2017 Kia Sorento SXL AWD Review

Wednesday September 20th, 2017 at 8:99 PM
Posted by: D.Colman

2017 Kia Sorento SXL AWD

Hypes: Best Dash Layout and Controls of Any SUV
Gripes: Tiny Third Row Seats

Kia has been on a winning streak for so many years now that it’s hard to remember the automotive landscape in the USA before this Korean powerhouse arrived. But I clearly recall the advent of Kia here, back in 1994, when I rented a subcompact in Las Vegas. Hertz turned me loose in a boxy little Kia Pride badged as a Ford Festiva. The car was so remarkably lively and inspiring to drive that I thought Kia would soon make a major impact on the North American auto landscape. But the company declared bankruptcy in 1997, and its resurgence in the USA did not regain a foothold until recently. Now Kia, which is partially owned by Hyundai, offers a full model range of sedans, crossovers and SUVs. One of their best models is the Sorento, a midsized SUV with a wide choice of power trains and luxury accoutrements. We spent a productive and comfortable week test driving the top model in the Sorento range, the all-wheel-drive SX Limited (SXL) powered by an exceptionally responsive 3.3 liter, 290hp V6. This Titanium Metallic over White Leather beauty priced out at $46,595

2017 Kia Sorento SXL AWD

The appeal of the Sorento model line lies in the many echelons of equipment on offer, starting with the SX base model (2.4 liter 185hp Inline 4 at $26,295), escalating to the intermediate EX grade (2.0 liter turbocharged 240hp Inline 4), and topping out with our SXL, which gets 19 MPG overall and can tow 5000 pounds of trailer. 52% of Sorento buyers opt for the SX, 13.5% choose the LX, and 35.5% pick the AWD SXL. New for 2017 is a very effective Autonomous Emergency Braking System (AEB), which is standard on the EXL and optionally available on other models. Kia has also made Android Auto and Apple Car Play standard on EX and SX levels of the Sorento.

2017 Kia Sorento SXL AWD

Although you could conceivably carry a couple of tykes in this SUV’s third row seat, don’t plan on doing it regularly since ingress and egress is very tight. As a 4 or 5 seater, however, this Kia accommodates a full passenger load with grace and comfort. The Nappa leather seats are well contoured for long distance cruising comfort and stylish looking, with perforated inserts that contain both heating and cooling elements for the front row. Even the grab areas of the steering wheel are heated and come to full temperature gratifyingly quickly on cold mornings.

2017 Kia Sorento SXL AWD

The beauty of the Sorento is that Kia engineers have achieved a perfect combination of fixed dashboard buttons for full operation of all critical systems (heat, ventilation, lights). Unlike so many manufacturers, who insist on embedding these command controls inside layer upon layer of screen menus, Kia takes a distinctly opposite tack in making the basics clearly and instantly available to the driver. This is a huge benefit in terms of peace of mind and safety in operation. It’s just one of the many factors responsible for Kia winning the JD Powers Initial Quality Survey for the last two years running.

2017 Kia Sorento SXL AWD

But the Sorento is more than just a well tailored living room. This is one of the most responsive and quick SUVs we’ve driven in a long time. By coincidence, we parked the SXL next to a slightly earlier version of the same vehicle. Kia has really improved the Sorento’s appearance at the front with ice cube tray LED light clusters, and at the back, with new LED tail lights and a stainless ribbed diffuser spanning the distance between the twin exhaust outlets. But the single most noticeable difference between the older Sorento and our SXL was the stance of the vehicle produced by tire and wheel differences. The earlier version rode on nondescript 17″ rims with tall sidewall 65 series radial tires (235/65R17). The SXL’s highly polished 19″ alloys are fitted with excellent Michelin all season rubber (235/55R19 Premier LTX) that provide good cornering grip, immediate response to steering input, and AWD-augmented wet weather adhesion.

2017 Kia Sorento SXL AWD

Recently I drove an Acura MDX on the same 120 mile roundtrip through the North Bay that I completed with the Sorento. In both cases, I set the radar cruise control to a speed of 65mph and let the system do its thing. As traffic ebbed and flowed, he MDX constantly accelerated and slowed to the point that I deactivated the cruise control and used my throttle foot instead. The Sorento, on the other hand, maintained a serene pace under all circumstances, without surges or brake slams. This operation of the Kia cruise control is emblematic of the Sorento’s unobtrusively well honed behavior. If you’re looking for a top line family mover with lots of guts under the hood and an equal measure of refinement and thoughtful operational design in the cabin, then the SX Limited Sorento is an optimal choice.

2017 Kia Sorento SXL AWD

  • Engine: 3.3 liter Gas Direct Injection (GDi) V6
  • Horsepower: 290hp
  • Torque: 252lb.-ft.
  • Fuel Consumption: 17 MPG City/23 MPG Highway
  • Price as Tested: $46,595
  • Star Rating: 10 out of 10 Stars

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2017 Kia Soul Review

Friday June 30th, 2017 at 8:66 AM
Posted by: D.Colman

2017 Kia Soul

By David Colman

Hypes: Idiosyncratic Appearance, Premium Drivetrain
Gripes: Slight Turbo Lag

Kia’s distinctive looking Soul is currently the only survivor from the flying brick school of automotive design. The popular Scion XB, which had developed a cult-like following, disappeared when Toyota folded Scion’s tent several years ago. Nissan’s even more idiosyncratic looking Cube has also disappeared from that maker’s current model range. So, if you’re into the fun and practicality of a petite delivery van, you’ve got but one choice left. Fortunately, that choice – the Kia Soul – is a very good one. Just ask any dancing hamster.

2017 Kia Soul

The Soul we drove is base priced at $22,650. For that modest outlay, Kia provides this 3,065lb. minivan with a satisfying new-for-2017 drivetrain combination: 1.6 liter inline 4, turbocharged and direct injected to produce 178 hp and 195 lb.-ft. of torque. The new motor feeds its power fed through a new 7-speed dual clutch automatic transmission. That’s a whooping lot of sophisticated technology for a vehicle in this bargain price range. Kia could have easily eliminated the turbo or the direct injection for cost savings benefits. Instead of that dual clutch gearbox, they could have supplied the Soul with a droning, boring CVT automatic that has unfortunately become the industry standard. But instead, they crafted an unimpeachable driveline combo that makes the Soul ever so lively and responsive. They even fitted the hood with a pair of hydraulic opener struts, a nicety virtually unheard of in an economy priced vehicle.

2017 Kia Soul

About the only item missing from the driving control standpoint is fitment of paddle shifters at the steering wheel. But they’re hardly missed because you can easily slap the floor mounted stick into its manual override gate to shift up and down as needed. The steering wheel itself is such a work of art it looks like it belongs in a BMW M Series sports sedan. This eminently gripping piece features Bluetooth, Audio and Cruise controls embedded in its spokes. With a race-style flat bottom, and thumb cutouts at the 3 and 9 o’clock positions, it’s always fun to grip the thick black leather rim which is decorated with red stitching. The entire black interior is similarly enlivened with contrasting red stitching which matches the Soul’s exterior shade of “Inferno Red.”

So how did an affordable $22,000 Soul become a $27,620 Soul!? By inclusion of a $3,000 Technology Package that elevates your driving experience markedly. For that outlay, Kia supplies you with a navigation System (8” Display), Harman Kardon premium audio, projector low beam headlights, and LED fog, tail and vertical rear “Positioning” lights. Also included are power folding exterior mirrors that look like they’re curling up for a nap when you hit the lock button on the provided key fob remote. The Tech Package also heats two front and two rear seats plus the rim of the steering wheel. Other additions include power lumbar support for the driver, and Blind Spot Detection – which is especially useful given the roof’s sizeable C pillars.

2017 Kia Soul

Our test Soul also included a supersize “Panoramic” sunroof that peeled the top back like the key roller on a sardine can. This $1,000 addition is well worth its price because it transforms the cabin into a virtual convertible. Helping further the open-air illusion are tall side windows that fold all the way down into the doors for an unimpeded fresh air motoring experience. The Soul is rather stiffly sprung, so pavement imperfections tend to find their way into the cabin. While you won’t be winning any autocrosses with this boxy conveyance, it still acquits itself respectably when the road turns twisty. In part that’s due to generously sized (235/45R18), mud and snow rated Nexen CP671 tires mounted on distinctive 10-spoke, 18” alloy rims.

2017 Kia Soul

Thanks to its generous cargo capacity of 24.5 cubic feet (with rear seats folded), the Soul doubles as a utilitarian cross between a minivan, an SUV and a sedan. Soul transforms itself into each of these guises with such compelling ease that it merits a “Recommended” check mark from the tough testers at Consumer Reports. When you pack it with five riders and a trunk full of goods, you too will marvel at this little dynamo’s unflagging ability to carry out any travel mission with grace, pace and space. Long live Soul! – the sole extant example of the flying brick.

2017 Kia Soul

2017 Kia Soul

  • Engine: 1.6 liter inline 4, turbocharged, direct injection
  • Horsepower: 178hp
  • Torque: 195lb.-ft.
  • Fuel Consumption: 26 MPG
  • Price as Tested: $27,620
  • Star Rating: 9.5 out of 10 Stars

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2017 Kia Cadenza Limited Review

Friday May 19th, 2017 at 3:55 PM
Posted by: D.Colman

2017 Kia Cadenza Limited

By David Colman

Hypes: Elegant Interior, Strong Motor, Satiny Gearbox
Gripes: Name Sounds Like Piece of Furniture

In the early Nineties, a trip to Las Vegas prompted me to rent a car for the scenic drive out to Hoover dam. The sub compact 2-door to which I was given the keys was a Kia, an unfamiliar brand new to me at the time. I was so impressed with that petite and sporty Kia that returning it to Hertz was painful. Later, I learned that Kia had abandoned the American market altogether, a move that seemed inexplicable based on my acquaintance with the make in Nevada. Well, guess what? Long-term, that Las Vegas preview proved correct. Today, Kia is back in North America, firmly established with a full model line that runs the gamut from the microcar Rio to the ultra-luxe K900 limousine, with a complete line of SUVs to boot. And right in the middle of the sedan range stands the all new Cadenza, a surprisingly luxurious four-door with legitimate sporting pretensions.

2017 Kia Cadenza Limited

Our sample Cadenza Limited, at $44,390, tops the model line which starts at $33,000. All 3,365lb. Cadenzas utilize a 3.3 liter 290hp V6, normally aspirated with direct injection. Kia couples this responsive engine to an 8-speed automatic transmission with manual gate and paddle shifters. A standard set of dark satin 19-inch alloys plant 245/40R19 Michelin Green X, all-season tires close enough to the pavement to produce a sporting but stiff ride. A standard tire pressure monitoring system keeps you appraised of air pressure in each tire.

2017 Kia Cadenza Limited

The new Cadenza sits low and looks sleek. It stands just 58 inches tall, with a stealth silhouette that belies its spacious interior. Contributing to the stealth look is a black glass roof panel that extends the length of the cabin. This panel contains an enormous sliding sunroof which bathes the front and rear seats in light when you slide the suede cover panel back. The front half of this skylight can be fully retracted as well. You can easily accommodate 5 passengers inside, with 16 cubic feet of trunk space for their belongings. The back seat of the Cadenza is especially strong on leg room, with enough slouch space to make long journeys tolerable for all occupants. The outboard back seats, like the fronts, include multi-stage heaters. The rear windows retract completely into the door frames for unimpeded fresh air intake. Privacy screens are fitted to all rear windows.

2017 Kia Cadenza Limited

Kia does an exceptional job on interior design. Our Limited featured white Nappa leather seat trim which contributed an unexpected note of elegance and comfort to all seating positions. This material is exceptionally soft, and looks quite elegant with its diamond-pleated side bolsters. The instrument panel features real double stitched detailing. Piano black trim harmonizes well with muted driftwood inserts to make the Cadenza interior an exceptionally restful environment. The fat and resilient steering wheel rim is cut with thumb grip recesses. Kia’s cruise control array, fitted to the right spoke, is intuitively designed and easily operated. The cruise system never surges or hesitates after you set your speed. It will brake you if necessary, and you can set your following distance with confidence, even if you select the shortest setting of 1.5 car lengths. New for 2017 are the Cadenza’s suite of safety programs, including Forward Collision Warning System, Smart Blind Spot Detection, and Rear Cross Traffic Alert. I have to admit that the Blind Spot Detection provided me with useful information which my rear-view mirror failed to reveal.

2017 Kia Cadenza Limited

The latest Cadenza is emblematic of the kind of value you can expect to derive from a Kia purchase. In addition to the solid virtues of intelligent packaging, responsive performance and handling, the icing on the cake comes from the generous 5 year/60,000-mile warranty backed up by a similar term for roadside assistance. If $44,290 looks like a lot for a mid-size Kia sedan, just compare it to the competition and you will recognize a bargain here rather than an extravagance.

2017 Kia Cadenza Limited

  • Engine: 3.3 liter V6 Direct Injection
  • Horsepower: 290hp
  • Torque: N/A
  • Fuel Consumption: 20 MPG City/ 28 MPG Highway
  • Price as Tested: $45,290
  • Star Rating: 10 out of 10 Stars

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2017 Kia Niro FE Review

Wednesday April 19th, 2017 at 10:44 PM
Posted by: D.Colman

2017 Kia Niro FE

By David Colman

Hypes: Wins Stylistic Hybrid Trophy
Gripes: FE Feels Cheap to Touch

With introduction of the new for 2017 Niro Hybrid, Kia is targeting an underserved market segment. Until now, if you wanted a sub compact Hybrid capable of delivering 50MPG, you were limited to choosing some form of sedan – like a Toyota Prius or Chevy Volt. Although the Prius model line has been expanding exponentially of late, there’s still no crossover/station wagon/SUV variant available. Yes – you can make a hatchback Prius Prime do the crossover job, but are you willing to live with its tin toy/outer space styling?

No such worries with the new Niro. Kia stylists, who have proven extremely competent in their upper market range endeavors (like the K900), bring that same panache to the layout and design of the Niro. This is a good looking crossover, with enough SUV touches to please the nascent off-roader, enough practicality to humor the station wagon crowd, and enough efficiency (50MPG overall!) to convince the potential Prius/Volt customer that there is now an attractive crossover choice.

2017 Kia Niro FE

The Niro’s green cachet has already been celebrated by a hilarious spot (starring Melissa McCarthy) which was shown during the last Super Bowl. You’re probably going, “Oh, so that’s what that ad was about.” Right. Kia is investing major effort in this car’s launch. And after a week behind the wheel, I would have to concur that the money has been well spent. Even though the output of the Niro’s combined electric/gas propulsion system is only 139hp, this Kia is light enough to bump past slower traffic with a little advance planning on the driver’s part. That’s because the Hybrid produces an unexpected wallop of torque (195lb.-ft.) that harmonizes perfectly with the 6-speed dual clutch transmission. Even in the base model FE we tested, Kia refused to cut corners by selecting a groaning CVT.

2017 Kia Niro FE

The 1.56 kWh lithium ion polymer battery pack stores under the rear seat, low in the chassis. This location lowers the Niro’s center of gravity, which in turn promotes better handling. It also allows the rear seats to be folded flat, though they do stand a bit tall due to the battery storage location. Nonetheless, i was able to slide my mountain bike into the available 26 cubic foot cargo hold by simply flipping the front wheel around to decrease bike length. And speaking of length, the Niro’s generous 106 inch wheelbase offers plenty of rear passenger legroom. This crossover is bigger inside than it looks outside.

2017 Kia Niro FE

It also comports itself with surprising agility on twisting two lane back roads. While you won’t be chasing down any BMW sedans, you won’t need to make excuses about the Niro’s canyon performance either. The FE, as the base model in the Niro line, comes with rather puny 16 inch alloy rims which are inexplicably shod with wheel covers. These rims mount Michelin Energy radials measuring just 205 in section width (205/60R16). Despite the choice of such MPG-oriented tires, the Niro FE hangs on with surprising grip when you press it hard through tight turns. Responsible for this neutral behavior is a refined chassis featuring fully independent design front and rear. This layout produces such minimal understeer that you’d be hard pressed to know that the Niro is a front-wheel-drive design.

2017 Kia Niro FE

Although our FE version stands as Kia’s price leader at just $22,890, you must be willing to overlook its bargain basement ambiance. The interior looks like it was molded from the same shiny black plastic used to make Glad Bags. The steering wheel, with its pebbled surface for extra grip, will never be confused with anything crafted in Germany. Likewise, the levers and paddles that control seat position and rake feel chintzy and insubstantial. On the other hand, the instrument pod contains a very nifty gauge pack consisting of an eco monitor on the left and a 140mph (in your dreams) speedometer on the right. This duo is bridged by a center information panel that is driver-configurable. While you won’t find heated seats or steering wheel in the FE, Kia surprises base model buyers with a number of unexpected amenities: dual zone automatic climate control, AM/FM/MP3 with 7 inch touchscreen, Android Auto and Apple Car Play Smartphone integration, and Remote Keyless Entry.

2017 Kia Niro FE

This little Kia has a lot going for it. It looks way better than a Prius or Volt, matches them both for energy husbandry, and allows you to carry four adults or lots of cargo in surprisingly spacious comfort. If I were shopping for a new Niro, i would opt for the Touring version. Although it costs about $4,000 more, its fit and finish convert the interior from tolerable to luxurious – plus you get real 18 inch ally rims and tires for even better handling.

2017 Kia Niro FE

2017 Kia Niro FE

  • Engine: 1.6 liter 1.6 liter GDI 4 cylinder plus electric motor
  • Horsepower: 139hp (Combined)
  • Torque: 195lb.-ft.
  • Fuel Consumption: 52MPG City/49 MPG Highway
  • Price as Tested: $23,785
  • Star Rating: 9 out of 10 Stars

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2016 Kia Optima SX LTD Review

Thursday December 29th, 2016 at 11:1212 AM
Posted by: D.Colman

2016 Kia Optima SX LTD

By David Colman

Hypes: Strong Motor, Solid Handling, Unexpected Luxury Cabin
Gripes: Navigation System Anomalies

For a base price of $35,790, this Kia is a bargain.. When you climb into the spacious cabin, the first thing you notice is the diamond boxed seating surfaces, trimmed in soft mocha-hued Nappa Leather. You could be excused for thinking you had mistakenly opened the door to a Maserati or a Bentley rather than a Kia. But make no mistake, the top level Optima SX LTD, completely redone for 2016, is good enough to pass itself off as an expensive European luxury ride.

2016 Kia Optima SX LTD

The goodness extends beyond the obvious wow factor of the triangulated seat stitchery. If you opt for an SX LTD Optima, you’ll enjoy a very lively turbo inline 4, which utilizes direct fuel injection to slap out 245hp, and 260lb.-ft. of torque. Since this is a front wheel drive car, there’s enough power to provoke torque-steer, especially on wet pavement, All that zoom feeds through a sweet 6-speed automatic gearbox equipped with paddle shifts. The SX rides on standard 18 inch alloy rims shod with aggressively all season Michelin MXM4 rubber (235/45R18). Sport oriented suspension tuning helps provide taut responsiveness to steering input.

2016 Kia Optima SX LTD

Thanks to its willing yet efficient turbo engine (25MPG overall) this Optima is a lot of fun to drive. On the freeway, the SX is quiet and well snubbed, but still compliant enough to remain comfortable over distressed pavement. Both front seats are heated and offer full electric positioning control. The driver’s seat even includes a pair of memory buttons which retain pre-arranged mirror and seat positions. There are few interior clues to the bargain nature of the Optima. The only obvious one is the clumsy manual adjustment collar for steering wheel reach and tilt.

2016 Kia Optima SX LTD

The standard included Navigation System displays its maps on a sizeable 8 inch screen. But the mechanics of destination programming caused concern. When we attempted to enter the destination “Ferry Point” in Alameda, CA, the system repeatedly failed to recognize the address. It wasn’t until we abbreviated “Point” as “Pt.” that the Kia divulged the needed information. One wonders whether it would be able to understand the word “Street,” or require use of the abbreviation “St.” to find a street address.

2016 Kia Optima SX LTD

Programming glitches aside, the Optima offers an otherwise commendable slate of electronic entertainment and safety wonders. The audio system by Harman Kardon produces “QLS Premium Surround Sound” with enough vibrato to awake the dead. You even get to play with 200 plus channels of SIRIUSXM for your first 3 months of ownership for free. Also standard is the complete nanny package, which includes Front Collision Warning System, Rear Cross Traffic Alert, Blind Spot Detection, and Lane Departure Warning System. With all of these obnoxious warning systems chiming in on a regular basis, you’ll be free to pay more attention to your text messaging and incoming phone calls. Just don’t make the mistake of believing that this car will take care of driving itself. An unpleasant bout with Advanced Smart Cruise Control (ASCC) convinced us that this particular system isn’t quite ready for prime time use. On a heavy traffic run up 101 from San Rafael to Petaluma, the Optima’s ASCC had us continuously slowing and thrusting with speed pre-set to 65mph. After 15 minutes of this behavior, we switched off ASCC, choosing instead to do things the old fashioned way – with foot and throttle pedal. In spite of its armament of nannies, the Optima SX remains a primo ride, since almost every nanny voice can be manually defeated before you start a trip. The only one that proved useful in all events was Rear Cross Traffic Alert, which also projects a rearward view on the 8 inch screen when Reverse gear is engaged.

2016 Kia Optima SX LTD

Despite front wheel drive, this turbo Optima is almost as much fun to drive as a small BMW. It’s got the grunt and the handling to satisfy your urge for sport without forcing you to pay the stiff entry price demanded by its German equivalent.

2016 Kia Optima SX LTD

  • Engine: 2.0 liter turbocharged inline 4 with direct injection
  • Horsepower: 245hp
  • Torque: 260lb.-ft.
  • Fuel Consumption: 22MPG City/32 MPG Highway
  • Price as Tested: $36,615
  • Star Rating: 9.5 out of 10 Stars

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2017 Kia Sportage SX AWD Review

Tuesday December 20th, 2016 at 8:1212 AM
Posted by: D.Colman

2017 Kia Sportage SX AWD

By David Colman

Hypes: Handsome Redesign, Packed with Standard Features
Gripes: Comes on Boost With a Bang

Kia has dramatically facelifted the Sportage for 2017. This pugnacious makeover is most apparent up front. A battery of quadruple fog lights flank a new grill that resembles pursed lips. High above the beltline, headlight clusters sweep backwards like a pair of raised eyebrows. Flared fender lips and deft side sculpting complete the new look.

2017 Kia Sportage SX AWD

Standard 19 inch alloy rims, bearing 245/45R19 Hankook Kinergy GT rubber, replicate the natural beauty of a starfish. The Kinergy tires are well suited to the stable suspension tuning of the Sportage, offering a comfortable ride along with predictable twisty road handling. The Sportage’s newfound visual arrogance is appropriate given its turbocharged 2.0 liter, direct injection, 4 cylinder engine. This powerful mill makes 240hp and 260lb.-ft. of torque, so the Sportage can easily tow a trailer weighing up to 2,000 pounds.

2017 Kia Sportage SX AWD

Kia provides you with a very positive shifting 6 speed automatic gearbox, fitted with small paddles at the steering wheel, as well as a gate for manual shifting via the lever mounted between the seats. The only drawback to the turbo motor is its explosive transition to full boost status. This jerky off/on behavior causes the Sportage to jump into action with such a sudden jolt that the rush of acceleration can be hard to control. Better modulation of turbo boost would alleviate the problem.

2017 Kia Sportage SX AWD

It’s otherwise hard to fault this newly revised Kia product. Since all-wheel-drive is standard on this model, you are assured that traction loss in inclement weather will never delay your journey. The inclusion of a locking center differential contributes even more predictability and control to off-road travel. Also helping in this regard are the Hankook tires, which are Mud and Snow rated.

2017 Kia Sportage SX AWD

The interior accoutrements are more than you would expect from a sports utility vehicle carrying a base price under $35,000. While not luxurious, the fittings in the cabin bespeak quality rather than cheapness. The steering wheel, with its nifty flat bottom, is an especially well tailored piece of equipment. The leather rim is fat and grip-able, the stitching is nicely done, and the bevy of cruise and entertainment controls on the left and right spokes are logically arrayed and useful. Nicely upholstered, leather trimmed front seats are a bit too hard and flat in the lower back area, but do provide lumbar adjustment. Unexpectedly, both fronts are heated and cooled.

Vision to the sides and rear is so good that you rarely have to resort to the backup camera image projected on the 8 inch navigation screen when reversing out of a parking place. However, that newly upturned snout makes direct frontal vision difficult. The extra ride height of this SUV’s suspension benefits parking maneuvers by allowing you to glide over curb bumpers you can’t see. A standard front/rear parking assist system also helps keep your Sportage ding-free.

2017 Kia Sportage SX AWD

Kia’s revamped Sportage comes loaded with the full array of GPS-based information sources forgetful drivers require to keep them pointed in the right direction. You don’t have to pay a dime extra for Blind Spot Detection, Lane Change Assist, Lane Departure Warning System, or Rear Cross Traffic Alert. The beauty of these reminders is that they can be used when required or switched off at will. A final incentive to purchase this Kia comes from the company’s unusually long 5 year/ 60,000 mile Limited Basic Warranty, which thoughtfully includes Free Roadside Assistance for that same period of time.

2017 Kia Sportage SX AWD

  • Engine: 2.0 liter direct injection, turbocharged inline 4
  • Horsepower: 240hp
  • Torque: 260lb.-ft.
  • Fuel Consumption: 20 MPG City/23 MPG Highway
  • Price as Tested: $34,895
  • Star Rating: 9 out of 10 Stars

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Review: 2016 Kia Sorrento SXL AWD

Monday January 4th, 2016 at 11:11 AM
Posted by: D.Colman

2016 Kia Sorrento SXL AWD

By David Colman

Hypes: Spacious, Elegantly Trimmed Interior, New Turbo Motor a Keeper
Gripes: Too Softly Sprung

If you are looking for a large SUV with genuine off-road credentials, you will definitely want to consider the 2016 Sorento. Kia has introduced a significant new engine option for the 2016 model year. Instead of the still available 2.4 liter 4 and 3.3 liter V6, our test Sorento mounted the new 2.0 liter turbocharged inline 4, which makes impressive horsepower (240hp) and torque (260lb.-ft.) considering its diminutive displacement (just 2 liters, or 121 cubic inches). Best of all, it powers the Sorento to an overall fuel consumption average of 22MPG, which is quite a feat considering this vehicle’s hefty 4,235 pound curb weight.

In addition to the new engine, which is available only on SXL and Limited trim grades, Kia has substantially upgraded the Sorento’s interior for 2016, with added soft ouch surfaces, high quality leather seats, and an infotainment and navigation system that is easy to access and read, thanks to its high definition 8 inch screen. In fact, when you climb into the spacious cabin of the Sorento, you will marvel that Kia has packed so many up market features and furnishings into a vehicle with a base price of $41,700.

2016 Kia Sorrento SXL AWD

The SXL grade Sorento feels more expensive than it is because all of the following niceties are included in the base price: dual zone climate control, surround sound audio, navigation, 3 month free SIRIUS XM Satellite radio, console mounted AUX input jack and USB port, Nappa leather seats, dual memory settings for driver’s seat, push button start with smart key, heated and ventilated front seats, and heated, leather wrapped steering wheel with tilt/telescope function. If you were to buy a German sports utility, you would pay thousands extra for most of these convenience and comfort features. Kia, however, includes all of them and more in the base price of the SXL Sorento.

In fact, the only add-on to the base price is a $2,500 charge for the “SXL Technology Package,” which provides Xenon HID headlights, Lane Departure and Forward Collision Warning, and an electric parking brake. It also upgrades standard cruise control to a radar based smart cruise system that maintains pre-set distances to traffic ahead. The Technology Package brought the Sorento’s MSRP to $44,200. Personally, I would eliminate these extra price techno goodies, although the HID headlamps do light up the night like a bonfire.

2016 Kia Sorrento SXL AWD

Given the fact that the turbo system produces abundant torque low in the engine’s rpm range, the Sorento moves out very smartly from a standing start. This is especially true if you select the Sport mode on the center console before driving off. This reset optimizes throttle response, holds lower gears until high engine rpm is achieved, and focuses on dynamic driving by adjusting steering response, engine performance and transaxle behavior to suit aggressive driving. You must, however, reset the Sport choice every time you restart the Sorento.

Kia engineers have thoughtfully incorporated a lockable center differential into the Sorento’s transaxle, so you can depend on this useful tool to extract your all wheel drive Kia from snow, sand or mud entanglements that would stymie most SUVs lacking a lacking center differential. However, don’t think that the Sorento’s “Sport” mode confers sports car handling on this beefy all weather vehicle. Despite its sporting aspirations, the SLX is softly sprung and softly damped. This combination of factors produces a comfortable ride quality over even the most jarring road imperfections. What it does not do is compensate for pitch or roll when you attack curves with a modicum of brio. Under such duress, the suspension compresses and expands with such ease that the chassis flies off bumps like a pogo stick. Although standard 7.5″ x 19″ alloy wheels plant Michelin Premier LTX tires at each corner (235/55R19), even their premium contact patches can’t mask the Sorento’s squishy ride oscillations.

2016 Kia Sorrento SXL AWD

Of course, no one looking for an SUV touting sport over utility would select this Sorento as their first choice. If you need to haul a load and go fast, then opt for a BMW or Porsche SUV. But if moderate speed and handling define your game, then opt for this Kia. Its emphasis on utility allows it to pack 73.5 cubic feet of stuff into the interior if you collapse the new for 2016 40/20/40 folding rear bench seat. Even with 5 adults on board, you still have 38.8 cubic feet of space to fill. You can even order your Sorento with a third row good for 2 toddler seating. You won’t find a more luxurious or affordable SUV in the market with all those utility features on tap.

2016 Kia Sorrento SXL AWD

  • Engine: 2.0 liter turbo with direct injection
  • Horsepower: 240hp
  • Torque: 260lb.-ft.
  • Fuel Consumption: 19MPG City/25MPG Highway
  • Price as Tested: $45,095
  • Star Rating: 8.5 out of 10 Stars

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Review: 2016 Kia Sorento SXL AWD 2.0 Turbo

Wednesday August 5th, 2015 at 9:88 AM
Posted by: D.Colman

2016 Kia Sorento SXL AWD 2.0 Turbo

By David Colman

Hypes: Love the Quadrant of K900 Style Driving Lights on Each Front Fender
Gripes: Light-Switch Power Curve, Innocuous Interior

Kia’s 2016 Sorento model range begins with the front-wheel-drive base model LX ($24,300), proceeds through intermediate versions called EX ($31,700) and SX ($36,700), and tops out with the SXL or Limited version we tested. Without first consulting the window sticker, I often try to guess the asking price of a test vehicle the first time I climb aboard. Generally, my ballpark estimates tend to be fairly accurate. The SXL Sorento, however, threw me a curve ball because it initially impressed me as a compact SUV priced in the high $20K to mid $30K price range. When I caught site of its $45,095 bottom line, and $41,700 base price, a shot of adrenalin was needed to counter sticker shock. Frankly, there isn’t much in terms of interior finery or mechanical sophistication to counter my initial notion that the Sorento SXL 2.0 is overpriced.

2016 Kia Sorento SXL AWD 2.0 Turbo

Though I have not had the opportunity to sample base levels of this model, the cabin of the SX, with its rubberized, industrial looking dash top and door panels, and bargain basement mesh storage pockets behind the front seat backs do not define plush. Both front and rear seats, however, are good looking and finely tailored, with deviated stitching on the bolsters, and diamond patterned grey inserts. They are also quite comfortable, offering the softness of Nappa leather on both the first and second rows. The front seats boast 3 stage heating and cooling, the driver’s seat is 14 way adjustable, and the steering wheel rim warms to a toasty grasp without delay. The ability to alter the seatback inclination of the rear seats is particularly welcome. In fact, rear seat passengers are well cared for in all respects with adjustable large ventilation ducts, 115v plug receptacle (150W maximum), and privacy screens for both rear side windows.

2016 Kia Sorento SXL AWD 2.0 Turbo

The all-wheel-drive SXL can be ordered with either the turbocharged 2.0 liter inline 4 of our test vehicle, or a 3.3 liter V6. The turbo 4 makes 240hp and 260lb.-ft. of torque compared to the V6, which produces 30 more hp (290hp) but 8 pound feet less torque (252lb.-ft.). The gain in fuel consumption for the inline 4 is negligible, with the V6 posting 18/26MPG and the I4 good for 19/25MPG. That being the case, I would definitely opt for the smoother V6 because the I4, while quite powerful, has a light-switch quality to its power curve. Even when you don’t require full power, a slight tip-in of the throttle results in an unwelcome shove in the back when you least expect it. The I4 needs attention to its power delivery curve, especially the jerky transition from part to full throttle. However, thanks to that raging turbo, you’ll never find yourself short of acceleration when merging onto freeways or passing slower cars on back roads.

2016 Kia Sorento SXL AWD 2.0 Turbo

The 6-speed Sportmatic transmission works through its well-spaced gears with a floor mounted lever allowing selection and retention of individual ratios as needed. 19 inch alloy rims are standard fitment on the SXL, fitted with solid performing Michelin Premier LTX tires (235/55R19). Suspension calibration is more oriented to comfort than handling. As a result, the Sorento heels over rather quickly on sharp turns, allowing the Michelin tires to shoulder most of the cornering load. This comfort calibration leads to pleasant freeway travel, with little disturbance over potholes, bumps, or truck lane troughs.

2016 Kia Sorento SXL AWD 2.0 Turbo

Our test Sorento boasted the addition of a $2,500 SXL Technology Package, which consists of Xenon HD headlamps, lane departure warning system (LDWS), forward collision warning system, electronic parking brake, surround view monitor, and smart cruise control. Save yourself the extra outlay for this grouping. Due to an all but invisible indicator light on the instrument cluster, I could never tell whether the e-brake was on or off, so I gave up using it, relying on the transmission’s Park setting instead. Since I find LDWS intrusive and annoying, I switched it off at start up on most outings. The radar cruise control is also rather demanding in tight traffic, so I substituted my own judgment instead. About the only thing I would miss without the Technology Package is the HID headlights, which add a good measure of night time safety.

But if there is one overwhelming reason to chose the Sorento over any other mid size SUV it is this: Sorento is one of only 9 vehicles to record zero deaths per million registered vehicles according to the Insurance Institute for Highway safety.

2016 Kia Sorento SXL AWD 2.0 Turbo

2016 Kia Sorento SXL AWD 2.0 Turbo

  • Engine: 2.0 liter Turbo with Direct gas Injection
  • Horsepower: 240hp@6,000rpm
  • Torque: 260lb.-ft.@1450rpm
  • Fuel Consumption: 199MPG City/25MPG Highway
  • Price as Tested: $45,095
  • Star Rating: 8 out of 10 Stars

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Review: 2015 Kia K900 Luxury V8

Friday March 13th, 2015 at 5:33 PM
Posted by: D.Colman

2015 Kia K900 Luxury V8

By David Colman

Hypes: Live Like the 1% at a 99% Price
Gripes: Needs Swiveling Headlights

From a company historically known for producing small front wheel drive economy cars, Kia’s all new, rear wheel drive, V8 powered 2015 K900 is a complete aberration. And a very pleasant one at that. The K900, the first rear wheel drive product from Kia, represents a remarkable achievement, propelling a previously pigeonholed economy brand into the stratosphere of consummate luxury travel. In terms of accoutrements, technological razzle-dazzle, and build quality, the K900 is on an even footing with such eternal luxury stalwarts as BMW, Mercedes, Audi and Cadillac. From a price perspective, Kia beats them all soundly by bringing the K900 to market for just $59,500.

2015 Kia K900 Luxury V8

If you want the full bells and whistles gift wrap, order this Kia with the VIP Package. Though it boosts entry price by an extra $6,000, you will enjoy every embellishment imaginable: Advanced Cruise Control, Advanced Vehicle Safety Management, Power Door Latches, 12.3″ Full Color LCD TFT Instrument Cluster, Head-Up Display, Front Seat Cushion Extensions, Power Front Seat Headrests, Power Reclining Rear Seats, Ventilated Rear Outboard Seats, Lateral Adjusting Rear Headrests, and Rear Seat Lumbar Support. Even with the addition of all that refinement, the transaction fee still amounts to just $66,400.

We spent the coldest week in recent memory with the K900, and I can’t think of a car better suited to defeating the chill than this Kia. With the temperature hovering just above freezing, the K900 produced warm air within two blocks of drive-off. Better yet, the steering wheel is heated at the 9 and 12 o’clock positions, making the use of gloves unnecessary. Both front seats feature three position seat heaters, and the warmth provided also takes effect immediately. Strong, well designed front and rear defrosters clear the vision corridors with dispatch. I have never driven a car better suited to low temperature operation.

2015 Kia K900 Luxury V8

The VIP extending lower seat cushions afford both front seat passengers yet another way to configure their palatial surroundings. Mimetically representative seat controls, a la Mercedes, are intelligently placed just below eye level on the inner front door panels, along with triple memory setting buttons. If you can’t get comfortable in this Kia, you can’t get comfortable period. Control knobs, seating surfaces, and restrained wood trim all share a similar high quality pedigree. If you don’t look at the name plate or the window sticker, you would be justified in thinking you were driving a luxury sedan costing twice as much as you actually paid.

2015 Kia K900 Luxury V8

You certainly won’t be longing for more power. With its muscular 5 liter V8 good for 420hp and 376lb.-ft. of torque, the K900 just loafs silently along in top gear at 75mph on the freeway at 1,500rpm. Yet should the need arise to slice into a gap in traffic, this Kia explodes with satisfying thrust. Despite the K900′s corpulent curb weight of 4,555 pounds, you will never find yourself needing more power than the V8 can provide. A compliant and cooperative 8 speed automatic transmission makes the most of the V8′s ample juice, and its ultra tall top gear insures 23MPG at freeway cruising speed. You will, however, notice the K900′s girth in its reluctance to change direction on a twisty road, or tight freeway access ramp. Clearly, Kia engineers have opted for comfort over handling in the suspension department, so this bruiser of a limousine suffers from pronounced bump steer and platform deflection while cornering. The 19 inch chrome alloy wheels, shod with somewhat undersized Hankook Optimo R246radials (245/45R19), never feel particularly planted during transient maneuvers. A sports sedan, this is not.

2015 Kia K900 Luxury V8

What it is, however, is the most sensational and affordable new luxury car yet to arrive from Korea. Really, there’s not much reason to ask the K900 to double as a sports sedan, when its real mission in life is to provide rapid, luxurious long distance transport for up to 5 adults for a price that has the competition wondering how Kia manages to do it.

2015 Kia K900 Luxury V8

  • Engine: 5.0 Liter Direct Injection V8
  • Horsepower: 420hp
  • Torque: 376lb.-ft.
  • Fuel Consumption: 15MPG City/23 MPG Highway
  • Price as Tested: $66,400
  • Star Rating: 10 out of 10 Stars

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Review: 2013 Kia Sorento EX AWD

Saturday October 26th, 2013 at 8:1010 AM
Posted by: D.Colman

By David Colman

Hypes: Counterbalanced Hood, Well Designed Interior Accoutrements
Gripes: Dark Red Instrument Needle Pointers Virtually Invisible

Last year, Kia transformed its Sorento from a truck framed SUV to a crossover style unibody. That big switch relegated the 2013 version to such minor revisions as new badge work and optional 3rd row mini-seats. The model range covers the gamut from entry level front-wheel-drive, 4 cylinder offerings like the $23,950 LX, to the penultimate offering we spent a week in, the $31,700 EX. Top of the model line is the SX, which stickers for $33,400. The all-wheel-drive EX model features a 3.3 liter V-6 using variable valve timing and direct fuel injection to produce 290hp and enough torque to tow 3,500 pounds. You’ll be operating a 6-speed automatic transmission without the assist of steering wheel paddles. The V-6 in this 4,235 pound vehicle, records just 18 MPG in city operation and 24 MPG on the highway. A round trip from Mill Valley to Santa Rosa surprised us by taking the fuel needle from full to half full in just 120 miles.

The Sorento EX is so softly sprung that the buckled pavement typical of California back roads causes it to pitch to and fro like a carnival ride. Comfort improves considerably on freeway jaunts where the independent front and rear suspension systems cope better with smooth pavement. Steering is fingertip light, with little information about front wheel position filtering back through the smooth leather wrapped rim. Although Kia provides the EX with standard 18 inch alloy rims wrapped in premium Kumho Venture rubber (235/60R18), you’ll rarely put these beefy contact patches to the test because the jiggling EX will dissuade you from cornering too vigorously.

At the moderate pace thus dictated by this SUV, you will, however, enjoy luxury and comfort beyond expectation in this price range. Of course, part of the bounteous swaddling stems from the fact that KIA fitted our EX with a “Touring” package that added a whopping $4,000 to the base price of the Sorento. Included in this compendium were such niceties as a Navigation System with a prominent 8 inch display panel. Unfortunately, unless you tap the “I Agree” button on the screen’s legal release document every time you start the Sorento, you’re forced to view this ridiculous warning in perpetuity.

Also provided by the Touring Package are an Infinity Surround Sound System, Ventilated and Power Adjustable Front Seats, Blind Spot Detection, and the Biggest Sunroof You’ve Ever Seen. When you factor in good visibility from the driver’s seat, oversize rear view mirrors, and very refined cruise control, the Sorento EX becomes a willing long distance cruise partner. Standard inclusions at the EX level include keyless push button start, tilt and telescoping steering wheel, tire pressure monitoring system, BLUETOOTH wireless technology, USB input jacks, 3 months of free SIRIUSXM service, and a rear camera display through the navigation screen.

If you opt for the $715 third row seat, you’ll be able to carry 5 adults and 2 children in the Sorento at the same time. This makes the EX an attractive proposition for large families more concerned with practicality than performance. While the latest Sorento will never confuse you with BMW-like handling, it accomplishes more mundane driving chores with a panache and refinement that exceed the modest expectations suggested by its cost.

2013 Kia Sorento EX AWD

  • Engine: 3.3 liter DOHC V-6 with direct injection and variable valve timing
  • Horsepower: 290hp
  • Torque: 248 lb.-ft.
  • Fuel Consumption: 18 MPG City/24 MPG Highway
  • Price as Tested: $36,550
  • Star Rating: 7.5 out of 10 Stars

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