Kia Recalls Certain 2020 Sedona Minivans

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Jul 202020
 

Latino Traffic Report has learned that Kia Motors America (KIA) is recalling certain 2020 Sedona vehicles. The battery positive (B+) terminal nut on the alternator may not have been tightened properly during assembly, possibly causing it to loosen over time. If the alternator B+ terminal nut loosens, electrical arcing may result, increasing the risk of a fire.

Kia will notify owners, and dealers will inspect the alternator B+ terminal nut, tightening it as necessary, free of charge. The recall is expected to begin August 14, 2020. Owners may contact Kia customer service at 1-800-333-4542. Kia’s number for this recall is SC192.

Owners may also contact the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration Vehicle Safety Hotline at 1-888-327-4236 (TTY 1-800-424-9153), or go to www.safercar.gov.

Sedan Appeal: New Models Help Sustain the Segment

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Apr 292020
 
Volvo S60

Sedan sales may be down, but the segment is definitely not out. While domestic carmakers abandoned them, import carmakers continued to build them, including redesigns of existing nameplates. Latino Traffic Report (LTR) recently test-drove four very elegant 2020 models—the Kia K900, Toyota Avalon Hybrid, Volvo S60, and Lexus LS 500—that offered ample legroom and plenty of bells and whistles.

Toyota Avalon Hybrid XSE

Toyota Avalon Hybrid

Redesigned for 2019, the fifth-generation Avalon marked its twenty-fifth anniversary this year. As Toyota’s top-of-the-line sedan, it naturally elicits great expectations for its comfort and luxury but as a hybrid, the text model set hopes even higher for standard features and fuel economy.

Its interior roominess belied its midsize sedan designation. Toyota extended the rear cabin further by another seven inches so that rear legroom and trunk space measure 40.3 inches and 16.09 cu. ft., respectively and included numerous cubbies for storage.

At the heart of this hybrid is the 2.5-liter four-cylinder Toyota Hybrid System II with a 650-volt electric motor and Continuously-Variable Transmission (CVT). These elements combine to produce 176 horsepower and 163 lb.–ft. of torque. They also give the Avalon Hybrid an EPA estimated fuel efficiency of 43 miles per gallon (mpg) in the city and on the highway. Utilizing the Eco and EV modes (Normal and Sport are also included) it achieved an average rating of 38.9 mpg during the weeklong test drive.

Standard safety features in the Toyota Safety Sense package include pre-collision warning with pedestrian detection, and range dynamic cruise control among other features. The blind spot monitor with rear cross traffic detection and Safety Connect roadside assistance are also standard.

Creature comforts on all hybrids include dual-zone climate control, the Entune infotainment system with a nine-inch touch screen, access to Amazon Alexa and Apple Car Play, and a seven-inch display in the gauge cluster. For $1,720 more, the test model upgraded the stereo to the JBL Premium audio system with navigation.

On the plus side, the test model came loaded with standard features but on the downside, its exterior design may be polarizing. The blackened grille and rims helped a bit.

Pricing for the 2020 Avalon starts at $36,830. The as-tested price came to $42,259.

Volvo S60 T6 Inscription

According to AAA, Americans on average spend nearly an hour behind the wheel each day. Spending that time surrounded by a luxurious but functional interior can make time fly. Volvo has set the bar when it comes to design, inside and out, and its redesigned S60 is no exception.

LTR recently tested the S60 T6 AWD Inscription, a top-of-the-line trim, and while it included a healthy list of standard features, additional packages did escalate the price dramatically.

Bearing Volvo’s latest design DNA, the S60 sports a unique version of the Thor’s Hammer headlamp on the outside that first appeared on the redesigned XC90.

The S60’s 12.3″ digital driver display.

Inside, Volvo’s Sensus infotainment system sets off the interior design. Its tablet shape and function via the nine-inch touchscreen deliver a fairly intuitive interface for controlling multiple car functions from navigation to in-car entertainment applications (hint, go to Library to save radio presets). Less intuitive, however, was the adaptive cruise control. It increased speed by five miles per hour (mph) at each click rather than just one mph and it wasn’t clear how to reprogram it.

Wood inlays, leather seating with a backrest massage in the front seats (via the Luxury Seating Package $2,200), and a panoramic moonroof on the test model elevated the drive experience even further.

But the brand’s reputation stands on safety and the test model came equipped with several Volvo game changers like the blind spot information system with steer assist, cross traffic alert and autobraking, and low and hi-speed collision mitigation with cyclist, large animal, vehicle, and pedestrian detection, among other features.

In a bold move, Volvo bases its powertrain technology on turbocharged and twin engine super and turbocharged four-cylinders. The 2.0-liter version of the latter with 316 horsepower and 295 lb.–ft. of torque matched to an eight-speed Geartronic transmission powered the test model. It had an EPA city/highway estimated fuel economy of 21/32 mpg. It averaged 24.7 mpg during the weeklong test drive.

The 2020 S60 has a starting price of $37,045. With the extra packaging, the test model’s price came to $58,890.

Kia K900 Luxury

Equipped with suspensions that float like a boat, full-size sedans tend to get the “flagship” moniker. Redesigned for 2019 and with new technology, safety features, and premium touches, the Kia K900 easily lives up to that label. LTR recently test-drove the K900 Luxury, the only available trim.

Blind Spot View Monitor with camera image in the gauge cluster.

The second-generation K900 immediately scores points with its new streamlined exterior. It’s somewhat derivative of its competitors, especially on the inside, but still maintains enough Kia DNA, e.g. the tiger-nose grille with a Quadric pattern, to make it distinctive.

As the name implies, flagships should offer a suspension that fairly floats. Torsional stiffness on the new model, however, increased by 33 percent, gives the K900 a more solid and premium on-road feel. There are also four drive modes—Comfort, Sport, Eco, and Custom—to fine-tune the ride further.

The full-time rear biased and electronically controlled all-wheel-drive system adds to its sure-footedness.

It’s also slightly longer and wider than the outgoing model for rear legroom and trunk space that measure 36.6 inches and 15.3 cu. ft. respectively. For added convenience, the trunk comes with a button to close automatically.

Metal veneers (first spotted by LTR on the Volvo S90) combined with a choice of four matte wood options and quilted Nappa leather enrich the interior. The test model also included a surround sound stereo, a 12.3-inch touchscreen with navigation, wireless charging (for Qi compatible mobile phones, e.g. iPhone 8, Samsung S7), a blindspot monitor with collision warning, adaptive cruise control, and a parking sensor, among other features. The VIP package ($4,400) added a 12.3-inch LCD instrument cluster, tri-zone climate control, power adjustable and ventilated rear seats, and a rear phone charger.

The K900 shares the same engine that powers the sporty Kia Stinger, a 3.3-liter twin turbo V6 with 365 hp and 376 lb.–ft. of torque matched to an eight-speed automatic transmission. It should achieve a city/highway fuel economy of 18/25 mpg. It achieved 21.8 mpg during the test drive.

Pricing for the 2020 K900 starts at $60,935. The as-tested pricing came to $64,895.

Lexus LS 500

Considered a flagship by Lexus, this four-door sedan, redesigned in 2018, bears a striking exterior design and comes stocked with bells and whistles. The Lexus LS 500 recently tested by LTR, used additional pricey packages to elevate those features.

LS 500 sliding gauge cluster.

It’s powered by an all-new 3.5-liter, twin turbocharged V6 that delivers 416 horsepower and 442 lb.–ft. of torque, matched to a ten-speed automatic transmission. It has an EPA estimated city/highway fuel economy of 19/30 mpg. It averaged 22.6 mpg during the weeklong test drive.

The chrome grille and 20-inch alloy spoke wheels with Vapor Chrome finish accentuated the LS’s premium look, while wood panels, a rear power sunshade, and its twelve-inch touchscreen as part of the Enform infotainment system made the experience inside visibly plush. The Enform system was less intuitive to program than similar systems, however.

Many features like a blind spot monitor and pre-collision system were standard but Lexus added packages to enhance these features, like the Safety System +A ($3,000) that gave the pre-collision system active braking and steering, pedestrian alert, front cross traffic alert, and lane change assist. The Interior Upgrade Package ($3,730) added a massage function in the front seats as well as quilted and perforated leather seating and heated rear seats. Even the trunk received an upgrade with a carpeted mat ($105).

With 38.9 inches of legroom and 16.95 cu. ft. of truck space, the full-size sedan managed to fit in the garage with about an inch to spare.

Finally, run-flat tires on the LS were put to good use during the test drive when the right front tire took on a screw and didn’t flatten until after returning home. Enform Safety Connect with roadside assistance, complimentary for ten years, came to the rescue, loading the LS on a flatbed and delivering it to a Lexus dealership for a replacement tire.

Pricing for the 2020 LS 500 starts at $76,475. The as-tested price came to $94,075.

Electric Vehicle Review: 2019 Kia Niro EV

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Nov 252019
 

Not satisfied with reversing nearly every clean air and water regulation enforced by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) since its inception in 1970, the federal government has decided to take on California’s clean air laws. Despite these efforts, new and improved electric vehicles (EVs) will keep rolling off production lines, due in large part to California’s successful emissions standards.

Initially, EVs did present certain challenges. With minimal electric ranges, the first EV models helped coin a new phrase, “range anxiety.” Tesla reversed that with ranges of 300-plus miles and other manufactures followed suit. Latino Traffic Report (LTR) recently tested the 2019 Kia Niro EV EX Premium and its range of 200-plus miles will set minds at ease.

Kia first introduced the gasoline-electric hybrid version of the Niro in 2017. It was followed by the Niro PHEV plug-in hybrid in 2018 and in 2019, the Niro EV completed the lineup.

Knowing that this vehicle uses no gasoline is a thrill, but that it does it without immediately losing power or range elevates the experience. Powered by a 201-horsepower electric motor with 291 lb.–ft. of torque, lithium ion polymer battery and assisted by an onboard charger and adjustable regenerative braking via paddle shifters, the Niro EV has an estimated electric range of 239 miles.

When testing other EVs, LTR has seen the starting range quickly evaporate once the throttle or any other function like air conditioning was engaged, but not on the Niro. After charging overnight on a 120-volt plug in the garage, the range read 263–285 miles and dissipated at a normal rate, much more like gasoline, even with the air conditioning running. Of the four drive modes that come standard, Normal, Sport, Eco + and Eco, most of the test drive was conducted in the latter.

On the outside, it stands out from its siblings with a unique front fascia with a closed off grille for improved aerodynamics. It stands out among EVs with a Combined Charging System (CCS) DC fast-charge plug located in the front of the vehicle.

Early electric vehicles were small and light to help extend the range but the Niro brings the convenience of a crossover utility vehicle with seating for five and a rear seat that folds flat to expose 53 cubic feet of cargo room.

It’s also loaded with standard features, like a blind spot monitor, that help justify its starting price. Technology like Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, smart cruise control, forward collision warning, rear cross traffic alert (essential in any parking lot and assisted by a whirring sound so that it can be heard by pedestrians), a smart key with push-button start, and AM/FM/MP3/SiriusXM audio system are all standard.

As the premium trim, the test model also included more exclusive features like a power sunroof, heated and ventilated leather front seats, Harmon Kardon premium audio, navigation with an eight-inch touchscreen, and a rear parking sensor.

Pricing for the Niro EV starts at $39,545. The as-tested pricing came to $47,155.

Sí: The Niro EV beckons to the open road with an impressive range and with a quick charger that extends electric power.

No: Already a bit pricey, not sure the added features for the Premium trim warrant more than $10,000 extra from the base.

Kia Recalls Certain Forte and Forte Koup Models

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Feb 032018
 

2011 Kia Forte

Latino Traffic Report has learned that Kia Motors America (Kia) is recalling certain 2012-2014 Forte and Forte Koup vehicles. The brake pedal stopper pad can deteriorate allowing the brake light switch plunger to remain extended when the brake pedal is released.
This will allow the brake lights to remain illuminated continuously. It can also allow the shift lever to be moved without depressing the brake pedal, or activate the engine management brake pedal override feature. If the brake light switch plunger does not retract as it should when the brake pedal is not being pressed, the brake lights

2014 Kia Forte Koup

may stay illuminated preventing accurate communication to following vehicles that the vehicle is slowing or stopping. Additionally, if the brake switch plunger is not retracted, then the transmission can be shifted out of PARK without depressing the brake pedal. Either condition increases the risk of a crash.

Kia will notify owners, and dealers will replace the brake pedal stopper pad, free of charge. The recall is expected to begin January 30, 2018. Owners may contact Kia customer service at 1-800-333-4542. Kia’s number for this recall is SC158.
Owners may also contact the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration Vehicle Safety Hotline at 1-888-327-4236 (TTY 1-800-424-9153), or go to www.safercar.gov.

CUV Review: Kia Sportage SX AWD

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Oct 302017
 

The Sportage, Kia Motors America’s longest-running nameplate, got a redesign for 2017. On a recent test-drive for Latino Traffic Report in Austin, TX, the compact crossover utility vehicle (CUV), specifically the Sportage SX AWD, impressed with its standard and available technology, setting it apart in the segment.

The European-looking Sportage inspires a comparison to other European brands—I found myself referring to it as the “baby (Porsche) Cayenne.” The signature tiger nose grille, however, confirms that it’s a Kia.

Driving along FM 2222, Austin’s curviest road, the Sportage handled the twists and turns solidly, enhanced by the Driver Select Mode set in Sport. Other modes include Normal and Eco. The improved ride and handling comes from a stiffer structure, new suspension, and advanced driver assistance systems. Included on the test model, the available intelligent all-wheel drive (AWD) can be added to every trim ($1500) and features a 50/50 locking center differential.

Offered in three trim levels (LX, EX, and SX Turbo), the Sportage can be powered by a choice of two four-cylinder engines—a 2.4-liter engine that produces 181 horsepower and 175 lb.–ft. of torque or a 2.0-liter inline-four turbo with 240 horsepower (237 on AWD models) and 260 lb.–ft. of torque, that powered the test model. Both engines have been retuned for better fuel efficiency and are matched to an updated six-speed automatic transmission.

The 2.0-liter turbo should get an estimated city/highway fuel economy of 20 miles per gallon (mpg) in the city and 23 mpg on the highway. I averaged 24.7 mpg in the city and 27 mpg on the highway.

Longer by 1.6 inches, the new Sportage has a roomier interior with seating for five. It’s also available with additional appointments for a more luxurious cabin and a range of technologies including UVO eServices and telematics, AppleCar Play, and Android Auto matched to a seven- or an eight-inch touchscreen.

Thanks to an innovative dual-level cargo floor and a widened luggage area, cargo capacity behind the second row has grown from 26.1 cu.-ft. to 30.7 cu.-ft. The 60/40-split second row also folds flat and reclines for added convenience.

The SX test model included leather seating with ventilated and heated front seats, a heated steering wheel, Harmon Kardon audio with Clari-Fi (rare features for this trim level), dual-zone climate control, an eight-inch touchscreen with navigation, and a panoramic sunroof with an opening that is 4.1 inches longer than the outgoing model’s.

The top-of-the-line SX also included the latest safety technology, like a blind spot monitor, front and rear parking assist, and rear cross traffic alert. While these features are not available on the base model, LX, they can be added to the mid-range EX.

The base model includes a rearview camera, air conditioning, a five-inch color touchscreen AM/FM/MP3/SiriusXM (three-month subscription) audio system, Bluetooth, hands-free phone operation and streaming audio, and USB auxiliary input jacks.

Panoramic sunroof.

Convenience features like cargo net hooks, remote keyless entry, and steering wheel mounted audio and cruise controls are also standard. The SX added a smart power tailgate that opened automatically when it sensed the key fob.
Pricing for the 2017 Kia Sportage starts at $24,095. The as-tested pricing for the SX AWD came to $34,895.

Sí: The Sportage offers added value with features you wouldn’t find in this segment.

No: Fuel economy is fairly unimpressive, especially for a turbo-charged compact CUV.

 

Kia Recalls Certain Optima, Sorento, and Sportage Models

 Recalls  Comments Off on Kia Recalls Certain Optima, Sorento, and Sportage Models
Apr 162017
 

2012 Kia Optima

2014 Kia Sorento

Latino Traffic Report has learned that Kia Motor Company (Kia) is recalling certain 2011-2014 Optima, 2012-2014 Sorento and 2011-2013 Sportage vehicles. Machining errors during the engine manufacturing process may cause premature bearing wear within the engine.

Bearing wear may result in the engine seizing, increasing the risk of a crash.

Kia will notify owners, and dealers will inspect the engine assembly, and replace the engine if necessary, free of charge. The recall is expected to begin May 25, 2017. Owners may contact Kia customer service at 1-800-333-4542. Kia’s number for this recall is SC147.

2013 Kia Sportage

Owners may also contact the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration Vehicle Safety Hotline at 1-888-327-4236 (TTY 1-800-424-9153), or go to www.safercar.gov.

Super Sedans Improve Regular Commutes

 Features  Comments Off on Super Sedans Improve Regular Commutes
Mar 142017
 

Chevy Cruze

Available at all ends of the price spectrum, the ubiquitous sedan comes in an assortment of incarnations, from a comfortable, affordable commuter to a sumptuous performance machine. Here’s an overview of the sedans tested by Latino Traffic Report (LTR) and what makes them stand out in a crowded field.

Chevy Cruze

Redesigned in 2016, the Chevy Cruze compact sedan continues to compete in one of the toughest automotive segments by ramping up both its style and amenities.

For starters, the new version is larger and lighter, increasing its EPA estimated fuel economy to 30 miles per gallon (mpg) in the city and 40 mpg on the highway.

The new 1.4-liter inline four-cylinder turbo engine with 153 horses is matched to a six-speed manual or available six-speed automatic transmission (North America). I drove the automatic and earned an average 35 mpg. A diesel engine becomes available in the spring of 2017.

As mentioned, it comes with a healthy list of standard features including keyless entry, XM Satellite radio (three months), OnStar (six months), OnStar Basic Plan (five years), and a rearview camera. New available features include wireless phone charging, heated rear seats and heated, leather-wrapped steering wheel.

Happily, I drove the Premier or top-of-the-line model that included the available OnStar 4G LTE with Wi-Fi hotspot and keyless start plus all the above via the Enhanced Convenience Package ($865), as well as the Driver Convenience Package ($790) that added essentials like rear park assist, forward collision, rear cross traffic, and lane change alert with a blind zone warning. Oddly, neither a sunroof nor leather seats are available.

Still, the fit and finish inside this model was quite impressive, definitely a step up from the outgoing model.

The as-tested pricing for the Cruze Premier came to $26,045.

 

Toyota Camry

The Camry is a top seller among Latinos as well as the nation. It’s been a leader in the midsize segment for the last 14 years. So if it ain’t broke, perhaps the task for Toyota is just to make more versions? The LTR test drive featured the Camry SE Special Edition. While many manufacturers have joined the darkened trend for special editions, Toyota chose to go blue.

Powered by a 2.5-liter four-cylinder matched to six-speed automatic transmission, it should achieve an impressive EPA estimated city/highway fuel economy of 25/35 mpg. I averaged 26.3 mpg. A 3.5-liter V6 is available on other Camrys.

Toyota applied the Special Edition to the SE trim as it’s already distinguished by a sporty design, from the grille to the suspension. On the inside, the sport fabric Softex seats featured blue accent stitching and blue seat inserts. Blue accents were also included in the gauge cluster, as well as a power moonroof.

Specific technology on this trim included a Smart Key System and Qi wireless charging for compatible smart phones, enabling navigation from a smart phone.

Exclusive design features include a smoked treatment on the taillights and 18-inch alloy wheels in a machined finish and gloss black-painted accents. For a mere $525, the Camry also included a ramped up Entune premium audio with navigation, a seven-inch high-resolution touch screen with split-screen display, and a CD player.

While a redesigned 2018 version of the Camry is currently touring auto shows, there’s still time to grab the current generation.

The as-tested Camry Special Edition pricing came to $27,075.

 

 

Kia Optima

Kia ramped up the 2016 version of the Optima with a redesign, giving its top-selling nameplate a more refined exterior look, new technology, and creature comforts offered at the same starting price as the outgoing model. The 2017 model receives a few tweaks and upgraded trims.

Optima rear view camera with multiple angles.

There are three available four-cylinder engines to power the Optima, distributed among five trim levels. The test model, Optima SX Turbo, came equipped with 2.0-liter turbo-powered four-cylinder engine matched to a six-speed automatic transmission. A seven-speed dual clutch transmission is also available.

All three engines include the Active Eco System and Driver Mode Select with an Eco option to conserve gas. The EPA estimated fuel economy for the test model is 22 mpg in the city and 32 mpg on the highway. I averaged 31 mpg.

As a midsize sedan, Kia competes in a tough segment. It has an edge, however, with an exceptional bumper-to-bumper warranty (five years or 60,000 miles) and with a healthy list of standard features. Situated near the top of the line, second to the Optima SXL, the test model included extra technology and creature comforts. Standard features on the test model included dual-zone air conditioning, cruise control, AM/FM/MP3 audio unit with satellite radio, an eight-inch LCD rear-camera display, and Bluetooth.

Additionally, the test model added the SXT Premium Technology Package ($4,800) brought a slew of features like a panoramic sunroof, Harman Kardon Surround Sound system, heated and cooled front seats, Blind spot Detection and Rear Cross Traffic Alert.

The as-tested price for the Optima, built in West Point, GA, was $35,315.

Acura ILX

Considered a gateway to the Acura brand, the ILX is the most affordable Acura model available. The test model, ILX Tech Plus A-SPEC, however, included multiple packages that ramped up its appeal and price.

The sporty ILX gets its oomph from a 2.4-liter four-cylinder engine with 201 horsepower and 180 lb.–ft. of torque. Matched to an eight-speed dual-clutch transmission, the powertrain should achieve an EPA city/highway estimated fuel economy of 25/36 mpg. I averaged 29.9 mpg.

Expect to feel the road with the ILX which lacks adjustable drive mode select technology to adjust ride and handling.

With refreshed looks on the outside for 2016, including restyled front and rear fasciae, front grille, and rear LED combination lights, the A-SPEC package also added sporty side sill garnishes, a trunk spoiler, front fog lights, new 18-inch, ten-spoke machined alloy wheels, sport pedals, and sport seats with suede inserts.

As the name implied, the ILX Tech Plus A-SPEC was packed with packages that brought a long list of features starting with the Premium Package that included XM Satellite radio, a blind spot monitor and rear cross traffic monitor among other features. The Tech Package added navigation, multi-view rear camera, and the Acura ELS AM/FM/CD sound system. Finally, the Acura Watch Plus Package completed the picture with adaptive cruise control, forward collision warning, and braking among other features.

As tested pricing for the top-of-the-line ILX Tech Plus A-SPEC came to $35,810.

 

Volkswagen Passat

Passat 1.8T SE

With a base price of $23,260, the Passat is more affordable than expected for a European mid-size sedan, one that happens to be built at VW’s Chattanooga, TN plant. LTR tested two Passat trim levels, the sporty 1.8T SE with Technology and the SEL Premium.

Updated inside and out for 2016, the Passat remains understated but sophisticated in appearance.

Powered by the four-cylinder 1.8-liter turbocharged engine matched to a six-speed automatic transmission should help the Passat SE achieve an impressive EPA city/highway estimated fuel economy of 25/38 mpg. I averaged 27.4 mpg.

Passat SEL Premium

The more affordable trim level of the two I drove included important technology like the intelligent crash response system, but also comfort features like heated front seats and MIB II, the new generation of Volkswagen’s infotainment system, adaptive cruise control and a rearview camera for added convenience.

As the name implies the SEL Premium is the higher-end version of the Passat and replete with more bells and whistles that do come at a high price, nearly $10,000 more.

Powered by a 3.6-liter V6 and a six-speed transmission, it has an EPA city/highway estimated fuel economy of 20/28 mpg. I averaged 24.3 mpg.

It had heated front and rear leather seats, a Fender premium audio system, a power sunroof, parking sensor, and a blind spot monitor.

Both models had a massive truck with 15.9 cubic feet of storage and 60/40-split rear seat that easily deploys to expand cargo room inside.

As-tested pricing for the SE and SEL came to $28,195 and $37,655 respectively.

 

Audi A3

Audi A3 Sedan

Believe it or not, there’s actually an entry-level Audi and it’s called the A3. On this test for LTR, there were two models for review, the Sedan and the Cabriolet (convertible).

The Sedan offers three engine options and the Cabriolet two. Both test models shared the same one, a 2.0-liter inline four-cylinder engine that produced 220 horsepower and 258 lb.–ft. of torque matched to a six-speed S tronic transmission. Both also came with quattro all-wheel drive, but the sedan should manage to achieve one more mile per gallon in the city and highway, with an EPA estimated fuel economy of 24/33 mpg. I averaged 23.7 mpg with the Sedan and 21.4 mpg with the Cabriolet.

What the Cabriolet did excel at was fun, starting with the canvas top that deployed with the push of a button at speeds of up to 31 mph and, ideally, in 18 seconds—it took 24 seconds when I tried.

Audi A3 Cabriolet

Standard safety technology on all A3s includes, a rear view camera, and parking system. To get advanced systems like Audi Side Assist (blind spot warning) requires purchasing the Technology Package ($2,700), which also adds a CD/DVD player, Audi MMI touch, and navigation, among other features.

The A3 may be considered “entry level” but it’s still an Audi, and as such, standard creature comforts include dual-zone climate control, leather seating, and SiriusXM Satellite radio. The sedan also came with a panoramic sunroof.

Both added extra packages to get features like heated front seats, Audi advanced Key, and Audi music interface with iPod cable.

As tested pricing for the Sedan came to $41,325 and $46,500 for the Cabriolet.

 

Lexus GS F

Lexus’s new design DNA, including the signature spindle grille, signaled a new focus on sportiness. The manufacturer even created a special performance lineup under the F brand. New for 2016, the GS F performance sedan leaves little doubt that it’s a Lexus, particularly with its premium appointments on the inside, but its sportiness is certainly sets it apart.

Exterior design features get bolder on F models, including the fascia with race-inspired functional air inlets, triple-beam headlamps, low-slung wide stance, large brake calipers, carbon-fiber rear spoiler, and quad exhaust rear diffuser.

To show it means business, Lexus powers the GS F with a 5.0-liter V8 with 467 horses and 389 lb.–ft. of torque. It’s matched to an eight-speed Sport Direct Shift Automatic Transmission with steering wheel mounted paddle shifters.

Fuel economy will not be its strongest feature but it is respectable. The EPA estimated city/highway fuel economy is 16/24 mpg. I averaged 17.7 mpg.

For better performance and handling, the GS F sits on a double-wishbone in the front and rear multi-link suspension. Lexus adds Brembo disc brakes and Active Sound Control, to increase throatiness and rumble to the engine and exhaust notes. Drive Mode Select control further enhances performance by giving the driver the following options—NORMAL, ECO, SPORT S, SPORT S+—while Torque Vectoring Differential helps the GS F hug the road.

All new for 2016, improvements in 2017, like a new Linear Adaptive Variable Suspension, accentuate the positive, with more power and better responsiveness.

All this performance and power doesn’t come cheap. The as-tested pricing for the GS F was $87,175.

 

CUV Launch: 2017 Kia Sportage

 Launches  Comments Off on CUV Launch: 2017 Kia Sportage
Aug 092016
 

2016-03-03 14.02.28

Introduced in the early nineties, the Sportage is Kia’s longest-running nameplate. Redesigned for 2017, Kia recently introduced the all-new Sportage in San Diego and Latino Traffic Report was there. With striking new looks, the Sportage adds more standard equipment for 2017 as well as new safety technology.

2016-03-03 11.34.40The compact crossover utility vehicle (CUV) handled curves deftly at the launch, but its new exterior really grabbed attention, particularly at the first stop—the Julian Pie Company in Julian, California. The original apple pie with cheddar cheese was delicious!

Designed in Germany, it’s no surprise that the new Sportage inspires a comparison to other German brands—I found myself referring to it as the “baby (Porsche) Cayenne.” Still, Kia’s design cues remain front and center starting with the “tiger-nose” grille in the front fascia. The headlights sit higher than on the previous Shortage, but the fog lamp array on each side really stands out.

Improved ride and handling comes from a stiffer structure, new suspension, and advanced driver assistance systems. The available intelligent all-wheel drive (AWD) can be added to every trim ($1500) and features a 50/50 locking center differential and torque vectoring. The Driver Mode Select (DMS) that gives the driver three choices—Normal, Sport, or Eco—improves performance on all models.2016-03-03 rear.06

Offered in three trim levels (LX, EX, and SX Turbo), the Sportage can be powered by a choice of two four-cylinder engines—a 2.0-liter inline-four turbo with 240 horsepower (237 on AWD models) and 260 lb.-ft. of torque. The base model LX and the EX come with a normally aspirated 2.4-liter engine that produces 181 horsepower and 175 lb.-ft. of torque. Both engines have been retuned for better fuel efficiency and are matched to an updated six-speed automatic transmission.

At the launch we drove AWD and front wheel drive (FWD) versions of the SX Turbo equipped with a sport-tuned suspension and paddle shifters.

2017 Sportage SX TurboLonger by 1.2 inches, the new Sportage has a roomier interior with seating for five. It’s also available with additional appointments for a more luxurious cabin and a range of technologies including UVO eServies and telematics, AppleCar Play, and Android Auto.

The SX Turbo included leather seating with ventilated and heated front seats, dual-zone climate control, Harmon Kardon audio with Clari-Fi, an eight-inch touchscreen with navigation, and a panoramic sunroof with an opening that is 4.1 inches longer than the outgoing model’s.2017 Sportage SX Turbo

The top-of-the-line SX also included the latest safety technology, like a rearview camera, blind spot detection, front and rear parking assist, and rear cross traffic alert. While these features are not available on the base model, they can be added to the mid-range EX. The rearview camera, however, is standard on all three trim levels.2017 Sportage SX Turbo

Thanks to an innovative dual-level cargo floor and a widened luggage area, cargo capacity behind the second row has grown from 26.1 cu.-ft. to 30.7 cu.-ft. The 60/40-split second row also folds flat and reclines for added convenience.

The base model includes air conditioning, a five-inch color touchscreen AM/FM/MP3/SiriusXM audio system with Bluetooth, hands-free phone operation and streaming audio, USB auxiliary input jacks, and SiriusXM, satellite radio for three months.

Convenience features like cargo net hooks, remote keyless entry, steering wheel mounted audio and cruise controls, are also standard. The SX adds a smart power tailgate that opens automatically when it senses the key fob.2016-03-03 11.01.48

Good looking, fun, and versatile, the all-new Sportage should be a fierce competitor in its segment.

Pricing for the 2017 Kia Sportage starts at $23,885. The as-tested pricing for the SX FWD and AWD was $33,395 and $34,895 respectively.

Long-term Review: Kia Sedona Pt. 2

 Kia, Reviews  Comments Off on Long-term Review: Kia Sedona Pt. 2
Feb 282016
 

2016-02-28 16.37.00-1

A six-month test drive can lead to many adventures. The Kia Sedona minivan I drove from August through February for Latino Traffic Report got me through good times and bad, but then, what else would you expect from a family vehicle?

Redesigned in 2015, the Sedona offers a handsome option in the minivan segment. I received the Sedona SX-Limited (SX-L), the top-of-the-line trim level, and from the beginning, it impressed me with its elegance, comfort, and handling.2016-03-01 17.34.05

As with all Kias, it packs more features than normally associated with its segment, like ventilated as well as heated front seats, heated second-row cushions, a dual sunroof, and a driver mode select button (Eco, Normal, or Comfort), that helped improve the ride and handling as well as fuel economy.

The minivan should earn an EPA estimated 17miles per gallon (mpg) in the city and 22 mpg on the highway, averaging around 23 mpg. All Sedonas come with a 3.3-liter V6 engine matched to a six-speed automatic transmission with Sport-matic simulated manual shifting. I traveled nearly 5,000 miles, spent $333 on gasoline and my final average fuel economy, utilizing the Eco mode, ranged between 20–24 mpg.

After six-months I took a few quick road trips to Bryan, Texas and San Antonio to visit family over the holidays. The majority of the mileage, however, accrued through city driving, particularly during a three-week stint as a holiday mail carrier for the United States Postal Service (USPS). For the most part, I drove rented cargo vans, but there were a couple times when the Sedona came through, in a pinch. This gave me ample opportunity to test the fold flat seating and take advantage of the Sedona’s 142 cu. ft. of cargo volume.2015-12-21 10.16.18

The optional first-class lounge chairs with footrests in the second row on the test model had manual levers that made them clunky to manipulate. The third row, however, folded flat more easily and quickly.

The navigation system, standard on the SX-L, also proved essential and easy to use as the postal routes I was given lacked serious detail. Not only did I come away with an appreciation of the system but also the mail carriers of the USPS—they work hard for the money

The cargo room also fit a six-foot Christmas tree with ease. Added convenience came with the smart power liftgate with a sensor that automatically opened in three seconds when I approached from behind with the keys in my pocket and I didn’t have to wave my foot under the bumper like other systems require.2015-12-11 16.16.27

The keyless system with burglar and panic alarm, air conditioning, an AM/FM/CD/MP3/Satellite stereo system, back-up warning, Bluetooth wireless technology, and cruise control are also standard. Only weeks into the loan, however, the Sedona was vandalized outside of the neighborhood post office. The police officer who took down my report after the robbery explained that the alarm did not engage during the break-in because the vandals didn’t open the door, they just reached in to get what they wanted.

One feature that was lacking on the Sedona, however, was a rear entertainment system for viewing DVDs that most minivans offer—they’re a must-have for families on a road trip. According to Orth Hedrick, vice president, product planning, it is available as a dealer-installed option.

Pricing for the 2015 Sedona starts at $26,995 but you won’t be able to get features like a power liftgate or sliding doors or upgrade it with any options. The as-tested price, with $2,700 of additional equipment like lane departure warning and a surround view monitor, came to $43,295.

2016-02-28 16.31.33 HDR

: The Kia Sedona Is a handsome option, with versatility and a good list of standard and available features.

No: A rear entertainment system is a must for a minivan and it should be a factory option rather than dealer installed.

 


Expect More Trucks and Green Vehicles in 2016

 Noticias  Comments Off on Expect More Trucks and Green Vehicles in 2016
Feb 232016
 

CHICAGO (Feb. 11, 2016) – Nissan TITAN will be available in 4x2 or 4x4 drive configurations with three cabin configurations – Crew Cab, King Cab and Single cab – and three bed lengths – 5.5, 6.5 and 8 feet. Similar to TITAN XD, TITAN will be available in five trim levels – S, SV, PRO-4X, SL and Platinum Reserve. The TITAN will be powered by Nissan’s 5.6-liter Endurance® V8 gasoline engine capable of 390 horsepower and 401 lb.-ft. of torque. This engine will be mated to a 7-speed automatic transmission. A V6 gasoline engine will also be available (details to be announced at a later date).

What brings journalists en masse to Chicago in the middle of winter? The largest auto show in the country, the Chicago Auto Show, that’s what, and this year’s reveals reflected a truck and big SUV resurgence, while at the same time, new green car initiatives.

Gasoline prices remain at an all-time low and that’s good news for truck and SUV buyers. Nissan brought forth two big bruisers, the all-new Titan half-ton and the 2017 Armada.

Last year Nissan introduced the award-winning 2016 Titan XD, powered by an all-new 5.0-liter V8 Cummins turbo diesel engine. This year the gasoline-powered version of the Titan (above) took center stage in Chicago. Powered by a 5.6-liter V8 engine and built on a separate chassis from the TITAN XD, it’s also 14.7 inches shorter.

2017 Nissan Armada

2017 Nissan Armada

Similarly, the all-new Armada will be powered by the new 5.6-liter V8 engine and matched to a seven-speed automatic transmission for better fuel economy.

The handsome full-size SUV will come with an extensive list of available safety and convenience features, like Predictive Forward Collision Warning, Backup Collision Intervention, Blind Spot Intervention and Blind Spot Warning, among other features. An eight-inch display, navigation, and heated front seats will be standard. Both the Titan half-ton and Armada will go on sale this summer.

The 2017 Ram Power Wagon.

The 2017 Ram Power Wagon.

Ram followed suit with its off-road monster, the Power Wagon. Based on the Ram 2500 Heavy Duty 4×4 Crew Cab, the 2017 Power Wagon receives all-new exterior and interior design elements. Seeking its own design statement, Ram abandons the crosshatch grille on the new Power Wagon for the one featured on its half-ton off-road sibling, the Ram Rebel.

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Pacifica Hybrid.

FCA also showed the hybrid version of its all-new Chrysler Pacifica minivan. Revealed last month in Detroit, the Pacifica replaces the Town & Country. A segment first, the hybrid will deliver an estimated range of 30 miles solely on zero-emissions electric power. New available technology will also include a Stow ‘n Vac integrated vacuum cleaner.

While the Pacifica goes on sale this spring, the hybrid version should go on sale in the second half of 2016.

Available in dealerships now, the 2017 Hyundai Tucson receives a fresh exterior design and LED lighting signatures, plus additional infotainment, convenience and safety technologies, including Drive Mode selection with Sport, Eco and Normal settings. Brandon Ramirez, senior product manager, unveiled the refreshed versions of the 2017 Santa Fe and Santa Fe Sport.

Kia Niro.

Kia Niro.

Expanding its green vehicle line-up, Kia introduced the 2017 Niro Hybrid Utility Vehicle. The all-new Niro hopes to find a niche between the hybrid-electric vehicle and CUV segments, achieving a combined fuel efficiency rating of 50 mpg. It joins Kia’s green car line-up that includes the Soul EV, Optima Hybrid and 2017 Optima Plug-in Hybrid that also made its global debut in Chicago.

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Volvo XC90.

Finally, Volvo’s all-new XC90 continues to collect accolades winning MotorWeek’s 2016 Drivers’ Choice Best of the Year award. It’s the first utility vehicle to win the top honor in the 34-year history of the awards. To date, the XC90 has been named the 2016 North American Truck of the Year, the CUV of Texas by the Texas Auto Writers Association, and the Family Car of the Year by the Midwest Automotive Media Association.

“The XC90 brings Volvo firmly into the luxury space and fully represents the company’s new direction,” said Dean Shaw, vice president, Corporate Communications, Volvo Car USA.