Thursday, June 30, 2016

2017 Kia Forte Sedan Detailed

The updated sedan made its debut earlier this year at the 2016 Detroit Auto Show and will be the first vehicle to be built at Kia’s second North American plant. The model arrives just as the Forte family enjoyed its best-ever sales in 2015 and receives several refinements in addition to its updated styling. But starting with the visual enhancements, the Forte receives a new front bumper and “tiger nose” grille that has been extended to connect the newly-designed headlights that are available with Xenon HID lights. In the rear are newly-designed tail lights with optional LEDs.
The 2017 Kia Forte sedan will be available in three trim levels, with the new sporty S trim slotting between the entry-level LX model and the range-topping EX model. The S variant adds sport-tunedsuspension, 16-inch alloy wheels, LED positioning lights, rear spoiler and a chrome exhaust tip. The top-of-the-line EX model will come standard with LED tail lights, Smart Key with perimeter approach lighting and front door pocket lighting as well as new 17-inch alloy wheels.
The LX and S models also get upgraded cloth material for the seats inside the cabin, while the S trim features exclusive black cloth seats with white contrast stitching, a leather-wrapped steering wheel and shift knob. The EX model now comes standard with leather seats with heated front seats, dual-zone full automatic temperature control, rear vents and push-button start with Smart Key.
The updated Kia Forte also receives a new base 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine with 147 horsepower and 132 pound-feet of torque, replacing the old 1.8-liter four-cylinder mill. The new base engine is mated to asix-speed manual transmission, though a second-generation six-speed automatic is also available. Higher trims are equipped with a 2.0-liter GDI four-cylinder engine with 164 hp and 151 lb-ft of torque, paired to the six-speed automatic.

Wednesday, June 29, 2016

First Drive: Kia Sportage Turbo Makes A Convincing Premium Play

The 2017 Kia Sportage wins my award for most surprising attention-grabber - and that’s high praise for something aimed at the heart of today’s American car market.

It manages to do it in a rather conservative class of car, the compact SUV market that’s become the new staple for Americans over the last few years. The best new compact SUVs act like midsize sedans most of the time, providing space for some combination of adults and kids and their belongings with little compromise.

And like many of its recent offerings, Kia brings a healthy dose of style to its entry in the segment, which is one of the easiest things it can do to separate itself in a crowded field. Fortunately for the Sportage, the style is backed up with a lot of substance, too.

Nose noise

Stare first at its front and the Sportage splits opinion right away. That’s a good thing in my book, whether you like the stubby "tiger nose" or not.

Move to the side and the rear, however, and things are far less controversial if you skip the Burnished Copper paint. Nice 19-inch wheels come on this top SX model, but all Sportages get nice wheels now. The lack of a quarter window out back doesn’t impede vision as much as it could, although a backup camera and parking sensors help out. The overall shape is similar to other compact SUVs, but Kia at least sweated some details to make it look different and detailed and the Sportage is better for it, even if it’s a little controversial.

In fact, I thought the Sportage was the most distinctive-looking SUV on the market at the moment until someone suggested a resemblance to the Porsche Macan at the back. Then I couldn’t unsee it.

I guess there are worse things to copy.

Plenty to touch softly

Perhaps the Porsche comparison is timely now because Kia recently bested the German luxury brand in this year’s J.D. Power Initial Quality Survey.

Mainstream-branded cars getting sexy exterior makeovers has been common in recent years, but things have tended to go awry inside, where the low prices mean low-grade interiors. Things like heated and cooled front seats and a powered shade for the enormous glass roof impress in this class – and all standard on this SX.

Kia has finally mastered the art of balancing the soft-touch materials where they matter and cutting corners where we’re less likely to notice. The dash top has a convincing stitching to it, the upper door panels and armrests are sufficiently padded for bony elbows. The A-pillars aren’t swathed in a nicely woven textile, but the plastic is designed in such a way that it looks like they are. But how often were you going to grope those? The Sportage is nice where it counts.

It’s also so simple to use the corporate Hyundai-Kia touchscreen radio and the secondary buttons below. Pretty much every command is straightforward and the screen has one of the most immediate responses out there, to minimize the amount of time you’re screaming at it.

The only significant gripe I had inside the Sportage concerned the cargo area. It’s a decent size and shape, with rear seats that split 60/40 and go down flat. But the floor is so flat and shapeless that your two grocery bags spill over before you leave the parking lot. A cargo organizer or at least some nets or hooks to hold stuff in place would be better than having to climb into the back to get a loose apple. 
Or stop buying fruit. Your call.

Ready to pounce

Most Sportages will get the 2.4-liter four with 181 horsepower that will be as adventurous as oatmeal with raisins. The engine that better matches the Sportage’s looks, however, is the 2.0-liter turbo four, with 245 horsepower.

The turbo is interesting in its old-school nature. There’s a throbbing you can feel through the pedals and wheel at idle, and then a good amount of lag from a full stop. But pulls pretty hard once the turbo gets in the game. You won’t mistake it for a V6, but the power is comparable.

Better still, there’s just enough engine noise in the otherwise quiet cabin. It feels solid unlike its most of its rivals. Kia seems to have channeled an Audi Q5 or Range Rover Evoque rather than a Mazda CX-5, and the planted feel inspires you to play with it in corners. Too bad the steering and tires aren’t up to that, but at least the suspension is willing to give it a try.

Unlike its mechanical relative, the Hyundai Tucson, the Sportage sticks with a typical 6-speed automatic rather than the Hyundai’s 7-speed dual-clutch auto, and it’s mostly better for it. The transmission wants to be in the higher gears a lot, but it’s pretty prompt to shift down when your right foot asks for it.

The obvious downside, however, is a dismal fuel economy figures of 20 city, 23 highway. Ditch the optional all-wheel drive and the 23 mpg combined rating isn’t much better than the 21 with the system. I managed to average around that, but V6-equipped three-row crossovers I’ve driven recently have matched or bettered that.

Combine the interior quality and driving experience, and the Sportage SX feels like a premium product more than a mainstream-branded one.

Going farther

As far as compact crossovers go, the Sportage SX is a good way to spend $35,000 on one. Aside from the pathetic fuel economy, it doesn’t do anything badly. I wish the fuel economy were better and the steering ever so slightly sharper, but it’s better than most here.

Importantly, it does more than is expected of it when compared to its mainstream rivals. No similarly priced Honda CR-V or Toyota RAV4 feels this substantial. The Tucson and Mazda CX-5 aren’t as powerful and a Ford Escape is more expensive still.

More than a decent drive, a useful box and a polished interior, the Sportage SX makes you question for a minute or two why someone would make the $10-15,000 jump to a premium-branded compact SUV. Sure, it says "KIA" on the front and back, but you’d have to be a real badge snob to let that bother you these days – especially coming out of a Toyota or Ford, for example.

And even if it doesn’t drive like a Porsche Macan, your friends will at least have a positive inflection when they look at the front and ask, “What is that?” 


Tuesday, June 28, 2016

Kia Providing 6 Soul EVs To University Of California Irvine For V2G Testing

Kia Motors Inc. and Hyundai Technical Center Inc. are setting up a partnership with the University of California, Irvine (UCI). The partnership will utilize the Kia Soul EV along with the university’s Advanced Power and Energy Program (APEP), to test vehicle-to-grid (V2G) advanced smart-charging software and technology.

V2G is a system that some automakers are installing into BEVs and PHEVs. It will communicate with the power grid to allow energy to be transferred back and forth. Vehicles will be able to function as energy storage containers and then send the energy back into the grid.
Power grids deal with many variables when it comes to where the power is initially supplied from. Wind, solar, and water all fluctuate. EVs can either assist the situation or make it worse, depending on how systems are set up.

Will Decker, Program Development and External Relations, Advanced Power and Energy Program Manager at UCI explained:
“To assist, their charging needs to be managed in a ‘smart” manner,’ [such as] smart charging. This project will investigate how smart charging might be deployed and how it might support UCI’s own grid as well as the state grid.”
Kia is granting UCI six Soul EVs for the project. UCI will use the vehicles to create algorithms to begin figuring out the specifics for EV charging coupled with power grid connection.
The Soul EV is Kia’s first BEV in the U.S. Hyundai Motor Group is the parent company of Kia. Both companies main locations are in Seoul, Korea.
Kia’s Vice President of Product Planning, Orth Hedrick, confirmed:
Kia’s green car road map calls for a dramatic expansion of electrified vehicles over the next five years, and we are proud of the role the Soul EV will play in helping UCI’s students and faculty develop new and better advanced smart-charging technologies.”

Monday, June 27, 2016

Refreshing Or Revolting: 2017 KIA Sportage

The 2017 Kia Sportage went on sale in the U.S. earlier this year after debuting in Frankfurt last September. The crossover receives new safety technology, and most noticeably, a dramatic new exterior design. With an improved interior to match the revised sheetmetal, is the 2017 Kia Sportage aptly equipped to hold its ground in the hot compact crossover segment?

Kia redesigned the entire front fascia, including the headlights, grille, and fog lights. The headlights feature a new housing, while the fog lights have been given an “ice cube-like” design. The grille gets rid of the horizontal slats in favor of a honeycomb design. Now, the grille doesn’t flow into the headlights, but rests just below. The Kia badge has been moved to sit above the grille, instead of in the center.

The side profile doesn’t change much from the outgoing model, but the rear fascia has been completely reworked. The LED taillights feature a new housing, a more stretched rectangular design than the previous model, and the lights themselves are now “U” shaped. Running between the taillights is a chrome strip, which is raised from the surface of the vehicle just slightly. The Kia badge has been placed below the strip. Now, the license plate is framed distinctly above the bumper.
More changes continue inside with the redesigned center stack, steering wheel, and instrument cluster. The infotainment screen is prominently featured at the top of the dash, surrounded on the sides by the redesigned air vents. Kia has redesigned the infotainment controls, which no longer surround the infotainment screen but instead rest underneath. The shifter has been given an update as well, with the housing no longer a large circle in front of the center console. It now has been downsized to the front left of the lower stack, and cup holders have been added to the right of it. The center of the steering wheel has been rounded out, and the mounted controls have been given an update. The instrument cluster features a digital display in the center of the gauges, giving the 2017 Sportage a more modern feel.

Friday, June 24, 2016

Kia and B.R.A.K.E.S. teen driving course

Kia and B.R.A.K.E.S. have added San Diego to its lineup for a free advanced driving course for teens. In the B.R.A.K.E.S. program — Be Responsible and Keep Everyone Safe — participating teens and their parents will be taught hands-on defensive driving skills from professional instructors — including former race car drivers, stunt drivers and secret service agents.

The instruction, in vehicles provided by Kia, includes a distracted driving course, emergency braking situations and skid-control practice. The program has a three-to-one student-to-teacher ratio to give more individual attention. Parents also participate to reinforce those proper driving techniques after the training is completed.

The San Diego program will be July 30-31 at Qualcomm Stadium. To participate, teens age 15-19 must have a valid learner’s permit or drivers license, 30 hours of experience behind the wheel and must be accompanied by a parent or guardian. Classes are available from 8 a.m. to noon or 1-5 p.m. The four-hour, hands-on course is free, but a $99 deposit is required to hold a reservation. (The program is also held in Los Angeles, Orange and San Bernardino counties and elsewhere in the United States.)
“Car crashes are the No. 1 cause of death among teens in this country, and we started B.R.A.K.E.S. eight years ago to try to do something about that,” said Doug Herbert, founder of B.R.A.K.E.S., in memory of his sons, Jon and James, who were killed in a car crash in 2008. “Our mission is to prevent injuries and save lives by providing young drivers with the real-life driving experience they need in a safe and controlled environment,” he said in a release.
His program trained about 50 students in its first year and the number of participants has gone beyond 20,000 since the inception, Herbert said, “And we’re still accelerating.”
▪ Training segments also include:
Distracted Driving: The course demonstrates the danger that cellphones, text messaging, and other distractions can pose while driving.
Drop Wheel/Off Road Recovery: This segment teaches students how to regain control when one or more of their vehicle’s wheels veers off the road surface and onto the shoulder.
Panic Stop: Students will learn proper braking to help stop a vehicle in the shortest distance possible while maintaining control. Participants (parents, too) experience the pulsating brake-pedal effects of ABS and how to control the vehicle when ABS is engaged.
Car Control and Recovery: On a wet skid pad to simulate wet-road conditions. Students will learn how to recover from oversteer (rear wheel) and understeer (front wheel) skids.
Other learning experiences vary by school but can include an eye-opening view from the driver’s seat of a big-rig truck with a discussion about safe zones and blind spots. There also can be demonstrations from police and fire-rescue agencies.

Thursday, June 23, 2016

Kia Ranks Highest among Nameplates, Ending 27-Year Reign for Premium Brands

DETROIT: 22 June 2016 — New-vehicle quality improves 6%, double the 3% rate of improvement in 2015 and the largest increase since 2009, according to the J.D. Power 2016 U.S. Initial Quality StudySM (IQS), released today.

The study, now in its 30th year, examines problems experienced by vehicle owners during the first 90 days of ownership. Initial quality is determined by the number of problems experienced per 100 vehicles (PP100), with a lower score reflecting higher quality.

Quality improves across all eight problem categories measured in the study, with 21 of the 33 brands included in the study improving their quality in 2016 and one remaining the same.

“Manufacturers are currently making some of the highest quality products we’ve ever seen,” said Renee Stephens, vice president of U.S. automotive quality at J.D. Power. “Tracking our data over the past several years, it has become clear that automakers are listening to the customer, identifying pain points and are focused on continuous improvement. Even as they add more content, including advanced technologies that have had a reputation for causing problems, overall quality continues to improve.”

Following are some of the study’s key findings:
  • U.S. Domestic Automakers Show Strong Improvement: For just the second time in the 30-year history of the study, U.S. domestic brands collectively have lower problem levels than all their import counterparts combined. All three U.S. domestic automakers post year-over-year quality improvements. The “Detroit Three” achieve a combined average of 103 PP100, improving 10% from 2015, which is double the improvement rate of the import brands at 106 PP100. The last time U.S. domestic brands outpaced imports was in 2010, when they held a 1 PP100 advantage (108 PP100 vs. 109 PP100, respectively).
  • Non-Premium Brands Have Fewer Problems: For the first time since 2006, non-premium brands have fewer problems (104 PP100) than premium brands (108 PP100).
  • High Quality = High Loyalty: Expected reliability remains the most important consideration when purchasing a new vehicle, cited by 49% of owners. J.D. Power has studied consumer behavior from when they purchase or lease their new vehicle through when they are back in the market for their next vehicle in order to measure the impact initial quality has on brand loyalty.[1] Among owners who experience no problems with their vehicle in the first 90 days, 54% stay with the same brand for their next vehicle. Loyalty drops to 50% among owners who experience one problem with their vehicle and to 45% among those who experience three or more problems.
“There is a direct correlation between the number of problems a customer has with their new vehicle and the decisions they make when it comes time to purchase or lease their next car or truck,” said Stephens. “While a small drop in actual loyalty may not sound like much, a percentage point drop in share can mean millions of dollars in lost revenue to an automaker.”

Highest-Ranked Nameplates and Models

  • Kia ranks highest in initial quality with a score of 83 PP100, the first time in 27 years that a non-premium brand has topped the rankings. It is also the second consecutive year that Kia, which ranked second in 2015, has led all non-premium makes in initial quality.
  • Porsche (84 PP100) ranks second among nameplates, followed by Hyundai (92 PP100), Toyota (93 PP100) and BMW (94 PP100).
  • Chrysler and Jeep are the most improved brands, each reducing the number of problems by 28 PP100 from 2015. 

General Motors receives seven model-level awards, followed by Toyota Motor Corporation with six and Hyundai Motor Company and Volkswagen AG, each with four.

  • General Motors models that rank highest in their respective segments are the Buick Cascada; Chevrolet Equinox; Chevrolet Silverado HD; Chevrolet Silverado LD; Chevrolet Spark; Chevrolet Tahoe; and GMC Terrain.

  • Toyota Motor Corporation models that rank highest in their segment are the Lexus CT; Lexus GS; Scion tC; Toyota Camry; Toyota Corolla; and Toyota Highlander.

  • Hyundai Motor Company models that rank highest in their segment are the Hyundai Accent; Hyundai Azera; Kia Soul; and Kia Sportage.

  • Volkswagen AG models that rank highest in their segment are the Audi Q3, Audi TT, Porsche Macan and Porsche 911.

Wednesday, June 22, 2016

Car Review: 2016 Kia Optima SXL

Since the Optima landed in Canada in 2009, it has been reworked more times than any other midsize sedan — this is the fourth generation in a very short timeframe. The latest takes Kia’s family/sports sedan to a place it has not been before — the cabin treatment and trickle down of advanced technologies leads the lengthy list of upgrades.
The cabin arrives with much nicer materials, a ton of equipment and, in the SXL, swanky diamond-pattern Nappa leather seats — if you see shades of Bentley in the look, you are not alone. It also comes with the right equipment, ranging from a panoramic moonroof to a 12-way, heated/cooled power driver’s seat, and it touches everything between. In the end, you have to go a long way up the price ladder to get the same sort of pampering and luxury.
One of the pluses proved to be the multimedia interface with navigation. The eight-inch touchscreen has large icons and hard buttons on either side, which makes things quick and easy to access. Likewise, the Harman Kardon sound system and its 630-watt amp delivered crystal clear sound through 10 well-placed speakers. The missing elements are Apple CarPlay and Android Auto; given the Optima SXL’s list of amenities, and the fact that much of the competition offers these smartphone extensions, is an oversight.
The rear environment has ample head- and legroom for six-footers, along with heated outboard seats. The trunk is also up to snuff with 450 litres of space and 60/40-split folding seat backs. It also has an automatic trunk release — when it senses the smart key it pops the deck lid.

Then there’s the lengthy list of driver assist systems — a 360-degree camera, blind spot monitoring, cross-traffic alert and lane departure warning. The latter proved to be very annoying, so the off switch was much appreciated. One of the more impressive technologies is Kia’s Auto Emergency Braking (AEB), which uses radar to recognize other vehicles and a camera to spot pedestrians; should the system sense a collision is imminent, it warns the driver and dabs the brakes to wake them up. If this doesn’t spur the driver into action, the system stops the car before the impact occurs. It works at speeds below 80 km/h for vehicles and 60 km/h for pedestrians; at speeds over 80 km/h, it works to reduce the collision speed through braking. While this technology is par for the course on higher-end rides, it’s a rarity on a sedan costing less than $40K. Automakers have agreed to make AEB standard by September 1, 2022, so Kia is well ahead of the curve.
There are a number of engine choices: the base 185-horsepower, 2.4-litre four-cylinder, a new 1.6-litre turbocharged four with a handy 195 lb.-ft. of torque, and then there’s the big dog, a 2.0-litre Turbo putting out 245 horsepower and 260 lb.-ft. of torque at 1,350 rpm. Think about that for a minute — it is producing peak torque at 700 rpm off idle. This means no turbo lag and a run to 100 km/h of 6.7 seconds, which is very quick for a family sedan.
The only transmission with the Turbo is a six-speed manumatic complete with paddle shifters. While not as slick as the seven-speed twin-clutch that comes with the 1.6-litre turbo, it gets the job done. The shifts are smooth and when the gas pedal is hammered, it kicks down promptly, which puts the engine at the heart of its sweet spot — the Optima’s midrange is very strong. To handle the beefier torque curve, the SXL has larger front brakes, which means less fade when pushed to the maximum.

The Turbo arrives with a sportier suspension than the base models. It is noticeably firmer, but no less comfortable. The secret lies in the “high performance” dampers. These things adjust the damping according to the speed of the body’s movement. When on the highway the shocks deliver softer damping; dial in some steering and the mechanical dampers automatically switch to a firmer setting. It is an inexpensive way of delivering the best of both worlds. Through a series of sweepers the Optima held a flat attitude and understeer was a long way out given the front-drive format. The oversized P235/45R18 tires certainly helped the cause. Conversely, on the highway the ride mimicked that of a luxury sedan.
The engine, transmission and steering can be tailored to taste. Drive Mode alters the throttle’s sensitivity, transmission’s shift points and steering. Eco is too soft in all areas, Normal works in an urban environment, but Sport is the setting of choice; it brings better throttle response, delayed upshifts and it puts more weight in the steering, which brings a crisper response to input. The hitch? It defaults to Normal every time the car is turned off. Instead, it should retain the driver’s desired setting. It became a ritual — seatbelt on, start the car and pick Sport — but it was a pain, nonetheless.
There was little wrong with the outgoing Optima; the latest car takes everything, including the safety technology and engine choices, to the next level. In short, it now has the wherewithal to give the traditional players a serious run for their money.

Tuesday, June 21, 2016

Kia Motors America: Sponsoring the world’s largest online video conference

Kia Motors America (KMA) – an ardent supporter of the online video community – is once again engaging and connecting with one of the largest gatherings of digital video creators at VidCon 2016 in Anaheim, California, which is expected to draw more than 21,000 attendees. As a presenting sponsor, Kia is showcasing four of the brand’s award-winning vehicles – Rio, Soul, Forte and Sorento – while also elevating the fan experience by providing a platform for influencer interactions, content creation, personal expression and social media education.
Kia’s expanded presence at this year’s VidCon features a number of interactive stations, each designed to inspire digital video content creation, social media sharing and education.  
  • The Kia Main Stage and Kia Arena will host the opening and closing ceremonies, seminars and performances by the most popular online influencers, in addition to concerts and a dance party.
  • The Kia Lounge provides attendees with tools to help them amplify their content creation, including direct access to YouTube influencers via the Kia Social Sofa. Guests can also ‘Find Their Forte’ and determine their online influencer personality through an interactive quiz. From there attendees can lend their voice to an original, collaborative song that is being produced and compiled in the Kia music video booth.  Finally, guests are encouraged to share their experiences via their own channels using: #KiaVidCon; @Kia (Twitter); @KiaMotorsUSA (Instagram/SnapChat).
  • The Kia Parent’s Lounge is a comfortable area for parents to relax, recharge and learn about the various social media channels their kids use the most from the social media experts themselves at Kia’s Social 101 station.
“Online video has become a massive cultural force, and as a brand that is highly engaged across various social media channels, Kia hopes to empower the next generation of digital influencers with VidCon activities that will help them accelerate their potential,” said Tim Chaney, vice president of marketing communications, KMA. “The wide range of creativity and innovation on display throughout VidCon are inspiring and there is something for everyone, much like the full line of Kia vehicles. We look forward to engaging these creative creators throughout, and long after, the VidCon experience.”
Now in its seventh year, the three-day conference brings fans, creators and industry leaders together to interact, innovate and celebrate the power of online video. Hundreds of the most influential YouTube creators are performing, presenting and connecting with the more than 21,000 attendees. VidCon 2016 is taking place June 23-25 at the Anaheim Convention Center. 

Monday, June 20, 2016

Kia K900 sedan brings value

WASHINGTON — When shopping for a luxury car, I’m going to guess, the Kia dealer isn’t at the top of mind. But the Kia K900 adds a new page to the automakers’ playbook, and it’s bringing value to the large luxury sedan market — something Kia has done in other segments of the marketplace.
Large luxury sedans are pricey, usually near the six-figure mark. Kia is a relative bargain, with a starting price around $55,000 for a six-cylinder model that’s new for the 2016 model year. The new engine does fine for this car. It’s not a powerhouse, but it goes well with the laid-back attitude of a large luxury sedan.

I didn’t have a problem keeping up with traffic or passing when needed. That said, don’t think that this is a sporty luxury sedan, because it’s not; it doesn’t like to be pushed. The K900 is made for quiet road trips and relaxed commutes.
I drove this car for five or six hours at a time and was surprised by how quiet it was. It has to be one of quietest cars out there. My car had the advanced smart cruise control, which works well at keeping a safe distance from the car ahead without being jerky with the brakes. The fuel economy for the week was 26 mpg, which is better than the sticker, but I’m sure the highway travel really helped.
The interior has all the makings of what a luxury car should be — lots of space, real wood trim and loads of leather. The seats are comfortable upfront with nice quality leather. They’re maybe not quite as nice as some other large luxury sedans, but still good.
With the VIP package, the driver’s seat has seat cushion extenders, so longer-legged drivers can get some relief. That package also turns the back seat into a comfort zone, with power reclining, heated and ventilated seats and a ton of controls for audio and climate like a limo. The space in the back seat is plentiful and very comfy for two. There’s room for a third, but they will miss the comfort.
The interior trim is a soft touch and it looks and feels nice. Perhaps the buttons look a little cheaper than the competition, but they are large and easy to see and use. A central knob on the center console controls some menus; it can be a bit touchy, and there are a few too many steps for some operations. But the large nine-inch screen is easy to see and the NAV works well once you figure it out. There are front and rear cameras, which are helpful when parking this large sedan.
Styling outside is rather conservative and doesn’t draw too much attention. It has the right formula, including a large grill, HID lighting, a long hood and a long, almost stretched, look from the side profile. The 18-inch wheels fit the luxury look and stance. The rear-end styling is understated, but a nice dual exhaust system helps jazz it up. Pictures make it look smaller than it really is. In person, it’s a more commanding size, like the other luxury sedans on the road.
The 2016 Kia K900 is a solid large luxury sedan that won’t require you to break the bank to join the ranks of big luxury. With prices under $60,000, it might not be quite as nice as the competition, but it does rather well. And hey — you can still afford a second car so you don’t have to dirty your new luxury sedan in foul weather.

Friday, June 17, 2016

2017 Kia Sportage SX Turbo AWD

We won’t call the redesigned 2017 Kia Sportage ugly, but it is an odd-looking sort of Korean Peugeot. Leading with a Gallic nose, it’s handsome enough along the sides and in back and hardly forgettable. While such bold restyling does not always guarantee notable advancements underneath, this new model is another case of the Korean manufacturer making meaningful generation-over-generation improvements.

Kia’s updated platform for the Sportage has grown slightly in length and wheelbase, which contributes to a more comfortable back seat and a modest bump in cargo volume to 31 cubic feet, five cubes more than before yet still on the small side for compact crossovers. Folding the second row flat nearly doubles the size of the hold, though, and the rear hatch on top trims will open automatically after a couple seconds of key-fob proximity.

The foundation is also much stiffer than before, allowing the reworked suspension to be tuned for more compliance over rough roads, even with the firmer dampers and 19-inch wheels on our all-wheel-drive, top-hole SX Turbo example (lesser models have 17s or 18s). It’s still not as rewarding to drive as our segment favorite,the Mazda CX-5. But the Kia’s body motions are well checked, and revisions to the electrically assisted steering lend a more precise feel than before. The firm brakes have respectable stopping power (174 feet from 70 mph).

A 181-hp 2.4-liter four-cylinder is standard, but SX models retain a turbocharged 2.0-liter four, which for 2017 trades 20 horsepower for additional claimed mileage and midrange response. The output is now 240 horsepower (237 with all-wheel drive) and 260 pound-feet of torque, yet the detuned SX was actually thirstier in our testing than all the previous-gen turbocharged Sportages we’ve sampled. It averaged just 19 mpg in mixed driving. Front-wheel drive and a six-speed auto with paddle shifters (SX only) are standard, and all-wheel drive is $1500 extra.

Despite being less powerful and about 100 pounds heavier than before, our 3768-pound tester posted a solid 6.9-second zero-to-60-mph time and covered the quarter-mile in 15.4 seconds at 91 mph. That pace is slightly quicker than our old long-term 2012 Sportage SX AWD and similar to other compact utes with optional turbo four and V-6 engines, such as the Ford Escape and Jeep Cherokee, although the SX Turbo still trails the 250-hp Subaru Forester XT in both a straight line and fuel economy.

Although the Kia’s cabin remains ­utilitarian, it’s been updated with richer ­materials and more supportive seats. Flashy details are few, yet the execution feels upscale. SX models come fully loaded with heated and cooled leather front seats, a touchscreen infotainment system, and the brand’s latest driver aids, including lane-departure warning and automated emergency braking. A huge panoramic sunroof also is included on the Turbo, as are the arachnid-like quad-LED fog lights.Weak throttle-tip-in response and a hint of turbo lag manifest in an abrupt surge of power as the revs rise, which can make smooth getaways tricky. But at least Kia now allows you to adjust the throttle and shift programming via normal, sport, and eco drive modes, with the latter the most effective at smoothing out the power delivery.

While the 2017 Sportage’s $23,885 entry price is less than a grand more than the 2016 model’s, the all-wheel-drive SX’s added equipment ups the cost over the old SX by $2510, to $34,895. Yet even with our example’s ­middling efficiency in the real world, its performance, refinement, and amenities make this new Kia entirely attractive. In the figurative sense, at least.


Thursday, June 16, 2016

Kia Motors Recognized As One Of The Highest Quality Brands In The Auto Industry By Strategic Vision

IRVINE, Calif.June 16, 2016 /PRNewswire/ -- Kia Motors' hard-earned reputation for delivering world-class quality and reliability across its model line was reinforced today when Strategic Vision named Kia the highest quality brand under $26,000 (in a tie) in the research-based consultancy's Total Quality Impact (TQI) study. Leading the way for Kia were the Sorento and Sedona, which achieved the highest TQI scores in the mid-size CUV and minivan segments (in a tie), respectively.
"The latest Strategic Vision Total Quality Impact data is further proof of the 'New Kia's' standing as a leader in design, quality, technology and value," said Orth Hedrick, vice president of product planning, Kia Motors America. "The Sorento and Sedona are prime examples of Kia's commitment to surpassing consumers' expectations in everything we do, and the Total Quality Impact recognition is especially gratifying as it represents the voice of our customers."
Strategic Vision surveyed more than 39,000 new-car owners to select the winners of this year's Total Quality Impact awards. Owners surveyed praised the Sorento for its excellent value and premium interior design, while others gave the Sedona high marks for its innovative features, interior craftsmanship, and performance.
"Kia's focus on design and technology has nurtured the belief that customers have in the thoughtfulness and quality of their products," said Alexander Edwards, President of Strategic Vision. "The Total Quality Award winners, and other well-performing models like the Optima, point to the success that Kia has had in this regard."

Wednesday, June 15, 2016

5 Fast Facts: 2016 Kia Soul

Kia’s volume leader is the soul compact multi-purpose vehicle (MPV). For 2016, the boxy 5-passenger hatchback adds exterior updates, advanced safety systems in a new Premium package, and offers a stylish Designer Collection for personalization.

If you want a fun-loving, budget-conscious MPV with extras, here are five fast facts about the 2016 Kia Soul:

1) Three trim levels are available: base, Plus, and Exclaim. For 2016, the Plus gets gloss black lower bumper vents, fog lights, and an integrated rear camera. The Exclaim comes with leather seats and an available Premium package that includes forward-collision warning and lane-departure alert in addition to navigation, an Infinity audiophile system, panoramic sunroof, and ventilated/heated front seats and other amenities.

2) The base model Soul is powered by a 1.6-liter 4-cylinder engine that delivers 130 horsepower and 118 lb.-ft. of torque. The Plus and Exclaim are equipped with a larger 2.0-liter engine that produces 164 horsepower and 151 lb.-ft. of torque. The base Soul comes with a 6-speed manual or optional 6-speed automatic transmission, which is standard on the Plus and Exclaim trim levels.

3) Personalization is a key Soul attribute with a Designer Collection package that adds two-tone exterior paint—white with red roof or red with black roof. Included with the Designer group are 18-in. alloy wheels with black spokes and a leather-wrapped steering wheel and shift knob.

4) An optional interior Umber Color package is available with Shadow Black, Titanium, Fathom Blue, or Cloud White exteriors. HID projector headlights and Nappa leather upholstery and door armrest accents are included.

5) In some states, a pure electric variant is available with a driving range up to 93 miles before recharge, according to Kia. It should be noted that the Soul’s UVO infotainment system offers connectivity and helpful driver-assistance features. Also, don’t forget Kia’s 10-year/10,000-mile powertrain warranty.