Wednesday, September 30, 2015

It wasn’t so long ago that the Kia Rio was one of the very best options in the incredibly competitive Light Car segment. In fact, I recommended the Rio to three family friends – people who went on to buy a Rio, and all three still love them.

The problem for the 2015 Kia Rio SLi Auto we have on test here, though, is that the market has moved on rapidly over the intervening years.

Thanks to that rapid segment improvement, the Rio’s problem is now twofold: pricing and specification. Both those factors are seriously important in this segment too. As tested here, pricing for the Rio SLi starts from $22,990. You did read that correctly, that’s nearly 23 grand. Even within the Kia stable, there are smarter options. Take the Cerato five-door hatch in 1.8 S Premium guise, for example. It’s only $2000 more, starting from $24,990 and it also gets the automatic transmission for that price.

The five-door Rio hatch range as a whole is comparatively expensive. Pricing starts from $16,990, and that only gets you the paltry 1.4-litre engine with a manual transmission. The most affordable way into the 1.6-litre engine is the Si, which starts from $21,490, albeit with an automatic transmission.

You can see why the current Rio isn’t as appealing as it once was, then. Let’s take a closer look at this range-topping model.

The only addition to the standard RRP is premium paint for $520, bumping the price of our test vehicle up to $23,510 before the raft of dealer and delivery charges are factored in. Premium paint isn’t a necessity, but that ask from Kia is a lot cheaper than some other manufacturers.

The Rio was undeniably attractive when it was first released, and that remains the case now. The Rio was integral to ensuring that everyone stopped treating the Korean brand as a nuisance pretender, and age hasn’t wearied the Rio’s European sense of style at all. Coated in premium graphite like our test model and riding on 17-inch alloy wheels with quality Continental tyres, the Rio cuts a look most other hatches would be envious of. Styling is an important buying factor regardless of segment, so the Rio gets points for still looking the part.

The 1.6-litre four-pot engine is adequate without being even remotely spine-tingling. It makes 103kW at 6300rpm and 167Nm at 4850rpm. The ADR fuel claim is 6.1 litres/100km and we saw 8.5 litres/100km on test, largely around town. The engine is matched to a smooth-shifting six-speed automatic, which continues to confidently represent conventional automatics in a world besotted with often-jerky dual clutch autos.

Factoring in a 75kg driver (no, obviously not my lardy frame), our Rio weighs in at 1298kg, so it’s no heavyweight by any means – a good thing given the tame power outputs.

Around town at low speed, where you’d expect the Rio to ply its trade most often, the engine performs well enough. The problems arise when you need to punch into a gap, take off quickly or merge faster than you might have expected.

Press the accelerator pedal a little harder, the transmission quickly slices down a gear or two and the engine starts to gasp for air. The accompanying rise in revs brings with it a nasty, rasping exhaust note that sounds like the engine is working way too hard. It probably isn’t; it just doesn’t sound great and isn’t accompanied by any rapid acceleration either.

The main problem here – as Tim noted in his recent review of the Rio Sport – is the torque hole below a comparatively high 4850rpm. You need to work the engine hard to get into the meat of that torque delivery, meaning not a lot happens before that point.

Once up to speed, though, the Rio cruises along quietly, aided by the broad spread of ratios within the transmission. The cabin’s sense of quiet is assisted by the almost complete absence of wind noise, quality Continental tyres that don’t transmit any roar inside, and the impressive absence of road noise.

Where the Rio’s interior once delivered a general ambience of elegance belying its cost, it now feels a little dated, especially the seat trim. The interior doesn’t do anything especially badly, it just doesn’t feel as premium as we’ve come to expect from Kia lately. Kia vehicles new to the market, like the Sorento, only serve to amplify that expectation. The lack of key features like a touchscreen with satellite navigation and reverse camera doesn’t help the interior either.

Rio remains comfortable, user-friendly and ergonomic, though, and while the lack of up-market standard inclusions is evident, the interior isn’t unpleasant. While we didn’t love the seat coverings, we did appreciate their comfort and adjustability. There’s more than enough room inside the Rio’s cabin for this segment, too, in both the front and second rows. Clever design, packaging and storage options mean you don’t feel claustrophobic in the cabin.

The undeniable bonus that hatchbacks bring to the table is usable luggage space and the Rio, despite it’s compact exterior dimensions, is no exception. With the seats up, there’s a handy 288 litres available. Fold the seats down and that opens up to a cavernous 923 litres. In real terms, you’ll be able to fit a lot more into the luggage area of a Rio than you thought possible of a compact hatch – great news for owners who might need to lug gear around regularly.

Like the Sport, the SLi rides on 17-inch alloy wheels and delivers a ride that errs on the side of firm, but isn’t uncomfortable. It’s harsher over poor surfaces than we’d like, though, and doesn’t ride as well as most other Kia product we’ve tested recently.

We couldn’t work the steering out either. Rio isn’t a hot hatch, so you shouldn’t expect razor sharp steering in any case, but our test example had a strange dead feeling no matter how much lock we wound on, and it also had a reluctance to self centre after entering a turn. We did get used to it, but it was definitely disconcerting in the beginning.

The Kia Rio SLi is covered by Kia’s market-leading seven-year, unlimited kilometre warranty. That includes roadside assistance for the duration of the warranty if you have your Rio serviced at an authorised Kia dealer. Capped price servicing makes that decision a little easier and prices range from $303 per service to $535 for a major service over the course of seven years or 105,000km, whichever comes first. All up, over that period, your Rio will cost a very reasonable $2722.00 in total to service.

So, while the Rio isn’t especially poor, it isn’t as impressive as it once was either. Kia will need to improve the model significantly to compete at the level it did not so long ago. Our recent Rio scoring might seem harsh compared to where we rated the vehicle when it was first released, but that says more about what we’ve come to expect from the Korean brand. Kia has lifted its game across the board, and we look forward to those same standards being implemented for Rio.


2016 Kia Rio Sedan and Hatchback: They're Still Here

While the Kia Trail’ster concept was busy hogging all the attention at the automaker’s Chicago auto show press conference, the updated 2016 Kia Rio sedan and hatchback were waiting in the wings for a spotlight moment that never came. They were mentioned only as an aside during the closing remarks, leaving us to ask: “Wait, what? The Rio was refreshed for 2016? And it’s here?” Well, it was, and we’ve got the particulars on all the changes.
The refresh is led by revised front and rear fascias, the Rio adopting the corporate geometric grille mesh pattern seen on the Optima and the Soul. The headlamps get moved slightly inward imparting a more contemporary vibe, and new fog-light surrounds with satin bezels encircle projector lenses. The lower valance also gets some horizontal style lines. The treatment continues at the rear, where the newly designed taillamps have been moved to the far corners of the vehicle, and—in some cases—new lower horizontal lines echo those found on the front. Two new color options, Urban Blue and Digital Yellow, also make the scene for 2016. Inside, some trim bits have been slightly altered, and Kia has increased the use of high-density foam in the A- and B-pillars to reduce NVH levels.
Acceleration, never the Rio’s forte, gets no help in the refresh. Power for both the sedan and the hatchback comes from the same naturally aspirated 138-hp 1.6-liter four-cylinder as before. In the sedan, its 123 lb-ft of twist are funneled to the front wheels via either a six-speed manual or a six-speed automatic. Sadly, the manual is no longer available in the hatchback.
The Rio’s three trim levels—LX, EX, and SX—are largely unchanged. The parsimonious LX comes with crank windows and manual door locks, although it does offer some niceties, including air conditioning, a six-way manual driver’s seat, satellite radio, USB and auxiliary audio jacks, and steering-wheel-mounted audio controls. The LX Power package adds keyless entry plus power windows and door locks. LX sedan buyers who spring for the automatic transmission get Bluetooth and Kia's efficiency-minded Active Eco System in the bargain.
The mid-level EX comes standard with power windows, cruise control, remote keyless entry, and a tilt/telescope steering column. For 2016, the available Eco package is upgraded to include a backup camera and Kia’s updated UVO eServices Telematics system. A new Designer package dresses up the interior with natty black cloth and gray leatherette upholstery with gray stitching, padded gray door-panel inserts, as well as gray stitching on the steering wheel, center-console armrest, and shifter boot.
The top-dog SX trim—if such a bold claim can be made for such a humble transportation device—is focused on sportiness. To wit, we find 17-inch aluminum wheels; a sport-tuned suspension; 11-inch, front brake rotors; shift paddles; and a leather-wrapped steering wheel. The SX also adds a backup camera, navigation, push-button start, leather seating surfaces, heated front seats, and a sunroof.
At Chicago, the 2016 Rio waited in vain for its moment in the spotlight, but buyers won’t have to wait long to get their hands on one. The Rio arrives in dealerships in the next month or so—which is a lot more than the Trail’ster can say.

Ride & Drive: 2016 Kia Soul

The five-passenger, front-wheel drive Kia Soul is one of the biggest small cars you’ll ever drive.
It’s fun. It’s sporty. It’s practical. And for the 2016 model year, it has even more features. I’ve been a big fan of the Soul since its introduction for the 2010 model year.
With a base price starting less than $16,000, the Soul delivers a lot of value — as well as superb ride and handling capabilities, versatility and features.
Initially marketed to hip, urban, young adults, I remember telling Kia officials at the product launch in 2009 they were missing the boat because the Soul was an ideal car for folks my age because we tend to see past the slick television commercials and focus on value and comfort rather than hip and trendy.
They told me they would be happy to sell me a Soul, but their marketing campaign featuring dancing hipster mice wasn’t changing.
Six years later, the Soul is one of the hottest-selling nameplates in the industry. Guess what? Turns out a lot of folks my age are Soul owners.
Kia media folks have also been quick to point out, they have also sold a lot of Soul models to hip urban young adults. So we were both right.
Available in three trim levels — Base, + and ! (Or in English, Base, Plus and Exclaim), the 2016 Soul includes a number of new available features including forward collision warning and lane departure warning system, as well as a new designer collection that includes a two-tone paint scheme and unique elements.
That’s in addition to the already long list of standard features on all three models.
Soul Base models are powered by a 1.6-liter I-4 engine delivering 130 horsepower and 118 lbs.-ft. torque. Mated to either a six-speed manual or six-speed automatic transmission, it has an EPA fuel economy rating of 24 mpg city, 30 mpg highway on regular unleaded gasoline.
The Soul + and ! trim levels are powered by a 2.0-liter I-4 engine delivering 164 horsepower and 151 lbs.-ft. torque. Mated to a six-speed automatic transmission, it has an EPA rating of 24 mpg city, 31 mpg city, also using regular unleaded gasoline.
Featuring a five-door body style, the Soul provides a great deal of versatility, including 61.3 cubic feet of cargo space with the rear seat folded (24.2 cubic feet for cargo with rear seat in use for passengers).

For those in the market for a great vehicle and a great value, the 2016 Kia Soul is a must for the test drive list.

Neal White has been covering the automotive industry for more than 20 years and is affiliated with the Texas Auto Writers Association.

The Nuts and Bolts


2016 Kia Soul
5-seat compact 5-door
Front-wheel drive

Trim packages:

Base, +, !




1.6L I4 (130 hp/118 T)
2.0L I4 (164 hp/151 T)


6-speed manual
6-speed automatic


24/24 mpg city, 30/31 mpg highway (Base/+ and !)


 Regular unleaded


Electronic stability control and traction control
LENGTH:163 inches
WHEELBASE:101.2 in.
WIDTH: 70.9 inches
HEIGHT: 63 inches
WEIGHT: 2714-2837 lbs.
TRACK: 62/62.5
FUEL TANK: 14.2 gallons
TIRES: 16-, 17-, or 18-inch
CARGO: 24.2/61.3 cubic feet (behind 2nd/1st row).


Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Kia’s New Sportage: Do You Like Its New Look?

The sheetmetal lines are clean and crisp, and aside from the peculiar face, the rest of the Sportage’s design is conservative and taught. Some BMW-ish scalloped tail lights add some flair to the rear, and the dual exhaust ports at least try to make you think that it’s sportier than it probably is.
Initially — since we haven’t had the chance to sit in one yet — it looks like rearward visibility my be compromised due to the high belt-line of the rear tailgate and beefy C-pillars. Otherwise, the Sportage seems to offer a pretty decent greenhouse out the sides and the front.

The quirkiness and character outside seem to be lost in the interior, where it’s all very sensible, simple and entirely unoffensive. But that’s important for a car like the Sportage, which will undoubtably be seen more as a suburban appliance than any kind of statement. Though it’s stuffed-animal like attitude will likely draw in many for its cute factor, there’s really no reason for Kia to try to make the same statement on the inside.
Chances are we won’t get the manual transmission that’s equipped on the model being shown at the Frankfurt Motor Show, and everything under the hood will probably stay familiar to U.S. buyers — a 2.4-liter four-cylinder as standard for base models, with the higher-end SX serving up the 2.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinder that’s available on the current Sportage.

Overall, the new Kia Sportage is what you’d expect in a new Kia Sportage. Long gone are the cheap materials and tin-can construction the Kia was once infamous for. With each passing generation, its cars just get that much better. From a build quality and fit-and-finish perspective, Kia’s up there along the rest now, it’s no longer the cheap outlier it was.
However, it’s coming into a market rife with hardy competition. Volkswagen finally got around to addressing its Tiguan crossover, which is new from the ground up. Honda’s CR-V, Toyota’s RAV4, and the Ford Escape are all selling in volume as well, and Kia will also have to contend with Hyundai’s new Tucson — essentially the same car underneath, but at the same time fighting for consumer dollars. Fortunately, the Sportage now has the character to set it apart.

Kia will expand the Optima lineup with a station wagon and a plug-in hybrid model

The station wagon is expected to borrow more than a handful of styling cues from the Sportspace concept (pictured) that was presented earlier this year at the Geneva Motor Show. That means it will look strikingly similar to the Optima from the tip of the front bumper to the B-pillar. Beyond that, it will gain a longer roof line, a rakish, almost shooting brake-like D-pillar, and sharp horizontal tail lamps. Mechanically, the wagon will be all but identical to its sedan counterpart, meaning it will be available with gasoline- and diesel-burning four-cylinder engines pulled straight from the Kia parts bin. On the Old Continent, the range-topping, GT-badged wagon will benefit from a turbocharged 2.0-liter four-banger tuned to make 241 horsepower at 6,000 rpm and 260 pound-feet of torque from 1,350 to 4,000 rpm.

The turbo four sends the sedan from zero to 62 mph in 7.4 seconds, and on to a top speed of 150 mph. The wagon will be a little bit slower because it will inevitably be heavier.

Monday, September 28, 2015

2016 Kia Forte5 Overview

While the compact hatchback segment is quite competitive, there’s one vehicle that truly stands out: the 2016 Kia Forte5. With two engine options and three trim levels to choose from, there’s no doubt the Forte5 will make you love driving all over again. Add its combination European style, an abundance of technology, and a versatile interior, and it’s likely you will want to drive away in the 2016 Kia Forte5.

What’s New for the 2016 Kia Forte5

The Kia Forte5 gets an entirely new base trim level—LX—for the 2016 model year. This base trim comes with standard Remote Keyless Entry, while a rear-camera display comes standard on the EX and above. The 2016 Kia Forte5 is offered in three trim levels: LX, EX, and SX.


If you’re looking for a touch of European style in your next vehicle, then look no further than the 2016 Kia Forte5. This sophisticated hatchback offers an aggressive stance, clean lines, and a rounded body, which makes it a force to be reckoned with in its segment. Add the Forte5’s crisp 16-inch alloy wheels and you have an unexpectedly elegant five-door option.


The 2016 Forte5 comes with two engine choices. For the standard powertrain, Kia offers a 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine, which generates an impressive 173 horsepower and 154 lb-ft of torque. The top-notch SX trim comes with a spunky 1.6-liter turbocharged four-cylinder that gives the hatchback a power boost with 201 horsepower and 195 lb-ft of torque. While the LX and EX trim levels come with a standard six-speed automatic transmission, the SX comes with a six-speed manual that adds to the Forte5’s fun-to-drive experience.


Depending on the engine option you choose, fuel efficiency for the 2016 Forte5 varies. The 2.0-liter engine comes with an EPA-estimated 28 mpg combined. The turbocharged 1.6-liter is rated at a 24 mpg combined, regardless of the transmission you choose.


The 2016 Kia Forte5 offers a combination of amenities, technology, and comfort. Soft-touch materials, standard 60/40-split rear seats, and plenty of cargo space make the Forte5 the most practical choice in its segment. A standard SiriusXM Satellite Radio, Bluetooth connectivity, and a variety of other technologies make it easy to stay connected while out on the road. The Forte5’s cabin provides consumers with high-end appointments at an affordable price.

Interior available on LX:
  • Soft-touch dash and door panels, LCD trip computer, Dual 12-volt outlets, Day/night interior rearview mirror, Knit and woven cloth seat trim, Power doors and windows,
  • AM/FM/CD/MP3 audio system, USB/aux input ports, Sirius Satellite Radio, Bluetooth

Interior available on EX:

  • Trip computer Dot-matrix LCD, Cooling glove box, Leather-wrapped steering and shift knob
  • FlexSteer, Rear camera display

    Interior available on SX:

    • Shift indicator (M/T), Door handle pocket light, Metal pedals
    • Push button start with Smart Key, Immobilizer (theft-deterrent)


    Kia always puts safety first, which is why it comes as no surprise that the 2016 Kia Forte5 has a long list of standard safety features. With all the newest safety technology, the Forte5 is sure to give you peace of mind while you’re out on the road.

    Standard Safety Features

    • Advanced dual-stage airbags
    • Anti-lock brakes (ABS)
    • Electronic Brake-force Distribution (EBD)
    • Brake Assist
    • Electronic Stability Control (ESC)
    • Traction Control
    • Vehicle Stability Management
    • Hill-start Assist Control
    • Tire Pressure Monitoring System
    • LATCH child safety system

    On The Road: Kia Sorento – Car Review

    The Kia Sorento is the kind of car that will cause acquaintances to ask, “What are you driving now?” when you arrive. If you like that kind of thing – and God knows, I love it – you’ll burst with pride. It has a slightly militaristic exterior, more imposing in black, I should think; in white more redolent of plain money. It’s long, wide and low, spacious inside, bullish on the road. There are potentially three rows of seats, though I never needed them and left the boot as was. As low as it is, the boot is an extremely high jump for an elderly dog, not that I would ever put a dog in his twilight years in a review car, oh no.

    City driving, as with anything not designed for a city but that city people love to drive, is not ideal: it’s sluggish in the lower gears. If you’re in first and second a lot, you may feel vexed by the effort. But cruising is a pleasure: give it an A road or a motorway and it will take care of itself. The acceleration is confident, the steering is true, the traction is reassuring, the handling invites trust, the leather seats make you feel as though everything’s going to be OK.

    The driving position is well thought-out, everywhere from the posture to the armrest. The room in the cabin really tells if you’re one of those people who lurches into a car with two litres of water and a load of handheld devices you forgot to charge. The satnav, from its classy 8in screen to the intuitiveness of its controls, is a pleasure: it is one of the injustices of the world of cars that you feel moved to comment on satnav only if it sucks. Then, once in a while, it’s great, and you remember to mention it.

    It is the first time, by popular lore, Kia has ever come up with anything you’d want to spend 30 grand on, so they’re naturally pretty proud. 0-62mph in nine seconds is quite fun, though you never feel as though you’re taking off. It has the safety features du jour, which revolve mainly around an insane number of airbags and a lot of alarms – blind spot, lane discipline and rear cross traffic alert (this translates in the real world into a noise you don’t understand, until the hazard passes you or recedes) – and the fuel consumption is decent.

    The question is, would you fall in love with it? If you think of SUVs as a bid for status, then a moderately priced one would seem pointless. But if you genuinely need a giant car that a dog can’t get into or out of, then it’s a good, solid, novel entry into the class.

    Sunday, September 27, 2015

    Kia Rises To Top Of Minivan Competition

    When it comes to family drama, deciding whether to let a minivan sneak into the garage must rise to the top of the decision list.

    There's no beating a minivan when it comes to sheer practicality. But many just can't stomach the minivans' frumpy image. They don't want to be accused by neighbors of being stuck in the 1980s.

    That's a shame, because minivans still have some big advantages when it comes to space and fuel economy that most crossover SUVs can't match.

    With that in mind, and PBS' Motorweek set out to find the ultimate minivan, pitting five of the big names against each other in a competition to find the best model under $50,000.

    "Although minivans get a bad rap as outdated "mommy-mobiles," they remain both popular and effective," says Patrick Olsen, editor-in-chief of "Last year, about 500,000 of them sold in the U.S. They provide lots of family-friendly features, tons of cargo space, and they drive more like cars than ever before."

    The contenders were the 2015 Chrysler Town & Country, the 2015 Dodge Grand Caravan (a corporate sibling of the Chrysler), 2015 Honda Odyssey, 2015 Kia Sedona and the 2015 Toyota Sienna. About the only notable omission was the Nissan Quest. Nissan declined to participate.

    The winner was a vastly refreshed model, the Kia Sedona. The judges scored it high for its SUV-like looks, but also its plush interior, tech features and quietness.

    The price cap was intended to let automakers show what they could do for for the money. Many car shoppers never foot into a showroom without having set a maximum amount in their heads of how much they are willing to spend.

    Each of the vehicles were tested for a week. They were driven on a 135-mile loop around Milwaukee to check fuel economy, driven back-to-back on the same course and then scored.

    The expert judges were Jennifer Geiger, assistant managing editor for; Kelsey Mays, senior editor for, Jennifer Newman, assistant managing editor for and Brian Robinson, producer for PBS' "MotorWeek."

    The test also included a family. Andrea and Andrew Thueme of Manhattan, Kan., and their two children, Adaline, 2; and Arthur, five months. They put the cars through their paces in driving segments around Milwaukee, where the competition was held.

    Andrew, 36, serves in the U.S. military and Andrea, 35, recently left the service.

    Scoring was according to a formula. It was weighed 65% from the experts, 15% from the family shoppers, 10% from IIHS crash-test scores and 10% from the finish in the gas mileage drive.

    While some vehicles clearly stood out, one area where the results were the closests was for fuel economy. Though minivans have a generally good reputation for gas thrift, the vehicles are so big that they aren't looking so good compared to other classes of vehicles.

    All finished about a half-mile per gallon apart, The best was the Dodge Grand Caravan, with 23.9 miles per gallon during testing. Worst was the Sedona, with 23.3 mpg. Here is how the vehicles fared:

    •2015 Kia Sedona SXL. High marks for the looks, interior, lounge-style seats, surround camera and how quietly it rode. Negatives were least amount of storage, configuration for cargo and the way it rode when fully loaded.

    •2015 Toyota Sienna Limited Premium. The sales leader in the segment has nice all-wheel drive, drove well overall and lots of space. But there was some road noise, a higher price without the most safety features and it was harder to get into the third row of seats.

    •2015 Honda Odyssey Touring Elite. Hey, it's got a built-in vacuum cleaner. Besides that notable feature, Odyssey has ample space, including in the third row of seats. The seats were also among the most comfortable. But the interior looked cheaper than the others, some of the tech features were hard to figure out, the ride wasn't that great and it cost more than the others.

    •2015 Chrysler Town & Country Limited Platinum. The flip seats, called Stow 'n Go seats, in the second row were a hit. So was the accelaration. But the electronics are dated and some testers didn't like the handling, transmission or steering feel.

    •2015 Dodge Grand Caravan SXT Plus. The one provided the most for the money, coming in around $33,000. But it has the same advantages and disadvantages as its corporate stablemate, the Chrysler.

    Saturday, September 26, 2015

    2015 Kia Cadenza: Real World Review - Video

    Kia has really upped its game in recent years -- and the 2015 Kia Cadenza proves it.

    If you haven't heard of the Cadenza, it's a full-size premium sedan that boasts luxury-car comfort and performance. It offers two trim levels -- the well-equipped Premium, which starts around $35,000, and the fully loaded Limited, which starts at just over $40,000. While the Cadenza lacks a V8 or hybrid option, it does offer a powerful 293-horsepower 3.3-liter V6 engine that's paired to a 6-speed automatic transmission.

    Although a $40,000 Kia may be a hard pill for some shoppers to swallow, we think the Cadenza's build quality and sleek styling are on par with rivals such as the Chrysler 300 and Toyota Avalon. In fact, we think the Cadenza is better-looking than both of those sedans.

    While the Cadenza was clearly designed with the driver in mind, it doesn't offer the razor-sharp handling of a sporty German luxury sedan. But we think a lot of drivers will like the Cadenza's quiet, comfortable ride. Drivers will also appreciate the spacious cabin, which features heated leather seats and power seat adjustments for both the driver and passenger seat. There's also a well-designed dashboard and an intuitive 8-inch touchscreen, which makes the interior feel modern and sophisticated.

    As for equipment, standard technology features -- such as a backup camera, a navigation system and Kia's UVO infotainment system -- are all easy to use. Extras include heated rear seats, a panoramic sunroof and a power sunshade. And if you upgrade to the technology package, you'll get cutting-edge safety features such as adaptive cruise control, rear cross-traffic alert and a blind spot monitoring system.

    In terms of drawbacks, we can only name a few -- like the fact that there's no fold-down rear seat and that cars equipped with the panoramic sunroof can get especially warm in the summer.

    The bottom line: If you want full-size comfort and performance for under $40,000, we think the 2015 Kia Cadenza is absolutely worth a try.

    Thursday, September 24, 2015

    2016 Kia Sorento- A High-End CUV With A Mid-Range Price

    Kia has really evolved rapidly. It started out as a humble Korean make not unlike Hyundai. But the key difference in their stories was the velocity with which the product was accepted. Hyundai took 20 years to become the trusted brand it is today after selling some rather dismal vehicles to North America in the 80’s and 90’s.

    Kia on the other hand came onto the scene and almost immediately offered us decent vehicles, and if it had not been for the Hyundai factor, the fear of new Korean brands, I think they would have become popular immediately. But with the passing of a few years people have begun to trust the brand and their vehicles are almost at premium levels of competition.

    Kia Canada gave me a 2016 Sorento SX+ AWD with the optional 7-seat configuration to test for a week.

    The focus of the recent remodel was two-fold. First and most obviously is the new front end, what a looker. The quad fog lights and new grille look upscale almost Germanic, and the interior layout if fantastic.

    But second and more importantly was the focus on comfort, not performance. That being said the handling is by no means boat-like and although there is body roll it is controlled and progressive rather than scary and abundant.

    There is limited steering feel provided by the electric power steering system that again has been designed with smoothness and comfortable handling characteristics in mind.

    Keeping your family safe are all the latest technologies from lane keeping alert, Hill start assist, 360 degree camera, adaptive cruise control and many more.

    The available AWD system will function autonomously, but with the flick of a switch, the driver can engage a 4WD lock mode that balances the delivery of engine power evenly to all 4 wheels. This system also comes with a torque vectoring function that will come to the rescue if the system senses understeer.

    The 2016 Kia Sorento is available with the choice of 3 engines, of which 2 are 4 cylinder designs; a 2.0L Turbo that develops 240 hp, and the base 2.4L naturally aspirated that only puts out 185 hp.

    My tester had a wonderfully smooth 290 horsepower V6 mated to an equally refined automatic 6-speed transmission. This transmission is standard with all engines.

    The V6 is the only logical choice for anyone who hopes to pull a trailer with its 5,ooo lb towing capacity and is the one I would choose.
    It offers all the power I would ever need, runs quietly and only requires regular gasoline. The fuel economy estimates for the V6 are 18/26/21 mpg (city/highway/combined).

    The interior is large, very nice and extremely black. It has two tones of black however, matte and gloss.

    Everything has a premium look and even the plastics seem better than most.
    The front seats had both heating and cooling ability the latter of which was much needed the week I drove it. For those chilly winter mornings the heated steering wheel quickly warms your hands.

    The second row seats are equally comfortable with enough legroom for all and even the third row seats, which my tester had, were hospitable enough for adults on short trips.

    The overall cargo volume has increased to 154.2 cu.ft and the space available behind the 3rd row is now 38.8 cu.ft and can be secured with the optional cargo cover.
    To add convenience the second row seatbacks can be folded via a lever mounted on the side of the luggage area.

    When the seats are all laid flat the cargo area is level and easily accessible with a comfortable load height.

    Thanks to options like the panoramic sunroof and 630-watt 12 speaker Infinity stereo the Sorento gains a premium ambience usually reserved for more prestigious brands.

    Kia has included a full range of connectivity that is accessed through an 8-inch capacitive-touch color screen, with an available navigation system with the very handy real time traffic alert, USB 2.0 support for high-speed updates as well as integrated rear backup camera, Bluetooth hands-free support and UVO voice recognition.

    All of the controls are placed just right and the touch screen system is easy to navigate and understand.

    On the road the driving aids made parking this vehicle a cinch, and the adaptive cruise control was so nice I now think it should be a legislated standard.

    I drove a Land Rover Discovery the week before the Sorento and loved it; but I have to say that the Kia has me questioning the extra $10,000 fee for the Rover and any of the other premium CUV’s.

    Besides the infamous four wheel drive, which no one ever really uses, and the more refined ride quality, the Kia offers everything the top end players do.

    Even the exterior styling drew more attention to the Kia than I received in the Discovery, and that attention was almost always from the driver of a premium brand SUV.

    The 2016 Kia Sorento SX+ AWD V6 really is the total package. It looks fantastic, it is very comfortable and offers all the convenience most will ever need. The best part is it does so for a lot less than the competition and you could argue that it could compete in the premium segment.