RSS icon Home icon
  • 2017 Kia Sportage SX

    Reinvented compact crossover for outdoor enthusiasts

    By Nina Russin

    2017 Kia Sportage SX Turbo

    2017 Kia Sportage SX Turbo

    The Sportage was one of two models Kia introduced when it opened its first US dealerships in 1994. It was a bare bones sport-utility vehicle, the automaker’s strategy at the time being one of loss leader. Buyers whose budgets normally limited them to pre-owned cars could afford a new Kia Sportage.

    The car was also sturdy, completing two Dakar rallies and the Baja 1000. I see first-generation Sportages floating around my neighborhood to this day, having survived more than two decades of brutal Phoenix summers.

    As Kia introduces an all-new Sportage for 2017, one wonders what the OEM has up its hat to make its newest compact crossover rise to the top in a highly competitive segment’

    2017 Kia Sportage SX Turbo 2WD, SX Turbo AWD

    2017 Kia Sportage SX Turbo 2WD, SX Turbo AWD

    Style will play a big role. The ever-talented Peter Schreyer headed up the design team in the automaker’s Frankfurt and Korean studios, creating a sexy, muscular looking vehicle with undeniable road presence. But the Sportage’s beauty is more than skin deep, with improvements throughout the chassis and updated infotainment features.

    Three available grades- LX, EX and SX- are available with front or all-wheel drive. Pricing for the base LX FWD starts at $22,990 excluding the $895 destination charge. Base MSRP for the fully loaded SX Turbo all-wheel drive model is $34,000.

    Power for the LX and mid-grade EX comes from a 181-horsepower naturally aspirated 2.4-liter direct injection engine, while the sporty SX all-wheel drive model gets a 237-horsepower turbocharged two-liter block. A six-speed automatic transmission is standard across the line. Read the rest of this entry »

  • 2016 Kia Sedona SXL

    Stylish minivan for active families

    By Nina Russin

    2016 Kia Sedona SX Limited

    2016 Kia Sedona SX Limited

    When Kia redesigned the Sedona for 2015, the goal was to maintain its minivan functionality with sexier design. The car’s profile is most similar to a crossover, with a distinct hood and body versus the ‘one box’ configuration of traditional minivans. Design chief Peter Schreyer added a unique grille treatment, wrap-around headlamps and an aggressive front fascia to give the Sedona road presence, with an aerodynamic back end accented by a roof spoiler.

    Inside, a sweeping center stack leads to a large center console with storage, separating two captain’s chairs. Buyers can add captain’s chairs to the second row with retractable leg rests, reminiscent of first class seating on airplanes.

    The 2016 car is basically carryover from last year. All models now come standard with a rearview camera. Buyers of the upscale SXL can add chrome side sill trim for some extra pizzazz. Cars equipped with the optional technology package seat eight passengers.

    Base price for the test car is $39,900 excluding the $895 destination charge. Options include xenon headlamps, lane departure warning, forward collision warning, an around-view camera, adaptive cruise control, 115-volt power outlet and a rear seat entertainment system, bringing the final MSRP to $44,690. Read the rest of this entry »

  • 2016 Kia Sorento SXL AWD

    Redesigned crossover for active families

    By Nina Russin

    2016 Kia Sorento

    2016 Kia Sorento

    Despite the growing number of entries into the midsize crossover segment, the stylish Kia Sorento remains a leader of the pack. Simply put, it’s a great package, with a redesigned 2016 model that includes a new two-liter turbocharged engine, revised exterior and interior styling and some appealing new infotainment features. With available seating for up to seven passengers, the Sorento is a great option for families with active lifestyles who don’t need a full-size sport-utility vehicle.

    The sporty SX Limited test car comes with the two-liter engine, six-speed automatic transmission and full-time all-wheel drive with a lockable center differential for enhanced traction on wet, snowy or unimproved roads. Base price is $41,700 excluding an $895 destination charge. Standard comfort and convenience features include keyless entry and start, dual-zone climate control, satellite radio, Bluetooth interface, UVO infotainment with apps, rearview camera, Nappa leather seating, panoramic sunroof, power liftgate, roof rails and heated outside mirrors.

    A technology package adds xenon headlamps, lane departure warning, forward collision warning, surround view monitor, adaptive cruise control and an electronic parking brake. Final MSRP is $45,095. Read the rest of this entry »

  • 2015 Kia Forte5 SX

    Sporty hatch targets active urbanites

    By Nina Russin

    2015 Kia Forte5

    2015 Kia Forte5

    Although Kia’s product line has moved up-water with products such as the K900 and Cadenza, value remains the brand’s core attribute. In no case is that more apparent than in the compact Forte, available as a coupe, sedan and five-door hatchback.

    Although it shares chassis components with the Hyundai Elantra GT, the Forte5 SX appeals to driving enthusiasts with a 201-horsepower turbocharged engine as compared to the naturally-aspirated two-liter block in the Elantra rated at 173-horsepower.

    A six-speed manual gearbox is standard in the Forte5 SX, but buyers can opt to add a six-speed automatic with Formula-style paddle shifters. Base price is $21,890 excluding the destination charge. Eighteen-inch alloy wheels and a sport-tuned suspension come standard on the upscale model.

    Options on the test car include a premium package that adds leather seating with heated front seats and a ventilated driver’s seat, power sunroof, power driver’s seat and a heated steering wheel. A technology package adds navigation, xenon headlamps, HD radio and dual-zone climate control. Final MSRP is $27,100. Read the rest of this entry »

  • 2015 Kia Sedona

    Minivan breaks out of the box

    By Nina Russin

    2015 Kia Sedona

    2015 Kia Sedona

    Sometimes the best way to increase sales in a shrinking market segment is by redefining it. Kia’s strategy with its all-new Sedona minivan is just that: combining crossover-like styling with new connectivity features to give its family-friendly car twenty-first century appeal.

    Kia is one of a handful of players who continue to produce minivans, competing against Toyota, Honda and Chrysler. While its competitors continue to play it safe with tried-and-true features such as foldaway seating and giant center console bins, the Korean automaker is sacrificing a bit of practicality for some much needed sex appeal.

    Design guru Peter Schreyer penned the exterior, with a more pronounced front end and grille that bears striking resemblance to the mid-sized Sorento crossover. A taller beltline results in a narrower greenhouse, but gives the Sedona some shoulders and a more interesting profile. A roof-mounted spoiler and aggressive rear fascia frame the wrap-around tail lamps, preventing the slab sided appearance that plagues many members of the genre.

    Inside, the Sedona seats up to eight passengers. Optional lounge seats in the second row rival living room furniture for comfort, while an available dual-pane sunroof adds a welcome dose of ambient light. The newest version of Kia’s UVO infotainment system developed in conjunction with Microsoft adds new services such as geo-fencing and curfew alerts for younger drivers as well as a host of new apps under the Kia App Store umbrella. Read the rest of this entry »

  • 2016 Kia Sorento

    Kia debuts the newest version of its best-selling crossover

    By Nina Russin

    2016 Kia Sorento

    2016 Kia Sorento

    There are few places on the planet more beautiful than Lake Tahoe. The second deepest lake in the United States straddles the Nevada/California border, surrounded by the majestic Sierra Nevada Mountains. Kia chose Tahoe as the location for the 2016 Sorento media preview to send home the message that its popular midsized crossover is a car for all seasons and lifestyles.

    Available in five trim levels with front or all-wheel drive and a choice of three engines, the Sorento competes against a wide range of products, from the Toyota Highlander to the Jeep Grand Cherokee. Buyers can choose two or three-row versions seating five-to-seven passengers.

    Inspiration for the exterior redesign was the Kia Cross GT concept that debuted at the 2013 Chicago Auto Show. Inside, designers incorporated luxury finishes from Kia’s K900 full-sized sedan the newest version of UVO infotainment, available Nappa leather and dual-pane panoramic sunroof.

    A new two-liter turbo engine is the same block used in the Hyundai Santa Fe Sport and Kia Optima but tuned for this platform. To keep the weight down, product planners limited the turbo block to five-passenger cars.

    Base price for the new Sorento that rolls out in January is $24,900 for the front-wheel drive L grade. The upscale SX-L V-6 all-wheel drive starts at $41,300. All-wheel drive is an $1800 option. Read the rest of this entry »

  • 2015 Kia K900

    High-luxury sedan focuses on value

    By Nina Russin

    2015 Kia K900

    2015 Kia K900

    I have driven the K900, Kia’s first vehicle entry into the high-luxury segment, to the coffee shop where I meet friends for breakfast. As I usher the sedan into its parking spot, I can see their noses pasted up against the front window of the restaurant.

    “What’s that”? is the first question I hear as I walk through the door.

    “The Kia K900,? I reply. “It’s Kia’s answer to the S-Class.”

    “That’s a Kia?” my buddy Jeff remarks. “That’s a sharp looking car.”

    “It’s huge,” adds Big Ed, who likes everything in his life to be, well, big. “That thing’s bigger than my Mercedes.” And with that they’re out the door.

    “Check this out,” chimes Jeff as he opens the back door and slides into the back seat. “Man, there’s tons of room back here.”

    “Enough for you and your bicycle,” I reply.

    Ed is still comparing the K900 to his Mercedes-Benz CLS.

    “A Kia,” he says. “Huh.”

    The jury’s still out as to whether Kia will be able to lure current German luxury car owners away from their current vehicles. But there is no doubt that Kia’s full-sized luxury sedan can compete on every level: style, comfort and most important, performance.

    Despite being a luxury car, the K900 still speaks to the brand’s core philosophy of great value. Although its $59,500 base price is by no means inexpensive, it is significantly lower than the Mercedes S-Class, Audi A8 and BMW 7 Series the K900 competes against.

    A VIP option package on the test car adds adaptive cruise control, thin-film-transistor instrument cluster, heads-up display, surround-view monitor, power headrests, power reclining rear seats, ventilated rear seats and rear seat lumbar support. Final MSRP, including the $900 delivery charge is $66,400. Read the rest of this entry »

  • 2015 Kia Soul EV

    Versatile crossover gets a new green variant

    By Nina Russin

    2015 Soul EV

    2015 Soul EV

    Although the Soul was launched in 2009 as a competitor to the Scion xB and Nissan Cube, Kia’s compact crossover has taken on a life of its own, eclipsing its direct competitors. While the Nissan and Scion were both adaptations of Japan market cars, the Soul was designed in Kia’s Orange County, California studio for American drivers. Its youthful styling and peppy performance have built a loyal following for the Soul, now in its second generation.

    Following on the launch of an all-new model last year, Kia is rolling out the Soul EV. Power comes from a 109 horsepower electric motor with a rechargeable 360-volt lithium-ion battery pack packaged under the floor. Pricing for the base model begins at $33,700, while the Soul EV Plus starts at $35,700. The rollout for both grades begins in Southern California with a 36-month lease plan.

    Kia expects the Soul to be cross-shopped against the Nissan Leaf, Ford Focus Electric, Volkswagen eGolf and Fiat 500e. With its unique styling, surprisingly spacious cargo bay and 93-mile driving range, the newest Soul should give those cars a run for the money. Read the rest of this entry »

  • First Drive: 2015 Kia Sedona SXL

    Style makes it different

    By Nina Russin

    2015 Sedona SX Limited

    2015 Sedona SX Limited

    There’s no doubt that minivans are one of the most practical car choices for growing families. The reason car companies don’t sell more of them is the stigma attached, primarily because of styling. Kia is addressing this issue in its third-generation Sedona with a sexy exterior penned by the very talented Peter Schreyer that should make car shoppers take a second look.

    Schreyer adapted the wide, sweeping shoulders and aggressive grille of a crossover, making the Sedona look sportier and more purposeful. Inside, a driver-centric interior features a center console-mounted gearshift lever and high tech instrument panel that includes the most recent iteration of Kia’s UVO infotainment system, co-developed with Microsoft.

    On the flip side, product planners remembered to focus on versatility, with new seating configurations that include a Slide-N-Stow function for second-row seating and third-row seats that fold into the floor. Buyers of the upscale SXL grade can opt for first class lounge seating: think Barcaloungers in the second row, only much more stylish. Read the rest of this entry »

  • 2015 Kia K900

    Full-sized high luxury sedan

    By Nina Russin

    2015 Kia K900

    2015 Kia K900

    Kia’s success story has been built on big risks. The brand that came to the US twenty years ago with two niche vehicles and a loss leader pricing strategy has evolved into one of the fastest growing OEMs in North America.

    The Cadenza sedan that rolled out last spring moved Kia into the premium segment. The all-new K900 takes the upwardly mobile product strategy a step further, competing head to head with the BMW 7-Series, Audi A8 and Mercedes-Benz S Class.

    While naysayers might question the automaker’s wisdom introducing a $60,000 sedan in what remains a shaky economy, one needs to look at the global picture. The K900 is also sold in Korea as the K9 as well as China, where the demand for luxury goods continues to grow at a healthy rate.

    From a marketing standpoint, the K900 builds on the image makeover that began with the current Optima. Kia is no longer a value brand, although its products continue to offer buyers more content than most of their competitors.

    With the addition of its new Orange County, California design studio, Kia has emerged as a leader in the area of automotive styling. Continued collaboration with Microsoft has made the brand’s UVO infotainment system one of the best connectivity technologies in the industry. Read the rest of this entry »