2017 KIA Soul! 5 Passenger FWD Hatchback

The KIA Soul! was taken to Pirate Radio (104.7 FM) for analysis during the Morning Show with George Gray and Matt “The Big Kahuna” Arguello.  Listen in:

Titanium Gray metallic – Black interior – Leather and cloth heated/power front buckets – heated steering wheel and heated rear outboard seats – 8” touchscreen, backup camera/navigation – Huge power moonroof  and premium Harman/Kardon sound system w/ 9 lighted speakers – 201 horsepower 1.6 liter turbo four / 195 lb. ft. torque – 7 Speed dual clutch automatic transmission and front-wheel drive – Lane departure and blind spot warning plus radar cruise –  $27,620.00

EPA rating is 26 MPG city , 28 MPG combined rating and 31 MPG highway – (14.2 gallon tank) – 3,232 lbs., 163” long, 101” wheelbase, 63.5” height, 71” width

 Built in Gwamgju, South Korea

2015 KIA Sedona SXL FWD Minivan

SAM_4012This last week the Drive Shop dropped off the new Sedona from KIA, a minivan which in its third generation form was just introduced in the U. S. last year.  Actually the firm calls this car a multi-purpose vehicle in order to attract more buyers to the brand, and to the model.  My test loaner was the SX Limited model painted Deep Formal blue metallic and featured a burgundy and ash Nappa leather interior with four bucket seats.

KIA is headquartered in Seoul, South Korea, and is that country’s second-largest automobile manufacturer, trailing only Hyundai Motors, a one-third owner of KIA Motors Corporation.  KIA is also the oldest auto manufacturer in Korea, founded on June 9th, 1944, as a maker of bicycle parts and metal tubing.  The word KIA is roughly translated as “rising out of Asia”, and the company sold 2,907,757 vehicles worldwide in 2014.  That represented a 5.9% increase over sales from the year 2013.SAM_4026

In the styling department, there isn’t much that a manufacturer can do to set their offering apart from the pack, so I think KIA did the best they could do on this Sedona SXL.  They put ample chrome on the car (including on the door handles and the ten spoke alloy wheels), but the front end look is where exemplary work was done with the grill and lighting treatment.  At the New York Auto Show last year where the Sedona was introduced, the car was named Best New Car Design.

Ruth and I drove the Sedona to Nebraska for our test to visit relatives.  That put us out on Interstate 80 weaving around big rigs that seem to multiply on the weekend.  I surely enjoyed the Smart cruise control for the endeavor, which allowed me to keep my feet flat on the floor while darting from lane to lane with appurtenant speed discrepancies.  Other technology/safety items included on the KIA were blind spot detection/lane change assist, lane departure warning, rear camera display, forward collision warning, surround view monitor, and rear park assist.  Most of these items were included in the SXL technology package for an additional $2,700.00.  That, plus a base price of $39,700.00 and freight of $895.00, brought the total M.S.R.P. to $43,295.00.  This price is right in middle of pricing I have seen on the competitive minivans (excuse me, multi-purpose vehicle), and this was, after all, KIA’s top of the line model.

The two-toned leather buckets (4) were attractive and kept me in a comfortable attitude for my trip and the week here in Greeley.  Relatives enjoyed the second-row buckets with armrests (and footrests), and I suppose everyone was happy to jump on board and ride in the third row, although I didn’t hear much from them.  They were riding on a 60/40 split fold-in-the-floor bench, and luggage space behind it amounted to 62.1 cubic feet, with a deep well to enhance that number.  Outside, the KIA is 201.4″ long, 78.1″ wide, 68.5″ high, weighs 4,720 lbs., and can turn around in a 36.8′ circle.

Minivan power for the KIA comes in the form of a 3.3 liter, V-6 with 276 horsepower (@ 6,000 rpm) and 248 lb. ft. of torque (@ 5,200 rpm).  A six-speed Sportmatic overdrive transmission is employed and EPA fuel economy ratings are 22-highway, 17-city, and 19-combined miles per gallon.  My average for a windy drive of 650 miles was 19.9 mpg.  I thought the ride was fine, as was guidance and handling in the city.  Overall, I would rate the Sedona (a good name) right in line with its minivan competition with perhaps a little edge because it is so good-looking.

2015 KIA Sorento SX AWD Crossover


     KIA manufactures SUV’s in two sizes, with the biggest being the Sorento, now produced in its third generation configuration.  I tested a 2015 Sorento this past week, an SX model painted bright silver metallic.  This year marks the fourteenth year of production of the Sorento, a mid-size crossover SUV, and the SX represents the middle of the line of Sorentos, with a generous list of standard equipment items included in its base price of $38,300.00.SAM_3470

Like pretty much all of the Hyundai and KIA lineup (Hyundai owns KIA), the Sorento is good looking.  It is a brother-in-law of the Hyundai Santa Fe, and this new model seats seven passengers.  Luggage space in the far rear of my test car was limited to 9.1 cubic feet, a number that can be increased to 36.9 with the third row of seating folded flat.  Double that amount is available if all seats are folded down behind the heated and ventilated power bucket seats that are up front.

All the upholstery in the test SX was black leather and amenities inside included an Infinity surround sound audio setup with ten speakers, navigation/backup camera with 8” screen, panoramic moon roof, blind spot monitor, Bluetooth hands-free connectivity, tilt/telescope, rear window shades, pushbutton start, keyless entry, front/rear air conditioning, and satellite radio.  Total passenger volume for the seven passenger SX was 151.4 cubic feet.

_DSC3476   I won’t mention the test car I turned in the day this Sorento arrived, but will say that upon entering the Sorento, I found the seating and interior materials to be an upgrade and very nice.  Visibility, ride, acceleration, and handling are good, and guidance is acceptable.

Speaking of acceleration, zero to sixty for the KIA is reportedly ten seconds. It is accomplished with a 3.3 liter V-6 with 290 horsepower (6,400 rpm) and 252 lb. ft. of torque (5,200 rpm).  The full-time all-wheel drive train utilizes a six-speed electronically controlled transmission.  EPA fuel economy ratings are 18 mpg-city, 24 mg-highway, and 20 mpg-combined.  My calculation came out to 21.1 mpg for my week with the Sorento, and the fuel tank holds 17.4 gallons.SAM_3485

I mentioned the looks of my SX, and the recruitment of Peter Schreyer to KIA (from Audi) eight years ago is a big component of that styling prowess.  His TT model at the prior company was an award-winning design.  The KIA I drove featured chrome door handles,  ten-spoke alloy wheels, metal fascia integration front and rear, and a chrome luggage rack up top.  The tires were Kumho Crugen Premium P235/55R19’s.SAM_3487

Base price of the KIA is $38,300.00, and along with freight of $895.00, the total M.S.R.P. came to $39,195.00.  This is where the KIA Sorento SX shines, in the value proposition department.  Many comparably-equipped seven passenger SUV’s come in at somewhere north of $50,000.00, so when shoppers are interested in such a vehicle, they best consider one of these KIA’s.



2014 KIA Cadenza FWD Sedan


    The Cadenza, introduced in the U.S. by KIA in January of this year, is a full-size, front-wheel drive luxury sedan produced in Hwasung, South Korea.  Hyundai Motors owns KIA, and produces a version of the Cadenza named the Azera.  The Cadenza is KIA’s flagship automobile and is the sedan one model larger than the venerable Optima.

I just finished testing a Cadenza provided by Tom Cooney of STI Drive in Denver.  It was painted Smokey Blue metallic and inside it featured the white leather package.  Cadenza’s with white leather interiors also have the technology package ($3,000) and luxury package ($3,000), bringing total M.S.R.P. with freight to $41,900.  Such a loaded sedan was equipped, as you might expect, with smart cruise control, lane departure warning system, blind spot monitor, hydrophobic front window glass, 19” fancy alloy wheels, dual panoramic moon roof, adaptive headlamps (the best I have tested), and four heated seats.  Also on hand was power tilt/telescope steering column, heated leather-wrapped steering wheel, memory power seats, power folding outside mirrors with heat elements, Infinity 12 speaker, 550-watt stereo with satellite radio, ventilated driver bucket, rear window power sunshade, and Nappa (full-grain/dyed) leather trim.  The navigation system was voice-activated, had an 8” screen, and Bluetooth/USB connectivity was included.

Cadenza Interior     Performance of the Cadenza was good, with power supplied by an all-aluminum 3.3 liter (293hp/255lb.-ft.) V-6 coupled with an electronically-controlled six speed automatic transmission with sport mode.  Acceleration is reportedly zero to 60 in 6.2 seconds and top speed is in excess of 150 mph.  EPA fuel mileage ratings are 19 city and 28 highway, not too bad for such a fast car.  The tank holds 18.5 gallons of gasoline.

Looking at the Smokey blue Cadenza is easy on the eyes, with bold chrome- trimmed lower doors and handles, “tiger-nose” chrome grill, dual chrome exhaust finishers, and a body designed by Peter Schreyer.  Schreyer is the German individual that left Audi and now designs cars and trucks for KIA and Hyundai.  He’s pretty good at it, too.  The 19” alloys were quite attractive and were fitted with P245/40R19 94V Hankook Optimo H426 all-season radial tires.

My driving impression of the Cadenza was fine, with nice ride, minimum wind noise, good visibility, and steady guidance.  Interior space is 106.8 cubic feet, which allowed four of us to drive to Loveland in the Cadenza in complete comfort.  The weather in Northern Colorado included sub-freezing temperatures on this night, and I pointed out the seat heat switches to all in attendance.  The Cadenza trunk holds 15.9 cubic feet of cargo.

Cadenza Engine

KIA is dipping a toe in the water relative to the luxury car market with this Cadenza.  Prospective shoppers for such a vehicle would do themselves a favor by including an inspection and test drive of this sedan.        Cadenza Headlight

“Turn Me Loose” in the KIA Forte EX FWD Sedan

2014 KIA ForteThe latest car that was delivered to my house for testing was the 2014 KIA Forte sedan that was introduced late last year.  The Forte has been around since 2008 but had extensive updates added to the vehicle for the current model year.  My test car came in Abyss blue metallic paint and included black leather seating for five inside.

As of this writing, I do not know where KIA came up with the name for this car, but wonder if they named it after the handsome Fabian, teen idol of the 50’s and 60’s.  Many readers do not know that Fabian’s full name was Fabiano Anthony Forte, or that he was referred to his record producer by Frankie Avalon, another South Philadelphia resident.  Eleven of Fabian’s songs reached the Billboard Hot 100 listing, including “Hound Dog Man”, “Tiger”, and “Turn Me Loose”, and he later got into movies including the part of Pretty Boy Floyd in “A Bullet for Pretty Boy” (1970).

Perhaps KIA’s sedan that I drove was not named after Fabian, but my research into the matter has ended.  I will say, however, that the Forte is a “pretty boy”, as are several Hyundai and KIA vehicles since the hiring of Peter Schreyer by the corporation to head their California design studio.  This year’s model is lower, wider, and longer that those of the past, with a wheelbase of 106.3” and an overall length of 179.5”.  The Forte weighs 2,950 lbs.

My test Forte carried an M.S.R.P. of $25,515, a figure that took me a little by surprise when I withdrew the monroney from the glove box.  Included was $300 for 17” alloy wheels, $2,600 for a premium package, and $2,300 for an EX technology package.  Thus, the car was equipped with sun roof, power/ventilated driver seat, heated front buckets, push button starter, proximity smart key, heated tilt/telescope steering wheel, navigation system, satellite radio, Bluetooth/USB connectivity, and power outside folding mirrors with light stripes.

The KIA was powered by a 2.0 liter (173 hp/154 lb. ft.) four cylinder, DOHC, 16 valve engine and featured a six speed automatic transmission with manual shifting mode.  Acceleration of the Forte is reportedly zero to 60 in 7.3 seconds, and fuel economy is rated 24-city and 36-highway.  My observance was of 32 mpg during my week with the car. Forte wheel

Forte interior

My wife and I drove the KIA to Denver for a visit as well as a trip from DIA to Greeley on Highway 85.  Ride was suitable, guidance was fine, and wind noise was not excessive.  At the airport parking lot and in Greeley I admired the Forte’s small, 34.8’ turning radius.  The car fetched a lot of onlookers with the superb styling I hinted at earlier as well as the well-designed 17” alloys, which were fitted with Nexen Classe Premiere P215/45R17 m/s radials.  Chrome door handles adorned the exterior of the car.

KIA is one of only three auto brands to increase sales in each of the last four years, and the Forte, with about 40,000 sold this year-to-date, is a key component of their success.  I can see why; it’s quite a “Tiger”.                Forte taillight

“Soul, Man” 2013 Kia Soul! Compact FWD Sedan

2013 Kia Soul! Premium

    When I asked the press fleet manager what kind of vehicle was coming here for testing this week, he answered, “Soul, man”, and it brought to mind one of my favorite old songs by Sam & Dave – “Soul Man”.  It was co-written by Isaac Hayes, of “Shaft” fame, who noticed during a television newscast in the summer of 1967 that buildings left standing at the scene of the 12th Street Riot in Detroit had “soul” graffitied on them.  Mr. Hayes subsequently decided that a “Soul Man” was one that could rise above present conditions; perhaps a pride thing for such an individual.  “Soul Man”, the song, was a smash, and reached number two on the Billboard Hot 100 list by the fall of 1967, and also garnered a Grammy Award in 1968.

Sam (Moore, the tenor) and Dave (Prater, the baritone) did pretty well for themselves, too, and performed together for twenty years.  “The Sultans of Sweat”, as they were affectionately known, became members of both the Rock and Roll and Grammy Halls of Fame.  Their “Soul Man” hit was one of the first songs by a black group to top the charts using the word “soul”, helping pave the way to acceptance in white, popular culture.

Like me, Kia has punctuated the Soul name with their Soul! (exclaim) offering at the top of the compact car’s lineup.  It is the model I drove around in these last few days, just like the hamsters in their television advertisement.  The series of ads has attracted a cult following, and it was designated “Automotive Ad of the Year” by Nielsen.

The test Soul was equipped with the premium package ($2,500), which included navigation, backup camera, satellite radio, pushbutton start, proximity keyless entry, leather (and heated front) seating, and auto climate control.  The base price was $19,900, so the total M.S.R.P. came to $23,575 with the premium items and some miscellaneous equipment.  Standard on this model is a moon roof, 18” specific alloy wheels, P235/45R18 Hankook Optimos, Bluetooth connectivity, cruise, power window and lock package, and privacy glass.  The fold-down back seat easily seats 3 passengers, leaving a 19.3 cubic foot cargo compartment in the rear.  The Infinity stereo/CD system has blinking lighted speakers in the front doors that follow the music beat.

Handling in town is nimble and somewhat fun; highway cruising is OK with a rather firm ride.  Fuel economy ratings are 23-City and 28-Highway, and that is with a 4 cylinder, 164 horsepower, 2.0 liter DOHC engine.  A six-speed automatic is positioned behind it with the manual mode arrangement.  Curb weight is 2,700 lbs. for this front-wheel drive compact.

Styling of the Soul is a positive, and of the little “urban crossovers”, it stands out.  I got several positive comments during my time with the car, but not all were as such.  I like the looks of the vehicle, the equipment list, and the interior, so put me down as a fan.