Category Archives: Insight Articles

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.”

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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

Original Article Here

Kia’s new Niro is perky hybrid crossover with excellent fuel economy and surprising performance

Source: Driving.ca By Graeme Fletcher – February 2, 2017

 

Fuel economy standards are getting tougher every year, so all manufacturers are being forced to look for ways to reduce the reliance on gasoline. In 2025, the corporate average fuel economy (CAFE) standards in the United States will hit 54.5 miles per gallon, or 4.3 L/100 km. The only real solution is the electrification of the drivetrain – and Kia’s latest hybrid, the new Niro, is aimed at meeting that goal without killing the fun of the drive.

From the headlights to the rear roof-mounted spoiler, the Niro is a cute-ute that’s reminiscent of the Rondo, but with an edgier visage. It’s also destined to do battle with the likes of the Toyota Prius V and Ford C-Max hybrids. Tough competition, but as the drive proved, the Niro has the wherewithal to be a player.

Riding on a 2,700-millimetre wheelbase, there’s plenty of legroom in all spots and the tall roofline means enough headroom for a 6-foot-2 rider. Likewise, the cargo space is plentiful – 635 litres with the seats upright and 1,789 with them dropped. And, as the 1.56 kWh lithium-ion polymer battery sits beneath the rear seat, it does not eat into the space or utility.

 

2018 Kia Niro

 

The cabin is also marked by the quality of its materials — they look like they belong in a richer ride. The dash is simple in its elegance, with the left side of the instrumentation giving the charge state of the battery, fuel level and the combined distance to empty. This information is ringed with a charge/eco/power meter that shows what the system is doing.

The SX tested brought comfortable leather-wrapped front seats and a lengthy list of standard fare, including Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, both of which are accessed through an eight-inch touchscreen, as well as GPS navigation and eight gigabytes of built-in music storage. Safety-wise, a blind-spot monitor with rear cross-traffic alert, a lane departure warning system with lane-change assist, adaptive cruise control and automatic emergency braking are all part of the SX trim as well.

The Niro is powered by a 1.6-litre Atkinson cycle four-cylinder that puts out 104 horsepower and 108.5 lb.-ft. of torque. It’s married to a six-speed twin-clutch transmission and a 43-horsepower electric motor; the plus is it twists out 125 lb.-ft. of torque. The net result is a combined system output of 139 hp and, more importantly, 195 lb.-ft. torque from 1,000 rpm. This explains the Niro’s perky performance.

 

2018 Kia Niro

 

A big part of the driving feel is due to the efficiency and shift speed of the twin-clutch transmission. Goose the gas and the Niro canters off the line with spirit and it holds this ethic through the midrange and on to speed. On the drive route it stayed with some pretty quick traffic without missing a beat. The selectable Drive modes help; in this case, everything is accessed through the shifter. Drive equals Eco mode, while moving the shifter into the manual gate engages Sport, and bumping it back/forth brings manual. Eco is peppy and willing to do what the driver demands, and so it proved to be the mode of choice. However, move to Sport and efficiency takes a back seat because it locks out sixth gear unless shifted manually. Regardless, in Sport mode, the Niro scampers to 100 km/h in 9.5 seconds – two seconds faster than the Prius V.

New to Kia is the Eco Driver Assistance System, featuring Coasting Guide and Predictive Energy Control. The former maximizes fuel economy by coaching the driver on the best times to coast and brake. The latter taps into the navigation system to look for topographical changes on the road ahead. It then actively manages energy use, to determine the right place to recharge the battery and when to use the stored energy to improve efficiency; it is an interesting take on battery management.

All of this technology brings a claimed fuel economy of 5.1 L/100 km in the city and 5.8 on the highway for the SX. The base Niro, for that matter, is 270 kilograms lighter; it’s rated at 4.5 city and 4.8 highway. On our drive route, the SX yielded a stellar average of 5.4 L/100 km, which is better than the claimed number. On a straight town drive, it returned – if you can believe it – 3.7 L/100 km.

 

The efficiency thrust might make the Niro a bit of a dullard to drive. However, the strong platform gives the suspension a good base of operations and surprisingly tight handling. Throw in a nicely weighted steering setup and the grip provided by the SX’s P225/45R18 tires, and the Niro proved to be an entertaining drive. Remember, this is a hybrid crossover! The Niro also gets a thumbs-up for the brake pedal feel; so many hybrids feel mushy under foot, which makes a smooth stop a tougher task than it should be. The Niro’s pedal is firm and, consequently, easily modulated.

Kia’s new Niro is a perky drive that delivers excellent fuel economy and better performance than is expected of a traditional hybrid. Of more interest is the fact it will be joined by a plug-in version down the road, which promises even better economy.

The lone disappointment is pricing. The Niro L starts at $24,995 and goes up from there. The pricing was not given for the top-of-the-line SX tested, but with all of its added amenities/safety technology, it could sneak up on being rich.

First Drive: With 2018 Stinger, Kia Has A Worthy Challenger To German Premium Sedans

Source: Forbes by Michael Harley – January 8, 2017

“Drifting exercises will take place on the concrete skidpad,” instructs Albert Biermann, the gentleman tasked with heading testing and high performance development of Kia’s upcoming sport sedan. While the words ‘drifting’ and ‘Kia’ have been mutually exclusive for the past twenty years ― never to touch each other in the same sentence ― the South Korean automaker is drastically altering its course. Later this year, Kia will launch the 2018 Kia Stinger ― a turbocharged, rear-wheel drive, four-door engineered to compete directly against the Audi A5 Sportback and BMW 4 Series Grand Coupe.

2018 Kia Stinger - Photo courtesy Kia Motors

2018 Kia Stinger – Photo courtesy Kia Motors

You read that correctly. Kia, an automaker that made a name for itself with reliable, low-cost, vehicles targeting mainstream consumers has realigned its sights. The premium sedan segment, dominated by a handful of Europeans for years, is now in its crosshairs.

“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. “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.”

2018 Kia Stinger - Photo courtesy Kia Motors

2018 Kia Stinger – Photo courtesy Kia Motors

The passion that Guillaume romanticizes about was sparked by the Kia GT concept that was revealed at the Frankfurt Motor Show in 2011. That forward-looking prototype was a powerful rear-wheel drive sport sedan that tugged at the heart of Kia’s car enthusiast designers (and, being frank, most passers-by at the European auto show). “The Kia design team is full of car guys and girls. Cars are deeply rooted in our culture. We love cars – they’re in our hearts and in our blood,” professes Guillaume. The glistening pearl white GT concept would be the catalyst for the production of the Stinger, an all-new vehicle with a name paying homage to the GT4 Stinger concept revealed at the Detroit Auto Show in 2014.

Five years after the concept debuted in Frankfurt, I’m standing in a building at Kia’s research and design center outside Seoul, South Korea, peering at a near production-ready Stinger sedan — and it appears, at first glance, undeniably striking.

2018 Kia Stinger - Photo courtesy Kia Motors

2018 Kia Stinger – Photo courtesy Kia Motors

As expected, some of the radical show car touches meant for flair (e.g., rear-hinged back doors, flush handles and exterior mirrors mounted on the quarter panels) have disappeared, but the overall theme — a sporty and aggressively styled fastback — has been retained. A tape measure reveals that it is physically longer, wider, and taller than the Audi and BMW that it will compete against. Its overall look, led by Kia’s signature ‘Tiger Nose’ front grille, is well-proportioned and very European ― I see hints of Audi and Porsche from various angles. The design is fresh, cohesive and not over-styled like many of today’s Asian offerings.

The interior cleverly borrows more styling cues from the Europeans ― Audi, Mercedes-Benz and Jaguar come to mind. The cabin is intelligently configured, more traditional than futuristic, with a sporty upscale feel and premium materials. Best of all, the Stinger’s greater exterior dimensions and longer wheelbase translate to more passenger room than within the Audi A5 Sportback and BMW 4 Series Grand Coupe.

2018 Kia Stinger - Photo courtesy Kia Motors

2018 Kia Stinger – Photo courtesy Kia Motors

After a few hours poring over static models, I am escorted outside to Kia’s expansive test track where I meet up with a couple of camouflaged “test mules” (an industry term for pre-production vehicles) visually disguised in a black-and-white, triangle-speckled, vinyl wrap. The color scheme, which is meant to confuse spying eyes by hiding a vehicle’s character lines, doesn’t dissuade me from the mission ahead — Kia is allowing me to drive two early prototypes on its test track.

Eager like a 12-year-old, I drop behind the wheel, quickly adjust the seat and mirrors and then press a round start/stop button that is located to the right of the steering column. The turbocharged engine fires to life with a muted growl.

Kia explains that it will offer several variants of the sedan. Standard models, which will be sold as the ‘Stinger,’ arrive with a turbocharged 2.0-liter four-cylinder rated at 252 horsepower and 260 pound-feet of torque. That powerplant aligns nicely with Audi and BMW’s base 2.0-liter engines in terms of output. However, Kia takes the upper hand with the engine that is fitted to the ‘Stinger GT,’ which is a twin-turbocharged 3.3-liter ‘Lambda’ engine boasting 365 horsepower and 376 pound-feet of torque. That engine is significantly more powerful than both Audi and BMW’s 3.0-liter offerings, a fact that is mostly credited to its slighter larger displacement. An eight-speed automatic transmission, manufactured in-house, is the sole transmission.

2018 Kia Stinger - Photo courtesy Kia Motors

2018 Kia Stinger – Photo courtesy Kia Motors

Kia won’t disclose the precise architecture (I’m betting the platform is shared with the future Genesis G70), but it does say that rear-wheel drive (RWD) is standard, with all-wheel drive (AWD) optional. The RWD models vaunt a sporty mechanical limited-slip differential, while rear-biased AWD models are equipped with a sophisticated Dynamic Torque Vectoring Control. The suspension design utilizes MacPherson struts up front and a five-link design in the rear — both have been engineered to take advantage of Kia’s Dynamic Stability Damping Control (DSDC), a driver adjustable suspension.

I’m behind the wheel of a Stinger GT AWD model, fitted with the twin-turbocharged V6, with its nose pointed towards a challenging dynamic handling circuit. With the driving dynamics mode set to ‘Sport,’ I complete a slow reconnaissance lap before mashing the accelerator the floor. The acceleration is linear and strong but accompanied by an unexceptional amount of audible ferociousness as the speedometer needle climbs around its analog dial. The first few turns are shallow and quick, and the Kia glides through them rather painlessly with a moderate amount of body roll. The electrically assisted steering feels good (the motor is bolted to the steering rack to improve response) and extremely precise. The feedback through the wheel allows me to take pride in the fact that I can guide the sedan through the circuit’s apexes nearly flawlessly.

2018 Kia Stinger - Photo courtesy Kia Motors

2018 Kia Stinger – Photo courtesy Kia Motors

Wide-open throttle out of the corner commands a few rapid downshifts from the automatic gearbox. The gear changes are smooth and well executed (manual control of the steering wheel-mounted paddles delivers shifts that are 20% faster), pushing me back into my seat as the speed increases. At the end of the straight, nearing triple digits, I mash the brake pedal mercilessly hard. High performance four-piston Brembo calipers, which are standard on the Stinger GT, promptly cut the velocity by half as I enter the left sweeper (the brakes feel strong — subjectively better than the brakes on a BMW or Audi). Unfortunately, I’m still carrying far too much speed. Despite trail braking to slow my pace, the Stinger GT resorts to significant understeer and the Kia’s Vehicle Stability Management (VSM) and Electronic Stability Control (ESC) join together to ruin the party.

My next lap is much better. After dancing through the curves, I brake harder for the left sweeper at the end of the straight and get on the throttle early. Power to the wheels allows the torque vectoring system to guide the AWD sedan around the turn. There is still understeer and body roll, but no more than I would expect from a standard Audi or BMW, and it’s completely manageable. I mentally take note that this is the heaviest Stinger model — Kia won’t discuss specifics about mass, but my well-honed derrière says it weighs about 3,900 pounds. The Stinger GT AWD is enjoyable, but I really want to drive the enthusiast-tuned, rear-wheel drive, configuration.

The engineers answer my wishes with the opportunity to drive a Stinger GT RWD model on the company’s expansive test pad. First, I run through a high-speed slalom — an exercise that is a walk in the park for the sedan. Next, I take a few untimed acceleration runs on a long straight (expect the 2.0-liter to sprint to 60 mph in about six seconds flat. The 3.3-liter should do the same about a full second quicker). The GT demonstrates abundant muscle, but I do wish for a more aggressive exhaust note under wide-open throttle.

2018 Kia Stinger - Photo courtesy Kia Motors

2018 Kia Stinger – Photo courtesy Kia Motors

After a few stand-on-the-pedal braking exercises, which are violently dramatic yet effortless tasks for the Stinger (I don’t sense any fade), I am directed to an enormous concrete skidpad for drifting exercises. Drifting… in a Kia?

I can light up a pair of rear tires with ease when there’s 376 pound-feet of torque at the other end. Punch the Stinger GT in a corner at low speeds and it behaves like a well-mannered muscle car, slickly breaking both rear tires free in magnificent oversteer. I’m no Ken Block, so my sideways action typically results in a momentary glorious drift followed by an embarrassing full spin — no worries when the skidpad extends a few hundred yards in every direction. Someone with real talent will be able to ‘cord’ a set of rear tires in fewer than three minutes in the new Kia.

The handling circuit, slalom, acceleration runs and drifting exercises convince me that the Kia Stinger GT is the real deal — a bona fide sport sedan. That statement comes as no surprise to Guillaume, who tasked his team with engineering a vehicle that “looks the way it drives and drives the way it looks.” Kia even honed handling dynamics at a famed German racing circuit, but the objective wasn’t to set lap records like a race car. “That goes against the spirit in which the new Stinger was created,” explains Guillaume, “We used the Nürburgring to ensure the Stinger is capable of taking every kind of extreme road in its unflappable stride.”

2018 Kia Stinger - Photo courtesy Kia Motors

2018 Kia Stinger – Photo courtesy Kia Motors

The comments from Kia’s chief designer support my seat-of-the-pants impressions ― despite a specification sheet and chassis tuning that supports racing circuit prowess; the Stinger GT is a premium sport-tuned gran turismo for an everyday driving enthusiast, not a hardened competitor to the Audi S4, BMW M3, or any other challenger in that racy segment. Rather than fit ridiculously sticky tires, expensive carbon-ceramic brakes or a slew of nonsensical go-fast upgrades to chase numbers on a stopwatch, the engineering team focused its efforts on something that most automakers have long forgotten ― evoking driving emotion. The Stinger has character, and it’s fun to drive. BMW used to build vehicles like this ― is it possible that Kia has engineered a more emotional vehicle than the Bavarians?

“You cannot believe how excited I am about this car,” says Peter Schreyer, Kia’s Chief Design Officer. “The new Kia Stinger is going to fundamentally change the global image of Kia. I have no doubt it will revolutionize the way people think about us. It’s going to propel us upwards into a different era.”

Revolutions don’t take place overnight, but Kia is confident that those who slip behind the wheel of the upcoming Stinger and Stinger GT later this year will be thrilled with the styling, coddled by the premium interior and undeniably captivated by its driving dynamics. My one-day stint driving early prototypes in Korea left me genuinely impressed and craving more seat time, which is precisely the reaction that Kia’s designers and engineers are seeking.

― Michael Harley

2018 Kia Stinger - Photo courtesy Kia Motors

2018 Kia Stinger – Photo courtesy Kia Motors

Here’s What Bob Lutz Thinks About the Kia Stinger

R&T Contributor and auto industry icon Bob Lutz talks to us about the Kia Stinger.

By Travis Okulski | Jan 9, 2017

The surprise of the Detroit Auto Show has to be the lovely Kia Stinger, a four-door, rear-wheel drive sedan that is Kia’s first car released under the stewardship of Albert Biermann of BMW M fame.

We dig it, but we wanted to know what an industry icon thought of it, so we went to our own contributor, Maximum Bob Lutz.

If you’re not familiar, Bob Lutz’s resume includes cars like the BMW 3-series, Pontiac GTO, G8, Solstice, Saturn Sky, Cadillac CTS, Ford Explorer, Dodge Viper, and more. If there’s anyone who has insight on the newest Kia to hit America, it’s Bob.

Here’s what he thinks:

Ratings and Review: Change your attitude about Kia, and you’ll find the 2017 Sorento to be just about perfect

Source: New York Daily News by Liz Kim – October 19, 2016

It’s so unfair. Almost a quarter of a century has passed since Kia made its inauspicious debut to the U.S. market with a tiny econo-box called the Sephia, and yet it still struggles with negative brand association. Especially lately, the company is creating alluring, high-quality vehicles with just as much style and refinement as models from other automakers, but this appears to be lost in terms of American car culture.

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As a recent case in point, Kia was the punch line to a joke on Saturday Night Live. How is any car buyer, save for the few people whose egos are composed of carbon fiber, supposed to ignore this? How does someone justify spending $46,565 on a midsize crossover SUV equipped with a Kia badge? After all, that’s a big chunk of change in a segment full of choices, many of which are excellent vehicles and some of which wear a luxury nameplate.

NYDN_2017-Kia-Sorento-SXL-Silver-Front-Quarter-Left-Scrub

Cover up that Kia badge, and the 2017 Sorento SXL could be mistaken for a luxury SUV.

(Christian Wardlaw)

Thus, the stage is set for my review of a 2017 Kia Sorento, equipped with the top-of-the-line SXL trim level and all-wheel drive. For a week, I used the Sorento to shuttle kids to school, to run suburban errands, and to zoom from one end of the metropolitan Los Angeles area to the other. Could this be the Kia that can change hearts and minds and allow the company to credibly occupy the upper price ranges of mainstream vehicles? Could a loaded 2017 Sorento overcome that distinctive whiff of inferiority that automatically accompanies mentions of Kia?

Let’s find out.

Design: 8.5 rating

NYDN_2017-Kia-Sorento-SXL-Silver-Rear-Quarter-Right

Kia nails every one of the Sorento’s exterior design elements, creating one of the best-looking SUVs regardless of price.

(Christian Wardlaw)

While some car companies have adopted more angular and jarring design languages (read: polarizing), Kia sticks with rounded edges and mellifluous curves. Some may call the Sorento handsome, others might see it as bland, but few will deem it unattractive.

Slip inside the Sorento’s cabin and prepare to be dazzled by perforated, diamond-quilted, premium leather with trendy exposed stitching. Especially in my test car’s Ivory color, the upholstery is at once impressively luxurious and dismayingly impractical, as any parent knows that an off-white interior color combined with children equates to a depressingly dingy environment thanks to grimy, sticky little hands and filthy, flailing feet.

Still, in terms of scent and appearance, this upscale leather makes a clear statement that a Sorento SXL is not a cheap vehicle.

My only quibbles with the Sorento’s interior are the unbroken expanses of black dominating the carpets, the headliner, and especially the dashboard. While silver accent trim helps to lift the mood, the dashboard needs a contrasting strip of material for improved visual interest.

Comfort: 7.0 rating

NYDN_2017-Kia-Sorento-SXL-Ivory-Nappa-Leather-Front-Seats

The Sorento SXL’s front seats are quite comfortable and include heating and cooling.

(Christian Wardlaw)

Pleasingly plump, the Sorento’s front seats deliver good thigh support and decent bolstering. In the SXL, the driver’s seat supplies 14-way power adjustment while the passenger receives 8-way adjustment, and both seats are heated and cooled.

Should you seat three people in the second row, shoulder space is tight. Also, while the second-row seat reclines and slides forward and back on tracks, it may still prove cramped for taller people with long legs. My SXL test vehicle included heated outboard seating positions, retractable sunshades, a useful 115-volt three-prong power outlet, and a USB port to quell battery-life anxiety. A panoramic sunroof bathed the cabin in natural light.

The Sorento may boast a third-row seat, but bear in mind that it should be deployed only in emergencies, and then only for the small of stature. It’s nearly impossible for adults to squeeze between the second-row seat and roof pillar in order to get back there, and restricted room will likely bug anyone of greater than average height.

Before you try to squeeze your kids in, note how close the rear hatch glass is to the head restraints, and then fervently whisper a few Hail Marys that the Sorento doesn’t get rear-ended during the trip.

Controls: 9.0 rating

NYDN_2017-Kia-Sorento-SXL-Dashboard

Simple design and controls that adhere to long-standing conventions make the Sorento’s dashboard a delight to reference and use.

(Christian Wardlaw)

Simple trumps complicated, and Kia obviously kept this in mind when designing the Sorento’s dashboard.

Let’s celebrate knobs. Kia supplies them for increasing stereo volume, tuning between radio station, and for adjusting cabin temperature, providing the Sorento’s driver with the ideal solution for making such changes without taking his or her eyes off the road.

Let’s celebrate buttons. Kia supplies them for accessing the main infotainment system menus, selecting climate system functions, and activating the heated and cooled seats and the heated steering wheel. Large and equipped with intuitive markings, these buttons provide clear and quick reference while driving.

Let’s celebrate switches and stalks, too, the kind that operate exactly as you expect them to. And I can’t forget to mention the Sorento’s transmission shifter, a solid tool exuding quality, and one that works in traditional fashion. Even the manual shift gate is intuitive, the driver logically shifting up for an upshift and down for a downshift.

To say that you’ll instantly feel at home in a Sorento is an understatement.

Utility: 7.5 rating

NYDN_2017-Kia-Sorento-SXL-Cargo-Area

Cargo space behind the third-row seat is tight, but with it folded down there is plenty of room for a family.

(Christian Wardlaw)

Kia touts the Sorento as a midsize crossover SUV, and it qualifies, but just barely. Feeling narrower and snugger than some direct competitors, the Sorento also has more cramped cargo space.

Remember how I mentioned that this seat is positioned close to the rear liftgate? That’s reflected in the numbers; with the third-row seat in use, the trunk measures just 11.3 cubic feet. That’s tiny by small car standards, let alone a midsize crossover.

Fold the third-row seat down and you’ll have 38 cubic feet of volume, which is better aligned with the reason you’re buying a crossover in the first place. With the second-row seats folded, you’ll get 73 cubic feet of narrow but tall space. This number is barely larger than a Honda CR-V or Toyota RAV4, and is smaller than almost every midsize crossover on the market.

Technology: 9.5 rating

NYDN_2017-Kia-Sorento-SXL-UVO-Infotainment-System

Kia’s UVO infotainment system is easy to use, and rich in features.

(Christian Wardlaw)

Accessing entertainment and information is easy in the 2017 Sorento, because Kia’s excellent UVO infotainment system requires a short and shallow learning curve.

Pairing a smartphone is easy, and for 2017, the Sorento adds Apple CarPlay and Android Auto smartphone integration technology to make it simple and intuitive to use the more popular apps on your device. Primary menu buttons provide quick access to the system’s full functionality, allowing owners to set the Sorento up to specific preferences.

Beyond the usual cadre of satellite radio and connectivity features, UVO eServices provides free access to a number of connected services. Simply pair or connect your smartphone to the system, and through your data plan it provides Google Send-To-Car navigation instructions, 911 Connect emergency services, and a Parking Minder and Find my Car feature to help you to remotely locate the Sorento.

Furthermore, parents can squash youthful bad judgment with the Sorento’s programmable geographic boundary, speed and curfew alerts, while worrywarts can rely on maintenance reminders and an automatic vehicle diagnostics review to set their minds at ease.

Safety: 10 rating

NYDN_2017-Kia-Sorento-SXL-Ivory-Nappa-Leather-Rear-Seats

The Kia Sorento is an exceptionally safe SUV, and this second-row seat is roomy enough for three of your children.

(Christian Wardlaw)

From both crash avoidance and crash protection standpoints, the 2017 Kia Sorento is a veritable fortress on wheels.

Safety-related technologies that help drivers to avoid accidents include blind spot monitoring with rear cross-traffic alert, lane departure monitoring and a forward collision warning system with automatic emergency braking. Together, a rearview camera, rear parking sensors and a surround-view camera feature that knits together an image to present a top-down view of your immediate surroundings can keep your Sorento free from parking lot mishaps.

Should a collision prove unavoidable, you should know that the 2017 Sorento is a rock star in the crash-testing department. It earns a 5-Star rating from National Highway Traffic Safety Administration and a “Good” rating in all parameters of Insurance Institute for Highway Safety testing which, in combination with its forward collision prevention systems, translates into a “Top Safety Pick+” designation.

Rest assured that you’re putting the people you love the most into one of the safest vehicles in the midsize crossover SUV class.

Power and Performance: 8.0 rating

NYDN_2017-Kia-Sorento-SXL-Silver-Front-Quarter-Right

For plenty of power and performance, choose the Sorento’s 3.3-liter V-6 engine.

(Christian Wardlaw)

Under the Sorento’s hood, a 290-horsepower 3.3-liter V-6 supplies smooth, quiet, muscular power while a 6-speed automatic transmission feeds the energy to the SUV’s front wheels. An all-wheel-drive system is optionally available and towing capacity measures 5,000 pounds, which is more than many competitors.

Despite riding regular surges of copious acceleration, my test vehicle got 19.4 mpg on my test loop and returned 20.8 mpg during a week heavy with highway driving. This compares favorably to the EPA’s ratings of 17 mpg in the city, 23 mpg on the highway, and 19 mpg in combined driving.

Ride and Handling: 8.0 rating

NYDN_2017-Kia-Sorento-SXL-Silver-Profile

Dynamically, the Sorento exhibits a soothing ride and sophisticated handling.

(Christian Wardlaw)

If you placed masking tape on the Sorento’s steering wheel Kia badge and took this SUV for a spin around town, you would swear you were driving a more modern version of my sister’s first-generation Lexus RX. The Sorento has the same refined suppleness and soft, quilted ride quality that soaks up bumps before they can reach the cabin, despite the big 19-inch wheels that come standard with the SXL trim level.

That plushness comes at some cost when it comes to cornering, however, as the Sorento exhibits lean and wallow when pushed into a set of curves with too much speed. Still, with excellent brakes, heavy but mostly precise steering and tires that provide a good level of grip, the Sorento provides predictable, easily controlled handling.

Our Recommendation

NYDN_2017-Kia-Sorento-SXL-Silver-Rear-Quarter-Left-Rocks

You’re looking at one of the better midsize crossover SUVs your money can buy.

(Christian Wardlaw)

In the 2017 Sorento, Kia builds a stylish midsize crossover, a practical SUV, and an undeniably safe family hauler. Combine these traits with the SXL’s upscale detailing, the reliability reflected in the best warranty you can get, and the value that comes with regularly discounted prices and car loan terms, and there is genuine value to be found in a Kia Sorento.

Still, other people can be judgmental dimwits, can’t they? If you can get past what it used to mean to be a Kia owner, you can thumb your nose at the people looking down theirs while you stroke the fine perforated Nappa leather upholstery of your sumptuous Sorento SXL.

Total Vehicle Score:168/200 points

Overall Vehicle Rating: 8.4

Kia Tops in Happy Buyers

When it comes to being happy with your new car, owners of Kia’s new luxury car are the happiest of all, a new survey finds.

Kia scored highest when it came to a single model, but didn’t win the most categories, finds the 19th annual Vehicle Satisfaction Awards. It came in second, with four, behind General Motors, with five. Nissan had three.

“Competition is fierce and no one automaker dominates the results,” says George Peterson, president of AutoPacific.

The new survey buttresses another closely watched index in the auto industry, J.D. Power’s Initial Quality Study, which also showed big gains by South Korean automakers Kia and corporate cousin, Hyundai.

“Kia and Hyundai are continually improving owner satisfaction in key areas like reliability and quality, yet are also hitting the mark with safety, braking, handling, styling and seat comfort, not to mention a very satisfying warranty program,” Peterson says.

All told, the survey considered 66,000 responses involving 274 models from 33 brands for the 2015.

Among brands, big gains were seen by Jaguar, which moved up 11 positions, and Volkswagen, which moved up 10.

 

Kia K900

Kia’s K900 ranked top in AutoPacific’s survey of vehicle satisfaction

 

The list:

HIGHEST SATISFACTION PREMIUM BRAND: Tesla

HIGHEST SATISFACTION POPULAR BRAND: GMC

Luxury Car
Kia K900

Aspirational Luxury Car
Volvo S60

Luxury Mid-Size Car
Lexus ES

Large Car
Kia Cadenza

Mid-Size Car
Hyundai Sonata

Premium Compact Car
Lexus CT 200h

Compact Car
Kia Soul (tie), Volkswagen Jetta, Volkswagen Beetle

Economy Car
Honda Fit

Sports Car
Chevrolet Corvette

Sporty Car
Dodge Challenger

Heavy Duty Pickup
Ford F-Series Super Duty

Light Duty Pickup
Ford F-150

Compact Pickup
Kia Sportage

Luxury SUV
Infiniti QX80

Large SUV
Chevrolet Tahoe

Mid-Size SUV
Jeep Grand Cherokee

Premium Luxury Crossover SUV
BMW X5 (tie), Mercedes-Benz ML

Mid-Size Crossover SUV
Honda CR-V

Compact Crossover SUV
Kia Sportage

Minivan
Nissan Quest

Kia climbs to #2 in 2015 J.D. Power Initial Quality Study

Kia BUZZ Editorial Team

We are thrilled to announce that Kia Motors ranked second among 33 automotive brands in J.D. Power’s 2015 Initial Quality Study (IQS). Only Porsche, a premium brand, outranked Kia, meaning that Kia is now ranked #1 among mass market brands.

Now in its 29th year, the annual J.D. Power IQS measures the quality of vehicles based on the number of problems reported by vehicle owners within the first 90 days. This is by far the finest performance Kia has achieved in this study to date. Honored were the Kia Soul and Sorento, which received the highest scores in the compact multi-purpose vehicle (MPV) and midsize SUV segments, while the Rio, Optima, Cadenza, Sportage and Sedona (Grand Carnival) ranked among the top three in their respective categories.

2015 Soul

We believe the J.D. Power report leaves no doubt that Kia builds world-class vehicles, and the results are especially gratifying as the IQS study truly reflects the voice of our customers,” said Michael Sprague, Chief Operating Officer and EVP, Kia Motors America. “Kia’s rise is one of the industry’s greatest success stories and is driven by the hard work of thousands of team members around the world, as well as our long-term strategy to concentrate on quality, strengthen the brand and elevate the ownership experience.”

See the chart below for the full J.D. Power 2015 IQS rankings.

IQS Table Results

2015 KIA SEDONA EARNS NHTSA 5-STAR SAFETY RATING

2015 KIA SEDONA EARNS NHTSA 5-STAR SAFETY RATING IRVINE, Calif., April 15, 2015 – Kia Motors America’s (KMA) all-new 2015 Sedona has earned the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration’s (NHTSA) 5-star overall safety rating. With its long list of standard safety features and robust body structure, the Sedona received a 5-star rating on the NHTSA front-impact, side-impact and pole tests.

“NHTSA’s recent 5-star rating of the 2015 Sedona is a testament to Kia’s commitment to safety. The Sedona is all-new for 2015 and combines CUV-like styling, inside and out, with exceptional quality and the tremendous value our brand is known for,” said Orth Hedrick, vice president, product planning. “As families begin planning summer vacations in their Sedonas, they can feel confident in the engineering that went into their vehicle and that NHTSA has validated the product with its highest safety rating.”
The 2015 Sedona is built on an all-new chassis with static torsional stiffness that is 36-percent greater than its closest segment competitor. Furthermore, 76 percent of the body is composed of Advanced High Strength Steel (AHSS), which provides exceptional rigidity, durability and crash protection for all occupants. Adding to its stout structure, the Sedona has been engineered to distribute impact loads evenly through the body with ultra-high-strength steel tubes installed in the A pillars.

Kia BUZZ Editorial Team

Kia BUZZ Editorial Team

Kia’s premium SUV model, the all-new Sorento, made its overseas debut at the 2014 Paris Motor Show earlier this year. While it wowed the crowd with its bold look at first glance, there’s lots more to discover when it comes to this exciting new generation’s wide variety of features and specs. Spencer Cho, head of Kia’s Overseas Product Marketing Team, has broken down the reasons why the all-new Sorento is poised to be the best in its class.

Watch the full presentation here:

Roomy and Luxurious Design

Kia New Sorento Exterior

The 3rd generation Sorento is longer, wider, and lower than the previous generation. Its new look is not only sleeker but also provides more room for passengers, while making it easier to get into and out of the vehicle. The interior features a ‘modern and wide’ theme outfitted with high-end materials and an upgraded layout for a roomier feel.

Kia New Sorento Side

Excellent Safety Rating

All-new Sorento has been awarded the highest five-star crash safety rating by Euro NCAP thanks to its stronger structure and variety of passive and active safety features. Its body is composed of 53% ultra-high strength steel, making it more resistant to external impacts. The full range of advanced safety features, such as Active Hood System, Blind Spot Detection, and Advanced Smart Cruise Control incorporating Kia’s state-of-the-art technology, take all-new Sorento’s safety to a level that owners deserve.

Kia New Sorento Cargo

User-friendly Technologies

Driver comfort was a core requirement in the all-new Sorento’s development. The latest technologies were applied to create Kia’s most interactive SUV to date. Some of its user-friendly features include 8-inch Navigation Display, Smart Parking Assistant System, Idle Stop & Go, and Smart Power Tailgate, which automatically opens the tailgate for access to the cargo area when the smart key is within a meter of the rear of the vehicle for more than three seconds.