Monday, June 29, 2015

KIA MOTORS EARNS BEST-EVER RANKING IN 2015 J.D. POWER INITIAL QUALITY STUDY


Third Straight Year of IQS Improvement Places Kia Second Among 33 Brands
·         Kia Sorento and Soul awarded for highest scores in compact multi-purpose vehicle and midsize SUV segments as five other Kia models rank among top three in their respective categories1
·          With nearly 20-percent improvement, Kia owners had fewer issues with their vehicles than nearly all other car and truck brands

IRVINE, Calif., June 17, 2015 – With more units in operation in the U.S. than ever before, Kia Motors reached another historic milestone today when J.D. Power recognized the brand as the second-highest scoring nameplate industry-wide in its 2015 Initial Quality Study (IQS). Kia’s IQS score improved by 20 points over its previous best-ever performance in 2014, vaulting the growing automaker up four positions to second overall among 33 automotive brands and highest among all mass-market nameplates.

Kia’s ascension was powered by segment-leading performances from two of the company’s best-selling vehicles – Soul and Sorento – while the Rio, Optima, Cadenza, Sportage and Sedona models all ranked in the top three of their respective categories.
“We believe the J.D. Power report leaves no doubt that Kia builds world-class vehicles, and the results are especially gratifying as the IQS study truly reflects the voice of our customers,” said Michael Sprague, Chief Operating Officer and EVP, Kia Motors America.  “Kia’s rise is one of the industry’s greatest success stories and is driven by the hard work of thousands of team members around the world as well as our long-term strategy to concentrate on quality, strengthen the brand and elevate the ownership experience.”                                                                   

Kia’s U.S. sales have more than doubled over the last six years as the brand has made significant investments in the market and steadily climbed J.D. Power’s annual IQS rankings. After the Soul was ranked number one in the compact multi-purpose vehicle segment in 2012, Kia broke into the overall top 10 in 2013, with the Soul and Sportage (tie) taking top honors in their respective segments, and then rose to sixth in the industry in 2014.  The company’s $1.1 billion manufacturing facility in West Point, Georgia – Kia Motors Manufacturing Georgia – produces the Sorento and Optima, and achieved its highest-ever quality ranking among plants in North/South America in the 2015 study. Additionally, the Kwangju plant where the Soul is produced ranked number one for the Asia Pacific Region.
Now in its 29th year, the annual J.D. Power IQS analyzes responses from vehicle owners in 26 segments.  IQS is determined by vehicle owners evaluating the driving experience, engine and transmission performance, and a broad range of quality-related problems within the first 90 days of ownership.

About Kia Motors America
Kia Motors America (KMA) is the marketing and distribution arm of Kia Motors Corporation based in Seoul, South Korea, and in 2014 was the #1 ranked mainstream brand according to Strategic Vision’s Total Quality Index.  KMA proudly serves as the "Official Automotive Partner" of the NBA and LPGA and set an all-time annual sales record in 2014, surpassing the 500,000 unit mark for the third consecutive year. KMA offers a complete line of vehicles, including the rear-drive K900** flagship sedan, Cadenza premium sedan, Sorento CUV, Soul urban passenger vehicle, Soul Electric Vehicle***, Sportage compact CUV, Optima midsize sedan, Optima Hybrid, the Forte compact sedan, Forte5 and Forte Koup, Rio and Rio 5-door subcompacts and the Sedona midsize multi-purpose vehicle, through a network of more than 765 dealers across the United States.  Kia’s U.S. manufacturing plant in West Point, Georgia, builds the Optima* and Sorento* and is responsible for the creation of more than 14,000 plant and supplier jobs.


Information about KMA and its full vehicle line-up is available at www.kia.com. For media information, including photography, visit www.kiamedia.com.  To receive custom email notifications for press releases the moment they are published, subscribe at www.kiamedia.com/us/en/newsalert.
* The Sorento and Optima GDI (EX, SX & Limited and certain LX Trims only) are assembled in the United States from U.S. and globally sourced parts
1 The Kia Soul and Kia Sorento received the lowest number of problems per 100 vehicles among compact multi-purpose vehicles and midsize SUVs, respectively, in the proprietary J.D. Power 2015 Initial Quality Study.SM Study based on responses from 84,367 new-vehicle owners, measuring 244 models and measures opinions after 90 days of ownership.  Proprietary study results are based on experiences and perceptions of owners surveyed in February-May 2015.  Your experiences may vary.  Visit jdpower.com.
** 2015 K900 V8 available in select trims and in select markets with limited availability.
*** 2015 Soul EV in select markets with limited availability.

Sunday, June 28, 2015

Kia Motors America Renews Partnership With The Ecology Center And Provides Soul EV To Support Community Outreach Efforts

Kia Motors America (KMA) today announced the renewal of its partnership with The Ecology Center, a San Juan Capistrano, California-based non-profit eco-education center dedicated to creating a healthy and abundant future for all of Southern California and beyond. In its third year as a "Visionary" partner, Kia is providing the use of a 2015 Soul EV to The Ecology Center, which complements the two electric vehicle charging stations installed as part of the partnership last year. Kia and The Ecology Center will organize and carry out sustainability-themed learning projects at the KMA campus in Irvine, California, and in the surrounding community, and both organizations will continue work together to plan hands-on conservation and volunteer activities at The Center.

"Kia's partnership with The Ecology Center has expanded over the years and is a reflection of our conscious dedication to sustainability, which is crucial for the continued success of our organization, the health and happiness of our customers and the communities we call home," said Tim Chaney, vice president of marketing communications, KMA.

"With valued partners like Kia, The Ecology Center is now a recognized leader for conservation and environmental awareness, and as the Center continues to expand, more educational opportunities will be available to the public," said Evan Marks, executive director, The Ecology Center. "With the opportunity to use the Soul EV, we can carry the message of sustainability to more members of the community in Southern California and beyond."

The Ecology Center is a rich environment for learning and education for all ages, and this summer the calendar has multiple opportunities and experiences, including:
  • Farm Film Series (Select dates June - August)
  • Free outdoor educational film screening for the entire community. 
  • Permaculture Design Certification Course (Every other weekend; now through August 23)
  • A three-month hands-on apprenticeship program mentoring future sustainability leaders on how to apply the principles of permaculture design to address our environmental challenges.
  • Farm Lab Camp (July 8 -11; July 15 -18; August 11 - 14)
  • Four-day summer camps for kids 5-6 & 7-9 with hands-on activities such as planting, exploring the biodiversity in soil, seed harvesting, caring of farm animals, cooking from the garden, and more.
  • Green Feast (September 12)
  • The Ecology Center's annual farm-to-table fundraising dinner bringing together 20 top chefs, 250 sustainability leaders, and local-only ingredients sourced within 250 miles. 
About The Ecology Center
The Ecology Center in San Juan Capistrano is an educational center that engages individuals, families, and students in fun, hands-on activities that teach practical, environmental solutions at the household and community level. The Ecology Center seeks to bring all members of the community together in a solutions-based educational setting to inspire and create a healthy and abundant future for all of Southern California. The Center highlights empowering and cutting-edge environmental perspectives that can be applied to the way we live our lives, making it possible for us to coexist with a thriving environment.


Saturday, June 27, 2015

Driver's Seat: The new Sedona is Quick on its Feet


2015 Kia Sedona SX-L: Upgrade for the family.

Price: $43,295 as tested. (This included $2,700 for the Technology Package, which featured lane departure and forward collision warning, surround-view monitor, and smart cruise control.) A base model can be had for $26,100.

Marketer's pitch: "Transform your drive."

Conventional wisdom: Edmunds.com likes the "distinctive dashboard and cockpit; value-priced; unique forward-collapsing second-row seats; extensive equipment availability; quiet cabin," but not the "subpar fuel economy ratings in SX-L trim; slightly less cargo space than primary rivals; SX-L's lounge seats don't collapse forward."

Reality: Somewhere between transformation and just transportation.

Family-friendly: There's no reviewer out there better equipped to put a minivan to the test than Mr. Driver's Seat. With the Lovely Mrs. Passenger Seat and Sturgis Kids 1.0 through 4.0, and the Sturgis Family Sienna as comparison, we put minivans through their paces.

And so it was with the 2015 Kia Sedona, a redesigned van that we couldn't wait to test.

What's new: The Sedona gets a whole new look - at least as much of that as a box for people can get.

The rear has grown more boxy, à la the latest generation of the Nissan Quest, and the front received a more modern Kia-like treatment, with a prominent grille set between pairs of rather angry-looking headlights.

Friends and stuff: We put three of the four Sturgis Kids inside for a road trip to the Big Apple. Sturgis Kids 1.0 and 4.0 report that the middle row in the SX-L - a trim level that gets a pair of captain's chairs that recline - was a reasonably comfortable place to spend a couple hours.

Sturgis Kid 1.0 reports that the seats are not as comfortable as the Sienna's - though they're fine when reclined, sitting upright is not great - and legroom is not nearly as generous when one full-size Sturgis young man sat behind the other.

Loading the Sedona is even more challenging. Other trim levels get three seats in the middle row that fold forward to stand tall, but the SX-L's seats only slide slightly out of the way. So the Sedona fails the 4-by-8 sheet-carrying contest, a severe drawback in a minivan.

Up to speed: The 3.3-liter engine creates 276 horsepower, a sizable amount of oomph to haul a big rig and eight people around. While this is 10 more than the latest Sienna, something in the six-speed automatic's shift logic or computer controls was amiss, and did not offer the solid performance I've had in the Sienna. A distinct hesitation made the Sedona a bit frightening when pulling out to pass.

On the road: On the bright side, the Sedona doesn't feel like a big, lumbering house on wheels like the Sienna does. Honda's Odyssey is definitely the best-handling of the minivans, and the Sedona is closer to it than to the bulky Sienna.

Seeing out: Visibility from the Sedona is awesome. I never had any concerns about seeing what was around me.

Play some tunes: The stereo in the Sedona offers B-plus sound. It's clear, but the emphasis seems a little on the treble side. Adjusting bass, midrange and treble didn't make enough of a difference.

Controls: From the stereo to the HVAC to the other various functions, all of the controls of the Sedona seemed complicated and hard to operate at a glance and by feel. A long row of buttons underneath the radio resembles an older-style Sienna setup, and a long row of buttons for the heater sits under that.

Seat heater, cooler, and other functions are on the console and never in more than 500 miles of driving did I feel that I could just glance and make my choice.

Feedback: One nice touch was a display next to the speedometer that flashed on to show what wiper mode I'd just selected. It can be difficult to tell in many vehicles.

On the downside, the cabin didn't have a lot of lighted switches or ambient light, so knowing what I was doing in the dark could be a challenge.

Fuel economy: I averaged 19.6 m.p.g. in a mix of highway-heavy turnpike and parked-in-Manhattan driving.

Where it's built: Sohari, South Korea.

How it's built: The Sedona hasn't yet been rated by Consumer Reports, but the previous generation was on the bottom rung of CR's ratings ladder for reliability.

In the end: Kia has caught up to other automakers in so many other redesigns, and the Soul sets the pace for affordable, practical, and fun little cars. But the Sedona remains behind the Sienna and Odyssey.

Friday, June 26, 2015

New Kia Optima: Two Styling Paths For Australian Model

Kia has today confirmed that its new Optima sedan will be sold in Australia with two distinct looks, mirroring the approach taken in the Korean market.
 
Headlining the range will be the turbocharged sports model revealed in April, while a more tame look will feature on lower grades.

That less aggressive, less ‘blingy’ look was first revealed in March, when an uncamouflaged Korean-market Optima - known there as the K5 - was spied on the roads of Seoul during filming for a new TV advertisement.

Although buyers of the Optima Turbo will be treated to a performance look with large silver-trimmed ports and a Mercedes-inspired diamond grille garnish, those opting for the ‘regular’ models will still get a sporting look.

The model spied in March, which could come here as a new SLi or Platinum model below the hero Turbo, features a sports-styled front bumper, large alloy wheels and a visible exhaust tip at the rear.

Those models are expected to be driven by a 138kW and 241Nm 2.4 litre petrol engine, while the Optima Turbo will get a 2.0 litre engine producing 180kW and 350Nm.

The debut of that top Turbo model should make the Optima a compelling option for those shopping in the midsized sedan market, matching the Sonata Turbo’s outputs and bettering the 177kW/345Nm engine of the top-shelf Ford mondeo.

Australian buyers can also look forward to the new model being put through the company’s ongoing localised tuning programme, optimising the Optima for our roads.


Thursday, June 25, 2015

2015 Kia K900: A Bargain in the Luxury Class

Dollars are easy to spend but tough to earn. If you're hoping to buy a German luxury sedan or a Cadillac, an $85,000 price tag isn't out of the question. That's a lot of overtime. There is, however, a solution to the problem.

Kia and Hyundai, both based in South Korea, are still little known in many areas of the U.S. Both have been offering quality vehicles at prices that make European, Japanese and American manufacturers blanch. When Kia began selling vehicles in the U.S. in 1994, some of its products had serious quality-control problems. Those days have passed, however, and the Korean firm is now focusing on what Americans expect. This week's test car is Kia's entry into the upper reaches of the market. After driving the Kia K900 for hundreds of miles, this reporter predicts that the new Kia will represent an American breakthrough for this Asian industry giant.

Outside, the Kia K900 isn't much to look at, its square lines, sunroof, folding mirrors and somewhat quirky styling detracting from its more attractively designed sheet metal. Inside is where things get interesting. Leather bucket seats (heated and cooled) welcome you, and wood graces the dash. The comfortable twin front buckets are divided by a utilitarian console. If you order the $6,000 VIP package, you receive advanced cruise control, power locks, a 12-inch electronic instrument panel, a mediocre heads-up display, a surround view monitor, power reclining rear seats, adjustable headrests and a number of other small items.

Up front (and in back, too), you get more airbags than you can imagine. UVO, the Kia version of General Motors' OnStar system, is standard. Also standard are rear cameras with a cross traffic alert, a tilt/telescope steering column and wheel, a navigation system (it's s-l-o-w), and front and rear floor mats. This $66,400-out-the-door vehicle ($59,500 base) also is equipped with stability and traction control, a blind spot detection system, a lane departure warning system, a temporary spare tire, a huge trunk and much, much more. (Air conditioning, fog lights, antilock disc brakes on all four wheels and rain-sensing windshield wipers are standard, too.)

Before going further, you need to know about the Kia warranty, which the company claims is the best in the business (except, perhaps, for Mitsubishi). You get 10 years or 100,000 miles of powertrain protection, six years or 60,000 miles of bumper-to-bumper coverage, and five years or 60,000 miles of roadside assistance. There's nothing wrong with finding out about the warranty after you've bought the car, but with other auto firms now cutting warranties, it's a powerful reason to think about purchasing a Kia.

Mechanical bits and pieces are covered by the warranty, in addition to numerous other items. Collision damage, of course, isn't covered.

Under the hood you'll find a quiet 5.0 liter V-8 mated to an eight-speed transmission. It's almost as smooth as a BMW. It makes 420 horsepower, pushing this heavy 4,555-pound vehicle from zero to 60 in 5.7 seconds. Sixty to zero braking was measured at 125 feet, long for the class. The U-turn circle was noted to be 37 feet, an outstanding figure. A six-cylinder engine is also available, a power plant that is more than adequate. In EPA testing using high-test gas, the K900 returned 15 city and 23 highway miles per gallon. Noted by this reporter was 13 in the city and 19 on freeways.

Turning to the sound system, you'll find a 900-watt unit with 18 speakers and a subwoofer. It also includes AM/FM/CDs/Satellite and Bluetooth with USB plus everything needed for hands-free cellular operation. Despite the unit's power rating, it's mediocre at best, especially in fringe reception areas.

Handling was just as one would expect from a heavy vehicle meant to carry five people in comfort. Don't dive into corners at excessive speed or purposely slide on wet streets. The tires squeal and the car leans over. It's not excessive, but remember that this vehicle is meant for luxury, not performance. Ride, the opposite of handling, was smooth and came without the slightest protest from a full passenger cabin. It's a mixture of German and Japanese suspension ideas, neither of which meets German car standards. Nonetheless, you'll never complain about the smooth ride.

Overall Kia's K900 is a fine car at a bargain price. It has a few weak spots but no major flaws. The K900, with either the V-6 or V-8, is a decent vehicle with a fine warranty that makes it well worth buying.

Zane Binder has been testing cars and bikes for more than 30 years. A former reporter, editor and bureau chief at The Press of Atlantic City, he saw the industries' heartbeat during a stint at Subaru of America. Later he toiled as the auto and bike tester for King Features Syndicate (Hearst Newspapers) and DBR Media. In his spare time, he authored two auto repair guides and one about personal finance.


Kia Opens Preorders For All-New K5

Kia Motors, South Korea’s second-largest automaker, said it would begin accepting preorders for its upgraded midsize sedan, the all-new K5, from Monday.

The second-generation of the K5, set to go on sale in mid-July, comes five years after the first version’s launch in 2010. The vehicle features an upgraded design and improved engine features.

The new K5 comes in two models, featuring differing design schemes ― the K5 Modern Extreme and the K5 Sporty Extreme.

There are five engine types available, including the 2.0 gasoline, 2.0 and 1.6 turbo, 1.7 diesel and 2.0 LPI engines, the company said. The two turbo engines are available only for the K5 SX model.


The carmaker is planning to launch a hybrid electric vehicle by the end of this year and a plug-in hybrid EV model by early next year to expand the engine lineup to seven.

In particular, the 1.6 turbo and 1.8 diesel engines, equipped with a dual-clutch transmission, boast improved performance and fuel efficiency. The turbo engine flaunts a maximum of 180 horsepower and a fuel efficiency of 13.4 kilometers per liter, which surpasses the gasoline engine’s 168 horsepower and 12.6 km per liter fuel efficiency.

Moreover, the K5 features the first wireless cellphone charging system and autonomous breaking system to be installed on a Korean midsize vehicle.

The gas-powered models are priced between 22.35 million won ($20,000) and 29 million won, the 1.6 turbo models sell for between 25.1 million won-28.5 million won and the 2.0 turbo models for 31.05 million won-31.45 million won.

Kia Motors is offering up to 800,000 won in benefits to those who order the K5 by September ― including premium JBL bluetooth speakers worth 200,000 won and no monthly service charges for those who install the UVO 2.0 navigation program.