Monthly Archives: March 2015

Soul EV wins the 2015 Canadian Green Car Award at the Green Living Show

The all-new 2015 Kia Soul EV earns “2015 Canadian Green Car Award”

(Toronto, On) March 27, 2015

Kia Canada was presented with the 2015 Canadian Green Car Award today for the 2015 Soul EV during the opening day of the Green Living Show in downtown Toronto.

The Soul EV first won the “Battery Electric” category ahead of the 5 other competing category finalists to win the overall Canadian Green Car Award. The Finalists included the Porsche Cayenne S E Hybrid (Plug-in Hybrid category), Honda Accord Hybrid (Hybrid category), Volkswagen Golf TDI (Efficient Gasoline or Diesel Internal Combustion category), Kia Rondo (Efficient Three-Row Vehicle category) and Mini Copper S (Fun Car category).

The 2015 Rondo won its “Efficient Three Row Vehicle” category, beating the 2015 Nissan Rogue.

The Canadian Green Car Award, now in its third year, is awarded to distinguished vehicles, widely available in Canada, that offer both notable environmental qualities with solid mass-market appeal to Canadian consumers. The Soul EV will be on display at the 2015 Green Living Show from March 27 -29 in the North building of the Metro Toronto Convention Center.

“Winning this award is especially important for Kia because it further validates the sophistication of our technology and our ongoing global commitment to continue to introduce alternative powertrains that reduce the carbon footprint”, said Maria Soklis, Vice President and Chief Operating Officer (COO), Kia Canada Inc .

Earlier this week, the Soul EV was also awarded the Automobile Journalists Association of Canada’s (AJAC) Canadian Green Car of the Year Award.

How Kia is using design to go toe-to-toe with Premium Companies.

JEREMY CATO
GENEVA — Special to The Globe and Mail
Published Thursday, Mar. 19 2015, 5:00 AM EDT
Last updated Thursday, Mar. 19 2015, 11:54 AM EDT

The champagne is flowing on a lovely spring evening in Geneva, the city of expensive tastes and expense accounts to match. The car companies have come here for the annual bacchanal, art exhibit and business pow-wow known colloquially as the Geneva motor show, and officially as the Salon International de l’Automobile in Geneva.

In a midtown warehouse-like space, Kia Motors is hosting a riotous cocktails-and-canapés party with serious intent. Gregory Guillaume, Kia’s chief European designer, is to unwrap his studio’s Sportspace concept, a sexy all-weather wagon that he describes as thoroughly unlike all the “estate cars, wagons or even shooting brakes” known to humankind. It doubles as a look at the next-generation Kia Optima.

“I always had this picture in my mind of creating a vehicle that I could have used to go for a weekend’s skiing with friends before driving back for it to be displayed at the Geneva Salon,” says Guillaume, who studied design in Switzerland. While the Sportspace is certainly a wagon, he insists that it’s not a “load-lugger” but a “sleek road-eater.”

And yes, designers – all of them from around the world – talk this way. Indeed, Guillaume seems quite sincere as we chat on the sidelines after the unveiling. His boss, Kia and Hyundai global design chief Peter Schreyer, smiles and nods in agreement. They are relishing the moment.

This is a big deal for Kia. Over the years, the Geneva show built a reputation for hosting a long list of spectacular concept and production car unveilings. If you make a big design splash in Geneva, the world notices, and the world notices that you’ve been noticed.

Last year, for instance, Ferrari toyed with the crowd by showcasing the California T, a 552-horsepower, twin-turbo V-8 beast, and Lamborghini showed the Gallardo replacement, the Huracan, all 601 sleek horsepower of it. In Geneva, it’s become customary to see new models from supercar makers like Koenigsegg and McLaren, and ultra-luxury brand such as Bugatti.

And on this night, Kia has gotten the jump on the competition, managing to pull in a crowd of A-listers who not long ago would have sniffed at an invitation to a Kia design event. We’re talking Kia, not Bentley … Ferrari … Aston Martin … nor Lamborghini. Kia – the upstart and upwardly mobile brand that was bankrupt a decade and a half ago and in the early stages of being rescued by Hyundai Motor.

Schreyer argues that Kia belongs, that it has become something “very, very close to premium – almost a premium brand.” Really? So Kia has pulled on its big-boy pants to go toe-to-toe with all the great car designs and concepts at this year’s extravaganza? As a Geneva regular for almost all of the past 25 years, I find the chuzpah both admirable and amusing.

The next day, the auto industry’s design showcase opens in the sprawling Palexpo exhibition centre with its six massive halls.

It is no surprise to see the ultra chi-chi Aston Martin signal its future with the DBX concept, a fully electric, all-wheel-drive, almost-SUV that is fully intended to shock the world, according to CEO Andy Palmer. Geneva is the obvious choice for Aston to lay out the broad strokes of a complete design and engineering overhaul of all its existing models, while announcing it would add three new cars by the end of the decade Pointing to the DBX and the $3-million-plus Vulcan track car as two sides of the same Aston coin, Palmer said: “I am solely focused on making Aston Martin sustainable and relevant for the long term.”

This is classic Geneva, where derring-do designers come out to play. The smallish Lexus LF-SA concept, a striking take on what may rival for BMW’s Mini Cooper, signals where Lexus is going with its designs: big, bold grille included.

While some cited the new Audi R8 supercar as a show-stealer, the car that stands out most as the perfect Geneva show car is Bentley’s EXP 10 Speed 6. Bentley CEO Wolfgang Duerheimer said the car represents the “ultimate expression of our vision for Bentley’s future,” adding, “This is not just a new sports car concept, but the potential Bentley of sports cars.” Well, then.

So why Geneva? What sets the Geneva show apart from other auto shows? Why would Ferrari choose Geneva to flaunt its latest supercar, the 488 GTB, which will replace Ferrari’s bestselling model, the 458 Italia? Why would Infiniti use Geneva to unwrap us the QX30 concept, a thinly disguised production version of the small SUV due in early 2016? Why would Audi use Geneva to tout the Prologue Avant concept, a rakish concept estate wagon intended to prove that Audi wants to reassert itself as a design powerhouse?

The short answer is that Geneva has long been less about the business of auto-making, more about the look – the design – of it. The Geneva show is held on neutral ground in Switzerland. All other major global shows – Frankfurt, Tokyo, Detroit, Shanghai/Beijing – are hosted by countries where auto-making is a key industry. Switzerland is famous for banks and other money-managing businesses, along with watches, chocolate and a host of non-governmental agencies such as the World Health Organization and the International Olympic Committee.

No one has a home-field advantage – or disadvantage – in Geneva.

Here, the designers and the visionaries take the stage, with the messy business side of the industry taking a back seat to old-style automotive glitz and glamour.

2016 Kia Sorento – Driving.ca by David Booth

MONT-TREMBLANT, QC — This may seem like a shot out of left field, but I’m beginning to believe that Kia might have ambitions on Mercedes. Or, if not Mercedes, then perhaps Lexus. OK, maybe just Infiniti or Acura. Whatever the case, methinks the era of Kia as the most bargain basement of brands is rapidly coming to a end. Indeed, I would not be surprised if, deep in Kia’s South Korean headquarters, they’re hatching a plan to launch an in-house boutique suite of luxury bolides.

The reason for this sudden insight is not, as you might be thinking, the company’s recently-released K900 uber-sedan with its obvious luxury pretensions. Nope, what’s got me talking about Kia in the same breath as Mercedes and Lexus is the comparatively modest Sorento CUV. Newly re-engineered for 2016, the Sorento shares a common exterior design motif with the rest of the Kia lineup restyled by ex-Audi chief designer Peter Schreyer. It’s bold where the previous iteration was timid, sporty rather than placid and generally just a little more in your face than the outgoing crossover.

Sorento

But flamboyant fender flares do not a Mercedes competitor make. For that, you need all manner of interior hedonism, technological gadgets out the ying-yang and then, just for that last bit of hedonistic credibility, a few key convenience features that surprise and delight. Which is, almost to a T, the very description of the new Sorento’s interior.

The Nappa leather, part of the SX+ package, is simply as soft as glove leather gets. The entire dashboard — and most of its controls — is also pleasing to the touch. The trim is classy piano black, the switchgear uncomplicated and the infotainment system one of the nicest in the biz. Kia even took the time to engineer a superior lower door seal, the better to prevent salt getting onto the carpet or soiling the hem of that expensive Loro Piana cashmere coat that you wear on those rare occasions when presentation is as important as purpose. Kia’s build quality may not yet be to Audi’s standards but Mercedes wishes its GLK were so opulent.

Sorento

Nor is the Sorento’s interior long on style and short on function. The gauge set’s informational display — fuel economy, car setup, odometer readings, etc. — is simply the most intuitive I have ever tested. Automakers have dumped so much data into their displays that accessing their information has become a Windows Vista nightmare. Not in the Sorento: one little “text page” button on the steering wheel scrolls the major data categories horizontally across the screen and, then, should you want to delve deeper into that particular field, there’s a small wheel right below it that toggles vertically through the specific information. It’s elegant and simple, everything you could want from a digital display; regardless of price, it’s the best such system I’ve yet tested.

Nor is this the only nifty trick the new Sorento has up its sleeve. The top-of-the-line SX model, for instance, has a smart rear hatch opener. Like all SUVs/minivans with power liftgates, you can Open Sesame by holding the keyfob button a few seconds. But, what if the key is deep in pocket or purse and/or your arms are stuffed with groceries and kids? Well, then, just stand within a metre of the rear bumper for three seconds and, after a few beeps and taillight flashes, presto, the rear hatch magically opens itself. Really, no fumbling for key, none of that stupid Ford waving-the-foot-under-the-rear-bumper hokum; just stand there and the Sorento’s trunk will open all by its own self. And, no, just walking by doesn’t have it popping open inadvertently.

Sorento

There’s more. There is, for instance, a household 110-volt electrical outlet in the rear seat area so my MacBook Pro was always charged, the rear seats (if you’ve opted for the seven-passenger V6 model) fold completely flat and it is worth noting that the Sorento’s all-wheel-drive system offers a Subaru-like “locking” function for the centre differential. The mid-sized Kia is one of the most comprehensively equipped sport utes on the market today.

Nor does the goodness diminish when you’re actually behind the wheel of the Sorento. We didn’t get to test the $27,495 base version’s 185 horsepower, newly direct-injected, 2.4-litre four-cylinder, but both the 2.0-litre turbo four and 3.3-litre V6 that power the upscale versions are stellar. In fact, the only surprise in the powertrain department is that it is the two-litre turbo, ostensibly the mid-range option in the Sorento lineup, that is the star of the show. Oh, the V6 is fairly smooth and boasts more horsepower — 290-hp for the V6 versus 240 for the 2.0-litre T-GDI — but it is the turbocharged four that is torquier (260 pound-feet versus 252 lb.-ft. for the V6). It feels noticeably punchier and confident about passing; said maximum torque is produced at a lower rpm — an incredibly grunty 1,450 rpm for the 2.0T versus a needs-to-be-spun-hard 5,300 rpm for the V6. It’s also smoother. Indeed, on the open road, the 2.0T proves more responsive, the Sorento’s (roughly) 1,875 kilogram curb weight seemingly no hindrance to the little blown four. Noise, vibration and harshness are reduced compared with the V6 and, because it is so powerful at low rpm, the 2.0T also feels less “busy” than the V6, the engine revving less and there being less hunting of gears by the automatic transmission.

Indeed, the only notable downside to the Sorento’s powertrain is Kia’s choice of said transmissions. For one thing, there’s only six forward gears available. With seven, eight and even nine-speed automatics becoming commonplace and the Sorento otherwise bristling with the most modern technology Kia could throw at it, the absence of the latest in transmissions stands out.

Furthermore, for some reason the 2.0L’s six-speed tranny is different from that of the V6, the latter being the more robust of the two. That means the V6 has a greater towing capacity — 5,000 pounds versus the 2.0-litre’s 3,500 lbs. — despite having less torque, the usual determinant of towing capacity. Indeed, I suspect that the only reason that the 2.0 T-GDI is not being marketed at the top of the Sorento range — again, it really is superior to the V6 in every regard — is that advertising the 2.0 Turbo as the topflight engine choice while then admitting it had a lower towing capacity than the V6 might prove confusing to consumers. My recommendation to Kia would be to either upgrade the 2.0-litre four’s transmission so that the turbo was the top engine of the three or just eliminate the V6 altogether; with the 2.0L Turbo-GDI’s stellar performance mated to a suitable transmission, the V6 isn’t really necessary.

The problem this bass-ackwards engine hierarchy creates is that the best engine — the 2.0-litre turbo — is not available in the topflight Sorento, the all singing, all dancing $46,695 SX+ with seven-passenger seating. Indeed, only the V6 can be had in the seven-passenger versions of the Sorento.

Nonetheless, that does mean that, if you happen to be shopping a five-passenger CUV, one with something of a luxury bent, the SX Turbo AWD Sorento should be at the top of your list. Indeed, it may be the best SUV that $42,095 can buy. And, yes, that includes Mercedes-Benz, BMW or any other nameplate you might want to compare.

2016 Kia Sedona – The Car Guide by Benjamin Hunting

It’s hard to be a product planner in the automotive industry these days, as just when you think you’ve got a particular niche all figured out a Korean company comes along and eats your lunch. It’s hard not to see the 2015 Kia Sedona as anything but a game-changer, a minivan that’s come along out of nowhere after years of settling for being a value-leader and flipped the script by introducing substantial luxury and style into the people moving equation.

The all-new Kia Sedona is a shot across the bow of both the Toyota Sienna and the Honda Odyssey, two minivans that have seen their price tags and features list inflate over the course of the past decade. The Sedona is at least as good – and in many ways, better – than these two class leaders everywhere that counts. If I worked for either Toyota or Honda, I’d be scared, because this Kia is the best van I’ve driven in quite a long time.

Yeah, I’m Serious

I know, I know – am I really gushing over a minivan? The very definition of an automotive appliance, essentially a box on wheels? It’s true that there are few segments of the market more passionless, but someone forgot to tell the Kia Sedona’s designers that they should be setting the bar low. From the outside, the van bears the aggressive egg-crate grille affected by most of Kia’s modern line-up, framed by canted, malevolent headlights and a pleasantly curving bumper. In profile it’s all slab, but nicely detailed, with only the hatch area coming across as semi-generic.

KIA Sedona

Inside the Sedona it’s an entirely different story. I need to point out that I drove the SXL+ model, which sits at the very top of the minivan’s family tree and which explains why my tester was packed with leather, wood trim, and almost every conceivable luxury feature. In fact, the Sedona’s cabin reminded me more of the brand’s K900 flagship sedan than it did lesser efforts like the Sienna or the Odyssey (or even Chrysler’s Town & Country laggard), which is saying a lot from a fit and finish perspective.

Does Your Van Come With An Ottoman?

The 2015 Kia Sedona is offered in both seven and eight passenger editions, and the SXL trim makes available a unique second row configuration that includes a pair of leather-upholstered, fully-reclining buckets that feature fold-out ottomans. It was a little weird to drive around with both seats fully extended – kind of like having a couple of dentist chairs in your rear-view mirror – but there’s no denying their novelty, nor the comfort they provide on long road trips. They’re also a substantial upgrade over the van’s third row of seating, which is more child-friendly than anything else.

Each seating position, regardless of size, is still treated to the Sedona’s comfortable ride, and those at the back of the van will appreciate the digital temperature controls mounted over the right side sliding door. Up front, there are heated and cooled seats, a heated steering wheel, a very usable infotainment system, and even a top-down camera system that helped manoeuvre the van through tight spaces (when the cameras weren’t encrusted in snow and ice, that is).

Dynamically, It’s Still A Van

The 2015 Kia Sedona’s passenger compartment is a sight to behold, but don’t be confused into thinking that this minivan somehow sheds its hefty curb weight and tall centre of gravity and turns in a premium driving experience to match. There’s nothing wrong with what the Sedona brings to the table – you get 276 horsepower from a 3.3-litre V6 engine, sent to the front wheels via a six-speed automatic transmission – but there’s little about its driving character that sets it apart from its rivals in the same way that its daring design does. Even so, in wet slippery snow the Sedona felt secure and stable, and I never found myself wishing for all-wheel drive.

KIA Sedona

Fuel efficiency checks in just this side of average, and although the van offered ‘Eco’ and ‘Comfort’ drive modes, I found myself happy to just keep it in ‘Normal’ and enjoy its well-weighted steering. It’s worth noting that SXL vans are penalized somewhat by the additional mass of all that luxury gear, posting somewhat less impressive fuel efficiency as a result.

Focus On What’s Important

One of the reasons that minivans have moved so far upscale in terms of price and features is that their manufacturers learned long ago that in the absence of a fun behind the wheel experience, it’s best to accentuate the practicality and comfort of these upright land yachts. The Sedona SXL is the perfect example of this philosophy, and although you trade in some utility for those awesome second row seats (they don’t tip forward like those found in lesser editions of the van, which compromises total cargo capacity), overall it’s a refreshing take on what these rolling boxes have to offer and feels closer to what an aftermarket outfitter could do with such a large, blank canvas than any of its rivals.

When paying close to $50,000 for a minivan, it better damn well feel like it’s worth every penny, and in that respect the top-tier Kia doesn’t disappoint. If you’re looking for all-wheel drive, you’ll have to turn to Toyota, if you need an integrated vacuum cleaner (?) then Honda has your back, and if you want the illusion of performance then the Grand Caravan R/T has you covered, but neither of these vans match the execution, feature count, or interior quality of the Sedona SXL+.

Kia’s new Sorento impresses with a new design and some classy interior upgrades

National Post – 6 Mar 2015, By David Booth.

The 2016 Kia Sorento looks a little more in-your-face than the timid outgoing version

This may seem like a shot out of left field, but I’m beginning to believe that Kia might have ambitions on Mercedes. Or, if not Mercedes, then perhaps Lexus. OK, maybe just Infiniti or Acura.

What’s got me talking about Kia in the same breath as Mercedes and Lexus is the Sorento CUV. Newly re-engineered for 2016, the Sorento shares a common exterior design motif with the rest of the Kia lineup restyled by ex-Audi chief designer Peter Schreyer. It’s bold where the previous iteration was timid, sporty rather than placid and generally just a little more in your face than the outgoing crossover.

But flamboyant fender flares do not a Mercedes competitor make. For that, you need all manner of interior hedonism, technological gadgets out the yingyang and then, just for that last bit of hedonistic credibility, a few key convenience features that surprise and delight. Which is, almost to a T, the very description of the new Sorento’s interior.

The Nappa leather, part of the SX+ package, is simply as soft as glove leather gets. The entire dashboard is also pleasing to the touch. The trim is classy piano black, the switchgear uncomplicated and the infotainment system one of the nicest in the biz. Kia even took the time to engineer a superior lower door seal to prevent salt getting onto the carpet. Kia’s build quality may not yet be to Audi’s standards, but Mercedes wishes its GLK were so opulent.

making_strides

Nor is the Sorento’s interior long on style and short on function. The gauge set’s informational display — fuel economy, car setup, odometer readings, etc. — is simply the most intuitive I have ever tested. Automakers have dumped so much data into their displays that accessing their information has become a Windows Vista nightmare. Not in the Sorento: one little “text page” button on the steering wheel scrolls the major data categories horizontally across the screen and, then, should you want to delve deeper into that particular field, there’s a small wheel right below it that toggles vertically through the specific information. It’s elegant and simple, everything you could want from a digital display; regardless of price, it’s the best such system I’ve yet tested.

Nor is this the only nifty trick the new Sorento has up its sleeve. The top-of-the-line SX model, for instance, has a smart rear hatch opener. Got the key deep in your pocket or purse and your arms are stuffed with groceries and kids? Well, then, just stand within a metre of the rear bumper for three seconds and, after a few beeps and tail light flashes, presto, the rear hatch magically opens itself. And, no, just walking by doesn’t have it popping open.

making_strides-2

There’s more. There is, for instance, a household 110-volt electrical outlet in the rear seat area so my MacBook Pro was always charged, the rear seats (if you’ve opted for the seven-passenger V6 model) fold completely flat and it is worth noting that the Sorento’s all-wheel-drive system offers a Subaru-like “locking” function for the centre differential. The mid-sized Kia is one of the most comprehensively equipped sport-utes on the market today.

Nor does the goodness diminish when you’re actually behind the wheel of the Sorento. We didn’t get to test the $27,495 base version’s 185 horsepower, newly direct-injected, 2.4-litre fourcylinder, but both the 2.0-litre turbo four and 3.3-litre V6 that power the upscale versions are stellar. In fact, the only surprise in the powertrain department is that it is the two-litre turbo, ostensibly the mid-range option in the Sorento lineup, that is the star of the show. Oh, the V6 is fairly smooth and boasts more horsepower — 290-hp for the V6 versus 240 for the 2.0-litre T-GDI — but it is the turbocharged four that is torquier (260 pound-feet versus 252 lb-ft for the V6). It feels noticeably punchier and confident about passing; said maximum torque is produced at a lower r.p.m. — an incredibly grunty 1,450 rpm for the 2.0T versus a needs-to-be-spun-hard 5,300 rpm for the V6. It’s also smoother. Noise, vibration and harshness are reduced compared with the V6 and, because it is so powerful at low rpm, the 2.0T also feels less “busy” than the V6, the engine revving less and there being less hunting of gears by the automatic transmission.

Indeed, the only notable downside to the Sorento’s powertrain is Kia’s choice of said transmissions. For one thing, there’s only six forward gears available. With seven, eight and even nine-speed automatics becoming commonplace and the Sorento otherwise bristling with the most modern technology Kia could throw at it, the absence of the latest in transmissions stands out.

Furthermore, for some reason the 2.0L’s six-speed tranny is different from that of the V6, the latter being the more robust of the two. That means the V6 has a greater towing capacity — 5,000 pounds versus the 2.0-litre’s 3,500 lbs. — despite having less torque, the usual determinant of towing capacity. Indeed, I suspect that the only reason that the 2.0 TGDI is not being marketed at the top of the Sorento range — again, it really is superior to the V6 in every regard — is that advertising the 2.0 Turbo as the top-flight engine choice while then admitting it had a lower towing capacity than the V6 might prove confusing to consumers. My recommendation to Kia would be to either upgrade the 2.0-litre four’s transmission so that the turbo was the top engine of the three or just eliminate the V6 altogether; with the 2.0L Turbo-GDI’s stellar performance mated to a suitable transmission, the V6 isn’t really necessary.

The problem this bassackwards engine hierarchy creates is that the best engine — the 2.0-litre turbo — is not available in the top-flight Sorento, the all-singing, alldancing $46,695 SX+ with seven-passenger seating. Indeed, only the V6 can be had in the seven-passenger versions of the Sorento.

Nonetheless, that does mean that, if you happen to be shopping a five-passenger CUV, one with something of a luxury bent, the SX Turbo AWD Sorento should be at the top of your list. Indeed, it may be the best SUV that $42,095 can buy. And, yes, that includes Mercedes-Benz, BMW or any other nameplate you might want to compare.

2016 Kia Sorento aims to hit sweet spot with size

JEREMY CATO, MT. TREMBLANT, QUE. — Special to The Globe and Mail (Published Saturday, Mar. 07 2015).
The ideas behind 2016 Kia Sorento sport-utility vehicle are genius, a foolish gamble or insanity. Regardless, the execution is superb.

Who’s gonna buy it? Goldilocks? Kia’s hope is the genius behind its “just right” rig will answer the prayers of families who find the five-passenger Ford Escape and Nissan Rogue too small and seven-passenger Hyundai Santa Fe XL and Honda Pilot too big.

Certainly it’s a gamble. The car market is not often a place for hard-to-classify products. Kia’s strategy: Canadians bought 400,000 compact SUVs last year and another 157,000 mid-sizers. Why not play in both places?

I mean, all SUV types want four/all-wheel drive, value and reliability. That’s all here and more. For an extra $2,000, you can turn a base $27,495 front-drive Sorento into an AWD mudder. As for value, we compared five uniformly equipped rigs and found the Sorento had from a $2,200-$7,400 price advantage over the Pilot, Santa Fe XL, Mazda CX-9 and Toyota Highlander.

gd-2016sorento

For reliability, Consumer Reports’ brand report card has Kia ranked ninth-best over all, ahead of BMW and 19 others. Kia is making solid vehicles, period.

This Sorento is the perfect illustration. From that in-your-face grille to sculpted sides, chrome door handles and rear spoiler, it looks expensive. On some models, you can get LED lightbar taillights, 360-degree camera monitoring, quad LED fog lights and even 19-inch polished alloy wheels.

Inside, the Sorento has more space, though not as much as the Santa Fe XL, Ford Edge, Nissan Murano and Highlander. The differences are marginal. What the Sorento lacks in room is more than made up for by the sophisticated cabin.

You won’t struggle to decipher the infotainment system and the seats are comfortable for hours. Five-passenger versions have a clever under-floor organizer in the big cargo bay. At high speeds, the silence is deafening.

Yes, Kia’s suspension engineers need to catch up with the best, but ride quality is all right. If you care about precise steering, pay extra for the rack-mounted power steering. The best compromise for power and fuel economy is the 2.0-litre turbocharged four-cylinder engine (240 hp/260 ft-lbs torque) over the base 2.0-litre four (185 hp) and the 3.3-litre V-6 (290 hp).

The third-generation Sorento is good. Now Kia must overcome the brand’s still-downmarket image. This rig will help.

TECH SPECS

Base price: $27,495
Engines: 2.4-litre four-cylinder, 2.0-litre four-cylinder turbocharged, 3.3-litre V-6.
Transmission: six-speed automatic.
Fuel economy (litres/100 km) for AWD versions: 11.4 city/9.2 highway for the 2.4; 12.3 city/9.3 highway for the 2.0-litre turbo; 13.4 city/9.4 highway for the 3.3-litre, all using regular fuel.
Alternatives: Toyota Highlander, Chevrolet Equinox/GMC Terrain, Mazda CX-9, Honda Pilot, Ford Explorer, Kia Sorento, Hyundai Santa Fe Sport/XL, Dodge Journey, Ford Edge, Nissan Pathfinder, Jeep Grand Cherokee, Ford Flex, Dodge Durango, Mitsubishi Outlander, Ford Explorer, Chevrolet Traverse, GMC Acadia, Honda CR-V, Ford Escape, Toyota RAV4, Mazda CX-5, Nissan Rogue, Subaru Outback and Forester and Volkswagen Tiguan.

RATINGS

Looks: This Sorento looks the part of a pricier SUV and is a huge leap from the first-generation (2003) version.
Interior: Cabin space is not as great as key rivals, but on the key points of headroom, legroom and hiproom, the Sorento holds its own.
Performance: The most effortless power comes from the V-6, but the best compromise for power and fuel economy is the turbo four.
Technology: Quad LED fog lights, available? Check. A 360-degree camera? Check. Smart power rear liftgage? Check. And smart cruise control, advanced infotainment, 115-V rear charging ports and air cooled front seats? Check, check, check, check.
Cargo: More space than Murano and Edge, less than Santa Fe XL and Highlander.

The Verdict

8.5

The Sorento looks good, does what it should, should be dependable and you get more features for the money than key rivals.

 

The Kia SPORTSPACE Concept Frankfurt

(SEOUL) Frankfurt, 27 February 2015 – The working week is over. The late afternoon sun is glinting on the ice crystals in the road-side snowbanks and turning the snow-capped peaks ahead pink. The road snakes ahead towards a weekend of fun and action. The journey demands a swift, efficient and refined machine to allow the maximum pleasure to be extracted from the time available.

This is exactly the role for which the Kia SPORTSPACE was conceived. Its muscular proportions are ready to deliver a safe, secure but speedy passage to the slopes. Its cosseting and refined interior provides convivial yet individual space for its four passengers. Its sleek and elegant lines – both inside and out – are functional but stylish, allowing its travelling partners both comfort and convenience within a bodyshape that stands out from the crowd.

This is a concept that has extracting the maximum from life at its heart.

Kia SPORTSPACE

To be unveiled to the world at the 85th Salon International de l’Automobile in Geneva, the Kia SPORTSPACE is perhaps the ultimate ‘getaway’ car – a thoroughly practical vehicle for everyday business use, yet a stylish and athletic grand tourer in the classic sense – ready to eat up the miles across continents, whether for business or leisure.

Conceived and developed at Kia’s European Design Centre in Frankfurt under the leadership of Gregory Guillaume, Chief Designer Europe, the Kia SPORTSPACE is a car that spurns traditional compromises. It is neither saloon car nor wagon. It is neither hatchback nor shooting brake. It is instead a vehicle that can meet the demands of those who refuse to be categorised when it comes to their lifestyle or their motoring needs.

Guillaume is open about its origins: “Kia does not have a wagon in this important segment of the European market, but I was determined that we would not simply create something that conformed to tradition. This car comes from an ambition I had when I was studying design in Switzerland as a young man.

“I always had this picture in my mind of creating a vehicle that I could have used to go for a weekend’s skiing with friends before driving back for it to be displayed at the Geneva Salon. Geneva is a special show for me – it comes as winter starts to release its grip. It has a special atmosphere and a particular appeal. The ideal concept vehicle had to reflect this – and I believe the SPORTSPACE does just that!” he added.

Kia SPORTSPACE

Indeed, the Kia SPORTSPACE stands as a very different type of vehicle in the segment. It is neither meant to be, nor does it look like, a load-lugger – it is clearly a sleek, road-eater that owners will want to get into and drive. A long way.

Exterior design
Unlike traditional estate cars, wagons or even shooting brakes, the Kia SPORTSPACE presents an architectural outline that is distinctly different and sophisticated.

Its long and lean profile with unbroken surfaces and purposeful lines is emphasised by a very forward-positioned D-pillar and almost hatchback-like rear door arrangement.

Guillaume comments: “The normal wagon treatment would include a long third window to suggest and show the luggage carrying capacity. But by applying a strong D-pillar treatment and a much more swept back rear hatch, we have given the back of the car a strong character – muscular and athletic. It has great power and strength within its mass.

“The visual weight of the rear is reduced with careful shaping of screen, door and rear bumper. The edges cut into the mass to make its raked appearance believable and less wagon-like.”

At the front, SPORTSPACE wears an evolution of Kia’s signature ‘tiger-nose’ grille. But the solid Plexiglas insert isn’t as solid as it appears. Close examination reveals it is actually louvred and these can rotate to allow greater air intake when required.

A powerful satin aluminium strip runs across the front of the bonnet above the ‘ice cube’ LED headlights, giving a sense of strength and determination. The subtlest of curves along the underside of the headlamps, add further visual movement to the SPORTSPACE’s bold, dynamic face.

Further satin aluminium strips set into the chin-spoiler hide inset turn signals that become apparent when switched on.

In profile, the Kia SPORTSPACE is just as vivacious. A strong character line runs along the body, visually connecting the front and rear. The car’s high beltline, the simple yet gracefully shaped flanks and the low-down inset carbon fibre kick-plate add to the sense of athletic muscularity.

Further dynamism is added to the car’s ‘Ignition Red’ bodywork by another satin accent strip, a spear of aluminium which arcs from front to rear, accentuating the car’s long and narrow glasshouse. A horizontal turn signal is inset in each of the side mirrors and mimics the front spoiler indicators.

The design of the rear pillar, which is wider and slopes forwards, is combined with tapering side surfaces and a dramatic concave tailgate, ensuring the car is just as bold and exciting at the rear.

The wide rear tail lamps and a full-width carbon-fibre diffuser further emphasise the car’s wide stance and sporty appeal. The tail lamps incorporate the turn indicators, which pulse outwards when in operation.

A roof-level spoiler and the diffuser maximise air flow efficiency around the rear of the car. Twin tailpipes within the diffuser echo the polygon shape of the tail lamps. A vertically oriented fog lamp is integrated centrally in the diffuser.

The SPORTSPACE is finished with unique 20-inch ten-spoke alloy wheels inset with carbon fibre which emerge from a pentagonal hub at the centre. The wheel design suggests powerful rotation even when stationary.

Interior design
The door handles sit flush in the panels until required. When operated they reveal a remarkably airy four-seat interior illuminated by panoramic glazing running the entire length of the roof and bathing the cockpit with light.

Guillaume comments: “The SPORTSPACE has to be purposeful and for me that means a very black interior with the focus on control and function – but the ambience of the passenger compartment must also be refined, relaxed and a welcoming place to be. The sense of space was essential, and whether the SPORTSPACE is being used during the working week or on that getaway, it has to convey quality and adaptability by providing occupants with a practical personal environment that delivers individual needs and preferences.”

The cabin is simple and pure with bold, handsome styling. A balance of luxurious leather with contemporary technical materials – including carbon fibre and milled, anodised aluminium – underlines the car’s inherent functionality with utterly modern and evocative style.

“The cockpit is defined by clean and simple volumes, ‘grand gestures’ and detailing that doesn’t detract from the whole,” says Guillaume. “The floating instrument panel is extremely horizontal and its width is accentuated by the anodised aluminium bar below it that links the side air vents. There are no central air vents in the instrument panel – instead they are set into the centre tunnel below.”

The inner surfacing of the door panels runs as one whole architectural sweep from the instrument panel rearwards into the tailgate. The centre console runs through the interior, shooting through the car, further enhancing the perception of space and length.

The hand woven ‘cuoio intrecciato’ seats are trimmed with black-polished leather backed with carbon fibre shells and provide modern and comfortable sport seating for each of the four occupants. The finely formed, free-standing metal door pulls are satisfyingly cool and shaped to the hand. Ergonomically set into the door pulls is a switch to allow the side windows to be ‘thumbed’ up or down.

Anodised aluminium in ‘Endurance Graphite’ is used elsewhere: on the flat-bottomed steering wheel, paddle shifters, sport pedals, barrel-shaped auto transmission shift and tunnel-mounted switches. These elements represent a strong technical contrast with the black leather and distinctive silver brushed aluminium-look fabric covering the instrument panel and the centre console.

Ahead of the driver is a highly configurable digital instrument cluster paired with a fully operational infotainment system. The large infotainment screen – which sits clearly within the driver’s view – can be operated in single or split-screen modes. Operation is via the anodised aluminium in-car infotainment controller located behind the gear shift – flanked by four shortcut buttons that enable fast and intuitive interaction. Additional functions can be operated via a row of fast access buttons integrated below the centre screen.

Where the rear view mirror would usually be located, a slim screen replaces it, fed by images from the rear view camera. Other driver information is also fed into this screen.

“We were able to integrate very technical detailing into the car and this helps to intensify driver involvement,” explains Guillaume. “The car, in the sense of its grand touring practical sports role should be a serene and comfortable place. It shouldn’t be distracting in any sense. As a driver, all of the controls and the things you need are directly around you and easily to hand and extremely positive and technical.”

Generous rear seat legroom maximises passenger comfort and heightens the sensation of spaciousness, enhanced by the substantial glazing above.

A prerequisite for an exciting grand tourer like the Kia SPORTSPACE is the capacity to accommodate skis. Skis can be stored between the rear seats, with a padded leather armrest doubling up as a ski rest. Slide it back and two recesses are revealed which accommodate two tablet PCs, one for each passenger. Rear seat occupants also have the option to utilise a unique tablet PC clamping system located on the back of the front seats, allowing them to view video and other multimedia content at eye level.

The rear section of central tunnel seamlessly connects to the boot space. An innovative loading system comprising 28 rolling balls is set within the matt leather trunk floor. In combination with the low tailgate, these allow the easy loading of heavy suitcases and sport equipment. When the SPORTSPACE’s ignition is switched on, each of the stainless steel balls lowers into its recess by 3 mm, ensuring cargo doesn’t slide when the journey begins.

Powertrain
SPORTSPACE is powered by the latest evolution of Kia’s diesel-electric T-Hybrid system, previously seen on the Optima T-Hybrid concept at the 2014 Paris Motor Show.

The innovative powertrain is a further statement of the advanced technological capabilities of Kia, combining spontaneous and powerful acceleration in all situations with low emissions.

The compact and lightweight 1.7-litre diesel engine is now twin charged, the conventional variable turbo charger supported by an electric booster. This 48V booster enhances engine torque at very low engine speeds, as well as under acceleration for more effortless overtaking.

Through its fully independent activation, it reacts faster than a traditional exhaust gas-driven turbocharger. At the same time the 48V technology is clearly simpler and lighter than conventional hybridisation. This state of the art innovation is further enhanced with an active multi-link rear axle to enable temporary all-wheel drive capability.

Not only does this enable zero emissions low speed mobility, when parking or crawling in traffic, for example, but it also perfectly supports the active driving experience promised by the dynamic exterior design.

Guillaume commented: “The SPORTSPACE was conceived as a car that drivers would want to use at weekends to get out and enjoy the journey. It was central to our thinking that the car should provide real encouragement to hit the road and make the most of every moment.

“Behind the sophisticated design, the Kia SPORTSPACE also delivers a drive that is easy and enthusiastic. It will make every work-day commute or dash to the mountains equally invigorating,” he added.

Kia SPORTSPACE dimensions
Length: 4,855 mm
Width: 1,870 mm
Height: 1,425 mm
Wheelbase: 2,840 mm.

About Kia Motors Europe

Kia Motors Europe is the European sales, marketing and service arm of the Kia Motors Corporation. With its headquarters in Frankfurt, Germany, it covers 30 markets in Europe.

About Kia Motors Corporation

Kia Motors Corporation (www.kia.com ) – a maker of quality vehicles for the young-at-heart – was founded in 1944 and is Korea’s oldest manufacturer of motor vehicles. Over 3 million Kia vehicles a year are produced in 10 manufacturing and assembly operations in five countries which are then sold and serviced through a network of distributors and dealers covering around 150 countries. Kia today has around 49,000 employees worldwide and annual revenues of nearly US$45 billion. It is the major sponsor of the Australian Open and an official automotive partner of FIFA – the governing body of the FIFA World Cup™. Kia Motors Corporation’s brand slogan – “The Power to Surprise” – represents the company’s global commitment to surprise the world by providing exciting and inspiring experiences that go beyond expectations.

About Kia Canada Inc.

Kia Canada Inc. (www.kia.ca – www.facebook.com/kiacanada )a maker of quality vehicles for the young-at-heart is a subsidiary of Kia Motors Corporation (KMC) which was founded in 1999 and sells and services high quality, class leading vehicles like the Soul, Forte, Optima and Sorento through a network of 188 dealers nationwide. Kia Canada Inc. employs 159 people in its Mississauga, Ontario headquarters and four regional offices across Canada, with an all-new state-of-the-art facility in Montreal. Kia’s brand slogan “The Power to Surprise” represents the company’s global commitment to surprise the world by providing exciting & inspiring experiences that go beyond expectations.