Wednesday, July 27, 2016

Why the Sedona SX Might Make More Sense Than the SXL

Although a few options differentiate the Sedona SX and SXL, but with the technology package added, both come equipped with auto-leveling HID headlights, High Beam Assist, a 115-volt power inverter in the cargo area, front and rear parking sensors, a multi-camera parking system, adaptive cruise control, forward collision and lane departure warning as well as a heated steering wheel. Before adding any packages, the SXL’s $3,500 price premium gets you different front and rear fascia with chrome accents and chrome door handles. It rides on 19-inch chrome wheels instead of machine-finished 18s on the SX. Inside, you get dual sunroofs, Nappa leather, a leather- and wood wrapped steering wheel, and of course, lounge seating for two in the second row.

Although the Sedona SXL’s extra goods will make the Sedona look and feel more luxurious, they’re luxuries we can do without. The SX is really all we need. Unlike lower trim levels, the SX comes with an 8-speaker Infinity soundsystem plus navigation on an 8-inch screen. It’s a huge upgrade over the infotainment system in the lower trims.
We also prefer the Slide-N-Stow and removable second row over the SXL’s fancy lounge seats that make the Sedona a seven and not eight-passenger minivan. Although we have to get by without dual sunroofs, we get the added benefit of better mileage thanks to less weight (an EPA-rated 18/25 city/highway versus the SXL’s 17/22 mpg). Smaller wheels and thicker sidewalls may also contribute to our van’s nice ride.

Because of our needs, the Sedona SX was the right choice. But if you only need to transport seven and not eight passengers, don’t mind reduced gas mileage, and your kids can’t live without Nappa leather, consider the Sedona SXL.

Tuesday, July 26, 2016

Kia Optima GT 2016 review | road test

We recently reported on Kia’s success in the 2016 JD Power Initial Quality Study (IQS), the USA car industry’s benchmark for new-vehicle quality. The South Korean company was number one. While the result will have surprised many it is anything but a surprise to those of us that have been watching the steady rise of the giant Hyundai/Kia group.
We’ve just spent a week in the latest version of the Kia Optima, released late last year, and quality is the word that immediately sprung to mind. This isn’t just a good Korean car, it’s one that stands comparison with many much more expensive cars from either Japan or Europe.

New Optima is the first Kia to be developed under the full control of Peter Schreyer, President and Chief Design Officer of Kia Motors.
"The interior has that luxury feel and ambiance that we except from much more expensive cars."
It features edge surfaces, sharp body lines and creases, and a more elongated sedan silhouette. The GT variant that we tested has a bold, purposeful, look with an aggressive front bumper design; black high gloss side sills; a rear air diffuser with integrated dual tailpipes and GT badging.
Engines / Transmissions
The Optima range has been trimmed back to two variants: the $34,490 Si with the carryover 2.4-litre naturally-aspirated four-cylinder 138kW, 241Nm engine. The $43,990 GT is powered by a new all-alloy 2.0-litreturbocharged petrol motor. Boasting 180kW and 350Nm, the latter features a twin-scroll turbocharger and dual continuously variable valve timing technology.
Both engines drive the front wheels through Kia’s own design of six-speed automatic transmission with paddle shifters. Both also come with three drive modes: Normal, Sports and Eco.
The Optima rolls on either 17-inch (Si) or 18-inch (GT) alloy wheels with Continental rubber on Si and performance-rated Michelin Pilot Sport 3 for the GT. Both carry a full-size spare.
Optima is around the same size as the Toyota Camry that dominates sales in the medium family category in Australia, and is not that much smaller than the Commodore and Falcon. Interior space is well-managed with plenty of leg, shoulder and headroom both front and rear although the GT does come with a panoramic sunroof that steals some headroom, which could annoy taller occupants.
Kia Optima Si has cloth seats, GT gets black leather with contrast red stitching, which are heated and ventilated in the fronts. Red interior trim with dark grey stitching is also available in the GT.
Boot capacity is 510 litres. The GT gets a ‘smart trunk’ system that automatically opens the boot when the key is held near to the rear of the car. A three-beep warning alerts the key-holder to the imminent boot opening and allows it to be aborted if necessary.

Both models get the usual safety equipment including front, side and curtain airbags, enhanced ABS brakes and stability / traction control. Also standard are front and rear parking sensors; reversing camera; lane departure warning; autonomous emergency braking; LED daytime running lights and front fog lights; dusk sensing automatic headlights; auto dimming rear mirror; static cornering lights; and IsoFix rear seat child restraint anchorage points.
Optima GT adds blind-spot and-lane change assist; rear cross traffic alert; adaptive front lighting; as well as a smart key with push button start.
New Optima has yet to undergo ANCAP testing but given that it has more safety equipment than its five-star rated predecessor that top score seems little more than a formality.
Equipment levels are high with colour LCD touchscreens (7.0-inch in the Si, 8.0-inch in the GT); with satellite navigation; Bluetooth phone and audio; Auxiliary and USB inputs; and speed dependent volume control. GT also gets a higher grade 590 watt Harman/Kardon sound system.
Our test car was the turbocharged petrol engine Optima GT. Kia’s not the first company to stretch the truth a little with the GT (as in Grand Touring) label and won’t be the last. It’s not a long-distance luxury cruiser, nor is it especially sporty, but just about everything else it does extremely well.
The interior has that luxury feel and ambiance that we except from much more expensive cars. The seats are supportive and comfortable and the various displays and controls are all conveniently placed and intuitive. Bluetooth pairing took less than a minute.
As with all Kia models new Optima’s suspension has been tuned to suit Australian conditions, and it shows. The ride is comfortable in normal conditions but also coped with a few unexpected potholes and ridges that we encountered over the semi-rural segment of our usual test route.
The new turbo-petrol engine, one that Optima shares with its Hyundai Sonata Premium sibling, brings a Euro feel to the car’s performance. It’s responsive, punchy and powerful especially in the mid-range gears. Gear changes from the six-speed auto are smooth and fast.
About the only downside is fuel consumption which is officially tested at 8.5 litres per 100 kilometres on the combined urban / non-urban cycle. We averaged just under 10 L/100 km in our test.
The days of Korean cars selling primarily on price are now probably in the past. While they still provide good value the latest offerings combine quality with good looks and high levels of standard equipment.
We recommend a test drive of the Kia Optima but make sure that you approach it with an open mind and without any badge preconceptions. If you prefer to trust the judgement of others then you’ll find that Optima GT won its category (Medium Cars Under $50,000) in the latest Australia’s Best Cars award as judged by Australian motoring clubs.

Monday, July 25, 2016

Kia Motors planning on India setup

South Korea’s second-largest automaker, Kia Motors, is considering investing in the Indian market. Reports indicate that the company is in the process of shortlisting sites where it can setup its first production facility in the country. The brand’s entry in the Indian market will be supported by its partner Hyundai Motors which holds the second position in terms of sales in India.
Kia Motors planning on India setup |

Reports further state that the Kia facility might be operational by 2019 and over a period expects to have production capacity of up to 3,00,000 units a year. Currently, Kia Motors and Hyundai Motors collaboratively hold the fifth automaker position in the global market. Going by current trends, the Indian market is expected to emerge as the third largest auto market in the world by 2020, thereby offering immense potential for the automotive sector to grow.
Kia Motors has not revealed the size of the investment for now and has also declined to comment on the models that might be produced here. The company will reveal details about its India plans sometime by September this year. Reports indicate that states like Maharashtra, Andhra Pradesh and Gujarat have been trying to woo Kia motors to go ahead with its investment plans.

Friday, July 22, 2016

10 reasons to buy a Kia Sportage

10. Comprehensive seven-year warranty

Kia's outstanding seven-year warranty is famous in the car industry. No other manufacturer comes close to offering the same deal when it comes to taking care of your car and the parts it uses.

9. Good visibility

Like most SUVs, the Sportage's raised driving position gives you a good view of the road ahead, and most models come with rear parking sensors and a reversing camera as standard to aid tricky manoeuvres.

8. Strong diesel engine

The 1.7-litre diesel we recommend here is cheap to buy and is the most economical in the range, and is more than gutsy enough to satisfy most drivers. If you want more power, there's a 2.0-litre diesel on offer, too.

7. Great value for money

At £18,000, the Sportage represents real value for money. The majority of its rivals cost significantly more, and only the Seat Ateca's £17,990 asking price beats it. In fact, our favourite 1.7-litre CRDi diesel model in '2' specification is thousands of pounds cheaper than the equivalent Qashqai. There are plenty of PCP and finance offers available, too.

6. Plenty of kit

Granted, the entry-level Sportage is pretty sparse, but from there up all models come with plenty of equipment, including a 7.0in colour touchscreen infotainment system, which is easy to use and looks smart.

5. Cabin quality

Despite its price, the interior of the Sportage uses plenty of quality materials, and it doesn't feel cheap. It all feels solidly put together, and all models get a leather-trimmed steering wheel.

4. Big space inside

Both front and rear passengers get plenty of space in the Sportage, with enough head, leg and elbow room to keep even tall adults comfortable. The rear seats are fairly flexible, too, folding to increase the available boot space.

3. Good resale values

The Sportage is known for holding on to its value, so even if you splash out on a high-end model, chances are you'll get most of your money back when it comes to selling the car on.

2. Strong looks

The Sportage has always been a looker in the SUV market, and this latest version continues the trend. Its aggressive front end includes a large grille and side vents to house the fog lights.

1. Clever tech

The Sportage range features all of the latest technology, including a smart tailgate which opens as you stand in front of it, and a self-parking function.

Thursday, July 21, 2016

One Year in Kia’s Feature-Filled Compact Crossover

The outside-temperature display read a startling 118 degrees, but I couldn’t have been any cooler inside the 2017 Kia Sportage. To cope with a surprise Southern California heat wave, the Sportage did its part with air-conditioning and a feature you still don’t see much under $35,000: cooled front seats. And although it’s cool Kia offers so many features at reasonable prices, there’s a lot more to owning a car than an impressive optional and standard features list. Sportage sales surged through the first half of 2016, and I’m looking forward to determining how much sense this new-for-2017 crossover makes for consumers brave enough to walk past top-sellers such as the Toyota RAV4Honda CR-V, and Ford Escape.

The Kia makes a good first impression, its as-tested $32,595 price representing a completely loaded model before moving from the volume engine to the upgrade option. The standard naturally aspirated, 181-hp, 2.4-liter inline-four produces 175 lb-ft of torque, is mated to a six-speed automatic, and in our long-termer has a $1,500 all-wheel-drive system. Above our EX model in the Sportage line is the SX, which is powered by a 2.0-liter turbo-four making either 237 hp with all-wheel drive or 240 hp with front-wheel drive, plus 260 lb-ft in either configuration. EPA-rated fuel economy isn’t class-leading with either engine, even with the EPA’s new test procedures for 2017; a Sportage 2.4 AWD is rated 21/25 mpg city/highway. In the Motor Trend-exclusive Real MPG tests, our Sportage achieved a 19.4/28.5 Real MPG rating, falling below the EPA’s city estimate but exceeding the rating on the highway.

Thanks to a couple packages, our Sportage EX with all-wheel drive includes a panoramic sunroof, power-folding side-view mirrors, a power-operated front passenger seat, active safety tech that can apply the brakes to reduce the impact of an imminent collision, an 8.0-inch touchscreen display, a heated steering wheel, navigation, heated and cooled front seats, and a power-operated liftgate that opens automatically when it senses you’re carrying the key fob near the opening for a few seconds.

We’ve also got polished 18-inch wheels, leather seats, and Kia’s Drive Mode Select feature, which can vary the car’s responsiveness and the weight of the steering. What we won’t ever have is the problem of seeing the same car on every block in suburban neighborhoods across the U.S.—leave that to the RAV4 and CR-V.

Kia might still draw in customers with its generous warranties, but value is a double-edged sword with the Sportage. Unlike many competitors, Kia offers a larger five- and seven-seat crossover, the Sorento, for only a few thousand dollars more than a Sportage. We expect our 2017 Sportage EX, with its smaller size, front/rear parking sensors, and rearview camera, to be easier to park than the Sorento. Compact crossovers can also be cross-shopped against similarly priced midsize sedans, but ultimately, the Sportage competes in a segment full of options. What it can offer compact-crossover buyers is something we’ll comprehensively answer in the year ahead.


Wednesday, July 20, 2016

2017 Kia Sorento: Next To Receive Prestigious Safety Rating

Kia has been working hard to get to where they are today and the latest IIHS test does reflect how far they have come. IIHS tested out the 2017 Kia Sorento and awarded the SUV with a Top Safety Pick Plus award.

To get the award, the 2017 Kia Sorento had to score a Good for their test. According to the test result, the Kia Sorento manage to score a Good for their small overlap front, moderate overlap front, head restraints, seats, and roof strength.
The front crash prevention system, which will be offered as an optional feature was given a Superior rating. Takes to the system, the Kia Sorento successfully avoided a collision at 12mph and 25mph.
The base Kia Sorento which will come with a 185hp 2.4-liter engine and will be running on a FWD system will retail for $25,400. The top of the range model will be powered by a 3.3 liter V6 engine that will be delivering about 290hp.

Tuesday, July 19, 2016

Kia Motors America Expands Offer Of Free Apple CarPlay® And Android Auto™ Software Updates

IRVINE, Calif.July 19, 2016 /PRNewswire/ -- Taking the UVO platform to yet another level of enhancement, Kia Motors America (KMA) today announced that free AppleCarPlay® and Android Auto™software updateswill be available for eligible vehicles when equipped with a compatible navigation systemor UVO35.  Customers will be notified by the end of July via email to go to for vehicle eligibility and step-by-step instructions on updating their vehicle with the latest downloadable software.  All owners of new and pre-owned vehicles must register at to receive email notifications that the software is available for download.
The following vehicles are eligible for the software update:
  • Forte (MY17)
  • Optima (MY15-16)
  • Optima Hybrid (MY15-16)
  • Sedona (MY15-16)
  • Soul (MY14-16)
  • Soul EV (MY15-16)
  • Sorento (MY16)
  • Sportage (MY17)
"With the advanced growth of telematics and infotainment systems, Kia is excited to offer to more of our customers the opportunity to have the latest software update for their vehicle free of charge via," said Henry Bzeih, Managing Director Connected & Mobility Services, KMA.  "Providing CarPlay® and Android Auto™ to a greater number of vehicles in our lineup will revitalize our current owners' systems with an additional element of convenience while maximizing the benefits of connectivity."

Android Auto™ connects to the user's Android device and allows them access to smartphone apps and functions through Kia's UVO infotainment system, such as voice-guided Google MapsTM navigation, hands-free calls and texts and voice recognition.  Android Auto™ also lets users stream music from Google Play Music™.  With a simple and intuitive interface, integrated steering-wheel controls, and powerful voice actions, Android Auto™ was designed to minimize distraction so that users stay focused on the road. 
A smarter and more convenient way to use the iPhone® in the car, CarPlay® gives drivers the ability to access the device's seamless user interface through Kia's UVO infotainment system.  By connecting the iPhone® into the USB port, users are able to make phone calls, access music, send and receive messages, get directions optimized for traffic conditions and more while concentrating on driving.  CarPlay® also features hands-free support via Siri®1 voice control or the vehicle's controls and touchscreen.

Monday, July 18, 2016

2017 Genesis G90 vs Kia K900: Who’s Winning?

Kia and Hyundai have both been trying to make theirs into the premium market. Kia’s method was to release the Kia K900 while the Hyundai was to release a new model under their premium badge Genesis called the Genesis G90.
The Kia K900 will be powered by a 3.8liter V6 engine that will be delivering about 311hp and 293lb ft of torque. There is also a 420hp engine option available. The engines will be mated to an eight-speed auto transmission. The Kia K900 will return about 17mpg in the city and 26mpg on the highway.

The Genesis G90, on the other hand, will come in with a 3.3-liter twin turbo V6 engine that will be delivering about 365hp and 376lb ft of torque. The engine will be mated to an eight-speed auto transmission. The Genesis G90 will also come with a 5.0 liter V8 engine option. The top of the range engine will be offering about 420hp and 383lb ft of torque.
Which model do you think will win?

Friday, July 15, 2016

Kia Sorento with new autobrake system earns TOP SAFETY PICK+ award

The Kia Sorento, a midsize SUV, joins the ranks of TOP SAFETY PICK+ winners, thanks to a new automatic braking system that earns a superior rating from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety.
When equipped with the optional front crash prevention system, the 2017 Sorento avoided a collision in both the 12 mph and the 25 mph IIHS track tests. The system also includes a forward collision warning component that meets National Highway Traffic Safety Administration criteria.

The system is an improvement over the one available on the 2016 model, which was a warning system only and earned a basic rating from IIHS.
Like the earlier model, the 2017 Sorento earns good ratings from IIHS in the small overlap front, moderate overlap front, side, roof strength and head restraint tests.
To qualify for the TOP SAFETY PICK+ award, a vehicle must have good ratings in the five crashworthiness tests and an advanced or superior rating for front crash prevention.

Thursday, July 14, 2016

2016 Kia K900 Review

Many, many miles have been driven down the highway since Kia arrived bringing its vehicles to the roads of the U.S. more than two decades ago. In June of this year J.D. Power recognized the brand as the highest scoring nameplate in its 2016 Initial Quality Study (IQS) out of all 33 makes in the U.S.  This marked the first time in 27 years that a non-premium brand has topped the rankings.

Kia now sells over 600,000 vehicles a year in the U.S. and has become a benchmark in many vehicle segments.

Kia’s top-of-the-range K900 4-door luxury sedan first appeared in 2015 with its V8 power, rear wheel drive, good looks, refined interior, and lots of comfort and smoothness. I drove that model about a year and a half ago and have been looking forward to a revisit.

PHOTO (select to view enlarged photo)
For 2016 a V6 engine is now offered, in addition to the V8. The K900 now comes in three models - the Premium V6 priced at $49,000, the Luxury V6 priced at $54,900 and the Luxury V8 at $61,900.

When I drove the 2015 Kia K900 with V8 power, word was already out that the V6 would be coming. The V8 performs very well and will accelerate from stop to 60mph in about 5.7 seconds. Although some competitive luxury models have quicker times, the K900 V8 is no slouch. An under-six second zero to 60 is plenty for the average driver.

On this go-round I drove the Luxury V6. Power output is 311 HP coming from a 3.8L DOHC. That’s mated to an eight-speed automatic driving the rear wheels. Published reports peg zero to 60 mph at around the 6.2 second mark. By the way the V8, a DOHC 5.0-L, makes 420HP.

For 2016 there’s been a few updates on the outside with a new grille up front and at the rear there’s updated chrome trim, exhaust pipes, taillight design and a new bumper. A new smart power trunk opens the trunk automatically when the key fob is sensed in your pocket or purse near the deck lid for more than three seconds.

PHOTO (select to view enlarged photo)
The availability of Autonomous Emergency Braking (AEB) is another big advancement. It utilizes the front camera and Advanced Smart Cruise Control system, which adjusts vehicle speed to help maintain a set distance to the vehicle in front, and has the ability to bring the K900 to a full stop. More and more we see driver-assistance safety features being added to all new vehicles. This is not about autonomus car technology but safety items that are driver aids and will help keep you from an accidental collision.

As it goes in the world of new vehicle news I needed to drive from Chicago to Ann Arbor, MI to visit another car maker. Road trips are always a good way to get to know a vehicle. I’m now slouch on the highway but midweek travel on the interstate always will include lots of semi-trucks that influence the pace. My drive east had its share of slowdowns and re-accelerations. In spite of that, the K900 got 30mpg on the 70mph speed limit interstate. This certainly came as a surprise considering the EPA test-cycle highway rating for the V6 is 26 mpg. On my return leg I could move faster and with a more constant speed and got 31 mpg.

I’ve heard from some of my colleagues who have driven the V6 K900 that they have had similar low fuel consumption experiences on the highway. The EPA test-cycle city rating is 17 mpg and the overall combined is 20 mpg. For comparison the V8 has EPA test-cycle ratings of 23 highway mpg, 15 city mpg and 18 mpg combined.


So what kind of luxury do you get with the K900? Well, beyond the standard leather interior, navigation system, and large sunroof there’s a front and rear camera display, front and rear parking sensors, heated and ventilated front sears, heated rear seats, power adjusting steering column, heated steering wheel, a rear seat center console with climate and seat controls, side and rear window sunshades and more.

PHOTO (select to view enlarged photo)
PHOTO (select to view enlarged photo)
A $5000 VIP package that was on my media-loaner includes head-up display, automatic emergency braking, blind spot detection, lane departure warning, rear cross traffic alert, smart cruise control, power headrests, power lower cushion extension on the drivers seat, and power reclining rear seats that are also ventilated.
There’s lots of equipment to keep you safe and pamper you too. There even are soft-close power door latches and a chauffeur switch for the front passenger seat…to move the seat forward so you have lots of rear legroom.

All-in-all the K900 is one very nice ride. It’s high on comfort and luxury features, has good overall performance while not being in the sports sedan category. The V6 model is equipped with 245/50R18 tires that provide good dynamic behavior and yet are not too harsh riding. The V8 has staggered tire sizes with 245/45R19 up front and 275/40R19 in the rear that can be a bit firm-riding with their low profile.

There’s no news on whether we’ll see all-wheel drive on the K900. That being the case, I would suggest using winter tires on all of the three models if you live in a snowy-winter area.
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