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.

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.

 

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.

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.

 


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.

2016-02-11 14.37.38

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.

2016-02-11 15.32.57

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.

Feb 042016
 
2015-10-15 optimalaunch

2016 Kia Optima SXL

With so many advances in the industry, it’s hard to find a dud on a new car lot these days. The launch of the all-new Kia Optima midsize sedan improves the selection even further.

The brand’s bestseller for the last three years, Kia ramps up the 2016 version with a more refined exterior design, new technology, and creature comforts offered at the same starting price as the outgoing model.2015-10-15 optima.rocks.2

At the launch in Aspen, Colorado, the longer, wider and stiffer Optima hugged the road nicely. Its increased dimensions also translate into a roomier and more comfortable cabin with more head, shoulder, and rear seat legroom.  Plus the trunk expands to 15.9 cu. ft. and the 60/40 split rear seat also folds flat for even more room.

There will be three available four-cylinder engines to power the Optima distributed among five trim levels. We drove the top-of-the-line SX and SXL trims powered by a 2.0-liter turbocharged engine mated to a six-speed automatic transmission with 2015-10-15 opt.launchSportmatic simulated manual shifting. This is not the most fuel efficient of the three engines but it is the most powerful with 245 horses and 260 lb.–ft. of torque. The sport-tuned suspension and paddle shifters improved performance on the launch models, though the throttle response on the turbo was a little hesitant.

The lower level trims will come with a 2.4-liter or an all-new 1.6-liter turbocharged engine, matched to a six-speed automatic or seven-speed Dual Clutch Transmission, respectively. While all three engines include the Active Eco System and Driver Mode Select with an Eco option to conserve gas, the most fuel-efficient will be the 1.6-liter earning an EPA estimated combined fuel economy of 32 miles per gallon. Plug-in and hybrid models will also be introduced this year.

2015-10-15 optimaseatsThe sleeker and contoured European-inspired exterior is matched to a super plush interior on the SX and SXL that included diamond-quilted and heated leather seats plus metallic accents. The base model will come with cloth seats.

Standard features include chrome accent door handles, air conditioning, cruise control, an AM/FM/MP3 audio unit with satellite radio, a five-inch LCD rear-camera display, three USB jacks, Bluetooth, and a tilt and telescopic steering wheel. Push button start, a rear spoiler, heated steering wheel, dual-zone air conditioning, and Bi-Function Xenon HID headlamps with a self-leveling feature are standard on the SX. The SXL adds a panoramic sunroof with power shade, advanced smart cruise control, Harman/Kardon Quantum Logic Surround

2016 OptimaPremium Audio System, and ventilated front driver and passenger seats, among other features. The major advantage of the SXL, however, is a suite of standard safety features that includes a rear parking sensor, blind spot and rear cross traffic detectors, and front collision warning system.

For the digitally astute, Kia’s UVO connectivity system comes standard with four additional eServices not previously available on the Optima, it’s also Kia’s pilot vehicle for Android Auto and Apple CarPlay (late availability) that connects drivers to functions on their smartphones.

Packing more content at a lower price has helped establish the Korean carmaker in the United States. Competing in one of the most competitive and crowded segments, the 2016 Optima should remain a top-seller.

Built at Kia’s plant in West Point, Georgia, the Optima’s pricing starts at $22,840 while the SX and SXL start at $30,640 and $36,740, respectively.

2016 Kia Optima SX

2016 Kia Optima SX

Oct 152015
 

2015-07-01 sorento2

Offering the versatility of a minivan, the crossover utility vehicle (CUV) gives shoppers a jazzier option for the family vehicle. First introduced in 2002, the Sorento represents Kia’s larger entry in this segment. On a recent test drive for Latino Traffic Report, I drove the newly redesigned 2016 model, specifically the Kia Sorento SX. Sporting a more refined exterior, the dapper CUV provides more versatility, technology, and value.

With a choice of five trim levels—L, LX, EX, SX and SXL, the third generation Sorento maximizes bang for the buck, starting with a nicely equipped base model. Driving the model just shy of the top-of-the-line SXL offered even more stuff.

2015-07-01 sorentoseatsFamilies will appreciate the choice of seating for five or seven, with two- and three-row configurations respectively; both versions include split seats that can be folded flat, expanding cargo room to 73.5 cubic feet.

The test model came with the available all-wheel drive (AWD) system and the 3.3-liter V6. According to EPA estimates, the V6 should achieve 17 miles per gallon (mpg) in the city and 23 mpg on the highway. I averaged 21.8 mpg.

The V6 produces 290 horses giving it an increased towing capacity of 5,000 lbs. when equipped with the AWD system that automatically routes power to the wheel with the most traction.

Two other engine options include and a new 2.0-liter inline-four turbo and a gasoline direct injection (GDI) 2.4-liter inline four-cylinder. The most fuel-efficient of the mix will be the front-wheel drive 2.4-liter with an EPA estimated fuel economy of 21 mpg in the city and 29 mpg on the highway.2015-07-01 sorentodash

All three engines are matched to an electronically controlled six-speed automatic transmission featuring Sportmatic simulated manual shifting. The standard Driver Mode Select allows drivers to choose among sport, normal, and eco modes, further improving driving performance on all models. I gravitate toward eco just to enhance fuel economy but a quick flick to sport does add oomph.

While standard safety features include traction and electronic stability control, the SX model did come with the optional rear-parking sensor, rear cross traffic alert, and blind spot detection. Happily, the Sorento received the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration’s (NHTSA) 5-star overall safety rating.

2015-07-01 sorentoroof2Oddly, the around view monitor, lane departure warning, and forward collision warning are unavailable on most trim levels and optional, even on the top-of-the-line model.

While the base model starts with cloth seats treated with Yes Essentials for easier maintenance, the SX included leather seating and heated seats for the driver and front passenger. Cruise control, air conditioning, an AM/FM stereo with a CD player and MP3 connectivity, Sirius Satellite radio, Bluetooth, steering wheel mounted controls, and a fuel economy indicator, are also standard.

The SX added dual-zone air conditioning, push button start, a panoramic sunroof, navigation with an eight-inch display screen, and a smart, hands-free power liftgate.

Although I didn’t get to test it, the all-new Kia App Store offers apps that can be downloaded for free from iTunes or Google Play.2015-07-01 sorento.lic

Built in the United States at the plant in West Point, Georgia and on sale now, the 2016 Kia Sorento has a starting price of $25,795. The as-tested price came to $40,595.

Sí: The Sorento is an elegant CUV from Kia with a good list of standard features.

No: Safety features like lane departure warning, and forward collision warning should be available on more than just the top-of-the-line model.

Oct 012015
 

2015-09-05 sedonaWhen it comes to versatility and convenience, minivans remain outmatched as a family vehicle. While the segment may not be the sexiest, it has attracted some new players, namely, the Kia Sedona. All new for 2015, the Sedona combines a handsome exterior with roominess and flexibility on the inside. I received the Sedona SX Limited (SX-L) in August for a six-month long-term loan. After only a few months on the road, the Sedona has impressed me with its elegance, comfort, and handling.

2015-10-23 11.35.38The beauty of a long-term loan is the chance it affords to explore all aspects of the vehicle in day-to-day driving conditions. This real world experience got a little too real, however, when the Sedona was vandalized while parked at the local post office, only weeks into the loan. The driver’s side window was broken and certain contents were stolen from inside, all in broad daylight and in a matter of seconds. The test drive was suspended for about a month until the window could be repaired.

Once back on the road, the Sedona has been quite a pleasure to drive. 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 helps improve the ride and handling as well as fuel economy.

2015-11-11 17.07.58I’ve only taken a few quick road trips but the miles per gallon have remained above the EPA estimated 17 mpg in the city and 22 mpg on the highway, averaging above 20 mpg in the city and 24 mpg on the highway. All Sedonas come with a 3.3-liter V6 engine matched to a six-speed automatic transmission with Sport-matic simulated manual shifting.

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.

2015-12-02 sedna.seats3As the top-of-the-line model, the SX-L offers another unique feature, first class lounge chairs in the second row that give it seating for seven. Equipped with footrests, they recline as well as slide forward to improve access to the third row. They don’t however fold flat for extra cargo room and the manual levers can be a bit clunky to deploy. The third row, however, folds flat easily and quickly, expanding cargo room behind the second row to 78.4 cubic feet. The lower trims do include a second-row bench or traditional captain’s chairs.

Christmas is approaching and I look forward to testing the Sedona’s tree carrying ability. The loan ends in February. Stay tuned for updates on Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube.

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 option packages. The as-tested price, with $2,700 of additional equipment like lane departure warning and a surround view monitor, came to $43,295.2015-09-24 14.36.46

Feb 112015
 

 

2016 Kia Sorento

2016 Kia Sorento launch, driving with Enrique Kogan.

First introduced in 2002, the Kia Sorento welcomes its third generation for 2016. Sporting a more refined exterior, the dapper crossover utility vehicle (CUV) offers more versatility, technology, and value. At the recent launch in Lake Tahoe, it grabbed the road, as well as attention.

Car buyers appreciate choices when car shopping, maximizing bang for the buck. Kia has complied with the new Sorento, offering customers a choice of five trim levels– L, LX, EX, SX and SXL.

Available with seating for five or seven, with two- and three-row configurations respectively, both versions include split seats that can be folded flat. With both rows folded, cargo room expands to 73.5 cubic feet. The new Sorento adds interior volume as well with a wheelbase that’s 3.1 inches longer than the previous model.KiaSorentoWave2-90

Offered with all-wheel drive (AWD) capability, the Sorento includes a choice of three gasoline direct injection (GDI) engines: a 2.4-liter inline four-cylinder, a 3.3-liter V6, and a new 2.0-liter inline-four turbo. The most fuel-efficient of the mix will be the front-wheel drive 2.4-liter with an EPA estimated fuel economy of 21 miles per gallon (mpg) in the city and 29 mpg on the highway.

The V6 produces 290 horses giving it an increased towing capacity of 5,000 lbs. when equipped with the AWD system that automatically routes power to the wheel with the most traction.

2016 Kia Sorento2014-12-11 sorentoleatherAll three engines are matched to an electronically controlled six-speed automatic transmission featuring Sportmaticsimulated manual shifting. The standard Driver Mode Select allows drivers to choose among sport, normal and eco modes, further improving driving performance on all models.

While standard safety features include traction and electronic stability control, it would be nice if one of the following optional features were also standard: Back-up Warning, Forward Collision Warning, Smart Cruise Control, Blind Spot Detection (BSD), Rear Cross Traffic Alert, and a Around View Monitor.

At the launch in Lake Tahoe, the driving route included slushy weather with snow flurries and rain, but the Sorento held the road with confidence. However, the inclement weather did obstruct the BSD. A warning message in the center screen on the instrument cluster lets drivers know not to rely on the BSD if this happens.

Not only is the Sorento new on the outside, inside the CUV includes more technology as well as creature comforts.2014-12-11 14.27.42

The base model starts with cloth seats treated with Yes Essentials for easier maintenance. Cruise control, air conditioning, an AM/FM stereo with a CD player and MP3 connectivity, Sirius Satellite radio, Bluetooth, steering wheel mounted controls, and fuel economy indicator, are also standard. Available features include a panoramic sunroof, navigation, and Infinity surround sound with ten speakers.

The all-new Kia App Store offers apps that can be downloaded for free from iTunes or Google Play.

Built in the United States at the plant in West Point, Georgia and on sale now, the 2016 Kia Sorento has a starting price of $25,795.

Jan 072015
 
Kia Soul in front of carriage house in Mary Tyler Moore Show.

Kia Soul in front of carriage house in Mary Tyler Moore Show.

Some vehicles hit the mark so directly with a singular design that subsequent redesigns focus on what’s under the hood rather than the outside. Such is the all-new 2014 Kia Soul, a compact five-door hatchback that has captured its segment with the right combination of utility and fun, prompting Kia designers to tread lightly.

At the recent launch in Minneapolis, it was clear that they opted to keep the same bug-like front fascia as well as the silhouette. The most notable exterior changes include a trapezoidal air intake at the front, new oversized tail lamps and a more contoured liftgate, plus the blinkers on the old model that gave the headlamps a baggy-eyed look, are gone. More substantive changes include a stiffer chassis that is longer and wider, adding interior room and an improved ride vis-à-vis heavily revised front and rear suspension systems.

Also adding to the Soul’s upgrades is the standard Flex Steer system that allows the driver to select from three distinct steering settings: Comfort, Normal and Sport for added oomph in certain situations, e.g. entering a freeway.

2013-10-05 soul.pkng

Kia Soul at the Mall of America.

After the launch, I clocked extra seat time in the Soul by way of an extended stay in Minneapolis. I retraced many of the steps ostensibly taken by one of my favorite television characters, Mary Richards (Mary Tyler Moore). I saw the Victorian mansion used in exterior shots for her apartment, the building that contained the WJM television station, and the downtown bronze statue that marks the spot where she flings her hat in the air during the opening of the show.

No trip to Minneapolis is complete without a trip to the Mall of America, located adjacent to the beautiful Radisson Blu where I stayed. Despite the Soul’s slight size increase, I still managed to squeeze into the tiniest of parking spaces in the parking garage.

There were moments that involved the navigation system supplied by the Sun and Sound Package ($2,600). The navigation (with XM/Sirius Traffic) remained on target plus, it allowed for a passenger to program directions while the car is moving. I understand why other systems freeze once the vehicle moves, namely to avoid driver distraction, but if you do have a front-seat passenger, the Kia method is also nice.

Available in three trim levels, Base, Plus, and Exclaim, I drove the latter that not only included additional standard equipment, but also more than $5,000 of added features—the previously mentioned Sun and Sound Package also included a panoramic sunroof and automatic climate control. The Whole Shebang Package ($2,500) came with push button start, leather seating, heated and ventilated front seats, and a heated steering wheel. Visiting in early October, I was able to appreciate the fall colors and a slight crispness in the air, as well as those heated seats.2013-soul.rear.minn

The base model receives the 1.6-liter four-cylinder gasoline direct injection (GDI) with 130-horsepower and 118 lbs.–ft. of torque. The Exclaim, however, comes with a new, more powerful 2.0-liter four-cylinder with 164 horses and mated to the six-speed automatic that’s optional on the base model. Unfortunately, a six-speed manual is only available on the base model.

EPA estimated fuel economy on the Exclaim is 23 miles per gallon (mpg) in the city and 31 mpg on the highway. I averaged 18.7 mpg.

Seeking to upgrade the interior, designers incorporated circular cues along the door panels, the power windows, and door lock, a round gear shift knob, and push-button start (its location is exclusive to Soul in the Kia lineup). More new features include an improved UVO infotainment system with a high-definition capacitive touch screen and access to Pandora Internet radio.

Power windows, door locks and heated outside mirrors, a telescoping steering wheel, and a six-speaker AM/FM/MP3 audio unit are all standard on the base model. Bluetooth hands-free wireless technology, SiriusXM satellite radio with three months complimentary service, and USB/AUX inputs round out the Base Soul’s audio/infotainment equipment. A CD player is unavailable.2014_kia_soul_4

The Exclaim adds a high-gloss piano-black center console, cooled glove box, leather-wrapped steering wheel and gearshift knob, 10-way power-adjustable driver’s seat with lumbar adjustment, and auto-dimming rearview mirror.

While the Soul’s redesign may not be radical, it is refined, which is further accentuated on the Soul Exclaim.

Pricing for the 2014 Soul starts at $15,495. The as-tested price for the 2014 Soul Exclaim came to $26,195.