to a turbocharged 1.6-liter four-cylinder engine that churns out 201 horsepower and 195 lb-ft of torque. This engine, which is only available on the SX trim level, comes standard with a six-speed manual gearbox, though a six-speed automatic with paddle shifters is available as an option.

2016 Kia Forte Koup Efficiency

If you opt for the standard 2.0-liter engine, the EPA-estimated fuel efficiency rating is 25 mpg city and 34 mpg highway, which gives it a combined rating of 28 mpg. The turbocharged 1.6-liter engine comes in with 22 mpg city and 29 mpg highway with the standard six-speed manual transmission, while the six-speed automatic gets 22 mpg city and 30 mpg highway. Regardless, each transmission gets 25 mpg combined.

2016 Kia Forte Koup Interior

Despite its value-oriented price, the Kia Forte Koup is anything but an economy car. Rather than stuffing the Koup’s interior with plastic and low-quality materials, Kia has instead created a cabin that gives premium-level vehicles a run for their money. With a standard touchscreen interface, comfortable seating, and generous cargo space, the Forte Koup is truly unique in its segment. Available heated front seats keep both driver and passenger comfortable, while a six-speaker sound system with SiriusXM Radio makes it easy to stay in the groove while driving.

Interior available on the EX:
Cloth seat trim, 6-way adjustable driver’s seat, 60/40 split folding rear seat with center armrest and adjustable rear headrests, Soft-touch upper door panels, Dual illuminated visor vanity mirrors, Illuminated ignition key lock cylinder, Air conditioning, Remote keyless entry, Power door locks, Power windows with driver and front passenger one-touch auto-up/down, Tilt and telescoping steering column, Cruise control, FlexSteer driver-selectable steering assist
6-speaker AM/FM/CD/MP3/SiriusXM audio system, 4.3-inch touchscreen audio display, rear camera display, Bluetooth wireless hands-free connectivity, USB and auxiliary input jack, Steering-wheel-mounted controls

Interior available on the SX:
Alloy pedals, Push button start with Smart Key and Immobilizer
UVO eServices infotainment system

2016 Kia Forte Koup Safety

The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety has not tested the 2016 Kia Forte Koup, but it has tested the Forte sedan and given its highest score of “Good” in its moderate-overlap frontal-offset impact tests, along with its side-impact, roof-strength, and whiplash protection tests.

A full list of standard safety features can be found below:

  • Dual front advanced airbags
  • Dual front seat-mounted side airbags
  • Full-length side curtain airbags
  • 3-point seat belts for all seating positions
  • Front seat belt pretensioners
  • 4-wheel disc brakes with ABS
  • Vehicle Stability Management
  • Electronic Stability Control
  • Traction Control System
  • Electronic Brake-force Distribution
  • Brake Assist System
  • Hill Start Assist Control
  • Tire Pressure Monitoring System
  • LATCH (Lower Anchors and Tethers for CHildren)
  • Rear child-safety door locks


2016 Kia Optima vs Toyota Camry: Comparing Greens

The Toyota Camry has made its mark yet again as the vehicle was named as the most popular midsized sedan here in the US. Even the Camry Hybrid was able to sell extremely well but does this mean that it is the best? To find out for sure, we have decided to compare the car with the Kia Optima Hybrid.

Looking at the former, the car runs on the 2.5L 4-cylinder engine that works together with an electric motor and a CVT gearbox. The setup enables the Camry Hybrid to generate about 200hp and 156ft-lbs of torque. The Camry Hybrid can also return about 43mpg city and 39mpg highway.

As for the Kia Optima Hybrid, the vehicle is powered by a 2.4L 4-cylinder engine that is partners with an electric motor and a 6-speed automatic gearbox. This helps develop up to 199hp and 253ft-lbs of torque. The Optima Hybrid can return about 36mpg city and 40mpg highway in fuel economy.

Judging from the above, we can see that the Camry is able to offer better fuel economy but the Kia Optima has way more torque to offer. Personally we would side with the Kia Optima and this is due to it being less common and because we prefer automatics to CVT. What about you?


Tuesday, April 19, 2016

2017 Kia Sportage – Refined and Eye-catching

Kia’s longest-running nameplate, the Sportage, is all-new for 2017.

Now in its fourth generation, the all-new Kia Sportage wears a sharp, contemporary exterior over a structure that is stiffer and offers more interior space. Premium materials and advanced technologies combine to make a cabin that makes the driving experience a joy.

“Simply put, the Sportage is a breed apart in the compact CUV segment,” said Orth Hedrick, vice president, product planning Kia Motors America. “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 with expressive, distinctive styling and enough versatility to handle even the most multifaceted active lifestyle.”

Every body panel of the 2017 Sportage is new. It now bears Kia’s signature “tiger-nose” grille and the headlights are positioned higher and draw the eye along the sculpted hood.

Despite all its changes, the all-new Sportage remains recognisable thanks to its sloping roofline and raked rear window. With its wheels pushed to the corners, the short overhangs and bold wheel arches give this compact crossover a strong appearance.

The new look disguises the source of the Sportage’s strength – its significantly improved structure. While width is the same as its predecessor, wheelbase has been stretched 1.2 inches and overall length has increased 1.6 inches.

Fifty-one percent of the 2017 Sportage’s foundation consists of Advanced High Strength Steel versus the outgoing model’s 18 percent. This improves torsional rigidity 39 percent.

The result of the exterior dimensions growing, the Sportage’s new cabin provides more space and comfort. Now, there is more headroom and legroom, with rear seat passengers benefitting the most. The second row has a lower floor, allowing the bench height to be lowered to provide a more comfortable seating position.

Up front, the Sportage’s driver-oriented cockpit features a simple and modern design. The dash is divided into two zones, with the upper area hosting a colour touchscreen and the audio and climate controls in the lower area.

To give the Sportage a more premium feel, it is available with heated and cooled leather seats, a heated leather-wrapped steering wheel, and authentic stitching on the soft-touch dashboard.

Outward visibility has also been improved. The A- and C-pillars are thinner, the rear glass is larger, and the side mirrors are mounted lower on the doors. Partnered with the available panoramic sunroof, which now has a 4.1 inch longer opening, this enhances the feeling of spaciousness.

Thanks to thicker front side glass, a better seal around the panoramic sunroof, and additional sound-absorbent materials, the occupants are well isolated from noise.

Along with the increased passenger space, cargo room has also grown. An innovative dual-level floor and a widened luggage area combine to provide 30.7 cubic-feet. The lower lift-over height and available Smart Power Liftgate, which automatically opens when the key fob is within 3 feet of the Sportage, make loading and unloading easy.

When Kia retuned the Sportage’s engines it focused on improving efficiency and driving performance.

The LX and EX models use a naturally aspirated 2.4-litre 4-cylinder, which produces 181 hp and 175 lb-ft of torque. The sporty SX Turbo boasts a turbocharged 2.0-litre inline-4 that makes an impressive 240 hp and 260 lb-ft of torque.

Every trim level starts as front-wheel drive, but a Magna Dynamax intelligent all-wheel drive system is available to each. Both FWD and AWD variants are mated to a 6-speed Sportmatic transmission.

Providing a leap forward in ride quality is the completely redesigned suspension. The Sportage is now more stable and predictable on rough road surfaces, and SX Turbo models are tuned for sharper handling.

The 2017 Kia Sportage is available now with prices starting just below $25,000.

What do you think about the all-new Sportage? Did Kia make it stand out in your mind? Let us know in the comments below.


Monday, April 18, 2016

2016 Kia Optima & Blake Griffin Meet Up In The Zone Again

As the NBA's official automotive partner, your job is never over, which is in a way reflected by Kia's relentless efforts to associate itself with some of the league's biggest stars.

Clippers forward Blake Griffin has been promoting the Optima for quite a while now, but the commercials where it can get people "in the zone" have only just started coming out a few months ago.

The first time around, Blake was just sitting around reading a newspaper when the Optima brought one of its owners to an imaginary place where only the most focused of people can get to. Then there was Griffin making himself a PB&J sandwich and most recently he was playing the role of a weatherman, of sorts.

Now, Griffin is playing chess while in the zone and casually refers to other players on the board (aka basketball court) as pawns. We can let that one slide, since he's one of the best in the league at his position. However, with the NBA playoffs about to start, Blake Griffin is about to show the world just how well he can get in the zone when it really matters.

Prediction: If the Clippers get bounced in the first round of the playoffs by the Blazers, the 2016 Optima will suddenly stop bringing people to "the zone".


Hyundai and Kia's sales top 100 million units

The accumulated sales of Hyundai Motor Co. and its smaller affiliate Kia Motors Corp. have reached over 100 million units this week, company officials said Saturday, a feat achieved in less time than most other global automakers.

The combined accumulated sales of the country's two leading auto companies reached over 100 million cars as of Friday, according to the officials.

Together, the two automakers make up Hyundai Motor Group, the world's fifth-largest producer of vehicles by sales.

The achievement came 54 years since the group began producing cars in 1962.

Hyundai Group is not the first to have reached the milestone, but likely is the first to do so in such a short period of time compared to others, including Volkswagen, Toyota, GM and Ford, all of which have a history of over 70 years.

Since its foundation, Hyundai Motor Group has sold some 30 million cars in South Korea with the rest sold in global markets.

By vehicle, Hyundai Motor's compact passenger car the Avante, sold globally as the Elantra, is the group's most sold vehicle with 11.19 million units sold since its launch in 1990. Kia Motors' bestselling car ever is the Pride compact passenger car, which sold 4.22 million units since its launch in 1986.

On Friday, group chairman Chung Mong-koo said the group will have no problem meeting its annual global sales target of 8.13 million units this year.

In 2015, combined sales of Hyundai Motor and Kia Motors came to 8,015,745 units, a slight increase from 8,005,220 cars sold in the previous year.


Friday, April 15, 2016

2017 Kia Sportage Proves Its Crashworthiness, Earns Top Safety Pick+ Rating

The fourth generation of the compact crossover built by Kia is a sales success in the making. For those looking for a bargain, the 2016 model is still on sale at $22,150. However, the 2017 Sportage offers lots more for $840 over the price of its forerunner, including a desirable Top Safety Pick+ award earned with flying colors from the IIHS.

The highest designation possible from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety applies to the 2017 Kia Sportage only when equipped with the autonomous front crash prevention system, an optional extra bundled with the EX Technology Package. Other than autonomous emergency braking, the $1,900 pack adds lane departure warning, a power liftgate, voice-command sat nav, and a thumpin’ Harman/Kardon audio system.

Top Safety Pick+ reflects top scores for the Sportage in all the tests conducted by the institute. “The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety is one of the most recognized and respected organizations in the industry when it comes to evaluating vehicle safety, and as such, the Top Safety Pick Plus designation is a significant achievement,” declared Orth Hedrick, the vice president of product planning at Kia Motors America.

Built on the same platform as the 2016 Hyundai Tucson ($22,700, or $220 cheaper than the Sportage), the 2017 Kia Sportage held up well in all crash scenarios. In the 12 and 25 mph track tests, the crossover avoided a collision thanks to the prompt reaction of the optional autonomous braking system. In the small overlap test, the all-new model fared much better than the 2016 model year.

The driver’s space in the older generation Sportage was compromised as the parking brake pedal was pushed in 16 inches (40.6 centimeters). The steering column also moved, causing the dummy's head to slide off the left side of the front airbag. And another thing - the side curtain airbag didn't deploy.

If safety is a priority for you, the 2017 Kia Sportage is a much better choice than the 2016 model year. Barring the generous selection of driving-assistance systems and safety features, the torsional rigidity of the all-new Sportage has improved 39 percent over yesteryear’s Sportage.

As if that weren’t good enough, engineers gave the 2017 Kia Sportage more than a football field’s length (338 feet or 103 meters) of structural adhesives. For those who are curious about how it feels from behind the wheel, please refer to our test drive of the 2017 Kia Sportage.


Thursday, April 14, 2016

Kia Sportage, Optima Win International Design Competition

It looks like Kia’s new design philosophy is working—and it’s working quite well. The South Korean carmaker’s most recent models—the 2016 Kia Sportage compact SUV and 2016 Optima sedan—recently walked away with the 2016 Red Dot Awards, which are some of the most prestigious international product design awards in the business.

But that’s not all. Along with being honored with a Red Dot award, the 2016 Kia Optima also received a Best of the Best award. This award in particular is the competition’s highest distinction, and is only awarded to the most innovative designs in a category.

“Our international design team has every cause to be exceptionally proud of these most recent awards,” said Peter Schreyer, President and Chief Designer of Kia Motors Corporation and Hyundai Motor Group. “The first Red Dot Awards for the Kia Sportage and the Kia Optima were already great successes. It is a very special achievement to further develop a first-rate, prize-winning model so that the new design also convinces the expert jury of this globally respected and prestigious design competition.”

Both the previous generations of the Sportage and Optima received Red Dot awards in 2011 with the Optima also receiving a Best of the Best award then. Kia has been raking in these awards since the first-generation Kia Soul earned a Red Dot award in 2009. Since then, the brand’s design team has won a total of 15 Red Dot Awards. These most recent awards mean that, as of 2016, every model in the current Kia lineup has this prestigious design award.


Wednesday, April 13, 2016

Hyundai, Kia sell 100 million vehicles in 54 years after their launch

SEOUL: South Korea's top carmaker Hyundai Motor and its affiliate Kia Motors have sold almost 100 million vehicles in 54 years after their establishment, the companies said on Monday.

The top two South Korean automakers have sold a total of 99.7 million cars in the global market through March since they began selling cars in 1962, Xinhua reported.

Hyundai has sold 64.02 million units, with Kia having sold 35.68 million units.

Their global car sales are expected to top a landmark 100 million level in April, the companies said in a joint statement.


Kia sees an opening for Sedona

LAS VEGAS -- The minivan market isn't what it was in the 1990s, but Kia sees a coming shake-up in the segment as an opportunity.

At the make meeting during the NADA convention, Kia executives pledged to ramp up marketing on the Sedona minivan, said Benny Yount, chairman of Kia's dealer council. The move comes as Fiat Chrysler Automobiles prepares to discontinue the long-standing Dodge Caravan and retire the Chrysler Town & Country to make way for the new Chrysler Pacifica.

"That'll be good stuff," said Yount, owner of Paramount Automotive Group in Hickory, N.C., of Kia's Sedona plans. "It's just to bring more awareness to that model."

The Sedona, despite critical acclaim since a 2014 redesign, is being outsold 3-to-1 by the Caravan and Town & Country, as well as the segment leader, the Toyota Sienna. Kia sold 10,231 Sedonas this year through March, up 33 percent from a year earlier.

During the meeting, Kia showed new commercials by ad agency David & Goliath for the redesigned Sportage compact crossover, which went on sale this year.

Executives also highlighted the brand's surge in quality rankings. Kia finished No. 2 in 2015 on J.D. Power's closely watched Initial Quality Study, behind Porsche. Executives have set a goal of climbing to No. 1.

The gains for Kia, which has long suffered from a poor reputation with Americans who remember its origins as a bargain brand, are starting to attract customers who otherwise shop Honda and Toyota, said Dan Johnson, president of Metro Kia in Cartersville, Ga., and a former general manager of a Toyota store.


Tuesday, April 12, 2016

2016 Kia Sportage earns coveted Best Small SUV of the Year title at Middle East Car of the Year Awards

Kia’s all new Sportage has been awarded the coveted ‘Best Small SUV of the Year’ honour at the prestigious 2016 Middle East Car of the Year Awards (MECOTY). The award, which was announced at a gala ceremony in Abu Dhabi recently, is an addition to the growing collection of significant honors that the brand has bagged over the years.

Commenting on the award win, Mr. Soon-Nam Lee, the President of Kia Middle East & Africa (MEA) Regional HQ said: “The all-new Sportage has gained tremendous popularity here in the Middle East among both customers and motoring experts.”

Mr. Lee added:“The Kia Sportage has played a key role in driving Kia Motors’ sustained growth and success around the world in recent years, with more than 1.6 million of the third-generation model sold worldwide between 2010 and 2015. Leading the way in terms of its refinement, innovation, distinctive design and high material quality, the new Sportage will help Kia reinforce its position among the market leaders in an increasingly hard-fought and crowded segment.”

The fourth-generation Kia Sportage features a bold new look, with the vehicle’s designers creating a sense of sporty and powerful energy from every angle. The design of the new Sportage has been led by Kia’s European design studio in Frankfurt, Germany, with input from the brand’s Namyang, Korea and Irvine, California design centers. The all-new Sportage creates visual harmony out of the tension and contrast between its sharp, defined feature lines and smooth surfacing.

MECOTY is regarded as the most prestigious award in the Middle East’s automotive industry. Leading global car brands competed in different categories including Group A (Sedan/ Executive), Group B (SUV/Truck) and Group C (Performance). The winners were determined by a judging panel comprising prominent automotive journalists from across the Middle East. Members of the jury panel represented countries such as the United Arab Emirates, Kuwait, Bahrain, Lebanon, Jordan, Qatar and Saudi Arabia.

Included in the judging criteria was determining whether the nominated vehicles met the demands of customers in the region.


Monday, April 11, 2016

Kia and B.R.A.K.E.S. Strive to Keep Teens Safe

Kia has recently announced that the company will expand their existing relationship with B.R.A.K.E.S., a non-profit organization that provides free, hands-on defensive driving workshops to teen drivers in cities nationwide. Through this partnership, both organizations hope to double the number of teens (and parents) that receive this potentially life-saving training.

Kia will be donating more cars to the program so that B.R.A.K.E.S. will be able to significantly increase the number of classes offered.

Why Teens Need B.R.A.K.E.S.

In 2008, NHRA drag racing star Doug Herbert tragically lost his two young sons, Jon and James, in a highway accident. This terrible event made him determined to create a driving program which would help to prevent other families from experiencing this kind of heartbreak by educating young drivers about safety behind the wheel.

B.R.A.K.E.S. (Be Responsible and Keep Everyone Safe) was born. This organization provides free advanced driver’s education through a program called the Teen Pro-Active Driving Course. This program goes beyond the level of training offered in conventional driver’s education training by addressing the specific driving situations responsible for many traffic accidents involving teens.

This is a valuable and necessary service because, according to data gathered from recent studies, motor vehicle crashes are the leading cause of death among 15-17 year olds, and these fatal crashes are most likely to occur during the first six months of driving. The goal of B.R.A.K.E.S. is to radically alter these statistics:

•Per mile driven, drivers who are between the ages of 16 and 19 are nearly three times more likely than over-20 drivers to be in a fatal crash.
•On average, eight teenagers lose their lives every day in automobile accidents. This comes out to approximately 3,000 teens lost per year.
•About 25% of teen drivers admit to responding to at least one text message or having multi-message text conversations every time they get behind the wheel.

In order to address the problems that teen drivers face on the roads, B.R.A.K.E.S. offers courses such as Accident Avoidance, which uses a slalom course to teach elevated steering control. Their Distraction Exercise teaches increased focus and concentration. And a Panic Stop Exercise is used to instruct students on how to have safer and more controlled responses when braking in an emergency.

Addressing the importance of the training offered by B.R.A.K.E.S and his company’s involvement, Tim Chaney, vice president of marketing communications for Kia, has stated:

“Kia is committed to continuing to support B.R.A.K.E.S.’ efforts to reduce teen traffic fatalities through hands-on defensive driving instruction. The B.R.A.K.E.S. program provides teens and their parents with high-quality individual training to help them make better decisions behind the wheel.”

B.R.A.K.E.S. clearly expects and supports parental participation in their program. This is because, according to the results of major studies, parents play a strong role in influencing teen driver habits.

Parents Need B.R.A.K.E.S Too

Statistics strongly indicate that parents play a major role in keeping teens safe on the roads. It has been proven that when parents set driving rules and monitor their activities, teenagers are half as likely to crash and are 71% less likely to drive while intoxicated. Also, with parental involvement, 30% of young drivers are less likely to use a cell phone when driving or drive faster than the posted speed limit.

However, in spite of these statistics, only 25% of parents report that they have had a serious talk with their teen about the importance of safe driving habits. B.R.A.K.E.S. directly addresses this issue by strongly encouraging parents to participate in many of the same exercises that they offer to teens. Parents are instructed to continue the education at home by reinforcing the driving techniques learned at their B.R.A.K.E.S. session.

And parents that are giving serious thought to attending a B.R.A.K.E.S. session should know that the organization has seen impressive results. According to a recent study, teens who complete the B.R.A.K.E.S. program are 64% less likely to be involved in an accident in their first three years of driving and 84% of all B.R.A.K.E.S. graduates since 2011 have had no crashes at all.