Wednesday, November 30, 2016

2017 Kia Sorento: Underdog SUV warrants bigger market

While vying for a market share against the well-touted Hyundai Santa Fe and Toyota Highlander, the unheralded 2017 Kia Sorento counters with equally high overall marks. It has an extraordinary list of standard features and industry-best safety ratings.
The 2017 Kia Sorento has plush interior and a rugged exterior.

The Sorento was redesigned in 2016, so this year’s model is largely a continuation of the new generation except for a few technology tweaks. The midsize SUV is available in L, LX, EX, SX and SX Limited (SXL) trims. The SX and SXL include the other trims’ features and several upgrades: The SX features heated seats and steering wheel, push-button start and a power liftgate.
My weekly driver was the top-line SXL trim with all-wheel drive and a third row of seats. It’s packed with features from all of the other trims. But it also has Nappa leather seats, heated second-row seats, and a surround-view monitor. The quality of the interior material and the craftsmanship are surprisingly plush for the segment.
While some of my test mileage in city driving showcased the new Sorento’s strong maneuverability, most of the nearly 1,000-mile review mileage occurred on the open road. It was a round-trip haul from Sacramento to Los Angeles and included long high-speed stretches on Interstate 5 and Highway 99.
The highway driving allowed for the frequent use of Kia’s keen safety features, including Advanced Smart Cruise Control. Available in three pre-set distance options, the feature astutely and seamlessly adjusts your cruising speed to match the vehicle ahead of you. It marks the end of having to tap on the brake or readjust your cruising speed while utilizing cruise control.
The Sorento’s safety considerations go further. The Lane Departure Warning System tells the driver if they’re drifting out of a lane. There’s also the Blind Spot Detection System. It tells the driver when there’s a vehicle is its blind spot.
Despite its super comfort, strong safety features and overall manufacturing quality, the Kia Sorento may still find it difficult to infiltrate the top sales plateau in its class. But it deserves more attention.
Overall comfort.
Quiet, smooth drive.
Quality interior craftsmanship.
Industry-best warranty.
Versatile and easy-to-configure second-row seats.
Five-star NHTSA safety ratings.
Some navigation system functions are misleading.
Sensitive technology warning notifications.
Expensive top-line trim.
Facts & Figures: 2017 Kia Sorento
Acceleration: 0-60 mph, 7.8 seconds.
Airbags: 6.
Fuel economy: 17 mpg (city), 23 mpg (highway), 19 mpg (combined), six-speed automatic transmission.
Horsepower: 290.
Manufacturer’s Suggested Retail Price: $45,700.00.
Manufacturer’s Website:
Price As Tested: $46,595.00.
Warranty: Bumper to bumper, 5 years/60,000 miles; Powertrain, 10 years/100,000 miles; Corrosion, 5 years/ 100,000 miles; Roadside Assistance, 5 years/60,000 miles.
What Others Say:
“There is a marked sense of sophistication in the 2017 Kia Sorento’s ride. Even top-of-the-line models with their big 19-inch wheels manage to soak up bumps without harshness.” —
The Weekly Driver’s Final Words:
“If there’s any remaining public notion that Kia represents a cheap alternative or isn’t worthy of consideration, the 2017 Kia Sorento erases those sentiments. It’s the real deal and a worthy challenger for the top-sellers in its class.”

Monday, November 28, 2016

All-new Kia Cadenza Wins Large Sedan of the Year Award from the Hispanic Motor Press Association

With the all-new 2017 Cadenza now arriving in showrooms, the Hispanic Motor Press Awards® organization recently recognized Kia’s second-generation full-size premium car as the “Large Sedan of the Year.” In the comparative test, which assessed large cars from multiple manufacturers, judges evaluated each vehicle on safety, quality, value, performance, design, style, environmental impact and technology standards. The winning vehicles are said to reflect the distinctive style, tastes and needs of the influential Latino US population.

“The ‘New Kia’ is world-class by every measure, and the all-new Cadenza is our latest model to be honored with a coveted Hispanic Motor Press Award,” said Michael Sprague, chief operating officer and EVP, KMA. “The Cadenza injects a much-needed shot of excitement to the large-car segment with its striking, aggressively handsome looks and premium refinements, and Kia is honored to be named among the best choices for Latino families.”

The stunningly beautiful Cadenza improves upon all the elements that define the large car category, including a precisely crafted cabin, with available cutting edge technology for connectivity and driver assistance, a stronger body structure, and powertrain enhancements for a more premium experience behind the wheel.

Started in 2010, the Hispanic Motor Press Awards consider over 100 vehicles before selecting three final contenders in different categories. Each vehicle's features were assessed as they relate to the typical Latino consumer in the United States. The award vetting process includes test drives, mass market availability, and affordability data valuations. Judges also take into account overall design, comfort, safety, performance, functionality and overall value package when making their final selection. Now on its 7th annual edition, the independent awards recognize the best automobiles for Hispanic families.


Tuesday, November 22, 2016

Recall Alert: 2008-2009 Kia Sportage

Vehicles Affected: Approximately 72,000 model-year 2008-09 Kia Sportage SUVs manufactured between Aug. 9, 2007, and May 13, 2009
The Problem: The wire harness cover on the hydraulic electronic control unit may be improperly sealed, allowing water to get onto the HECU circuit board. If the water contains salt, the wire harness connector pins may corrode and short circuit the circuit board, increasing the risk of an engine fire.
The Fix: Dealers will inspect the connector pins for corrosion and, if detected, replace the HECU assembly for free. If no corrosion is found, the connector cover will be replaced.
What Owners Should Do: Kia will begin notifying owners Nov. 28. Owners can call the automaker at 800-333-4542 or the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration's vehicle-safety hotline at 888-327-4236, or go to for more info.

Monday, November 21, 2016

A sleeker, impressive Kia Sportage for 2017

WASHINGTON — Looking to stand out from the crowd? The 2017 Kia Sportage has a new look and a refined ride.
It wasn’t long ago that Kia was just a cheap buy with bland looks. Those days seem a distant memory after the last five or so years of stylish and value-packed rides.
But this small crossover didn’t seem to fit in as well as some other Kia models. It was a good value for the dollar, but the styling wasn’t as expressive as others in the Kia lineup.

For 2017, Kia went for it in a redo of the compact crossover – inside and out. And this time around, the styling takes center stage. It has a sleeker look outside, and the burnished copper paint helps it pop. The front end seems to be a mashup of a little Porsche crossover, inspired with headlights that wrap around and back up the hood. The grill is oddly shaped, and it has the tiniest fog lights that I’ve ever seen on a compact crossover.
The model I tested is the $33,395 SX trim level, top-of-the-line for the Sportage. It comes with larger 19-inch wheels that help add a little sport to this ride. The side view has some flared fenders for those larger wheels and adds some depth as well.
The rear-end styling doesn’t stand out as much as the rest, but it’s still more stylish than most others in the compact crossover class. A dual exhaust system and chrome strip running across help out a bit.
The SX model also offers a nice power bump. with a turbo-charged four-cylinder engine. Most crossovers in this class can’t touch the 240 hp that this Kia packs, and my fuel economy came to 25.8 mpg in 200 miles of mixed driving — better than the 23 mpg the sticker lists.
I can tell that Kia paid attention to ride as well; even with large wheels, it takes bumps better than previous Sportages. The ride seems more composed than before, and the handling is better as well. Having the power is nice, and it helps keep up and merge easily with the traffic flow.
It seems bigger than before, because it is. Yet it’s still easy to park and drive in the city. The rear vision wasn’t the best, so the camera does help when backing into that parking spot. The six-speed automatic transmission does a nice job of getting to the highest gear as quickly as possible.
Kia didn’t forget the inside when they remade this compact Ute. It’s an upscale look for this class — not terribly exciting, but quality. The heated and ventilated front seats have nice-looking leather in this class.
The space is also good for both front- and rear seat passengers, and the panoramic sunroof adds light and not much noise, unlike others. The other materials seemed to be a higher quality than before with a nice addition of more soft-touch materials. There are a lot of buttons on the center console, and it takes time to get used to them and what they do. Luckily, the 8-inch touch screen is easy to use, and the NAV works rather well. The rear cargo area has good space, and the hands-free power lift gate is a nice touch for full hands.
The 2017 Kia Sportage still is a value starting at around $23,000, but it’s also a premium crossover when you choose the SX model. With performance from a turbo engine and plenty of space for most small families, the Sportage is going from bland to standout, and in a red-hot compact crossover segment, it competes better than it ever has.

Friday, November 18, 2016

Video Review: Kia Cadenza Offers Budget-Minded Pampering

We make deliberate choices when buying things. Shopping for a wallet recently, I briefly considered a devastatingly gorgeous Burberry billfold. However, the outlay would have left me with little money to put into it. Oh, the irony. I opted for something similar but far more affordable.
It’s the same with cars. A deluxe sedan can be had without a premium badge affixed. Toyota does it with the Avalon. There are also the Hyundai Azera, Nissan Maxima and Chevy Impala.
The near-luxury entry from Kia, the South Korean automaker, is the Cadenza (which spell check desperately wants to change to credenza). The 2017 model is the second generation to be sold in the United States. Simply put, this elevated machine pampers owners with Coach quality at Wilsons Leather prices.
Does the Cadenza indulge at the level of a BMW 5 Series or Mercedes E-Class? No. There is more than just social ranking with those loftier prices.
The Germans are rear- or all-wheel drive, while the front wheels pull the Korean around. Autoparking and those traffic-jam-coping self-driving modes that briefly take over on Volvo, Mercedes and BMW cars are M.I.A. on the Cadenza.
But the Kia looks rich. And Swedish. From the front three-quarters view, it’s a kissing cousin to Volvo’s new S90 sedan. Demerits, though, for that square chunk of a sensor on the grille.
Base models with standard rearview camera and leather seating start at $32,890. My Limited tester at $45,290 is stuffed with details expected from upscale rides. Its trendy quilted Napa leather is supple, and the front seats it is draped over are climate controlled. A suede headliner looks to be swiped from a car twice the price. Panoramic roof glass treats all passengers.
There is no shortage of safety tech, either. Auto braking with pedestrian detection, adaptive cruise control, lane-keep assist and blind-spot warning are all along for the ride. So is a surround-view camera system that to the driver makes it seem there is a drone hovering above the car.
Shoveling content into an upscale car is easy enough. But integrating it well is a black art that Kia engineers pull off. The touch-screen interface is fall-on-your-face easy and incorporates Android Auto and Apple CarPlay. A head-up display helps to keep eyes on the road.
How does the Cadenza go? Acceleration is brisk, nailing 0 to 60 runs in just under 7 seconds. But the revised V6, refined as it is, doesn’t match the velvety operation found under high-zoot hoods. At 3.3-liters, the engine produces 290 horsepower and 253 pound-feet of torque.
The transmission has eight speeds and shift paddles on the steering wheel. Drive modes alter shift dynamics, steering weight and throttle response, but not suspension firmness. (Remember those extra Franklins in your wallet or purse before grousing.)
The new Cadenza’s lighter chassis structure manages to improve torsional rigidity by 35 percent. The suspension employs aluminum steering knuckles, and Amplitude Selective Damping shock absorbers help quell body bob and dive.
Kia finally dialed in some road feel through the steering wheel, an attribute historically lacking. The button-down ride quality is comfortable, controlled and quiet without oozing driving character. Go with the Nissan Maxima for a taste of that.
Uncle Sam rates Cadenza’s fuel economy at 20 city and 28 highway on standard grade fuel. That is competitive in its class.
Kia claims that the Cadenza’s interior is the most spacious among the direct competition, and there is no question the back seat is nearly limolike.
Bun warmers back there? Yep. There are sunshades for the side and rear glass, too. Power jacks in the rear can charge phones and computers, but there’s no rear climate zone. Seat backs don’t fold to expand the trunk (though there is a slot for skis). Fortunately, the trunk is spacious.
Not only does the Cadenza slug it out with the cars mentioned earlier, it holds its own against near-luxury offerings like Buick’s new LaCrosse, the Lincoln MKZ and Lexus ES.
In addition to style, features and value, Kia offers a 10 year/100,000 mile powertrain warranty. The Cadenza may not impress brand snobs, but the price leaves buyers a good amount of leftover cash to stuff into their wallets. Feel free to make it a fancy one.

Thursday, November 17, 2016

Kia Soul bags Consumer Guide Automotive Best Buy Award in subcompact car segment

The all-new Kia Soul has managed to bag the 2017 Consumer Guide Automotive Best Buy Award for the third consecutive year in the subcompact car segment.
The 2017 Kia Soul is powered by 201-hp 1.6-liter turbocharged engine that adds 40 horsepower to the previous capacity. At a fuel economy of 28 miles-per-gallon, city and highway combined, the mileage of the new Kia Soul is better than the combined mileage of the 2.0-liter normally-aspirated 161-hp engine in the Soul Plus and in the 130-hp Soul Base 1.6-liter.

Kia has ensured that the new Kia Soul offers a much better performance and to ensure that it has added a new 7-speed Dual Clutch Transmission (DCT), which contributes to a more engaging driving experience. Other new options for the 2017 model year are convenience systems such as Rear Cross Traffic Alert and Blind Spot Detection. The 2017 Exclaim also gets standard UVO32 with e-Services with integrated Android Auto and Apple CarPlay.
Kia Motors America VP Orth Hedrick claimed that consumers opt for Kia Soul not only because what the car has to offer in terms of style and extensive feature set, but also the value it offers to its owners. No matter what your lifestyle is, Kia Soul matches perfectly and a testimony to that is the third consecutive year of Consumer Guide Automotive Best Buy award that proves the Soul continues to be a crowd favorite.
Each year Consumer Guide Automotive editors select the best vehicles from 20 segments to receive Best Buy Awards, with vehicle price and value being major factors in their selection process. By prioritizing these key consideration points in the car-buying process, the Consumer Guide Automotive Best Buy Awards serve a practical purpose to everyday car shoppers. Celebrating its 50th Anniversary in 2017, Consumer Guide Automotive is one of the most trusted names in the automobile industry.

Wednesday, November 16, 2016

2017 Kia Sportage Wins Kelley Blue Book's Best Buy Award For Small SUV/Crossover

IRVINE, Calif.Nov. 15, 2016 /PRNewswire/ -- Kia Motors America's (KMA) longest running nameplate in its fourth-generation, the Sportage, wins the Best Buy of the Year Award among small SUVs/crossovers on behalf of Kelley Blue Book's  The all-new 2017 Sportage earned a spot on Kelley Blue Book's list of 12 winners after an extensive yearlong data collection process, vehicle testing and evaluation of hundreds of 2017 model-year vehicles.  
"The all-new 2017 Sportage has improved in all the right areas, from its expressive styling and functional interior to its refined performance," said Orth Hedrick, vice president, product planning KMA. "To be recognized by the experts at Kelley Blue Book as a Best Buy among some of the toughest competition demonstrates the all-new Sportage is a breed apart from the CUV segment."

With its distinct European styling, innovative packaging, turbocharged engine and feature-rich interior, sales of IIHS Top Safety Pick + have been on a sharply upward trajectory, with year-over-year sales up 59.3 percent.
"The new-for-2017 Kia Sportage offers versatility, ease-of-use and laudable utility in a fun-to-drive package," said Jack R. Nerad, executive editorial director and executive market analyst for Kelley Blue Book.  "Its value-price and the length and comprehensiveness of its warranty were also keys to its 2017 Kelley Blue Book Best Buy Award win in the red-hot Small SUV/Crossover category."
The Kelley Blue Book Best Buy Awards provide a significant service to consumers by identifying the top 2017 model-year vehicles.  More than 300 new-car models were tested and evaluated in order to determine the finalists and, ultimately, the winners.
About the 2017 Sportage
The all-new 2017 Sportage wraps a contemporary design around a structure that is both stiffer and more spacious than ever before. Advanced driver assistance technologies, significant suspension and steering improvements, and available intelligent AWD improve the Sportage's driving dynamics while premium materials create a class-up experience in an otherwise utilitarian segment. The 2.0-liter inline-four turbo found on the FWD SX Turbo makes 240 horsepower (237 on AWD models) and 260 lb.-ft. of torque, while LX and EX trims use a normally aspirated 2.4-liter engine that produces 181 horsepower and 175 lb.-ft. of torque. Like the outgoing model, the all-new Sportage is built at Kia's production facility in Gwangju, Korea.

Tuesday, November 15, 2016

2017 Kia Soul Turbo first drive review

The Soul hatchback has been very, very good to Kia.
Where some car companies believe in their most expensive products to exemplify their respective brand identities, Kia has turned to the chance popularity of its compact hatchback to embody the image of a brand in transition.
The way Kia explains it, the Soul was a gamble—at a moment when small, boxy hatchbacks/crossovers were first in demand—that has paid dividends for the way people look at the brand. Several hundred thousand units and well into its second generation, Kia is letting the almost-premium Soul speak for itself.
Lest the Soul become tired midway through its life cycle, Kia has implanted a 201-horsepower turbocharged 1.6-liter turbocharged inline-4 into its poky hatch, reinvigorating it in a meaningful way. A 7-speed dual-clutch automatic transmission routes all the power to the front wheels.
2017 Kia Soul Turbo
2017 Kia Soul Turbo
If that combination sounds familiar, that’s because it’s also offered in the recently tested 2017 Hyundai Elantra Sport, as well as other Hyundai and Kia products. Yes, the turbocharged Soul sports a distinct, lower grille housing that you’ll immediately recognize, as well as revised headlamps, more USB ports inside, and subtle cosmetic alterations, but this powertrain is the most significant upgrade.

The good news is that the addition of the 1.6-liter turbo enhances everything we already enjoy about driving the Soul, and addresses two of our sticking points: a “hunting” automatic transmission, and “lackluster” fuel economy. The 7-speed dual-clutch transmission is refined and shifts quickly and smoothly, with minimal lurch from a standstill. Only the steepest uphill slopes of San Francisco enabled the Soul’s tendency to roll back a bit without serious pressure on the gas pedal.

And this more powerful Soul is actually less thirsty than its siblings, returning 26 mpg city and 31 highway. Considering the Soul’s upright, wind tunnel-challenged shape, that’s an impressive—and repeatable, as we found out over 100 miles of highway driving—return.

Our only remaining gripe? Engine noise at and above 4,000 rpm is still harsh and unrefined, sounding something between a vacuum cleaner and a hair dryer. The VTEC effect, this is not. Some polish, however, is all that separates the Soul’s new powertrain from overwhelmingly winning us over.

It doesn’t take a long road trip to discover that this engine/transmission combination is what should be standard equipment in all Soul hatchbacks. We tested the turbocharged Soul on the surface streets of San Francisco and the switchback roadsof northern California, and have only positive impressions to report about the way it handles.

Its steering feel ranks high among the sharpest and most lively in the field of small hatchbacks, with quick response and weight without numbness. Further, thanks to smart gearing—short in lower gears and tall in cruising gears—the turbocharged Soul neither struggles to merge onto highways nor whirrs on the interstate. The Soul’s economy car roots show through only in its ride quality, which stands to improve over expansion joints, speed humps, and bumps in the road. Selectable “drive modes” exist to tighten steering in Sport and retard performance in Eco, but otherwise have little effect on the Soul’s character.

Stomping on the throttle at a stoplight results in noticeable torque steer, proving that extra horsepower for its own sake does not instantly create a performance car. Consider the 9-hp-stronger Volkswagen GTI, which features chassis enhancements over the standard Golf, if you’re seeking out a hot hatchback.

But the turbocharged Soul was never intended to be a GTI. Rather, more power under the hood means that the Soul Exclaim (!) can relax a bit, instead of screaming its way through a passing maneuver. The more time you spend with a Soul, the more its driver-focused personality shows through, and the Soul Exclaim (!) leverages an already capable chassis to make it more fun to drive.

2017 Kia Soul Turbo
2017 Kia Soul Turbo
Even if you’re not seeking out driving thrills, you might want to give the Soul Exclaim (!) a look. It bucks the convention that econo cars should deliver to a price point, with expensive-feeling interior trim covering a classy space. The Exclaim (!) trim level hardly connotes luxury, but the best-appointed Soul definitely feels expensive inside.

Its optional navigation interface is second-to-none in responsiveness and functionality, if a bit behind in map interface. Orange accent stitching on the steering wheel, headrests, and shifter boot, is a premium touch. The Exclaim (!) is the first and only Soul to be offered with an available Harman Kardon sound system, which offers surprisingly crisp sound quality.

This Soul is no different in size than its brethren, sharing its 24.2-cubic foot luggage area with the seats up, and over 60 cubes with the seats down.
Fully loaded, with a panoramic sunroof ($1,000), the aforementioned infotainment system and tech-focused safety equipment ($3,000) and at around $28K, the priciest Soul is nearly twice as expensive as the base model, presenting a paradox in value for money. To wit, within Kia’s own lineup, the larger Optima sedan is available with the same powertrain for about $25,000. The smart move, and the best overall package, would be if Kia ditched the other two engine options and made the 1.6 turbo standard across the line.

For now, if you’re looking for a small crossover packing a bigger-than-expected punch, consider the Soul Exclaim (!) the fastest and most efficient iteration of a reliable favorite.