Category Archives: Kia

2011 Kia Forte Koup (893)

Overview: 

This week we’re looking at the 2011 Kia Forte Koup as seen by staff associate Vince Bodiford. Vince says Kia spells “coupe” differently to make a statement – it’s their way of saying that the Koup is different and apart from other coupes. It’s youthful and hip and cool – so cool it’s been named by Kelly Blue Book as among the coolest new cars under $18K – joining the ranks of the Scion tC, Kia Soul and Nissan Cube. Today’s twenty-something demands cars that are akin to a fashion accessory, and the Koup fits the bill nicely.

The Koup has also earned other prestigious serious awards – including Car of the Year by NADA Guides. It’s also the platform for Kia’s first ever motorsports program, fielding two factory entries in the 2010 GRAND-AM Continental Tire Sports Car Challenge.

Available in two trim levels (EX and SX), Forte Koup surrounds its occupants with the latest in must-have technology, with all models featuring Bluetooth®1 wireless technology connectivity and steering wheel-mounted controls that enable voice-activated hands-free operation for compatible cell phones.

Kia’s young target customer demands a pile of electronics, so also for convenience, steering wheel-mounted audio controls also come standard on all models, as do USB and auxiliary input jacks in the center console with full iPod®2 and MP3 controllability via the audio head unit or the steering wheel-mounted controls. A six-speaker AM/FM/CD/MP3 audio system outfitted with SIRIUS Satellite Radio. Probably the coolest Kia signature feature is speaker lights that can either pulse to the beat of the music or simply add mood lighting.

With a surprisingly spacious interior for a two-door car, Koup provides comfortable interior volume. Trips to the beach and weekend getaways are a breeze with ample cargo space of 12.6 cubic feet, enough to accommodate luggage and belongings, while 60/40-split folding rear seats that fold nearly flat extend the available amount of cargo space even further. Overall, inside it’s comfortable and full of features.

Fun to drive, the Koup offers taut, responsive handling, and a smoother-than-expected ride quality. We tested the SX, which comes with a sport-tuned suspension set to provide a firmer ride with reduced body roll and improved handling. Overall the car brakes, steers and handles nicely, but you do feel its lightness.

It’s powered by a 2.0-liter inline four-cylinder fuel-injected engine, making up to 173-bhp and 118 lb-ft of torque – with four choices of automatic and manual transmissions. The power package is finished off nicely with a dual-outlet exhaust outfitted on both trims. It’s a nice power-to-weight ratio that gets the job done and provides a sense of performance.

Fuel economy is not sacrificed for performance as both engines deliver at least 31 miles per gallon, with 25 to 34 mpg (city/highway) attainable. Forte Koup pricing starts at $17,200 and comes with Kia’s limited 10-year, 100,000 mile warranty. For more information, see your local Kia dealer, or visit Kia.com.

Kia Motors is in the midst of a dramatic, design-led transformation. The vehicle line includes the Sorento CUV, Sportage compact CUV, Optima midsize sedan, Soul urban passenger vehicle, Forte compact sedan, Forte 5-door compact hatchback, Forte Koup two-door coupe, Rio sub-compact sedan, Rio5 sub-compact hatchback and Sedona minivan.

Recognized Competition:

Kia Forte Koup $18,000, Chevrolet Cobalt $15,000, Chevrolet Cruze $17,000, Ford Focus $17,000, Honda Civic $16,000, Honda CR-Z $20,000, Hyundai Elantra $16,000, Mazda 3 $16,000, Nissan Sentra $16,000, Scion tC $18,000, Subaru Impreza $17,000, Suzuki SX4 Sport $14,000, Toyota Corolla $16,000, Volkswagen Golf $18,000.

Standard Equipment:

2.4 liter 4-cylinder engine, 6-speed auto trans, 17” alloy wheels, 4-wheel ABS disc brakes with brake assist, traction control & stability control, front side and side curtain airbags, LATCH child system, tire pressure monitoring, air conditioning, power windows, locks and mirrors, keyless entry, audio with 6 speakers, SIRIUS satellite radio with 3 months service, USB & Aux input jacks, multi adjustable driver’s seat, 60/40 split folding rear seat, cruise control, Bluetooth wireless tech., tilt & telescopic column, leather wrapped steering wheel & shift knob, steering wheel paddle shifters, metal finish accents & metal pedals, trip computer, fog lights, tinted solar glass.

Gas Stats:

$3.69/ Gal avg. November 11, 2011

www.fueleconomy.gov

for more information.

23 City and 31 Highway MPG

Pricing:

MSRP $19,395.

Your comments are welcomed. My e-mail is joe@atthewheel.com
Copyright © 2011 – An Automotive Love Affair

2011 Kia Optima SX Turbo (883)

Overview: 

This week we’re looking at the 2011 Kia Optima SX Turbo. This Optima may be a little Extreme for those who value fuel economy more than speed and acceleration you get from a Turbo.

But on the whole even this speed demon gets as much as 34 mpg on the highway as opposed to its Hybrid sibling that gets 40 mpg.

 

General Info: 

1% of Parts are from the US and Canadian; 86% come from Korea including the Engine & Transmission. It is assembled in Korea. Class is Midsize. Cars from Kia include Forte, Forte Koup, Optima, Optima Turbo, Optima Hybrid, Rio, Rio 5, Sedona, Sorento, Soul & Sportage.

Opinion: 

Union interference:

With exceptional industries and companies in the world there is a balance of rights for workers, owners and investors alike. That balance means responsibility of both labor and management. Nowhere in that equation is a union needed. In fact the most successful companies are not hampered by union interference. Those companies have labor and management who work well together.

But too often greed enters the picture. If the owner expects more than is right, labor will go elsewhere and that company will suffer and fail. Unions simply promise just as unrealistic expectations for labor and the war begins until the business fails from excess labor cost. You can take that fact to the bank.

The auto industry is a clear example of unions killing the American auto industry with double the labor cost of foreign cars. You do the math and decide which is the better product and one that will be around at the end of the battle. The only difference is the insane labor cost of about $78 per hour for Union car makers versus about $45 per hour for NON-Union labor. Get the picture?

Common sense exposes union labor as ‘obscene’ and it is blood money paid to the Union Boss Goons who do nothing for the worker except guarantee the worker will be out of a job. And when money to lobby and bribe and extort is no longer available there go the retirement plans. Make no mistake, companies are wising up and will move to friendlier labor forces either in the US or they will go abroad.

Case in point today is how Boeing made the decision to move to a right to work state and get the UNION Monkey off their backs. GE took their show to Europe and I have friends who have taken their companies to China. The fault lies in union examples like teachers, police and government unions which are organized and legalized Crime. They were founded by the mob, Mafia or whatever you want to call them, and they have outlived their usefulness. They are BAD for business and BAD for America.

A little research will show that the Korean government has consistently opposed attempts of Union organizers to spread their cancer there. Bravo – and all the more reason to buy a Korean car.

Handling & Performance:

Yes, a turbo is fast which allows you to get out of your own way and out of harms way as well. That is most evident when you need to get around slow traffic and especially when you enter the freeway fast enough to get into the flow more safely.

However that acceleration can get the inexperienced driver into trouble if they aren’t totally aware of the conditions of cars merging together where a lapse in judgment and experience can cause an accident.

Styling:

I like the styling and the people I talked with gave this Optima two thumbs up as well.

Fit and Finish:

Quite good.

Cost:

Competitive in class for a turbo.

Conveniences and comfort:

All you are likely to need including hands free cell use which became more important after I got a $160 fine for not using my portable one in a test car without it. The convenience is that it ‘pairs’ automatically to protect you against a lapse of memory to turn it on. For you who haven’t experienced a citation for not using hands free the second ticket is over $400. That won’t happen to me as the first was the last.

Consumer Recommendation:

Korean cars have earned your consideration in your next buying decision. I believe you’ll be glad you did include it in your search. In fact you will get the best bang for your buck when you buy a car that is NOT union made, which explains the fantastic success of car makers like Toyota.

Recognized Competition:

Kia Optima Turbo $26,000, Buick LaCrosse $27,000, Chevrolet Impala $24,000, Chevrolet Malibu $22,000, Chrysler 200 $19,000, Chrysler Sebring $20,000, Dodge Avenger $19,000, Dodge Charger $25,000, Ford Fusion $20,000,  Ford Taurus $26,000, Honda Accord $21,000, Honda Accord Crosstour $30,000, Hyundai Sonata $20,000, Mazda 6 $20,000, Mercury Milan $22,000, Mitsubishi Galant $22,000, Nissan Altima $20,000, Subaru Legacy $20,000, Suzuki Kizashi $19,000, Toyota Camry $20,000, Volkswagen Jetta $23,000, Volvo S40 $28,000.

Good News:

Good fuel economy, cost is fiercely competitive in a large lineup of competitors, fast and comfortable ride.

Bad News:

None noted.

Standard Equipment:

2.0 liter 274 horsepower 4-cylinder engine, 6-speed sportmatic transmission front wheel drive, electric power steering, 18” alloy wheels, front, side and side curtain airbags, LATCH child seat system, anti lock brake system, stability control, hill assist control, tire pressure monitor, climate control, audio with SIRIUS satellite radio, USB & Auxiliary input jacks, Bluetooth wireless, leather seat trim, steering wheel & shift knob, 8-way power driver seat, power windows & locks & mirrors, steering wheel paddle shifters, push button start with smart key, cruise control, active ECO system, fog lights.

Gas Stats:

$3.85/ Gal avg. September 23, 2011

www.fueleconomy.gov

for more information.

22 City and 34 Highway MPG

Pricing:

MSRP $26,000.

Your comments are welcomed. My e-mail is joe@atthewheel.com
Copyright © 2011 – An Automotive Love Affair

2011 Kia Optima EX (880)

Overview: 

This week we’re looking at the 2011 Kia Optima Hybrid. The reason I’m so hyped on this car is that I compared it with the new Chevrolet Volt a colleague was testing at the same time.

Take a look at the pictures and consider the visual and other differences.

Volt: $40,000; All Electric with 1.4 liter 149 hp gas engine as a generator, 95 City & 90 Highway MPG.

Kia Hybrid:

$26,500; Hybrid with Electric motor and 166 hp gas engine drive system, 35 City & 40 Highway MPG.

The real difference in price is about $10,000 for the all electric, car of the future, in the opinion of many. That is true based on all of the manufacturers are keeping their options open and although Hybrids are still on the production line the jury is still out on the ‘All Electric’ cars. The gas engine is necessary at this time because generation stations are rare. The Volt does come with a recharge “Kit” to install at home to convert house power to accommodate the 240 volts needed to charge it back up. There is, of course, the cost of an electrician to hook it up. You get about 40 miles out of the batteries and then the engine takes over to recharge the batteries while it is providing the power to the wheels.

Kia Hybrid uses both motor and gas engine for power most of the time. When the battery is fully charged and  / or when the need for power is greater than available from only one of the sources available both are active. The transition is super smooth and almost completely transparent to the drivers senses.

Based on cost difference alone the Kia is the better option at this time. And you gotta believe the GM Volt (GM for Government Motors) is subsidized so us tax payers are getting screwed again. Ask any previous stockholder of GM that lost their shirts with the bailout interference of our illustrious leaders in Washington. Where’s Ronald Reagan politics when he’s needed? God I miss real people.

Bottom line – Kia wins this round. And sagging sales of the Volt is testimony to that fact.

Opinion: 

Theyyyy’rrre baaaaaack – Be aware and keep your speed down as close to the posted limit as you can or you will be paying huge fines so “pubic servants” can keep their jobs and wasteful California politicians can blow your hard earned money. You are prey and they are the predator. Don’t forget that. You are their next meal and although I believe they have been laying low for a while, hiding in the tall grass until vocal critics, like me, stopped beating up on them. In these tough times a distracted driver needs a $500 ticket like a hole in the head. And that’s the reality of fines today when those thugs pounce on you. But like the thieves they are, they take more than your wallet and watch. They ruin lives.

Yes, the CHP is back on the prowl, hunt or whatever you care to call their predatory presence on the freeways. A big loud BOOOO to them who stink like other tax collectors. CHP, IRS are now doing the same jobs. The IRS has never been loved and visions of “Revenuers” in the south come to mind. You can picture in your mind Kentucky boot legger’s who made whiskey in the depression years. They were doing most anything to feed their families. Today the CHP are the modern day revenuers seeking to devour who they can. Don’t drop your guard.

Handling & Performance:

Exceptional power for a Hybrid and there is no straining because, although the engine is not large, electric motors have 100% torque from a dead stop.

Styling:

Thumbs up from the lookers and that reinforces my opinion that the design of this car is appealing to more than just me. The hybrid has a slightly smaller trunk than the conventional car because of battery, but not so you’d notice it all that much. I really like the look of this car.

Fit and Finish:

Quite good.

Cost:

Very competitive as green cars go. In fact the Chevrolet Volt prices out at about $36-40,000

Conveniences and comfort:

Very comfortable. I like all it has to offer. I easily paired the cell phone and the information system was helpful in understanding how the system provided power to the front drive wheels.

Consumer Recommendation:

Korean cars have earned favor in today’s American market and it warrants you including it in your search. You won’t be sorry you did. Chevy Volt is selling poorly and we believe it has more to do with purchase price but convenience of recharging away from home has to turn heads and wallets away as well. No one wants to look the fool and anything new is only for those who like to take risks.

Recognized Competition:

Kia Optima Hybrid $27,000, Ford Escape Hybrid $31,000,  Ford Fusion Hybrid $29,000, Honda Civic Hybrid $24,000, Hyundai Sonata Hybrid $26,000, Lexus HS 250h $36,000, Lincoln MKZ Hybrid $35,000, Nissan Altima Hybrid $27,000, Toyota Camry Hybrid $27,000.

Good News:

Hybrid gets great fuel economy, but compared to the all electric Volt that gets 95 mpg, it is not very good at first blush. However the difference in cost of the Volt will require over 10 years to break even with the Kia’s lower price.

Bad News:

I only experienced one event that was unsettling. I pulled out of lane to pass and pressed the gas peddle all the way to the floor and it nearly stalled. Speed was flat and approaching traffic had to slow. I have yet to experience that again but it was unsettling. I felt I had done something wrong, but if I did, others will as well.

Standard Equipment:

2.4 liter 4-cylinder 166 horsepower engine, permanent magnet synchronous electric motor, 270 Volt Lithium Polymer Battery, 6-speed sportmatic transmission front wheel drive, electric power steering, 16” alloy wheels, front, side and side curtain airbags, LATCH child seat system, anti lock brake system, traction and stability controls, hill start and down hill brake assist control, tire pressure monitor, climate control, UVO infotainment system, audio with SIRIUS satellite radio, USB & Auxiliary input jacks, Bluetooth wireless, leather steering wheel & shift knob, power driver seat, power windows & locks & mirrors, fog lights, push button start with smart key, cruise control, rear camera display.

Gas Stats:

$3.63/ Gal avg. August 12, 2011

www.fueleconomy.gov

for more information.

35 City and 40 Highway MPG

Pricing:

MSRP $26,500.

Your comments are welcomed. My e-mail is joe@atthewheel.com
Copyright © 2011 – An Automotive Love Affair

2011 Kia Forte SX (867)

Overview: 

This week we’re looking at the 2011 Korean made Kia Forte SX. Kia says they had the best quarter sales on record. Not surprising to me as this company just gets better every year. If you’re interested in what is new for 2012 you can go to kiamedia.com.

Hard to believe another car year is almost over as we begin to talk about 2012.

The promotion people at Kia remind us that the entire Kia lineup continues to be backed by its 10 year, 100,000 mile warranty. In today’s lousy economy (for way too many) this is good news and welcomed security for a product we just can’t seem to do without … of course unless you live in New York City. I love the subway system there.

Opinion: 

Years ago, in the late 1940s, Los Angeles California was manipulated by government and the auto related businesses. They stripped out the public transportation system and tore up all the tracks for the ‘Red Car’ and other rail services in the area. Why? Because the tire manufactures, auto companies, gas & oil business all wanted to push their products and somehow convinced government the rail system was not the best way to move people around. Ironic, today we have begun replacing the rail system… albeit too late for what it could have been. What a shame. And shame on those government officials who allowed it. That’s how the free market system is tampered with to the detriment of the people. It’s not nice to fool with mother nature or the ‘free market capitalist system’. And yes, you guessed it… those officials were paid off to do the ‘wrong thing’. Shame on them.

Handling & Performance:

I prefer the handling of rear wheel drive cars like this Forte. And it doesn’t get much better in the performance area to make it a great commuter or simply a great car for the young family on a budget. With gas hovering around $4 a gallon this 32 highway mpg car is looking pretty good to me.

Paddle shifters come standard and they could save the pot metal or plastic as far as I’m concerned. You may like that feature but especially on this economy car it seems inconsistent.

Styling:

Basic, basic, basic which is a good thing in my opinion… and I didn’t stutter. It is basic as are all the competition listed here. Anything car makers add is just fluff and you must know you pay dearly for fluff and fancy badges to boost your ego. Sad commentary on us as a culture bent on displaying outwardly who has the most money or rather who appears to have the most money and that translates into who is more important or somehow better.

Fit and Finish:

Basically good.

Cost:

Outstanding value. If you want a BMW or other fu-fu badge, that’s a different story. But if you are a self assured person that feels a car is not what makes the person, you will save a really lot of money. I suggest you use the money you save to spend more time with the family. Take them to Europe. Trust me, you really can save that kind of money driving a car like this.

Conveniences and comfort:

Unbelievably good stuff is available for a little more money. I particularly like the push button start keyless device so you can keep it in your pocket or purse. I love it. I like Nav but leave it out and buy a portable brand for about $100. The options above the standard MSRP of $19,000 include leather package for $1,000 a power sunroof for $750 and a Nav system, push button start smart key and climate control for $1,800. The only item I would want to have is the push button start out of all these options.

Consumer Recommendation:

Your budget is vital in a car buying decision. It’s not chump change, but if you’re an average Joe who needs to commute what better way than in a “commuter” car that delivers great mileage out of a conventional power plant. Hybrids are a waste of money when you can get about the same mpg from a car like this Forte or any of the competitors listed here.

Recognized Competition:

Kia Forte $19,000, Chevrolet Cobalt $16,000, Chevrolet Cruze $17,000, Dodge Caliber $,000, Ford Focus $16,000, Honda Civic $16,000, Honda Civic Hybrid $24,000, Hyundai Accent $12,000, Hyundai Elantra $15,000, Mazda3 $16,000, Mitsubishi Lancer $17,000, Mitsubishi Lancer Sportback $17,000, Nissan Sentra $16,000, Subaru Impreza $17,000, Suzuki SX4 Sport $15,000, Toyota Corolla $16,000, Volkswagen Golf 17,000.

Good News:

 Really economical transportation from purchase price to operating cost.

Bad News:

It won’t stroke your ego.

Standard Equipment:

2.4 liter 4-cylinder 156 horsepower engine, 6-speed auto trans rear wheel drive, paddle shifters 17” alloy wheels, front, side and side curtain airbags, LATCH child seat system, 4-wheel anti lock disc brakes with power assist, traction and stability controls, tire pressure monitor, air conditioning, audio with CD/MP3  and 6 speakers, SIRIUS satellite radio, USB & Auxiliary input, Bluetooth, leather wrapped steering wheel & shirt knob, tilt and telescopic steering column, manual adjustable seats, 60/40 split folding rear seats, power windows & locks &  outside mirrors, keyless entry, cruise control, .

Gas Stats:

$4.09/ Gal avg. May 21, 2011

www.fueleconomy.gov

for more information.

23 City and 32 Highway MPG

Pricing:

MSRP $18,895.

Your comments are welcomed. My e-mail is joe@atthewheel.com
Copyright © 2011 – An Automotive Love Affair

2011 Kia Optima EX (853)

Overview:

This week we’re looking at the 2011 Korean made Kia Optima EX, and with only minor differences the computer has done a great job of cloning our car market. And although they do all look similar, there are subtle differences that give some a more pleasing look. This Kia has some quality of style that elicited some thumbs up on the freeway and observers in parking areas. The range of ages were varied as well. I was pleased that others felt the same way I do.

I continue to be impressed with cars from Korea, and as an aside, back in the 1960’s our family took a chance on a car from a new car maker from Japan. Datsun was the brand and buying a Japanese car turned out to be a good decision and we never regretted it. I believe that to be the case with the newest of car makers to evolve, and in this case it is from South Korea.
Opinion:

If you use cruise control you know how irritating it is to be following a driver who slows and speeds up and slows again as he goes in and out of consciousness. Reminds me of a nursing baby who needs to be nudged to stay awake long enough to feed.
But it will be you who gets the ticket for passing those inconsiderate drivers. It reminds me of being a kid and playing cowboys and Indians or cops and robbers (in today’s world the latter two are the same), because you can bet when you pass that sleepy driver you will surely be the one who gets the $200 to $1,000 ticket. Obscene is what that kind of taxation has turned into. My constant reminder is to tell you to slow down and avoid them. When they can’t write tickets they will be forced into real jobs when the government can no longer afford to pay them.
Handling & Performance:
Good power but when you put the pedal to the metal it sounds like it is straining more than it should. The ride is comfortable and general handling is stable and solid. Of course all the advanced control features make that possible. Thus cars can have softer rides and still be in control.

Styling:

Lots of thumbs up from the lookers. It is a very nice classy looking car. It is roomy inside and has a nice size trunk.

Fit and Finish:
Quite good in class.

Cost:

Very competitive in this midsize segment of the market.

Conveniences and comfort:
Cool cooling glove box, and the seats heat and cool as well. For 200 horsepower this is a very energetic quick car, but the gas pedal is annoyingly touchy.

Consumer Recommendation:

The thumbs up speaks volumes of how this Kia looks and coming from young and older alike it will stay in favor.

Let’s face it, Korean cars are gaining favor much faster than other countries brands and thus it helps to remove the ‘fear’ of buying from newer entrants into the car market. This is a MUST drive inclusion in your search. I think you’ll be impressed overall. Cars like this have helped to launch South Korea into the 21st Century and out of the category of a third world country. North Korea is another story all together.

Recognized Competition:

Kia Optima $18-24,000, Buick LaCrosse $25-31,000, Chevrolet Impala $23-28,000, Chevrolet Malibu $20-25,000, Chrysler 200 $19,000, Chrysler Sebring $20,000, Dodge Avenger $20,000, Ford Fusion $18-26,000, Ford Taurus $23-34,000, Honda Accord $19-28,000, Honda Accord Crosstour $30,000, Hyundai Sonata $18-25,000, Mazda6 $20,000, Mercury Milan $22,000, Mitsubishi Galant $20-23,000, Nissan Altima $19-27,000, Pontiac G6 $19,000, Saturn Aura $23,000, Subaru Legacy $18-28,000, Suzuki Kizashi $19,000, Toyota Camry $18-26,000, Volkswagen GLI $25,000, Volkswagen Jetta $14-24,000, Volvo S40 $28,000.

Good News:

Great pricing segment of the midsize market and Kia is a player with features found on more expensive cars.

Bad News:

Sensitive accelerator pedal,
Standard Equipment:

2.4 liter 4-cylinder 200 horsepower engine, 6-speed auto trans with front wheel drive, power steering, 17” alloy wheels, front, side and side curtain airbags, LATCH child seat system, anti lock brake system, traction and stability controls, hill start and down hill brake assist control, tire pressure monitor, climate control, audio with CD/MP3 and 6 speakers, satellite radio, USB & Auxiliary outlets/ input, Bluetooth, leather seating & steering wheel, power driver seat, power windows & locks, power heated mirrors with turn signal indicators, fog lights, solar glass, push button start with smart key, cruise control, cooling glove box.

Gas Stats:

$3.41/ Gal avg. Feb. 15, 2011
www.fueleconomy.gov
for more information.

24 City and 34 Highway MPG

Pricing:

MSRP $22,495.

Your comments are welcomed. My e-mail is joe@atthewheel.com
Copyright © 2011 – An Automotive Love Affair

 

 

2011 Kia Sportage EX AWD (838)

Overview: 

This week we’re looking at the 2011 Kia Sportage EX AWD crossover / SUV. Here is yet another Korean made SUV that has been earning its place in the US market. I recommended a Kia Sorento for my daughter Jen and it has served her well in the role of soccer mom – toting the kids to and fro with school and sports and everything in between. Price is what moved her to a Korean car and I haven’t been sorry I nudged her in that direction. Simply put she got more for her money. Secondly and equally important is that the economy has dictated much of what we do to save money.

Guess what… every time you buy a foreign made car or a US car that is made in a foreign country you are “OUTSOURCING”. Dirty word? Not really. You do it because you must. You support other economies because they don’t have unions and therefore can produce products cheaper than heavily burdened companies. We do in America and they have outlived their usefulness in ‘today’s world’.

As to this Kia – The price is right and the product has stood the test of time now for long enough now to give us confidence that it is here to stay.

Handling & Performance:

These newer SUVs are lower to the ground and although they are not as well suited to off road use they are better on the highways. But this Sportage sports AWD – All Wheel Drive – which gives it sure footing in all road conditions. A short turning radius and smaller size makes it agile and well suited to zipping around town and easier when it comes to parking. The 176 horse engine is perfect for this size car with average to good fuel consumption.

Styling:

The Sportage is new for 2011 with a modern, clean design that features a high beltline, sweeping angles and more pronounced wheel flares than its predecessor. The second-generation Sportage debuted as a 2005 model with a sportier and more elegant design than its more rugged predecessor and more interior room due to a longer wheelbase and wider stance. The Sportage was first introduced in 1995 and in 1997 Sportage adopted the automobile industry’s first knee airbag to augment its high level of standard equipment. For the 1999 model year, Kia added a 2-door Sportage convertible with a removable soft-top over the rear seat area with a fixed hardtop over the front seat area.

Fit and Finish:

Very good.

Cost:

As expected Korea has come to play and are slightly more price competitive. But it is slight and the competition is fierce with only two US products – Chevrolet and Jeep.

Consumer Recommendation:

Unless you intend to do a lot of off roading this Kia fits in well with the competition. Jeep remains the only option here in class for off road use. I had done a lot of off road stuff with Jeep and remain impressed with the performance in that venue. The liberty therefore would have an edge over the rest of the field for me.

Conveniences and comfort:

I like most of us, love gadgets and gizmos. But they are not only fun they are functional and help us to enjoy the driving experience. One such new feature on the scene these days is ‘voice activated’ control. You know how many Nav systems require you are stopped to input a destination? Well enter ‘voice activation’ and wa-la you just tell it where you want to go and it will make that happen at full speed. This is really cool. Then if you want to change the radio station you can do the same thing. You push a button on the steering wheel and the system asks for a command and you tell it what you want to do.

Recognized Competition:

Kia Sportage $18-25,000, Chevrolet Equinox $23-30,000, Ford Escape $21-27,000, Honda CR-V $22-30,000, Hyundai Tucson $19-26,000, Jeep Liberty $23-28,000, Mazda Tribute $20-29,000, Mitsubishi Outlander $21-29,000, Nissan JUKE $19-25,000, Nissan Rogue $21-26,000, Subaru Forester $20-28,000, Suzuki Grand Vitara $19-27,000, Toyota RAV4 $22-28,000.

Good News:

Competitive, great around town car, good fuel economy.

Bad News:

None.

Standard Equipment:

2.4 liter inline 4 cylinder 176 hp engine, 6-speed auto trans, power steering, power 4-wheel ABS disc brakes, all wheel drive, front and side curtain airbags, traction control, stability control, up & downhill brake assist, rollover protection system, tire pressure monitoring, LATCH system (child safety), dual zone climate control, power windows and locks, power mirrors, keyless entry, audio with CD/MP3/ 6 speakers, SIRIUS satellite radio, USB & aux audio inputs, power front seats with lumbar, 60/40 split folding rear seats, cooling glove box, cruise control with trip computer, tilt leather wrapped steering wheel with audio, cruise & Bluetooth controls, roof rails, fog lights, auto headlights and privacy and solar glass.

Gas Stats:

$3.03/ Gal avg. November 2, 2010

www.fueleconomy.gov

for more information.

21 City and 28 Highway MPG

Pricing:

MSRP $24,795.

Your comments are welcomed. My e-mail is joe@atthewheel.com
Copyright © 2011 – An Automotive Love Affair

2010 Kia Forte ES (803)

Overview:

This week we’re looking at the 2010 Kia Forte ES 4-door sedan. You’ve gotta be impressed with where South Korea has come to in the automotive industry. I hear more people talking about Kia and although it doesn’t have a fancy badge it is on the way to becoming a major player.

It is at the higher end of an economy sedan and will find approval for old and young alike. Economy starts with the great fuel numbers and 34 mpg highway is a welcome feature of this family sedan.

Opinion:

Don’t drop your guard on the highway as the CHP is heating up even more as time goes by. They obviously need to safeguard their jobs so they are writing tickets as fast as they can and you and I are their prey.

I get calls from friends telling me where speed traps are and you should consider the same thing. Call your friends and let them know when and where you see a predator lying in wait to tax them to death even further than they already are.

It is shameful because times are hard enough with so many people out of work. Watch your speed and don’t give the bad guys the chance to give you more pain.

Handling & Performance:

The power is sufficient at 156 hp but you can opt for a 2.4 liter 173 hp engine in the SX model. It handles nicely but you’ll feel every pebble on the road. You can eliminate road noise level by paying twice the money for a BMW.
Styling:

Usual but nice clean lines.

Fit and Finish:
Good.

Cost:

Worth the money.

Conveniences and comfort:

Seats four comfortably and it has good trunk space and generally the seats were very comfortable.
Recognized Competition:

Kia Forte $14-17,000, Chevrolet Cobalt $15-25,000, Dodge Caliber $17-20,000, Ford Focus $16-19,000, Honda Civic $15-25,000, Honda Civic Hybrid $24-27,000, Hyundai Accent $10-16,000, Hyundai Elantra $14-18,000, Mazda 3 $15-22,000, Mitsubishi Lancer $15-27,000, Mitsubishi Lancer Sportback $19-28,000, Nissan Sentra $15-20,000, Pontiac G5 $17-20,000, Saturn Astra $17-20,000, Subaru Impreza $17-27,000, Suzuki SX4 Sport $13-19,000, Volkswagen Golf $18-23,000, Volkswagen Rabbit $16-19,000, Toyota Corolla $15-20,000.

Good News:

Priced well, good fuel economy.

Bad News:

Sensitive steering, road noise level is a little high.

Standard Equipment:

2.0 liter 156 hp 4-cylinder engine, 4-speed automatic trans, independent front & torsion beam rear suspension, Rack & pinion steering, ABS disc brakes with brake assist and electronic brake force distribution, electronic stability control, traction control, front, side and side curtain airbags, tire pressure monitoring, LATCH child system, air conditioning, audio with CD/MPS and 6 speakers, SIRIUS satellite radio, Bluetooth hands free, USB and Aux inputs, power windows and locks with keyless remote, cruise control 2- 12 v power outlets, 6-way driver seat, cloth seats, 60/40 split folding rear seats, center console, power mirrors, remote fuel door and trunk and hood releases, auto headlights, tilt steering column, variable intermittent wipers.
Gas Stats:

$2.99/ Gal avg. March 19 ‘10
www.fueleconomy.gov
for more information.

25 City and 34 Highway MPG

Pricing:

MSRP $16,795.

Your comments are welcomed. My e-mail is joe@atthewheel.com
Copyright © 2010 – An Automotive Love Affair

 

2009 Kia Borego EX 4-WD (745)

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.

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

Your comments are welcomed. My e-mail is joe@atthewheel.com
Copyright © 2009 – An Automotive Love Affair

 

2008 Kia Sorento EX 4X4 (743)

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.

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.

Your comments are welcomed. My e-mail is joe@atthewheel.com
Copyright © 2009 – An Automotive Love Affair

2009 Kia Borego EX 4-WD (741)

Overview: 

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

You can’t help but be impressed with such a new car 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 in South Korea.

Observation:

Remember not so long ago anything made in Japan was Junk? Then China and now Korea and India. Well, the globe is shrinking and Nationalism is giving way to Global-ism. Some Japanese car companies are “Outsourcing” to Korea and elsewhere. Soon the next cheap labor markets promise to be Mexico and likely Africa. Eventually we’ll see a truly Global Economy emerge from all the outsourcing.

The more affluent countries become the less their labor markets are able to compete. They move to higher tech industries, develop a higher level of labor force and change the product and service mix of the country… just like America went through and is still going through.

Handling & Performance:

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

Styling:

Common place styling for the class. The Koreans have learned well from the west on how to appeal to America’s 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 would risk unknown company products. This will be a tough sell for Kia to overcome 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% price differential to make most buyers take that leap of faith into a new product. However the list of standard equipment on this Kia Borego is impressive and all good stuff. That signals a lesser discount – say 10-15% 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 – and very competitive with the best listed.

Consumer Recommendation:

No question I would suggest you test drive the Borego and see for yourself. Outwardly you will be impressed. If you can strike a great deal in price reductions and have long extended warranties thrown in along with added options 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. Simply put Kia is relatively new.

Conversely the US auto industry is over 100 years old and you know what you’re getting from them and most thoughtful buyers will err on the side of caution. The devil you know is better than the devil you don’t know. Know what I mean!

Also keep in mind the soft market condition right now for autos 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 for buyers 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.

Note options can add up quickly. My test vehicle added a sun roof, Infinity audio upgrade rear AC, running boards, alloy wheels, navigation, heated leather seats and other power steering column and memory for a jump of $5,550.

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; with options $35,500

Your comments are welcomed. My e-mail is joe@atthewheel.com
Copyright © 2009 – An Automotive Love Affair