Category Archives: Kia

2009 Kia Borego EX 4-WD

Overview:
This week we’re looking at the 2009 Kia Borego that is brand new right off the boat. Made in South Korea and 86% of the parts from there and 4% from US/Canada.

You can’t help but be impressed with such a new company in such a relatively new free economic society. I wonder what they are making in NORTH Korea beside poverty. Chop sticks perhaps because they have all those trees. Have you ever seen pictures of the stark difference of the country from Google Earth? North is all trees and south is a bustling mass of development. Ok, so I must admit the quality of life may be better north of the border, but it’s not “south of the border down Mexico way” kind of development.

General Info:

Parts –  US/Canadian 4%, Korea 86%

Assembly – Korea

Class:  – SUV

Cars: – Amanti, Borego, Optima, Rio, Rondo, Sedona, Sorento, Spectra & Sportage.

Observation:

Remember not so long ago anything made in Japan was Junk? Then China and then Korea and India. Well, the globe is shrinking and Nationalism is giving way to Global-ism. Soon Asian companies will be “Outsourcing” to Africa and other cheaper labor markets if that is possible. Eventually we’ll see a truly Global Economy.

Handling & Performance:

Good power and the ride is consistent with most of the competition in price range.

Styling:

Common place styling for the class. The Koreans have learned well from the west on how to appeal to the automotive senses. If you don’t look at the badge you could be driving a Ford, Mercury, Chevy or you name it.

Fit and Finish:

Average.

Cost:

If you can’t tell the difference in appearance and the price is the same I’m wondering why folks will risk the unknown. This will be a tough sell for that reason. All things being equal I believe the consumer in the US will lean to those more Tried and True for the money. I’d say it would ordinarily take a 20-25% saving to make most take that leap of faith in a new product. However the list of standard equipment is impressive and all good stuff. That means to me a 10-15% discount would be in order. They’re the new kid on the block and will have to earn the price point they are suggesting.

Conveniences and comfort:

The conveniences are there – competitive with the best listed.

Consumer Recommendation:

No question I would have to tell you to drive it and compare. Outwardly you will be impressed. If you can strike a great deal in price reductions and have long extended warranties thrown in I suspect it would be worth the gamble. Time will tell if the Korean products hold up. I’d be interested in your experience over time if you have one or know someone who does. The US auto industry is over 100 years old and you know what you’re getting. The Korean auto industry is a baby by comparison so I suggest erring on the side of caution.

But if Kia is dealing it could be worth a try. Keep in mind the soft market for autos at this time and don’t be shy about asking for a deep discount.

Recognized Competition:

Kia Borego $26-33,000, Buick Enclave $35-39,000, GMC Acadia $32-40,000, Cadillac SRX $40-47,000, Subaru Tribeca $30-34,000, Saturn Outlook $30-36,000, Mercury Mountaineer $29-35,000, Toyota Highlander $26-35,000, Hyundai Vericruz $ n/a, Chevrolet TrailBlazer $29-39,000, Chevrolet Traverse $28-41,000, Mazda CX-9 $30-35,000, Toyota 4Runner $29-39,000, Suzuki XL7 $26-30,000, Toyota Venza $26-29,000, Honda Pilot $28-40,000, Ford Taurus X $28-34,000, Lincoln MKX $38-40,000, Dodge Durango $28-40,000, Chrysler Aspen $35-37,000, Jeep Grand Cherokee $30-45,000, Ford Explorer $28-39,000.

Good News:

Overall it is similar to all SUVs on the market and I suspect they will be dealing.

Bad News:

Pricey for a little known product, up against tough competition, not different enough in performance & fuel economy to take a leap of faith.

Standard Equipment:

3.8 liter 276 hp V6 engine, 5-speed auto trans, 4-wheel drive, 4-wheel ABS power disc brakes, front and side and side curtain airbags with rollover sensor, electronic stability control, traction control, tire pressure monitoring system, hill assist and downhill brake control, back up warning system, LATCH child system, dual zone climate control, power windows locks and mirrors, audio with CD, MP3 and 6 speakers, SIRIUS satellite radio with 3 mos incl., 8-way power driver seat, 4-way power passenger seat, 60/40 split folding 2nd row seats, 50/50 split folding 3rd row seats, remote keyless entry with alarm, leather steering with w/ audio and cruise controls, 3 12 volt outlets, trip computer, auto light control, under floor storage, privacy glass, roof rails, fog lights and windshield de-icer.

Gas Stats:

$1.99/ Gal avg. Jan 15, ‘09

www.fueleconomy.gov

for more information.

16 City and 21 Highway MPG

Pricing:

MSRP $29,995

2008 Kia Sorento EX 4X4

Overview:
This week we’re looking at the 2008 Kia Sorento EX 4X4 SUV. I could find no real difference between cars in this class. The only drawback is the badge, and then only a problem for some. It’s a Kia and some folks are anxious to spend more money to impress their friends. I mean like really, why do we need a BMW, or a Lexus badge? Does it make us more important or more successful? And if I were on the hunt for chicks I wouldn’t stop with a BMW – I would go back to the Porsche or Lamborghini I drove in my younger days. Brother John made a statement with his Daytona Ferrari.

Moral of the story is drive the car that fits your need, want, wish or dream. Live it! And if you don’t care about all that – buy the Kia and go on a European cruise with the money you save. Venice is nice this time of year. Take a friend or your wife/husband if you friend can’t make it.

General Info:

Parts –  US/Canadian 4%, Korea 86%

Assembly – Korea

Class:  – SUV

Cars: – Amanti, Borego, Optima, Rio, Rondo, Sedona, Sorento, Spectra & Sportage.

Handling & Performance:

Estimated fuel cost is not stellar at an average annual cost of $2,470 based on 15,000 miles at $2.80 per gallon. I suspect gas prices are going back there, so now’s the time to take that into consideration.

Styling:

Pretty standard… yeah but that’s the point. This is a Kia from Korea! Why don’t they look like Asian cars? Why do they look so American? Are we really the last word in design? Should we be? I for one would like to see some original thoughts and ideas and not just a clone of what American car companies think cars should look like. These are just “Knock-Offs” of what the US invented. Isn’t that illegal like my friends Rolex watch for $100 that looks and feels “EXACTLY” like the real thing for over $5,000?

Fit and Finish:

Not too bad for the money and better than some at much more money.

Cost:

Competitively priced in this class.

Conveniences and comfort:

Kia has included all the things I would expect for the money.

Consumer Recommendation:

You can’t ignore the cost savings of a product built in such a favorable labor market. Take a look – it will be worth your time and consideration.

Recognized Competition:

Kia Sorento $21-27,000, Isuzu Ascender $27-29,000, Hummer H3 $33-43,000, Saturn Vue $23-31,000, Saturn Outlook $31-36,000, Mercury Mariner $23-28,000, Mercury Mountaineer $29-35,000, Toyota RAV4 $22-28,000, Chevrolet Equinox $24-31,000, Mazda CX-7 $24-28,000, Mazda Tribute $20-28,000, Honda CR-V $21-29,000, Ford Escape $20-28,000, Ford Edge $27-36,000, Mitsubishi Outlander $20-26,000, Jeep Liberty $23-27,000, Dodge Durango $28-40,000, Dodge Nitro $22-29,000.

Good News:

Looks like, feels like, and drives like the competition and for less money. If you can get past the badge it will service your need for less.

Bad News:

Image may be a problem for some.

Standard Equipment:

3.8 liter 262 hp V6 engine, 5-speed auto trans, 4-wheel drive, 4-wheel ABS power disc brakes, power rack & pinion steering, front airbags with driver knee airbag and full length side curtain airbags, electronic stability control, traction control, tire pressure monitoring system, air conditioning, power windows locks and mirrors, audio with steering wheel controls & CD/MP3, 8-way power driver seat with lumbar support, 60/40 split folding rear seats with armrest, remote keyless entry, leather steering wheel with tilt, trip computer with compass & temperature, rear cargo cover & tie downs and under floor storage, lift gate with flip up glass, defroster, wiper washer, roof rails, fog lights, privacy glass, underbody skid plates, full size alloy spare, trailer hitch wiring with sub-harness connector.

Options:Body cladding & wheel arches, machined 16” alloy wheels, sunroof, leather seating, heated front seats, dual zone climate control, auto headlights, upgraded audio with 6-disc in-dash CD/MP3, full time torque on demand 4WD and rear spoiler – $3,200.

Gas Stats:

$1.99/ Gal avg. Jan 31, ‘09

www.fueleconomy.gov

for more information.

15 City and 20 Highway MPG

Pricing:

MSRP $26,195. With Options $29,395.

2013 Kia Forte Koup SX (946)

Overview:

This week we’re looking at the 2013 Kia Forte Koup SX Midsize coupe that is simply a nice car at any price, albeit the price is good. It is stylish like Audi, BMW and other high end badges. It handles well and is sporty. Kia is clearly looking at the youth oriented compact car market and I believe it will indeed appeal to young execs just starting out. It has good looks, is a credible commuter, it is affordable to buy; low cost to maintain and delivers decent fuel economy. More expensive options like Audi and BMW cannot make such claims. And historically those badges have been very expensive to own.

General Information:

Parts from the US / Canada 1%, Korea 95%. It is assembled Korea, Classification is Midsize. Cars from Kia: Forte, Forte Koup, Optima, Optima Hybrid, Rio, Rio5, Sedona, Sorento, Soul and Sportage.

Opinion:

Wow…. Have you driven on our highways during rush hour lately? Have you noticed how light traffic has been this past year? It is absolutely scary since the only conclusion I can draw from that fact is that there are a lot of folks out of work.

Well to add insult to injury “Gas prices” are insane for a country with so much oil and natural gas. There is some good news, however, in that car prices have never been better and fuel economy has also never been better. All that compounded by the shrinking US dollar.

OK, so some will say there is other bad news in that many of these cars are being manufactured in far off lands like China, Korea and Japan, as well as neighbors north and south of the boarder. But is that really bad?

Businesses generally subscribe to the Economic Theory of Adam Smith (remember the Invisible Hand theory?) Well businessmen will argue that’s the way it ‘should’ be. Allow the free markets to establish the best prices and values without artificial intervention and interference from government. John Stossel’s “News Magazine”, on the Fox Business channel, recently argued that very point convincingly and quite frankly I agree.

The other notable Economic Theory comes from British economist John Maynard Keynes. He argued that uncertainty caused individuals and businesses to stop spending and investing, and government must step in and spend money to improve the economy.

I urge you to do your own research and fully understand these two leading Economic theories that have guided the private and public sectors of the US Economy for at least the past 150 years. Of course Keynes and Smith are dead so we’ll just have to decide, at the end of the day, which  theory is best or how both have relevance.

My point here is that America has dominated the world of business because of American economic principles and we must understand them. It affects the Auto Industry, of course, and all business, industry and government. When we are informed our elected representatives will have to be more accountable.

Handling & Performance:

I tested the 2.4 liter 173 hp SX so there was no issue with power and the EX model has the 2.0 liter engine and although it is only 17 hp less at 156 there are some who say it strains and revs a lot more than they like. I didn’t find the 2.4 to have that problem, but it gets 3 mpg less than the 2.0 version.

I’m not into coupe’s (Coupe to Kia is Spelled Koup). When I was young 4 door cars were avoided like the plague. We wanted to distance ourselves from our parents’ generation and since they drove 4-door cars we would NOT.

“Well, Dah”, you say, “they only had one car, a family need for 4 doors, and were practical people.” In any case young people today don’t have such taboo’s. Or that may be because 4 door cars are designed so well that you hardly notice they have 4 doors.

Styling:

Nice stylish look. A great paint job and aluminum accents and pedals that give it that sporty look that is so popular with the youthful buyer.

Fit and Finish:

Good inside and out and comparable with others in class.

Cost:

It is priced very well and I have to say I’d be hard pressed to justify a need to move up to Audi and BMW, for example, and the next market segment that would cost $8-10,000 more.

Conveniences and comfort:

More features than I expected from such an affordable car class. It was comfy and all the techie stuff was easy to figure out without looking at the manual. That’s what I’m talking about. It drives me nuts when I can’t set up the hands free Bluetooth in a minute or so.

Consumer Recommendation:

This is a car like much of the competition listed here. It fills a need of a commuter and the needs of young married’s through a very young family. There’s a lot to choose from but not so much that you can’t look at all of them. This Coupe is in good company.

Recognized Competition:

Kia Forte Koup $19,000, Chevrolet Cruze $17,000, Ford Focus $17,000, Honda Civic $21,000,  Hyundai Elantra $17,000, Mazda3 $15,000, Nissan Sentra $16,000, Scion tC $19,000, Subaru Impreza $17,000, Suzuki SX4 Sport $17,000, Toyota Corolla $16,000, Volkswagen Beetle $19,000, Volkswagen Golf $18,000.

Good News:

Comfortable ride, good fuel economy, good technology, nice size lends to ease of handling and good highway performance.

 Bad News:

Not much to complain about – but with the lights turned on it is hard to read the radio and other information on the dash. Also, check out the rear view as it can be a little restrictive.

Standard Equipment:

2.4 liter  173 HP inline 4-cylinder engine, 6-speed auto trans, 17” alloy wheels, 4-wheel ABS disc brakes with brake assist, front side and side curtain airbags, traction control, stability control, tire pressure monitor, air conditioning, power windows locks and heated mirrors with turn indicators, audio with CD/MP3 and SIRIUS satellite, USB and AUX input jacks, Bluetooth, 60/40 split folding rear seats, remote keyless entry, cruise control, trip computer, tilt and telescopic steering column, leather wrapped wheel and shift knob, paddle shifters, metal finish accents and pedals, auto headlights & fog lights.

 Gas Stats:

$3.95 / Gal avg. November 6, 2012

www.fueleconomy.gov

For more information.

23 City and 31 Highway MPG

Pricing:

MSRP $19,800.

Your comments are welcomed. My e-mail is joe@atthewheel.com
Copyright © 2012 – An Automotive Love Affair

2013 Kia Optima SX (944)

Overview:

This week we’re looking at the 2012 Kia Optima SX midsize 4-door sedan. The thing I find when testing cars that is most telling is how others react to the car. This Kia drew a lot of positive attention from all those who saw and rode with me in the car. Unsolicited, without exception, I heard over and over again how nice looking a car it is.

Move over Audi, BMW and Mercedes Benz. . . there’s a new kid in town. You gotta love the competition.

I’m so impressed with our “Free Economy” and the products it brings and keeps all companies competitive and innovative. Friend Richard puts it this way, work hard and put out a great product of the competition will ‘eat your liver’. By God that is a simple common sense answer to a complex free market economy. New Yorkers understand that kind of thinking.

General Information:

Parts from the US / Canada 45%, Korea 55%. It is assembled in the USA, Classification is Midsize Car. Cars from Kia: Forte, Forte Koup, Optima, Optima Hybrid, Rio, Rio5, Sedona, Sorento, Soul and Sportage.

Handling & Performance:

With the outstanding fuel economy it is appropriate to refer to days of old when gas did cost $.15 a gallon but they got about 7 mpg. So it took $2.14 to travel 100 miles versus $11.76 today even with the better fuel economy. But you had to be there to appreciate that today you get in the car, start it and go in comfort with the assurance you will get there without stops to repair this or that.

To keep this in perspective, that was in 1950 and $.15 a gallon then equates to $9.60 a gallon today. It is half that so you have to take the good with the bad, eh. And when you consider the fact that repair costs and time lost in breakdowns it is cheaper per mile than “the good old days”… that weren’t so good from an economic point of view. Quality of life is arguably a different matter.

Styling:

Well, what can I say that your eyes haven’t already told you? I know beauty is in the eye of the beholder, but there were lots of thumbs up from so many folks that the ‘eye’s have it.

Fit and Finish:

Very good.

Cost:

Competitive in class, but when pitted against Audi, BMW and Mercedes Benz it is an outstanding value.

Conveniences and comfort:

“Loaded” as car salesmen referred to how a car was equipped. However in those days it took on a completely different meaning. It meant there were white wall tires, long bench seats, a radio with push buttons, and a steering wheel that was way bigger than needed. It was a carryover from before power steering and you needed leverage to turn. Parking was a real talent combined with brute strength. Vinyl seat covers would have been good too and the largest V8 engine they could find to move that ‘hunk of steel’ and turn the power steering pump. On rare luxury cars you could even have power windows – but the usual was Crank Windows.

Today nearly all cars have the basics like all that stuff they had in the 1950s plus telephone hands free connectivity and computer displays and devices to tell you how well you’re driving and where you are going and how to get there most efficiently. Of course, back then we were far less in a hurry and any car was a real luxury and so much better than the alternative…. Walking. But we knew where people lived and didn’t need directions. Seldom got more than 50 miles from home in spite of the fact gas was $.15 a gallon.

And they called those the Good Old Days, Happy Days for good reason – we had far less and appreciated it far more.

Consumer Recommendation:

Here is one consumer opinion that sums up the general mood and my endorsement:

“I was in the market for a commuter vehicle with good gas mileage and was going to pick up a Hyundai Elantra. I was very close to getting one, and was considering the limited. Very close to $23,000. At this price, I started looking at the Sonata. A similarly equipped Sonata would have driven the cost up to the high $20,000’s. Then I settled on the Optima EX with the premium technology package with the “Microsoft UVO/ Infinity audio system. I can only say that this car is amazing! Panoramic sunroof, heated and cooled leather seats, push button start, and tons of other features for $24,500. Simply amazing. I have owned Nissan Maxima, Toyota Camry, Acura TL, but this Kia is way more bang for the buck. The 2.4 liter engine has 200hp which is plenty of power, and it has been great on gas.”

Well said by this buyer and although the SX test car I drove is a step up from the EX the sentiment is the same and applies to both. And both share the same warranty of 10 year / 100K mile power train which was for this owner’s testimony and is, I’m sure, a strong influence on the buying decision of many.

Recognized Competition:

Kia Optima $26,000, Subaru Legacy $20,000, Mazda 6 $25,000, Chevrolet Malibu $22,000,

Hyundai Sonata $23,000, Nissan Maxima $32,000, Suzuki Kizashi $22,000, Volkswagen Passat $24,000, Toyota Camry $23,000, Ford Taurus $27,000, Chevrolet Impala $26,000, Buick LaCrosse $32,000, Chrysler 200 $19,000, Dodge Avenger $21,000, Ford Fusion $24,000, Honda Accord $22,000, Nissan Altima $28,000.

Good News:

Outstanding fuel economy, lovely car that can easily be compared with luxury brands for twice the money.

Bad News:

Pretty alloy wheels but the design ‘sucks’ since you can’t get close to the curb without scratching them. When are they going to be smarter than the problem? Really guys this is NOT rocket science. The tire has to stick out further than the shiny aluminum alloy wheels – dah!

Standard Equipment:

2.0 liter Turbo Gas 4-cylinder engine, 6-speed auto trans, power steering, 18” Alloy Wheels, front side and side curtain airbags, LATCH child safety system, ABS power braking system, traction control, stability control, stability management control, hill assist control, climate control, power windows and locks, audio with CD/MPS and SIRIUS satellite, USB and Auxiliary jacks, Bluetooth, leather seating & steering wheel and shift knob, power driver seat, remote keyless entry with push button start and smart key, cruise control, metal pedals and door sill plates, fog lights, heated power mirrors with turn signal indicators, rear spoiler.

Gas Stats:

$4.49/ Gal avg. October 23, 2012

www.fueleconomy.gov

For more information.

22 City and 34 Highway MPG

Pricing:

MSRP $26,800.

Your comments are welcomed. My e-mail is joe@atthewheel.com
Copyright © 2012 – An Automotive Love Affair

 

2012 Kia Sportage EX FWD (942)

Overview:

This week we’re looking at the 2012 Kia Sportage EX Front Wheel Drive mid size Crossover SUV. It has been around since 1995 and just gets better every year. Today the Korean automaker has earned its reputation for an impressive product in both design and technology. Honda CR-V and Toyota RAV4 have enjoyed great popularity, but Kia is looming large as a competitor.

Opinion:

The value of the cars we buy necessarily depend on the value of the companies that build them. I continue to be impressed with Kia as I have been with Hyundai. Both have captured the hearts, minds and pocketbooks of many in the US and around the world. Both car lines are produced for the global market and they are both owned by Hyundai.

Like so many global companies the lines get totally blurred with revolving door ownership positions changing as the need and opportunity arises. BMW, Mini and Rolls Royce one company?; Fiat owning Alfa, Ferrari, Lancia, Maserati, Chrysler, Dodge, RAM and Jeep (20% last I knew); how about GM that the people of America have a big stake in, owning brands like Cadillac, Chevy, GMC, Buick, Daewoo (I think that one has ceased doing business), Opel, Vauxhall and Holden (in Australia). Toyota has, of course, Lexus, Toyota and Scion but also has its fingers in Daihatsu, Hino Motors and Fuji Industries who owns Subaru and a piece of Izuzu.

Just to think, not so long ago GM, Ford and Chrysler were not only the Big 3 they were the only car makers in the world worth mentioning as far as volume of cars manufactured and sold around the world is concerned.  Europe, of course, produce a few brands.

US car makers have lost their edge and position of dominance in the world of car makers, but they still have the capability to produce arguably the best cars ever. The problem is they are less competitive because of outrageous labor cost and poor management in the recent past. The real leaders over the years, in the industry, like Lee Iococca are no longer. They simply have “Golden Parachutes” and cave to the union at every turn, perform miserably and then take huge severance packages and leave the company worse than they found it.

Will we get the lead back as preeminent car makers? Doubtful unless we shake the bondage of Union Organizers. Frontline headline states “ Obama pick for NLRB was a top lawyer for union tainted by mob ties, history of corruption”. The story goes on the state, “Embezzlement, wire fraud and Bribery … just scratching the surface of crimes committed by the union ranks.”

These are the thugs who continue their stronghold on industry and should be gotten rid of. They cripple our businesses and kill job creation.

They are the enemy in today’s world where union organizing leaches suck the life blood out of workers and the companies who employ them. They are destroying the automotive industry that so many of us love. Think about it.

General Information:

It is assembled in Korea . Classification is Crossover / SUV. Cars from Kia:  Forte, Forte Koup, Optima, Optima Hybrid, Rio, Rio5, Sedona, Sorento, Soul and Sportage.

Handling & Performance:

If you are in need of speed a turbocharged 2.0 liter engine and all wheel drive option are available. I feel the 2.4-liter 4-cylinder engine’s 176 horses is all most of us would ever need. It gets up to speed easily and has good passing power. Sportage isn’t meant as an off-roader and the fact is that only 5% of owners will never get off road anyway. Sportage’s AWD system is meant more for on-road security than off-road prowess.

Styling:

Rakish lines that spell confidence. It shares its basic design with its sister company’s Hyundai Tucson. Two great companies so sharing design makes total sense.

Fit and Finish:

Very good.

Cost:

Competitive pricing in such company as Toyota and Honda… not that others in this segment are slouches. Kia is a top pick for me and I thought enough of the brand to buy one for my daughter, and she still loves it after three years, while other relationships, unfortunately, are less stable for most of us.

Conveniences and comfort:

Kia’s UVO (for ‘your voice’ control) is a convenient standard feature in the EX model. Fairly simple voice-commands, but you will have to learn the core commands out of 144. Once learned, they will prevent drivers from looking away from the road to make a call or change a song. These are the features of the future that are available today.

I also appreciate the Hill-start assist feature that holds the brake on momentarily when you are ready to proceed.

Consumer Recommendation:

Try it, you’ll like it. I promise. And owners rate it a 9.7 overall, with styling and quality rated 10. Kia is on the move.

 Recognized Competition:

Kia Sportage $24,000, Honda Crosstour $28,000, Honda Element $21,000, Mazda CX5 $21,000, Dodge Journey $19,000, Honda CR-V $22,000, Jeep Wrangler $22,000, Mitsubishi Outlander $22,000, Ford Escape $22,000, Subaru Forester $21,000, Jeep Compass $19,000, Jeep Patriot $16,000, Nissan JUKE $20,000, Nissan Rogue $22,000, Toyota RAV4 $23,000, Hyundai Tucson $19,000, Jeep Liberty $23,000, GMC Terrain $26,000, Suzuki Grand Vitara $20,000, Chevrolet Equinox   $24,000.

 Good News:

Great companies produce great cars. Lots of upward mobility to a turbo and AWD. Very good fuel economy and aggressively priced with other in class.

Bad News:

None noted.

Standard Equipment:

2.4 liter 176 horsepower inline 4-cylinder engine, 6-speed auto transmission, power steering, 18” Alloy Wheels, front, side and side curtain airbags, traction control, stability control, hill assist control, rollover protection system, tire pressure monitor, climate control, power windows and locks, Microsoft UVO, audio with CD/MP3, Bluetooth iPhone and streaming audio, SIRIUS satellite radio, USB and Aux input jacks, adjustable power driver’s seat, cruise control, leather wrapped steering wheel and shift knob, tilt and telescopic steering column, steering wheel controls, cooling glove box, back up warning system, fog lights and auto on/ off headlights, privacy and solar glass.

Gas Stats:

$4.39/ Gal avg. October 6, 2012

www.fueleconomy.gov

For more information.

22 City and 32 Highway MPG

Pricing:

MSRP $24,200.

Your comments are welcomed. My e-mail is joe@atthewheel.com
Copyright © 2012 – An Automotive Love Affair

 

2012 Kia Rio SX Sedan (941)

Overview:

This week we’re looking at the 2012 Kia Rio SX Sedan. Although I had only tested the Rio 5 in past years I was pleasantly surprised that it was larger than I had expected. My recall of those earlier models was that they were small, and then I drove cars like the Smart and learned what small is. This model year Rio is not small. It accommodated 4 adults, all their luggage, and had room to spare. I was really happy with the size of the trunk and it still had good rear seat legroom. Ok, so I didn’t sit back there but no one was complaining. There was still the back seat driving, but leg room was not the complaint.

Only a mother could love most of this group of competitors when it comes to looks, but the Kia Rio is not one of those, in my opinion.

General Information:

It is assembled in Korea . Classification is Compact. Cars from Kia:  Forte, Forte Koup, Optima, Optima Hybrid, Rio, Rio5, Sedona, Sorento, Soul and Sportage.

Handling & Performance:

It is a good size for ease of handling but it is a little limited in power which makes passing other traffic more difficult than I like. But then, 40 mpg is hard to beat on that same highway.

Styling:

Styling is pretty simple with traditional sedan lines. Nice.

Fit and Finish:

Good.

Cost:

This segment of the market is rich in value and the 18 competitors that are all well priced, gives them a high value to cost ratio.

Conveniences and comfort:

Everything I need in a compact sedan is delivered in this Rio. In fact I could lose the built in Nav in favor for a portable one for about $100 to $200 and as to the sun / moon roof I must tell you it is a feature that is passé. Of all the vehicles I drive I can honestly say I almost never open the power moon roof. And in this case the moon roof and the Navigation will add $2,200.

Consumer Recommendation:

This Kia Rio is a great small or young family sedan that serves as a commuter with great fuel economy. The competition is fierce and that is good for you and me. With so much for the money it is hard to imagine anyone not being able to afford convenient and reliable transportation.

Beauty is in the eye of the beholder, of course, so I’m guessing style will be the main determining factor on which car you would buy. However, some are super small like the Smart and the Scion iQ and don’t really belong in this category, but they are listed as such. They are not only two seaters they have a very limited cargo area. Most others in this group including the Fiat, the Mitsubishi I, the Honda Fit may have a back seat but then the cargo area is almost non-existent.

Recognized Competition:

Kia Rio $17,000, Chevrolet Sonic $14,000, Scion xD $15,000, Scion xB $16,000, Toyota Yaris $14,000, Suzuki SX4 Sport $14,000, Hyundai Veloster $17,000, Fiat 500 $16,000, Toyota Prius c $19,000, Ford Fiesta $13,000, Honda Fit $15,000, Mazda 2 $16,000, Hyundai Accent $15,000, Nissan Versa $11,000, Smart fortwo $12,000, Scion iQ $15,000, Mitsubishi i $29,000, Chevrolet Aveo $12,000.

 Good News:

Roomy compact with great mileage for today’s world and even more in tomorrows, good size trunk that held luggage for 4 adults, important control features.

 Bad News:

A little light on the horsepower as it strained to pass other traffic.

Standard Equipment:

1.6 liter 138 horsepower inline 4-cylinder engine, 6-speed auto transmission, electric power steering, front, side and side curtain airbags, LATCH system, traction control, stability control, stability management, hill assist control, air conditioning, power windows and locks, remote keyless entry, audio with CD/MP3, SIRIUS satellite radio, video display with rear camera, SSB and Aux input jacks, 60/40 split folding rear seat, cruise control, Bluetooth wireless technology, tilt / telescopic steering wheel, leather wrapped steering wheel with audio, cruise and Bluetooth controls, leather wrapped shift knob, auto headlights, fog lights, power heated mirrors.

Gas Stats:

$4.13/ Gal avg. October 3, 2012

www.fueleconomy.gov

For more information.

30 City and 40 Highway MPG

Pricing:

MSRP $17,500.

Your comments are welcomed. My e-mail is joe@atthewheel.com
Copyright © 2012 – An Automotive Love Affair

 

2012 Kia Optima Hybrid (935)

Overview:

This week we’re looking at the 2012 Kia Optima Hybrid sedan that was introduced in 2011 and there are no significant changes for 2012. This Hybrid can operate in full electric / battery mode up to 62 mph or gas / electric mode at any speed. It seats 5 and is a really an all around nice car with an especially noticeable smooth ride and a surprising passing speed is quick.

The overall rating from consumers is very high and in keeping with the Summer Olympics you’ll notice mostly 9.9s. So the Gold goes to Kia Optima.

General Information:

Parts from the US / Canada 1%, Korea 90%. It is assembled in Korea Classification is Midsize. Cars from Kia: Forte, Forte Koup, Optima, Optima Hybrid, Rio, Rio 5, Sedona, Sorento, Soul and Sportage.

Handling & Performance:

Perfect midsize sedan for 5 seating coupled with ease of handling, responsive power and the Hybrid gives it great fuel economy numbers. It is fantastic to get 500 plus miles on a tank of gas but the real performance is when you pass more gas stations than you will with the average car.

It delivers an impressively smooth ride and that compliment came from a BMW 7 series owner who took a lengthy trip up the coast with me. We both agreed the seats could be a little more comfortable for the long drives.

I did notice some power shift hesitation at low speed but it was not a significant irritation so I hesitate even mentioning it.

Styling:

Beautiful looking automobile that will keep its youthful look many years into the future.

Fit and Finish:

Very good.

Cost:

It is encouraging to be able to have a fuel efficient vehicle with an affordable price tag. Volt is the obvious example of how expensive electric cars can be. This Kia is the less expensive option. However, you can do as good on fuel economy with a far less expensive Non-Hybrid compact. You’ve seen those in my column that I have been doing a lot of lately because of the anticipated gas prices going even further through the “O” Zone.

Conveniences and comfort:

All the good stuff for safe driving, and not too bad on the road for comfort but questionable on the long hauls sitting over 2 hours. You get a little numb or at least figitty. I hate to nit-pick but I had difficulty resetting the trip computer. I never got it figured out and refused to open the manual. If I can’t do it without research it gets poor marks as far as I’m concerned. If other car companies can do it Kia should be able to as well. On the other hand the Bluetooth set up was VERY user friendly and I set it up in seconds.

Consumer Recommendation:

With the rising fuel prices and no let up expected any time soon, you will need to give serious consideration to moving up to cars such as this Kia before others make their move. You’ll get more for your old lower MPG number car if you do it now.

I also suggest you include some Non-Hybrid models that are high mileage cars as well. Some recent ones that I have tested include the Kia Soul – 34 mpg highway; Hyundai Accent at 40 mpg; Kia Sorento at 32 mpg; Nissan Cube at 31 mpg; Subaru Outback at 29 mpg and Hyundai Veloster at 40 mpg.

Recognized Competition:

Kia Optima $26,000, Hyundai Sonata Hybrid $26,000, Ford Fusion $29,000, Nissan Altima Hybrid $27,000, Chevrolet Volt $39,000, Toyota Camry Hybrid $26,000, Toyota Prius V $27,000, Chevrolet Malibu Hybrid $,000.

Good News:

Well priced Hybrid, lovely styling, great fuel economy with a very smooth ride and powerful.

Bad News:

A slightly noticeable power shift at low speed.

Standard Equipment:

2.4 liter 4-cylinder 166 hp Hybrid engine, 6-speed sportmatic transmission, motor driven power steering, front, side and side curtain airbags, Child LATCH system, ABS braking system, traction and stability control, hill start assist, tire pressure monitor, climate control, power windows, locks and mirrors, audio system with SIRIUS Satelite radio, USB, AUX and Bluetooth systems, smart key with push button start / stop, cruise control, leather wrapped steering wheel & shift knob, fog lights, o/s mirror turn signals.

Gas Stats:

$3.97/ Gal avg. August 13, 2012

www.fueleconomy.gov

For more information.

35 City and 40 Highway MPG

Pricing:

MSRP $25,700.

2012 Kia Soul FWD (932)

Overview:
 

This week we’re looking at the 2012 Kia Soul. Of course although anyone who needs a small station wagon or SUV will find this a good option that is reasonably priced and low operating cost.

My first impression was “this is a kids car” as to style but the second thing that was a give away is the trick speakers for the sound system. They glow when it’s dark with an ever changing rainbow of pulsating colors.

The price is right and it joins the growing lineup of boxy looking vehicles. I think the look began with the Honda Element and quickly moved to the Scion xB and Honda Cube and others. Element has grown on me however since my wife drives one. We like it and it has been a reliable and all around good car. It too was strange looking when it first hit the streets so I expect people simply like the boxy look.

 

General Information:

 

Parts from the US / Canada 3%, Korea 94%. It is assembled in Korea Classification is Small Station Wagon. Cars from Kia: Forte, Forte Koup, Optima, Optima Hybrid, Rio, Rio 5, Sedona, Sorento, Soul and Sportage.

 

 

Opinion:

Are Unions killing American Industry and government?

Surely for the American Auto Industry the unions have been a decisive thorn in the side of management who then caved to demands for labor contracts that promised outrageous salaries and benefits and retirement plans that have destroyed many of those companies. Example: union labor cost for US auto makers are at about $78.00 per hour as compared to $45.00 per hour for Japanese and Korean car makers who are Non-union.

Unions are contrary to most cultures of the world who don’t want to hurt the company that feeds them. That used to be true in the early years of America. Friend Richard (retired union worker) agrees and predicted the Unions will simply self destruct when the companies they burden go out of business or move to more friendly states or countries.

But Unions are ‘equal opportunity offenders’ as the news reports a growing number of public sector municipals are filing bankruptcy to shed the cancer that is eating them alive. Stockton, CA.; Bell, CA and San Bernardino, CA are recent examples and in the case of San Bernardino,  workers and retirees have been unwilling to help out. The unions offered only that newly-hired public safety workers will retire with 90 percent of their salary at the age of 55 – instead of 50.

Union extortion simply can’t work any longer and will self destruct as Richard predicted.

American companies are running to Right to Work States or other countries with their ideas, products and capital to escape the heavy hand of collective bargaining.

At this writing, the following are right to work states.

Alabama, Arizona, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Idaho, Iowa, Kansas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Nebraska, Nevada, North Carolina, North Dakota, Oklahoma, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, Virginia and Wyoming

Handling & Performance:

Handling is easy with a short turning radius and it is light on its feet; entry and exit is easy and it has Active Eco that modifies engine and transmission response for smoother takeoffs, and the transmission shifts to higher gears sooner and it is slower to downshift for passing. It also cuts off the fuel supply during deceleration, which is really smart. Hyundai says all this electronic management can increase fuel economy as much as 7 percent.

Styling:

Boxy design is particularly attractive to youthful buyers.

Fit and Finish:

Good

Cost:

Base prices begin at around $13,000.

Conveniences and comfort:

Good electronics and safety features but it has a small cargo area because it concentrates more on comfortable seating for 5. It has abundant headroom for the tallest of folks and a spacious rear seat.

Consumer Recommendation:

This is an excellent choice for a young family on a limited budget however some of the money you may be able to save may not materialize if one consumer report says it only gets 28 mpg contrary to the reported 34 mpg I’ve noted here.

Recognized Competition:

Kia Soul $14,000, Scion xB $16,000, Honda Element $21,000, Jeep Compass $19,000, Nissan Cube $15,000, Chevrolet HHR $19,000, Suzuki SX4 Crossover $17,000, Dodge Caliber $17,000, Toyota Matrix $19,000.

Good News:

Affordable, spacious, nice handling with good turning radius.

Bad News:

Fair fuel economy except for consumer report that actual is less than reported.

Standard Equipment:

2.0 liter 164 horsepower 4-cylinder engine, 6-speed auto trans with Active ECO system, 16” alloy wheels, front & seat mounted side and side curtain airbags, LATCH system, traction control, stability and management control, Hill start assist control, ABS brake system with brake assist, air conditioning, power windows & locks, remote keyless entry, audio with SIRIUS satellite radio, USB / Aux input jacks, adjustable front seat and 60/40 split folding rear seat, cruise control, Bluetooth wireless tech, tilt & telescopic steering column, leather wrapped wheel with audio controls, trip computer and power heated mirrors with turn signals.

Gas Stats:

$3.65/ Gal avg. July 23, 2012

www.fueleconomy.gov

For more information.

26 City and 34 Highway MPG

Pricing:

MSRP $17,300.

2012 Kia Sorento EX FWD (924)

Overview: 

This week we’re looking at the 2012 Kia Sorento EX FWD. Well, if you read my column often you will know that I’m impressed with Korean cars, but apparently I’m not the only one since they have grown from the early 1960s to a high of over a million cars exported by 1990.

Korean cars include the most notable – Hyundai and Kia, but Daewoo came first, and who recently changed its name to GM Korea, and mainly manufactures cars and car parts for the Chevrolet Brand. When they started out in the 1960s they only did assembly and mostly for Mazda and Toyota.

The first car actually designed and manufactured by the Korean’s was the Hyundai Pony and was also the first export. Now in addition to the cars they also manufacture parts for BMW and others. It’s a real success story and they too are living the American Dream, all the way around the world in South Korea. North Korea is still manufacturing ‘stupid’.

General Information:

Parts from the US / Canada 60%, Korea 40%. It is assembled in West Point, GA, U.S.A., Classification is SUV. Cars from Kia: Forte, Forte Koup, Optima, Optima Hybrid, Rio, Rio 5, Sedona, Sorento, Soul and Sportage.

Opinion:

In concert with this review I want to share some facts that we should be reminded of often.

Unions have outlived their usefulness. Few would contest that fact the abuses of business in the 1920s and 1930s gave unions a reason to exist. However, like laws passed to right a wrong, it is impossible to eliminate those laws after the problem is solved.

Unions have ruined the American Auto Industry with outrageous salaries and benefits and retirement that are way over the top. By example the labor cost differential between US Union auto makers at about $78.00 per hour is about $45.00 per hour for Japanese and Korean car makers who are Non-union.

Korean carmakers hate the whole idea of unions and collective bargaining as it is contrary to their culture. That is true in most all the rest of the world where they must appreciate the job, wouldn’t want to hurt the company that feeds them. That used to be true in the early years of America. Friend Richard reminds me that all error is self correcting and the Unions will simply self destruct when the companies they burden go out of business.

Unions justify their existence and through extortion they demand and get higher and higher wage packages for their members. That extortion is a slow but sure death of the company and thus its workers.

American companies have been running from the unions and to Right to Work States or worse to other countries. They have learned to adapt by taking their capital and jobs to business friendly states and countries, so invested capital can make a return as well.

At this writing, the following are right to work states, meaning that they have specific right to work laws.

Alabama, Arizona, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Idaho, Iowa, Kansas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Nebraska, Nevada, North Carolina, North Dakota, Oklahoma, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, Virginia and Wyoming

Government: Local, State and Federal government services have given in to the strong arm tactics of Unions and the burden to society has been staggering. Community and union organizers, to me, is nothing more or less than Organized Crime. Same people. Same MO – extortion – pure and simple. What else do you call threats of strikes and law suits that cost millions to the company? Management gives in more often than not and that my friend is the root of the problem in American industry and government today.

As to fuel economy, some car makers produce fuel efficient cars because the world price of Gas is about $8 to 10.00 a gallon and the current administration wants prices in the US to go to those levels as well. Then we peasants would be forced to do as they are told, and buy cars that are ‘green’ to be good communists. Someone asked me just this last weekend, “Where is Joe McCarthy when you need him.” Somehow I have to believe McCarthy is in a better place than Jimmy Hoffa.

Handling & Performance:

I enjoyed driving this SUV as I do all SUV’s. They are simply the most popular vehicle in the world because it is the most utilitarian car in the world. And cars like this Kia Sorento that perform well including good fuel economy are a breath of fresh air.

Styling:

Pretty commonplace SUV.

Fit and Finish:

Really good – they try harder! Remember the ad for Avis in years past that “We’re #2 – we try harder”.

Cost:

Competitive with all in class and for the fancy badges you can really see the dramatic cost difference.

Conveniences and comfort:

You know, the list looks sparse, as to standard features but you must know that many of the gadgets and goodies not included in the listing below will never be missed. I drive the cars that have “Adaptive Cruise Control” but is it missed on the 90% of all the cars I test that don’t have it? Not really. It’s a convenience but it costs more than I need it.

I guess my point is that the ones that do have all the bells and whistles will cost several thousand more and you simply can live well without them. No excuses but I’m stating the facts, just the facts, to use a line from Jack Webb in the Dragnet series back in the mid to late 1950s.

Consumer Recommendation:

You must include this Kia in your evaluation of the next SUV you buy. And don’t be dissuaded from owning an SUV because you are trying to be convinced you should sacrifice your family’s comfort and safety and convenience by buying smaller or GREENER. I just want to throw up sometimes when our idiot government opens their yap for an agenda that doesn’t agree with my rights and quite frankly my needs.

I’ll recall to mind that my son has 5 kids from 1 to 15 and when they all saddle up to go somewhere they have chosen a larger SUV so all can fit comfortably and it puts a chunk of steel between them and danger. Kiss my what?

Recognized Competition:

Kia Sorento $27,000, Mazda CX9 $30,000, Acura RDX $34,000, Nissan Murano $32,000, Ford Edge $28,000, Toyota Highlander $28,000, Chevrolet Equinox $24,000, GMC Canyon $29,000,Chevrolet Traverse $30,000, Dodge Nitro $22,000, Ford Escape $22,000, Ford Explorer $29,000, Honda CR-V $22,000, Hyundai Santa Fe $23,000, Hyundai Tucson $20,000, Jeep Liberty $23,000, Mazda CX-7 #.

Good News:

Affordable to buy and own and operate, 32 highway mpg for a midsize SUV is good and they have a non-union mentality.

Bad News:

? – can’t think of anything.

Standard Equipment:

2.4 liter 191 horsepower 4-cylinder engine, 6-speed auto trans, 5-spoke alloy wheels, front & seat mounted side and side curtain airbags, LATCH system, traction control, stability control, tire pressure monitor, downhill brake / Hill start assist control, climate control, power windows a& locks and mirrors, UVO infotainment system, SIRIUS satellite radio, USB / Aux input jacks, Bluetooth wireless technology, power driver’s seat, 60/40 split folding rear seat, push button start,  with smart key, cruise control, leather wrapped wheel & knob, tilt & telescopic steering column, fog lights, anti lock brake system.

Gas Stats:

$4.18/ Gal avg. May 30, 2012

www.fueleconomy.gov

For more information.

22 City and 32 Highway MPG

Pricing:

MSRP $25,950.
Your comments are welcomed. My e-mail is joe@atthewheel.com
Copyright © 2012 – An Automotive Love Affair

2012 Kia Rio SX (908)

Overview: 

This week we’re looking at the 2012 Kia Rio SX that is longer, lower and wider. It is powered by a new gasoline-direct injection 1.6-liter 4-cylinder engine with great fuel economy that is much needed today. It is mated to a standard 6-speed automatic transmission. It is a ‘big’ little car in that it is roomy for a small compact which by the way is true with all players in this class. It is amazing what can be done with a small car when it doesn’t have to be luxurious and big.

And although there are applications where ‘size matters’; when you must carry a lot of folks and things, but for the day to day driver efficiency and economy will be increasingly important. We’re destined to see lean times so I suggest you prepare to survive the present wasteful spending.

Yes, this is a very basic segment of the market, and while not plush it is well appointed and simply fits a niche for the cost conscious traveler / commuter.

General Information: Parts from the US / Canada 4%, Korea 90%. It is assembled in Korea; Classification is Compact. Cars from Kia – Forte, Forte Koup, Optima, Optima Hybrid, Rio, Rio5, Sedona. Sorento, Soul and Sportage.

Opinion:

Boycott toll roads. California built the first ‘freeway’ – the 110 or what became known as the Pasadena freeway to Los Angeles in 1952. Until recently the state has resisted attempts to tax folks to use any highway or byway. Now there are some attempts to not only take our tax dollars through the purchase of gas they are slipping in a back door to take additional money to use the highways.

I simply refuse to use them and if we all resist the scheme to bilk us out of more of our hard earned money they will die on the vine of corruption. It is kind of like paying for public schools by all while if you truly want your kids to get a decent education you must also pay for private / church supported schools. We pay twice for the same product.

That’s my opinion, what’s yours?

Handling & Performance:

It has a good tight feel for a compact. It is zippy and easy handling and a generally great overall around town convenient car to own. Cars with lower horsepower generally have manual transmissions, but the 6-speed auto trans is well mated and therefore more responsive than I expected it to be.

Styling:

Highly sculpted, sloping shoulder lines and wedge-shaped exteriors and an aggressive look of other Kia models such as the Optima and Sportage.

Fit and Finish:

Good.

Cost:

The field is within a couple of thousand dollars and all are very affordable to buy and to operate.

Conveniences and comfort:

The basic needs are met and much more with an amazing array of modern gadgets in this class. I particularly appreciate hill assist. Basic is a relative term and although I miss climate control I find basic air conditioning like manual seats is something you set and forget. . . so I can live without those. It doesn’t have ‘memory’ settings for every occasion but I find I never use those things anyway, know what I mean?

Consumer Recommendation:

The competition is tough and capable. Toyota Yaris and the Fiat 500 made an impression on me when I tested them recently. All of the Korean contenders have been earning the respect of consumers. Kia is owned by Hyundai and they are a company worth considering.

I wasn’t crazy about the Scion models, and although the Smart is big in Europe where streets are narrow and parking is at a premium, it hasn’t gone over well in the US.

Recognized Competition:

Kia Rio $18,000, Chevrolet Aveo $12,000, Chevrolet Sonic $14,000, Fiat 500 $16,000, Ford Fiesta $16,000, Honda Fit $15,000, Hyundai Accent $14,000, Hyundai Veloster $17,000, Mazda 2 $15,000, Nissan Versa $15,000, Scion iQ $15,000, Scion xB $16,000, Scion xD $15,000, Smart fortwo $12,000, Suzuki SX4 Sport $17,000, Toyota Yaris $17,000.

Good News:

My kinda fuel economy, good consumer reviews and an all around efficient commuter.

Bad News:

Lightweight as you’d expect in the class.

Standard Equipment:

1.6 liter 138 hp 4-cylinder engine, 6 speed automatic trans, electric power steering, 17” alloy wheels, front, side and side curtain airbags, LATCH child system, power  ABS brake system, traction and stability control and management systems, hill assist, air conditioning, power windows and locks, remote keyless entry, audio with CD/MP3 and SIRIUS satellite, USB & Auxiliary jacks, manual adjustable driver’s seat, 60/40 split folding rear seats, cruise control, Bluetooth, tilt & telescopic steering column, leather wrapped steering wheel and gearshift knob, steering wheel controls, cargo cover, auto headlights, fog lights and heated power folding mirrors.

Gas Stats:

$3.73/ Gal avg. February 10, 2012

www.fueleconomy.gov

for more information.

30 City and 40 Highway MPG

Pricing:

MSRP $17,700.

Your comments are welcomed. My e-mail is joe@atthewheel.com
Copyright © 2012 – An Automotive Love Affair