Monthly Archives: October 2017

Kia Niro the most reliable car in 2017

Source: Consumers Reports
Date: October 19, 2017
Author: Consumer Reports


Purchasing a car is a long-term investment, with the expectation that the car will provide dependable transportation for the long haul. But as our surveys show, not all cars can fulfill that promise.

Based on our 2017 Annual Auto Survey, these models are the 10 most reliable cars today. We predict that these cars will give owners fewer problems than their competitors, based on data collected on 640,000 vehicles.

Our survey takes a deep dive into the numerous things that can go wrong with a vehicle.

We study 17 trouble areas, from nuisances—such as squeaky brakes and broken interior trim—to major bummers, like out-of-warranty transmission repairs or trouble with four-wheel-drive systems. We weight the severity of each type of problem to create a Predicted Reliability Score for each vehicle. (That score is then combined with data collected from our track testing, as well as our owner-satisfaction survey results and safety data, to calculate each test vehicle’s Overall Score.)

Based on that analysis, these models are the most reliable.

They are presented in rank order, starting with the most reliable. For more details on the models’ reliability predictions and history, click through to their respective model pages.

Kia Niro

Kia’s five-passenger Niro marries good fuel economy with cargo versatility. This front-wheel-drive hybrid uses a 1.6-liter four-cylinder engine, which, in conjunction with the electric drive unit, puts out a combined 139 hp. This combo is mated to a six-speed dual-clutch transmission. Because the lithium-ion battery is located under the rear seat, that creates a flat cargo floor when the rear seats are folded. We got 43 mpg overall, which is good but not as good as the Hyundai Ioniq or Toyota Prius. The handling lacks agility, and the ride is a bit choppy. The optional power driver seat provides better support than the standard seats do. A suite of advanced safety features is available, including automatic emergency braking, smart cruise control, and blind-spot detection with rear cross-traffic alert, but that tends to push the price to above $30,000.

See the complete Kia Niro road test.


Price as tested: $26,805


Subaru BRZ/Toyota 86



Price as tested: $27,117/$25,025

Developed with Toyota, Subaru’s first rear-wheel-drive sports car features a 2.0-liter four-cylinder with a choice of a six-speed manual or an automatic. Handling is super-responsive, with cornering precision that makes the BRZ fun to drive. The car turns in promptly, with almost no body lean. The steering is quick and well-weighted. At its limits, the BRZ is slightly more forgiving than its mechanical sibling, the Toyota 86 (the old Scion FR-S). That difference makes the BRZ less prone to sliding its tail during spirited driving. The ride is also a bit more jittery than in the FR-S. The cabin is relatively plain, with well-bolstered sport seats, but the ride and elevated noise can be taxing.

See the complete Subaru BRZ and Toyota 86 road tests.

Lexus ES



Price as tested: $43,702-$44,017

The Lexus ES has sound handling but falls short of being engaging or fun. Uncharacteristic for Lexus, the ride is on the stiff side, and the optional 18-inch wheels make it worse. The powerful 3.5-liter V6 and six-speed automatic got a good 25 mpg overall. But we find the hybrid more appealing, thanks to its combination of size and fuel economy, returning a class-leading 36 mpg overall and 44 on the highway in our tests. Inside, the quiet cabin looks good at first, but some cheap touches are apparent. The mouselike infotainment interface is distracting and convoluted. Automatic emergency braking and lane-departure warning are standard.

See the complete Lexus ES road test.

Lexus GS


Price as tested: $58,858

The GS competes well, delivering a balanced combination of ride, handling, quietness, and roominess. Engaging to drive, the car’s good handling and taut yet supple ride compete well against German rivals. Its strong 3.5-liter V6 returned 21 mpg overall in our tests. Rear-drive versions get an eight-speed automatic, and AWD versions get a six-speed automatic. A hybrid with a continuously variable transmission is also available. Interior space is on par for the class, and the cabin is nicely furnished. A distracting mouselike controller works the infotainment systems. A high-performance GS F with a 467-hp V8 is available. 2016 brings a rear-drive 200t with a turbo four-cylinder. A blind-spot monitor with rear cross-traffic alert is standard.

See the complete Lexus GS road test.


Audi Q3


Price as tested: $40,125

A tidy, compact crossover, the Q3 competes with the BMW X1 and Mercedes-Benz GLA. Overall, it manages to deliver a premium driving experience similar to the Q5 but in a 10-inch-shorter package. The energetic 200-hp, 2.0-liter turbo four-cylinder is mated to a conventional six-speed automatic and returned 22 mpg overall in our tests. This is a quiet SUV with a firm, comfortable ride and responsive handling. The cabin is a bit simplistic-looking, but it gives a sense of quality. Demerits include the tight quarters and cramped driving position. The controls are complicated at first, but they prove to be logical with some familiarity. Front- and all-wheel drive are available.

See the complete Audi Q3 road test.


Toyota RAV4


Price as tested: $29,014-$29,753

For years, the RAV4 has consistently been among the top-ranked small SUVs. The current RAV4’s cabin is quieter, the ride is smoother, it has a suite of advanced safety features, and it offers a frugal hybrid version. The energetic 2.5-liter four-cylinder and smooth six-speed automatic returned 24 mpg overall in our tests of an AWD version. The hybrid version gets a terrific 31 mpg overall. Handling is responsive and very secure. Inside, the controls are clear and intuitive. Though the XLE comes with automatic climate control and a sunroof, you must step up to the Limited trim to get adjustable lumbar support and the more comfortable faux-leather seats. Access is very easy, and the rear seat is roomy. Forward-collision warning and automatic emergency braking are standard.

See the complete Toyota RAV4 road test.


Lexus IS


Price as tested $48,149

In our tests, the IS came up short as a sports sedan. Handling is secure but not engaging enough to run with the best in the class. Ride comfort is neither tied down nor plush. Even the punchy IS 350 is underwhelming to drive. A 260-hp V6 powers the IS 300, which gives it more zip, but its fuel economy of 20 mpg overall is uncompetitive in the class. Still, the interior is extremely cramped, and getting in and out is an ungraceful chore. All-wheel-drive versions have a pronounced hump by the driver’s right leg. Fit and finish is okay but not a standout, and the mouselike infotainment controller is distracting to use. A 2.0-liter turbo four-cylinder is available, but only in rear-wheel drive.

See the complete Lexus IS road test.


Toyota Prius V


Price as tested: $28,217

This wagon version of the previous-generation Prius offers a very roomy rear seat and a generous cargo area. It’s about the size of the Ford C-Max, its main competitor. Despite its extra weight and a less aerodynamic shape, the V still got an excellent 41 mpg overall in our tests. The electric motor and engine have to work fairly hard, especially when the car is loaded with cargo. The ride is comfortable, but uneven pavement can cause an annoying side-to-side rocking. Handling is sound and secure but hardly inspiring. Rear visibility is better than in the standard Prius. A larger 4.1-inch dash-top screen for trip computer functions is also new. Forward-collision warning with automatic braking is available but not standard. 2018 is the final year for the Prius V.

See the complete Toyota Prius V road test.


Toyota Prius C


Price as tested: $20,850

This smaller, less expensive alternative to the regular Prius feels like a spartan subcompact, but with a hybrid powertrain. In the end, you pretty much get what you pay for, and it is no substitute for the real Prius. The C has a harsh ride, a noisy engine, and slow acceleration. The interior looks and feels cheap, the driving position and rear seats are cramped, and there’s little cargo space. However, its 37 mpg makes the Prius C one of the most frugal vehicles we’ve tested, and its 43 mpg overall is just 1 mpg less than the previous-generation Prius hatchback. Its tiny dimensions make it a natural for urban driving. Automatic emergency braking is standard. 2018 is the final year for the Prius C.

See the complete Toyota Prius C road test.

Infiniti Q70


Price as tested: $53,825-$58,655

Although long in the tooth, the Q70 is still competitive, with a lively 330-hp V6 and a smooth seven-speed automatic that returned 21 mpg overall in our tests. A V8 and a V6 hybrid are also available. Handling is quite agile, with communicative steering. The ride is firm and absorbs bumps well but trails the competition in terms of plushness. The Q70 is also behind the competition in terms of cabin quietness, partly because of the noticeable engine noise under high revs. Very good interior quality, a roomy rear seat, and easy-to-use controls are positives, although cabin ambience is austere. Blind-spot intervention is optional. An extended-length L version with a roomier rear seat is also available. The Q70 might lack some pizzazz, but it generally commands significantly lower prices than its competitors.

See the complete Infiniti Q70 road test.



By Jay Ramey : September 27, 2017

Kia’s new pocket hatch and sedan duo should have the competition worried

SEPTEMBER 27, 2017


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The days of very complete and comfortable cars that start at less than $15,000 can seem like a thing of the past, along with floppy disks, pagers and Night Court marathons. After all, the amount of tech that goes into the cars of today has pushed the price of entry to the point where it seems at least $20,000 is needed to get into something that can haul itself, some groceries and you in style — or, in lieu of style, at least some inoffensive champagne-colored anonymity.

Kia is about to challenge this notion with the fourth-generation Rio, which lands later this year with an impressive list of real-car accommodations, a peppy engine and some positively retro 1990s pricing.

The Rio has occupied the entry-level, college-car niche long enough to be familiar to most people when they see it, even though non-owners probably only notice them on rental car lots. The Rio has been fine with its position in life, and Kia has been fine with it as well — they’ve been selling tons for the past 17 years. The 2018 model does not lose sight of this fact, but it does try to deliver much more than one could have hoped not long ago, in one of the most affordable cars sold in the U.S.

First things first: the Rio is powered a naturally aspirated 1.6-liter gasoline direct-injected four-cylinder engine pumping out 130 hp and 119 lb-ft of torque, with a choice of a six-speed manual or six-speed automatic driving the front wheels. The Rio has adopted Kia’s current design language — overseen by ex-Audi designer Peter Schreyer — along with a brash look that is distinctive and upscale, with the slightly angry face European automakers now favor. That’s not by accident; the current Rio was developed with the European market in mind, and it has to please customers in dozens of countries — that means it can’t get away with catering only to American-size roads and parking spots.

2018 Kia Rio hatch rear

The Rio will be offered as a five-door hatch and as a four-door sedan.PHOTO BY AUTOWEEK

What’s underneath it all? Kia is going heavy on high-strength steel, using it judiciously throughout the structure to improve tensile strength by 30 percent compared to the outgoing model, while also working hard to get NVH down to a minimum. With a revised suspension geometry featuring MacPherson struts up front and a torsion-beam setup in the back, the engineers have aimed to reduce roll in the corners while offering a ride quality optimized for decrepit road infrastructure, but also road manners that won’t embarrass the car on some twisty back roads.

Kia has also given the Rio sedan and hatch a modern and premium-feeling interior that uses plenty of soft-touch plastics and a modern infotainment system — Kia’s UVO3, which offers voice recognition and smartphone integration for Apple CarPlay and Android Auto with 5.0-inch and 7.0-inch screen sizes, depending on trim. A new and well-sculpted dash design aims to look expensive and entertaining at the same time.

For utility, the Rio sedan offers 13.7 cubic feet of cargo room, while the hatch betters those numbers with 17.4 cubic feet with the seats in their upright and locked positions; that grows to 32.5 feet with the seats folded down. When it comes to safety, the Rio comes standard with six airbags, stability control and available forward collision warning and automatic emergency braking, the latter two offered only in the top EX trim.

The Execution

We went to the back roads of Maryland to try out the new Rio five-door hatch while also getting a taste of some authentic college travel season traffic on Interstate 95 around Baltimore — after all, the Rio is ultimately more likely to see horrid commutes than the twisty B-roads you see in car commercials. In both settings, the Rio impressed us with its quiet interior, solid driving dynamics and impressive use of what power it has.

That power amounts to just 130 horses, which doesn’t look like much on paper, but it makes those horses count without revving itself silly or requiring the accelerator pedal to be glued to the floor for the duration of your commute. In fact, the 1.6-liter GDI unit here feels relaxed and ready to serve up plenty of go without nervous stabs at the throttle, offering confident overtaking on the highway without much drama or noise. The engine stays generally muted until all 130 horses are put to work, pressing the Rio in the corners of back roads that slice through Maryland horse country with the six-speed auto giving relatively little notice of its workings. Likewise, road and wind noise stay at a comfortable minimum thanks to tall tires on 15-inch wheels soaking up most, if not all, of the broken pavement.

In the corners, the Rio keeps itself in check while offering good steering feedback, even though it’s clearly geared toward comfort rather than sport. The degree to which body roll has been reined in is the most surprising aspect of the Rio’s driving dynamics, and the hatch also avoids excessive nose lift during spirited starts.

The well-proportioned interior is the most memorable aspect of our time with the Rio, though: It offers comfortable and intuitive controls without tiring the driver with road and wind noise, even after several hours of driving on different types of roads. And with fuel economy figures of 28 city/37 highway/32 combined for the automatic hatch and sedan, the Rio is a fuel-sipper without resorting to costly hybrid tech.

Still, some cost-cutting measures are evident: Navigation is only offered via a paired smartphone (which can be useless in an area without cell coverage), but that’s still a small price to pay for everything else available in the top EX trim.

2018 Kia Rio hatch inside

The well-proportioned cabin is quiet at most speeds, which in a rare quality in this segment and price category.PHOTO BY AUTOWEEK

The Takeaway

The work put into the Rio to eliminate various economy car traits has paid off handsomely, with a capable and quiet hatch that puts an impressive distance between itself and the Kias of just five years ago. This is a segment that has been difficult to get right even for automakers such as Toyota and Honda, whose bread and butter has been minimalist A-to-B cars for a far longer amount of time.

The Rio’s biggest roadblock is that compact utilities are quickly becoming the new entry-level segment, displacing subcompact hatches, but a starting price around $15K and some misfires among its competitors should help propel the Rio to the top once it goes on sale at the end of the year. It doesn’t even need that kind of help — it’s quietly impressive on its own.

Jay RameyJAY RAMEY – Jay Ramey is an Associate Editor with Autoweek, and has been with the magazine since 2013. Jay also likes to kayak and bike.

ON SALE: Fall 2017
BASE PRICE: $15,185 (est)
AS TESTED PRICE: $19,000 (est)
POWERTRAIN: 1.6-liter DOHC I4, FWD, 6-speed manual transmission
OUTPUT: 130 hp @ 6300 rpm, 119 lb-ft @ 4850 rpm
CURB WEIGHT: 2,648 lbs (manual, hatchback)
0-60 MPH: N/A
FUEL ECONOMY: 28/37/32(EPA City/Hwy/Combined)
PROS: Comfortable, quiet, intuitive controls, spacious front cabin, great visibility
CONS: Rear legroom a bit tight, trunk space not generous without seats folded down


Driving the new Stinger’s turbo-four variant

By Angus MacKenzie: October 18, 2017

A funny thing happened on the way back from the Mojave Desert the other day. Someone tossed me the keys to a Kia, and I decided to take the long way home, seeking out some of the great driver’s roads that snake through the San Gabriel Mountains before heading down the Angeles Crest Highway into the hustling bustle of the City of Angels. Kia and driver’s roads … it sounds an unlikely combination. But the 2018 Kia Stinger is a car that will shatter your perceptions about Korea’s value brand.

Here the thing: My ride was the base Stinger, the one powered by the 255-hp turbocharged four-banger, rolling on 18-inch alloys shod with modest section 225/45 Bridgestone Potenza tires, not the loaded, top-of-the-range, $49,500 GT, with the punchy 365-hp twin-turbo 3.0-liter V-6 under the hood and bigger wheels and tires all round. The only option fitted was the $2,000 Advanced Driver Assistance Systems package, which bundles together active safety technologies such as forward collision warning, lane keeping assistance, and rear cross-traffic alerts. Total price? $33,900.

It’s a steal. There isn’t a better sporty, rear-drive, four-door coupe for the money in the business. Actually, there simply isn’t any other sporty, rear-drive, four-door coupe for the money, period. This Kia is in a class all its own.

The Stinger looks the part, with a sweeping roofline, a broad shouldered stance, and strong graphics. From some angles there are distant echoes of the Maserati 3200 GT designed by Giugiaro in the late 1990s; it’s a trick of the eye, of course, because the two cars are completely different, but it speaks to the effort Kia—and now also Hyundai—design supremo Peter Schreyer put into a car that in many ways has been a personal passion project. I recall Schreyer showing me a sketch of a car that would become the Kia GT concept unveiled at the 2011 Frankfurt Show—harbinger of the Stinger—and insisting he was going to get it made.

Apart from the smaller wheels and less aggressively styled front and rear fascias, there are few visual differences between the Stinger and the more powerful GT. The GT gets also some extra badging, smoked chrome trim, and red-painted brake calipers, but that’s about it. Both cars rock quad exhausts and vents on the hood and bodyside. The Stinger might be the entry-level model, but it doesn’t look it.

There are a few more tells inside, however. The base Stinger is the only model in the lineup (the others are the $37,000 Stinger Premium, the $39,000 Stinger GT, the $43,500 Stinger GT1, and aforementioned $49,500 Stinger GT2) with an old school foot operated e-brake and a simple 3.5-inch LCD display on the instrument panel. All others get a state-of-the-moment electronic e-brake switch and a 7.0-inch TFT screen between the tach and the speedo. The V-6-powered GTs also all come with a flat-bottom steering wheel, aluminum trim instead of gloss black plastic on the center console, and GT logos embossed into the headrests. That’s not to say the base Stinger is a penalty box. Standard equipment includes a leather-bound heated steering wheel, leather seats—which are power adjustable and heated up front—and a 7.0-inch audio display touchscreen that can run Kia’s UVO infotainment system along with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto.

he Stinger is built on the Hyundai/Kia rear-drive architecture, which will also underpin the forthcoming Genesis G70. As we’ve noted before, it’s a surprisingly large vehicle, 7.5-inches longer overall than a BMW 4 Series Gran Coupe, with a 3.8-inch longer wheelbase. The longer wheelbase helps not only deliver a roomy interior and generously proportioned load space, but it also delivers decent rolling ride quality, especially on L.A.’s notoriously choppy freeways.

At 3,649 pounds, the base Stinger weighs the same as a 2.0-liter Audi A5 coupe, despite having two extra doors and a hatchback, and is 356 pounds lighter than a fully loaded, V-6 powered Stinger GT. Developing its 255 hp at 6,200 rpm and 260lb-ft of torque at 1,400-4,500 rpm, the turbocharged 2.0-liter four-banger under the hood boasts better power density than similar engines from Audi and BMW. That doesn’t translate to a performance advantage on the track, however.

The Stinger runs 0-60 mph in 6.6 seconds, 1.4 seconds slower than the 2.0-liter A5 coupe, and 1.1 seconds slower than the BMW 330i sedan we tested earlier this year. The quarter mile takes 15 seconds even, the Kia sailing through the top end at 95.2 mph. The Audi nails it in 13.8 seconds at 100.5 mph, and the BMW nails it in 14.3 seconds at 98.5 mph. Things are a little closer on the figure eight—the Stinger’s 26.8-second time is just five-tenths of a second off the A5 coupe and seven-tenths behind the BMW sedan.

A lot of the performance advantage enjoyed by the Audi is down to its smooth, efficient, and lightning fast DSG transmission; the Stinger’s Hyundai/Kia engineered eight-speed shifts slower, and its torque converter chews more power. The BMW’s advantage is mass—the smaller 3 Series sedan weighs 112 pounds less—and the fact the guys in Munich still know a thing or two about making a car go around corners. But part of the issue is the Stinger’s engine; although relatively quiet and refined, and with good mid-range punch, it doesn’t quite have the crisp throttle response of the Germans, especially below 2,000 rpm.

Think about those last couple of paragraphs for a second, though: We’ve just been comparing a Kia with an Audi and a BMW. Of course anyone can play the numbers game on the track, and any comparison with Germany’s elite would be meaningless if the Kia Stinger drove like a cheap and cheerful bucket of bolts on the road. The point is, it doesn’t. That sound you hear is sharp intakes of breath in Ingolstadt and Munich.

The Stinger drives more like a European car than anything from Korea so far and most things from Japan. There’s a measured, almost Germanic, weighting to all the controls and to the body motions. It doesn’t have the grunt to indulge in smoky powerslides with all the nannies switched off—as you can in the rear-drive V-6s—but the chassis feels lively and entertaining, nonetheless. A little more initial bite from the brakes would be helpful to smoothly settle the car on corner entry, and a touch more front-end grip would complement the accurate steering, but otherwise the Stinger feels impressively consistent and composed through the twisty bits.

As dusk settled on the run back to L.A., it became obvious the standard headlights were better suited for cruising the bright lights of Seoul than the dark canyons of the San Gabriel Mountains, the Stinger easily outrunning even high beam. However, the $37,000 Stinger Premium is available with brighter LED headlights (and the extra money also buys you a sunroof, a power adjustable steering column, the 7.0-inch TFT screen in the instrument panel, the electronic e-brake, memory for the seat adjustment, sat-nav, and a 15-speaker Harman Kardon audio system, which makes it a solid value). And we prefer the snickety-snick action of the electronic PRNDL shifter on the top-level GT to the slightly clunky feel of the old school T-bar item on the rest of the lineup.

Yep, we’re down to picking nits. For a first effort at a car like this, the four-cylinder Kia Stinger is genuinely impressive. And the more we drive it, the more it reminds us of a proto-BMW 3 Series. It’s not yet fully formed and not yet fully mature, but it’s a car that, should it follow a logical evolutionary path, could eventually occupy the same hallowed ground as the 3 Series once did among enthusiasts who wanted an affordable, sporty, rear-drive car they could drive every day.

And the chances of that happening? Well, as former BMW M engineering veep Albert Biermann is now Hyundai/Kia’s head of high performance vehicle development, you’d be foolish to bet against it, especially given the Korean automaker’s lavish R&D spending and the dizzying speed with which it brings new vehicles to market. Be afraid, BMW. Be very afraid.

2018 Kia Stinger (2.0 RWD)
BASE PRICE $32,795 (est)
PRICE AS TESTED $34,800 (est)
VEHICLE LAYOUT Front-engine, RWD, 5-pass, 4-door sedan
ENGINE 2.0L/255-hp/260-lb-ft turbo DOHC 16-valve I-4
TRANSMISSION 8-speed automatic
CURB WEIGHT (F/R DIST) 3,649 lb (52/48%)
WHEELBASE 114.4 in
LENGTH x WIDTH x HEIGHT 190.2 x 73.6 x 55.1 in
0-60 MPH 6.6 sec
QUARTER MILE 15.0 sec @ 95.2 mph
BRAKING, 60-0 MPH 126 ft
MT FIGURE EIGHT 26.8 sec @ 0.67 g (avg)

Kia takes it up a notch with the Stinger

Gorgeous inside and out, excellent performance and refinement, this new model is as capable as many higher-priced vehicles