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2019 Kia Stinger

Source: MotorWeek
Date: February 08 2018
Author: N/A

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MotorWeek Drivers’ Choice Awards

MotorWeek’s 2018 “Best of the Year” Revealed: Kia Stinger

Announced at the Chicago Auto Show, nation’s largest consumer auto show

CHICAGO – The all-new Kia Stinger is MotorWeek’s 2018 Drivers’ Choice Award winner for “Best of the Year,” announced today in Chicago at the nation’s largest consumer automotive showcase. Over an unprecedented 37 years of bringing weekly automotive news to consumers, MotorWeek has evaluated thousands of distinctive cars, all potentially deserving of their “best of” moniker. Every year, the pressure is on to thin the herd to a handful and then to just one winner overall.
The Kia Stinger luxury-sport sedan aimed itself squarely at the compact European sport sedan segment – and with its design team based in Germany, there is little doubt that it earned its style points alongside traditional luxury-performance brands while also looking very different from other cars in the Kia stable.
“Dynamic in both design and quality, the Stinger is a superlative example of how to successfully break into the established European sport sedan market – no easy task – but the Stinger proves it has what it takes,” says MotorWeek creator and host John Davis. “Delivering on both style and drive, the Stinger is incredibly responsive with great power as well as solid handling and brakes. That’s why the Stinger won our staff’s vote in the “Best Sport Sedan” category, which then put it in the running for our ‘Best of the Year’ honor.”
By design, Kia engineers skipped the typical four-door sedan formula and went directly to the five-door coupe-roofed hatchback so popular outside of America. Then they added capable power from a 365-horsepower twin-turbocharged V6 for the top level Stinger GT, while base Stingers get a still-potent 255-horsepower turbocharged four-cylinder engine.
“Kia knows it takes some splash to get noticed in the sport sedan segment, and they’ve delivered,” says Davis. “MotorWeek followers count on our awards to steer them towards the cars that are the most fun to drive – after all, that’s the point of our awards.”
In Stinger, the fast-roofed skin cloaks a finely-balanced, rear-drive chassis. Either of the two engine choices found under the long hood is paired with an 8-speed automatic with paddle shifters. Both powertrains can also be fitted with all-wheel drive, a great benefit for buyers in the Midwest and Northeast especially.
“While the 2.0 is no slouch, the GT’s V6 powertrain really impressed us with its overall smoothness. Even the paddle shifters work with a quick precision we didn’t expect,” says Davis.
Starting at around $32,000 for the 2.0-liter and $40,000 for the GT, Kia has married good looks and a great drive with affordability.
All Drivers’ Choice Award winners are featured on Motorweek.org, and will appear on a special episode (#3723) of MotorWeek airing on public television stations beginning February 10, and on cable’s Velocity beginning February 20. MotorWeek and the 2018 Drivers’ Choice Awards are nationally sponsored by The Tire Rack, WeatherTech, RockAuto, State Farm and Hum by Verizon.
One of the auto industry’s most coveted honors, MotorWeek’s Drivers’ Choice Awards were announced at the largest consumer-driven auto show in North America, the 2018 Chicago Auto Show. In selecting the annual Drivers’ Choice Awards, the MotorWeek’s editorial staff evaluates more than 150 cars, trucks, and sports utility vehicles every year. Winners are chosen based on driving performance, technology, practicality, fuel efficiency, and value for the dollar.

2018 Drivers’ Choice Award Winners:

Best Small Car                                     Honda Civic**

Best Family Sedan                              Honda Accord

Best Convertible                                 Mazda MX-5 Miata RF

Best Luxury Sedan                              BMW 5 Series

Best Sport Sedan                                Kia Stinger

Best Sport Coupe                               Lexus LC 500

Best Performance Car                       Dodge Challenger SRT Demon

                                                             Jeep Grand Cherokee Trackhawk

Best Small Utility                               Mazda CX-5

Best Large Utility                               Volkswagen Atlas

Best Luxury Utility                             Land Rover Range Rover Velar

Best Minivan                                       Honda Odyssey

Best Pickup Truck                                Ford F-150

Best Eco-Friendly                                Chevrolet Bolt EV*

Best Dream Machine                         Aston Martin DB11

                                                           Porsche 911 GT2 RS

                                                           Mercedes-Benz G550 4X4²

MotorWeek is television’s longest-running and most-respected automotive series. Debuting in 1981, MotorWeek launched a new television genre by becoming the first weekly series to offer consumer-oriented car and truck reviews, do-it-yourself car care tips, and the latest auto industry news. Produced by Maryland Public Television, the award-winning series is now in its 37th season. The winner of numerous automotive journalism awards, MotorWeek is a reliable source of automotive news on television and on the web.

Distributed nationwide and overseas by Maryland Public Television, MotorWeek airs on 92 percent of PBS broadcast stations and can also be seen on the Velocity cable channel. Program excerpts are available to viewers on the program’s website, motorweek.org, and on its YouTube Channel, youtube.com/Motorweek. Fans can like MotorWeek on Facebook and also follow MotorWeek on Instagram and Twitter.
*Denotes Repeat Winner from 2017 **Denotes Repeat Winner from 2016 & 2017

2019 Kia Forte Sedan

Source: New York Daily News
Date: Thursday, January 18, 2018, 10:50 AM
Author: KEVIN BARR

Gaining a more sophisticated design influenced by the Kia Stinger, the 2019 Forte remains one of the most appealing, affordable vehicles on the market.Both the interior and exterior of the Kia Forte are enhanced for 2019. Overall vehicle length is increased, allowing for extra passenger legroom and headroom, as well as increased cargo room in the trunk. A standard 8-inch touchscreen infotainment center with Android Auto and Apple CarPlay compatibility is new, as well as the option for a wireless device charging tray.Three trim levels are available on the 2019 Kia Forte: LX, S, and EX. A 2.0-liter 4-cylinder engine generating 147 horsepower and 132 lb.-ft. of torque delivers power to the front wheels in all models. A 6-speed manual transmission is standard on the LX, with the option for a newly developed continuously variable transmission (CVT) (standard on S and EX trims).

Changes to the 2019 Kia Forte Sedan:

  • Redesigned exterior styling influenced by Stinger sedan
  • Newly developed continuously variable transmission
  • Standard 8-inch touchscreen infotainment center with Android Auto and Apple CarPlay compatibility

What We Think

With improvements being made to nearly every aspect of the car, including the new and improved exterior design, the 2019 Kia Forte remains one of the best choices in its segment.

Also noteworthy are the new Forte’s structural and safety enhancements. While the outgoing Forte was already impressive from a safety standpoint, the new 2019 model features increased chassis rigidity and higher-quality steel in hopes of achieving its highest safety test ratings yet.And although the Forte sedan has for quite some time presented an impressive value proposition, it continues to get even better for 2019.

2018 Kia Stinger First Review: Kia Chases, and Catches, the Best European Luxury Sedans

Source: kbb.com
Date: October 8, 2017
Author: Karl Brauer

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Starting Price (est.): $33,000

Engine: 255-horsepower 4-cylinder

Fuel Economy: N/A

Warranty: 5-year/60,000-mile (basic), 10-year/100,000-mile (powertrain)

Similar: Audi S5 Sportback, BMW 440i Gran Coupe, Lexus GS, Porsche Panamera

What’s more outrageous than Kia trying to challenge the best luxury sport sedans from Europe? How about Kia succeeding, with its all-new 2018 Kia Stinger. The new Stinger delivers entertaining driving dynamics, premium features and advanced technologies, all wrapped in a stunning shell and offered at a value-packed price.

The new Stinger reflects Kia’s ongoing desire to offer more than just solid transportation at a low price. That’s been the brand’s modus operandi for years, but now Kia wants to send a new message. Kia’s President and CEO, Justin Sohn, says the 2018 Kia Stinger “will mark a new era for Kia, dividing our history into ‘before’ and ‘after.’”

Inspired by Europe’s classic Gran Turismo sport sedans, the new Kia Stinger features a long hood, short front overhang, broad shoulders and fastback roofline. The Stinger’s wheelbase and overall length are slightly larger than its European rivals, giving it more interior space and excellent high-speed stability, a good thing given its 167-mph top speed.

The Stinger’s upscale exterior design is matched by a premium cabin with standard leather seats or optional hand-stitched Nappa leather. A wide dash with large, round vents contributes to the interior’s classic design and spacious demeanor.

Driven by Performance

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Taking on Europe’s best sport sedans requires more than a shapely body and supple leather. Kia knew it had to go all in with the Stinger, building it on an all-new, rear-wheel-drive chassis composed of 55 percent high-strength steel while leveraging structural adhesives throughout the platform. Both elements contribute to the Stinger’s rigid foundation, improving driving dynamics and passenger protection.

The 2018 Kia Stinger is powered by either a 2.0-liter, turbocharged 4-cylinder engine or a twin-turbocharged 3.3-liter V6. The standard 2.0-liter produces 255 horsepower and 260 lb-ft of torque, which Kia says will propel the Stinger from zero-to-60 mph in 5.9 seconds. The V6 is good for 365 horsepower, 376 lb-ft of torque and a zero-to-60 time of 4.7 seconds. Both engines send power through an 8-speed automatic transmission to either the rear wheels or all four wheels on Stingers equipped with the optional all-wheel-drive system.

Also: See the other new and redesigned models for 2018

Our driving experience with the 2018 Kia Stinger was limited to models with the larger V6 engine, but we did try both rear- and all-wheel-drive versions on a variety of roads, including a closed-course facility. Under all these conditions the Stinger provided a superb balance of refined ride quality and capable performance. Intuitive steering response and controlled body roll gave us confidence when pushing the car hard at the track. All V6 Stingers come standard with 4-wheel Brembo disc brakes, and these delivered progressive, controlled stopping power even during our most aggressive driving behavior on a hot day in California’s high desert. They feature an anti-fade technology that automatically increases boost when needed.

Personalized Driving Style | Drive Mode Select

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The 2018 Kia Stinger is offered in five trim levels, starting with the 4-cylinder “Stinger” and “Stinger Premium” trims and continuing on to the V6-powered “Stinger GT”, “Stinger GT1” and “Stinger GT2” trims. All five trims include a Drive Mode Select system that lets the driver toggle between Smart, Eco, Comfort and Sport modes, altering the Stinger’s suspension settings, exhaust note, throttle response, steering weight, and all-wheel-drive system. There’s also a “Custom” mode for adjusting each of those components individually. For performance-oriented driving we found “Sport” worked well for every setting…except steering, which felt unnecessarily heavy. Using the Stinger’s “Custom” drive mode to put steering in Comfort, while leaving everything else in Sport mode, created the perfect blend of throttle, suspension, all-wheel drive, and steering response. This setup also gave full voice to the V6’s rewarding exhaust note.

Rear-Wheel Drive | All-Wheel Drive

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With all-wheel drive (AWD) offered on every trim of the Kia Stinger it’s easy to configure the new sport sedan to your personal preference. We tested rear- and all-wheel-drive versions extensively and enjoyed the driving dynamics provided by both. While all-wheel drive will consistently generate greater cornering grip, along with higher confidence in slick road conditions, it’s not uncommon for AWD to give cars a heavier, less-responsive nature. The Kia Stinger avoids this with a rear-biased AWD system that includes dynamic torque vectoring. By constantly altering which wheel(s) power flows to, based on steering input and available traction, the Stinger retains the nimble nature of a traditional rear-wheel-drive sport sedan while adding additional front-wheel grip when it benefits traction and driver control. For rear-wheel-drive Stingers, an optional limited-slip differential is available on V6 models.

High-Performance Wheels and Tires

Kia Stingers equipped with the 4-cylinder engine ride on 18-inch alloy wheels with Michelin Pilot Sport 4 225/45 performance tires engineered specifically for the Stinger. All V6 models come standard with 19-inch alloy wheels wearing the same Michelin Pilot tires sized 225/40 in front and 255/35 in back. Buyers looking for a softer ride from their V6 Kia Stinger can opt for the same 18-inch wheels from the 4-cylinder Stingers.

Advanced Driver Assistance Systems

Kia supplements the Stinger’s driving dynamics with a wide range of standard and optional driver assistance technologies. Every Stinger comes standard with traction and stability control, hill-start assist, front and rear park-distance warning sensors, and a rearview camera. Optional technologies range from forward-collision and pedestrian warning to lane-keeping assist, lane-departure warning, blind-spot monitoring, and driver-attention warning. Other advanced features, including automatic high beams, rear cross-traffic alert, radar cruise control, and a head-up display are also available.

Roomy and Upscale Interior with Plenty of Cargo Space

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The Kia Stinger’s svelte exterior envelops a roomy, premium interior with standard leather seats and LED lighting. Legroom is plentiful in the front and rear seats, though the Stinger’s sloping roofline might make headroom tight in the back for those over six feet tall. Cargo space is also impressive because of the Stinger’s rear hatch that hinges above the glass. With the rear seats up, there’s 23.3 cubic feet of storage space. That number jumps to 40.9 cubic feet with the rear seats folded down.

Standard luxury features include a 12-way power driver’s seat, 8-way passenger, dual-zone automatic climate control, heated front seats, a 7-inch touch-screen display, and a heated, leather-wrapped steering wheel. Additional standard features, like steering wheel audio controls, Apple CarPlay, Android Auto, push-button start, and keyless entry give even base-model Stingers genuine luxury chops.

Buyers seeking additional luxury can specify a 16-way driver’s seat and 12-way passenger seat, both of them ventilated and covered in Nappa leather, but only on top-trim Kia Stinger GT2s. All V6 models come with aluminum pedals and door sill plates, “GT”-embossed headrests, a flat-bottom steering wheel, and a 180-mph speedometer (4-cylinder Stingers have a 160 mph speedo). Other features, available on mid-grade Stingers, range from an 8-inch touch screen with navigation to an upgraded 9-speaker audio system.

Premium Harman Kardon Audio System

A 15-speaker, 720-watt Harman Kardon audio system comes standard on the Kia Stinger Premium, GT1 and GT2 trims. This system features door-mounted tweeters, dual underseat subwoofers, a 12-channel external amp, 5.1 channel surround sound processing, and Harman Kardon’s propriety “clari fi” signal-enhancing technology. The latter is designed to fill in the signal gaps from compressed digital audio. Our experience with clari fi confirms it works as advertised, giving MP3 and satellite radio a richer tonal quality. If the Harman Kardon or mid-grade 9-speaker audio system are too rich for your blood, the base Kia Stinger audio system still includes HD and satellite radio with 6 speakers.

Kia’s UVO3 Infotainment System

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The new Stinger features Kia’s latest connected-car technology in the form of UVO3. This system includes the aforementioned Apple CarPlay and Android Auto as standard features, but it can also integrate with a smartphone app to provide vehicle location tracking, geo fencing, over-the-air vehicle diagnostics, and voice-operated controls for making phone calls or controlling the audio system. The system can also contact emergency services automatically, to request help.

Stinging the Competition

Kia regularly referenced cars like the Audi S5 SportbackBMW 440i Gran Coupe, Lexus GS, and even the Porsche Panamera when discussing the Stinger’s target competition. As we sat in the technical briefing prior to driving the Stinger, it was tough to reconcile those comparisons. After experiencing the Kia Stinger those references to established, benchmark sport sedans made sense. The 2018 Kia Stinger rivals those cars in styling, premium features and interior space. It even matches or beats most of them in terms of driving performance, though the Panamera remains a step ahead of the Stinger (as it should, given its more than double starting price).

Kia’s Value Equation Remains Intact

The 2018 Kia Stinger will go on sale in late November for a starting price around $33,000 for the 4-cylinder version and $40,000 for the V6. That’s substantially less than the sport sedans Kia targeted with the Stinger. Despite Kia’s lack of history in this segment the company is confident buyers of traditional European and Japanese luxury sedans will be intrigued by the Stinger’s combination of style, performance, features and price. All Kia really wants is an opportunity to speak to these shoppers. Buyers willing to give the Stinger a test drive could very likely abandon their original purchase plan, going with this upstart sport sedan instead.

 

Photo Gallery: 2018 Kia Stinger

Numbers and Details

How much legroom does the Stinger have? Which trim offers the 19-inch wheels? Does it really have Nappa leather? Some of those questions can be answered below, others will require further research.

Stinger
$33,000 est. (all prices listed include $895 destination charge)

5-passenger capacity
255-horsepower 2.0-liter turbocharged 4-Cylinder
8-speed automatic transmission
160-mph speedometer
Rear-wheel drive
Leather seats
12-way power-adjustable heated driver seat
8-way power-adjustable heated passenger seat
Heated steering wheel
Dual-zone climate control
Steering wheel mounted shift paddles
7-inch touch-screen display
Push-button start
Keyless entry
Auto-dimming rearview mirror
HD/Satellite/MP3 6-speaker audio system
18-inch alloy wheels
Bi-function projection headlights
LED daytime running lights
LED taillights

Stinger Premium
$N/A
LED bi-function projection headlights
LED rear turn signals
Power tilt/slide sunroof
Power tilt/telescoping steering wheel
Auto-dimming rearview mirror with HomeLink
2-position memory for driver’s seat
8-inch touch-screen display with navigation
15-speaker, 720-watt Harman Kardon Audio System

Stinger GT
Price: $39,000
3.3-liter twin-turbocharged V6
180-mph speedometer
“GT” headrest logo
Flat-bottomed steering wheel
Aluminum dash trim
Aluminum pedals
Aluminum door sill plates
HD/satellite/MP3 9-speaker audio system
19-inch alloy wheels
Body-colored outside door handles
Black chrome power-folding heated outside mirrors
“GT” grille emblem
Black-chrome side vents
High-gloss hood vents
Dark-chrome window trim

Stinger GT1
Price: $N/A

7-inch TFT gauge cluster display with G-meter, oil temp, torque, turbo boost, chrono lap timer
Auto-dimming outside mirrors

Stinger GT2
Price: $N/A

Premium Nappa leather seat trim with unique shape and pattern
16-way power-adjustable driver’s heated and ventilated seat
12-way power-adjustable passenger heated and ventilated seat
Shift-by-wire gear selector
Head-up display
Forward collision avoidance with pedestrian warning
Forward collision warning system
Lane-keep assist
Lane-departure warning
Driver-attention warning
Blind-spot warning
Rear cross-traffic collision warning
Smart cruise control
High-beam assist
Limited-slip differential
Dynamic low-beam headlight assist
Smart trunk with power opening

2018 Kia Stinger Specs
Engine: 2.0-liter Turbo 4 or 3.3-liter Twin-Turbo V6
Transmission: 8-speed automatic
Drivetrain: Rear-wheel drive, All-wheel drive
Horsepower: 255 hp @ 6,200 rpm (2.0-liter), 
365 hp @ 6,000 rpm (3.3-liter)
Torque: 260 lb-ft @ 1,400-4,000 rpm (2.0-liter), 
376 lb-ft @ 1,300-4,500 rpm (3.3-liter)
Fuel Economy: N/A
Zero-to-60 MPH: 5.9 seconds (2.0-liter), 4.7 seconds (3.3-liter)
Curb Weight: 3,800 lbs (rear-wheel drive) to 4,000 lbs (all-wheel drive)
Wheelbase: 114.4 inches
Length: 190.2 inches
Height: 55.1 inches
Width: 73.6 inches

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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.

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Price as tested: $26,805

 

Subaru BRZ/Toyota 86

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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.

 

2018 KIA RIO FIRST DRIVE: QUIET, CAPABLE AND QUIETLY CAPABLE

By Jay Ramey : September 27, 2017
Source:autoweek.com

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)
OBSERVED FUEL ECONOMY: 31
PROS: Comfortable, quiet, intuitive controls, spacious front cabin, great visibility
CONS: Rear legroom a bit tight, trunk space not generous without seats folded down

2018 KIA STINGER 2.0 FIRST TEST: LOOK OUT BMW, HERE COMES KOREA

Driving the new Stinger’s turbo-four variant

By Angus MacKenzie: October 18, 2017
Source: www.motortrend.com

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
LATERAL ACCELERATION 0.85 g (avg)
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

Source: https://www.thestar.com/

 

 

The 2017 Kia Niro Is a Great Hybrid. Really.

By Lawrence Ulrich: July 11, 2017
Source: www.thedrive.com

Is there anything that Kia and Hyundai can’t do? The South Korean brands transformed themselves from a punch line to a powerful force in affordable cars, and together, Hyundai and Kia sold 1.4 million cars in America in 2016—more than double the Volkswagen Group’s total sales, and not far behind the behemoths of Nissan and Honda.

Hyundai drew more snickers when it started building luxury cars, but its Genesis brand is finding a foothold with models like the G70. Kia is aiming for bigger game as well with its stylish 2018 Stinger sport sedan, an affordable rival to a BMW 4-Series Gran Coupe and Audi A5 Sportback.

Kia

Now it’s hybrid time. And quite remarkably, the Kia Niro—the brand’s first-ever shot at a dedicated hybrid—represents a genuine leap forward, even if giveaway gas prices may blunt its market significance. The Kia is practical and ultra affordable for a car of this quality, starting from $23,795. It delivers remarkable economy, with a Prius-like EPA rating of up to 50 mpg in combined city and highway driving—an official figure that I crushed in real-world driving, observing well over 60 mpg on one hour-long highway run. And in stylish contrast with the tubby Toyota, or even Chevy’s all-electric Bolt, the Kia doesn’t look like a science geek’s misshapen flask or a cheap econobox. Instead, the Niro is a handsome if self-effacing tall hatchback—or a subcompact wagon if you prefer—with a seating position that’s about four inches lower than a Honda CR-V or other small SUV. That straightforward approach to high mileage, minus the earnest, earth-saving gimmicks, is part of what makes the Kia so compelling. It’s just a car, and a very good one.

The Kia shares a dedicated, front-drive hybrid chassis with the new Hyundai Ioniq. Like the Ioniq, the Niro will spawn a plug-in hybrid and pure EV in addition to this conventional hybrid version. A 1.6-liter four-cylinder engine with dual cooling circuits adopts the frugal Atkinson cycle. Kia claims the engine extracts energy from unleaded gasoline at 40 percent thermal efficiency—a number achieved only by the Prius, or the best diesels. By its lonesome, the engine manages just 104 horsepower and 109 pound-feet of torque. But a 43-horsepower electric motor rides shotgun between the engine and a six-speed, dual-clutch transmission, and draws from a small 1.6 kilowatt-hour battery hidden below the back seat. Add it up, and you’ve got 139 horsepower and 195 pound-feet of torque. A second clutch allows brief bouts of all-electric propulsion, but not much beyond 15 or 20 mph. A Prius or Ford Fusion Hybrid has the edge here, with the ability to light-foot it around town at higher speeds without the engine firing up. The Kia still aggressively seeks to shut down the engine whenever you’re coasting or working through heavy traffic; While conventional cars fritter away gasoline, the Kia’s mileage soars.

That dual-clutch transmission, despite a very occasional hiccup as it divvies up gas and electric power, is one of several Kia trump cards. Most every hybrid employs some form of continuously variable transmission. For all their NASA-complex planetary gearsets and control algorithms, there’s no escaping their non-linear operation, those oozy power surges and weird disconnect between the engine’s speed and actual acceleration. In pleasing contrast, the Kia feels like its engine is actually connected to the wheels, because it is. Slide the smartly sculpted shifter into Sport mode—you’ll be doing this a lot, because the Eco mode is doddering and too eager to upshift – and you’ve got direct control over six real gears.

KIa

The pleasure continues inside, where the Kia recalls the boxy Soul. The cabin is an exemplar of generous features, quality materials, easy-peasy controls and a sharp eye for details. Chevrolet should take notes on the Niro interior, and undertake an emergency upgrade for the Bolt and its cheapjack, Barbie-plastic cabin. Even the Kia’s driver’s gauge cluster avoids the cutesy, video-game approach of many hybrids and EVs, while still remaining handsome and thoroughly informative. I also loved the Niro’s low driving position, only about 1.5 inches higher than a typical small sedan. It’s a refreshing change from the jacked-up stance of many crossovers, and it helps make the Kia feel less prone to body roll, more like a car. Ditto for the low load-in height at the rear, no taller than a traditional wagon. And there’s no all-wheel-drive, even as an option, because the Kia frankly doesn’t need it. The Niro feels solid and quiet, with a standard acoustic windshield. It steers with aplomb, smooths out the rough stuff, and delivers just-enough grip, shod with 16-inch, low-rolling-resistance rubber. A top-line Touring model gives up a few mpg, but adds larger and substantially stickier 18-inch wheels.

Kia

The Niro isn’t fast by any means, ambling to 60 mph in just over 9 seconds in my hands. Yet for this type of car and driving mindset, the languid pace didn’t bother me in the least. I never struggled to keep pace with traffic, or even pass it. Like other mildly motivated cars, the Kia mostly reminds you of how slow the average American drives; and how it doesn’t matter if you have 100 horsepower or 1,000 horsepower if you’re stuck in traffic, or in a line of fast-lane dawdlers at 62 mph. The Niro’s brake pedal also feels natural, with a smooth transition from motor-driven regenerative braking to the mechanical stoppers. But the brakes themselves could be stronger, as I nearly locked up the front brakes during a forced panic stop on the highway.

Kia

And man, is this Kia a teetotaler. Pussyfooting the gas pedal like a Prius veteran, I kept the Niro at 62 mpg on a 50-mile highway run, and that in hilly terrain. Boosting the pace to between 65 and 75 mph on another long stretch, I still saw 48 mpg. All told, the Kia returned 53 mpg combined over several days of driving, and that included some miserable, short city runs in Brooklyn and Manhattan that sapped my economy.

Displays can help coach a driver toward thrifty operation, including a simple power meter in the gauge cluster. And instead of amassing silly, digital green leaves (as in a Ford hybrid), a center screen display breaks your driving time into three categories – Economical, Normal and Aggressive – and assigns a percentage to each. Playing goody-two-shoes – or maybe goody right-shoe — to boost my grade, I was upset when simply climbing a steep hill upped my “Aggressive” score to three percent of the total. Intrigued at this digital bioryhthm game, I tried to drive the Kia in batshit-crazy fashion, just to see how bad my score could get. My “aggression” maxed out at 38 percent, no matter how many times I mashed the gas, suggesting that the Niro’s programming needs work, or that the car just didn’t want to hurt my feelings.

Kia

The Kia will definitely spare guilt feelings over profligate spending, with a base price of just $23,785. That fare slightly undercuts a Prius or Ford C-Max Hybrid. It positively kneecaps the Nissan Rogue and RAV4 hybrids, which cost a respective $3,000 and $5,000 more. My Niro EX model was laden with goodies, a short list including an excellent 7-inch color touchscreen; Apple Car Play and Android Auto; adaptive cruise control and automated emergency braking. The Niro EX started from $26,595 and went out-the-door for $28,895. A stylish, smooth-driving hatchback that can top 50 mpg, for under $30,000? With VW diesels gone to the scrapheap in the sky, that’s going to be hard to beat.

Kia

Give Toyota credit: Across two decades, the Prius’ unbeatable mileage and reliability have set the hybrid trend and made it America’s best-seller by far. Its smug green styling and wince-worthy driving dynamics have set a more-unfortunate trend.

The Niro has the potential to break that cycle, to convince people that a hybrid can deliver on the high-mileage promise without making its owner look like a twit or a starving student. And of all the companies to pull this off, it’s Kia. Not Ford, not GM, not Nissan or Subaru. What’s Kia going to design next, a supercar? Whatever you do, don’t laugh. As recent history indicates, Kia will just take it as a challenge.

 

 

Lawrence Ulrich, The Drive’s chief auto critic, is an award-winning auto journalist and former chief auto critic for The New York Times and Detroit Free Press. The Detroit native and Brooklyn gentrifier owns a troubled ’93 Mazda RX-7 R1, but may want to give it a good home. Email him at Lawrence@thedrive.com.

 

The 2018 Kia Stinger Defies Germany’s Famed Nürburgring Nordschleife Race Track

By: Michael Harley June 26, 2017
Source: Forbes

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Copyright Kia Motors

The 2018 Kia Stinger at speed on the Nurburgring.

I can’t believe that I am doing 153 mph down the long straight at Nürburgring’s Nordschleife in a Kia. Years of experience reviewing cars had cemented my opinion of the Korean automaker ― typically front-wheel drive, economy minded, and value oriented — but all of that is in the process of being shattered by its all-new Stinger. I’m lapping the planet’s most challenging race track, a meandering 12.3-mile “Green Hell,” in a twin-turbocharged Stinger GT that has completely changed the way I look at the brand.

To refresh your memory, the Kia Stinger is a turbocharged rear- or all-wheel drive five-door engineered to compete directly against the Audi A5 Sportback and BMW 4 Series Grand Coupe. Based on the Kia GT concept that was revealed at the Frankfurt Motor Show in 2011 — a prototype so well received that management gave a green light for production — the production version is designed to be as sporty as it is stylish and luxurious.

“The new Kia Stinger is a true gran turismo, a car for spirited long-distance driving,” explains Gregory Guillaume, Kia Motors Europe’s Chief Designer who sculpted the vehicle at the company’s design center in Frankfurt, Germany. “It’s not about outright power, hard-edged dynamics and brutal styling all at the expense of luxury, comfort and grace. The Stinger has nothing to do with being the first to arrive at the destination – this car is all about the journey. It’s about passion.”

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A handful of Stingers, fueled and ready to lap the famous German track.

Few questioned Kia’s ability to execute on its lofty promise, especially after it hired Albert Biermann away from BMW in late 2014. The highly respected Vice President of Engineering at BMW M Automobiles — the M3 and M5 are on his resume — is now tasked with running vehicle test and high-performance development at Hyundai Motor Group. When Biermann was first shown the near-finished clay models of the future Kia Stinger, he turned to Guillaume and remarked with a smile, “Now, I need to make it drive as good as it looks.”

That wouldn’t be easy, as Kia’s ordinary front-wheel drive architecture is wonderful for interior packaging, low manufacturing cost, and fuel efficiency, but that goodness comes at the expense of driving dynamics. Following the lead of BMW and Mercedes-Benz, two automakers that choose a more balanced rear-wheel drive configuration, Kia borrowed a platform from its premium Genesis sibling (like those automakers, Kia will also offer an all-wheel drive powertrain). The new architecture, which is engineered for a sporty and premium ride, boasts a suspension that uses MacPherson struts in the nose and a five-link design in the tail — it is complemented by Kia’s Dynamic Stability Damping Control (DSDC), for a driver adjustable ride.

Power is also a necessity, so Kia drops one of two engines under the Stinger’s hood. Standard models (offered as the ‘Stinger’) are fitted with a turbocharged 2.0-liter, four-cylinder, rated at 252 horsepower and 260 pound-feet of torque. The upgraded model (badged ‘Stinger GT’) arrives with a twin-turbocharged, 3.3-liter, six-cylinder engine rated at 365 horsepower and 376 pound-feet of torque. An eight-speed automatic transmission, with steering wheel-mounted paddle shifters, is standard equipment.

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A luxurious cockpit designed with the driver in mind.

Full disclosure: I’ve already driven the Kia Stinger GT twice. I had a Kia Stinger First Drive in Korea last December, and a Kia Stinger Second Drive in the Arctic Circle in February — both opportunities revealed countless details about the vehicle (read both stories for in-depth technical details), but none could come close to the hands-on experience of driving the Stinger GT on the challenging north loop of Nürburgring.

Kia brought a half-dozen Stinger GT models to Germany, each painted in blazing metallic red (technically, one was a vinyl wrap) — three rear-wheel drive and the balance all-wheel drive. Other than two minor tweaks (the vehicles are wearing Euro-spec brake pads and suspension components because Americans prefer things quieter and softer — they are identical to the vehicles arriving in local showrooms later this year. With keys in hand, I was instructed to climb behind the wheel and chase a professional driver (also in a Stinger GT) around the long circuit. Sounds easy, except the Nürburgring is everything but.

Review: 2017 Kia Niro is the anti-hybrid hybrid ready to take on Prius

Take heed, Toyota Prius. Kia’s new built-from-the-ground up 2017 Niro hybrid crossover is ready to duke it out for your sales title.

Well, yes and no. Kia officials won’t specifically say so, lest it not work out the way they hope.

And while John Adzija, Kia Canada’s national manager of corporate communications, believes the Niro will indeed lure customers away from the Prius, he says the South Korean auto maker isn’t specifically targeting the hybrid universe’s long-time reigning champ.

“No, not per se,” he said, following a product briefing deep in the heart of Texas. “You alienate a lot of people when you focus on the ‘cult’ of Prius customers.”

image

Photos by Darren McGee

In other words, Kia believes the Niro will provide sales competition for the Prius and other eco-warriors – free of the geek factor stigma. Electric and hybrid vehicles can be polarizing. Think Chevy Bolt, BMW i3, the Prius, and so on. Many have that funky, green feel with their, uh, often unique, stylings. Kia, however, has gone to great lengths to make the Niro blend in with the conventional SUV pack. It’s a hybrid that conceals the fact that it’s a hybrid.

That’s not to say the Niro is just another run-of-the-mill ride in an over-populated segment. Au contraire. Technically, it’s a wagon, not a compact crossover, but crossover sounds cooler, and those sell like hotcakes. And it does incorporate several CUV/SUV design cues: it’s aggressive and athletic looking, featuring Kia’s signature tiger nose grille; and the ride is taller than expected, with wonderful sight lines.

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Inside, the Niro features a simple, elegant, upscale look with a clean, uncluttered, and functional console. Everything is where it should be, including an 7-inch infotainment screen which supports Apple CarPlay and Android Auto.

Now, here’s where the Niro plans to give the Prius a run for its money: gas mileage. Its fuel economy numbers compare favourably with the Prius, although the Prius wins by a slim margin (4.4 litres/100 km city, and 4.6 highway, versus 4.5 city and 4.8 highway for the Niro). The Niro achieves its stellar fuel efficiency thanks to an extensive use of aluminum; additionally, it’s equipped with air curtains, a rear spoiler and active grille shutters to help give it a 0.29 co-efficient of drag, versus 0.24 for the Prius. Still, that’s impressive, especially when the Niro’s high ride is factored in.

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Its powertrain makes a combined 139 horsepower and 195 lb-ft of torque and, in sport mode along desolate, twisty country roads outside San Antonio, provided an engaging, entertaining ride. Unfortunately, sport mode will kill some of the fuel efficiency, while the sluggish default eco mode will kill much of the driving enthusiasm.

But here’s where the gloves come off. The Niro’s starting price is $2,195 less than the $27,190 base pricetag for the Prius. Prices for the Niro’s other trim levels (there are four in total) have yet to be announced. And there’s a plug-in Niro hybrid in the works.

So, is it a feasible alternative to the popular Prius? The Niro makes a compelling case for itself and it’s definitely a contender – especially for those who aren’t comfortable displaying their inner geek so publicly.

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TECH SPECS

Base price: $24,995

Engine: 1.6-litre four-cylinder with a 1.56-kWH lithium-ion battery

Transmission/Drive: Six-speed automatic/Front-wheel drive

Fuel economy (litres/100 km): 4.5 city, 4.8 highway

Alternatives: Toyota Prius V, Ford C-Max Energi, Toyota RAV4 hybrid

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RATINGS

Looks: Kia’s aim was to make its new hybrid look mainstream. It succeeded.

Interior: There’s room for five comfortably. A heated steering wheel is standard, as are heated front seats.

Performance: It’s not overwhelming, but the Niro has plenty of giddyup off the line, and for passing prowess.

Technology: Kia’s new Eco-DAS (Driver Assistance System) features Coasting Guide, which advises the driver on when to coast and brake. Predictive Energy Control, meanwhile, uses the nav system and cruise control to anticipate topographical changes on the road ahead to manage energy flow, determining when it’s best to recharge the battery and when its best to expend stored energy to optimize efficiency. Eco-DAS, however, is only available on the Niro’s highest trim level, the SX Touring.

Cargo: There’s a reasonable amount of space, enough for a full load of groceries or two large golf bags.

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THE VERDICT

8.5

Traditionalists will love this anti-hybrid hybrid.

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The writer was a guest of the auto maker. Content was not subject to approval.

 

By DARREN MCGEE

Published

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