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Posts Tagged ‘kia reviews’

Kia Planning Production Version of GT Concept

But new model may go front- or all-wheel-drive.

by on Oct.25, 2013

The Kia GT concept first appeared in Frankfurt in 2011.

Kia will put the wildly popular GT concept vehicle unveiled at the 2011 Frankfurt Motor Show into production, according to reports from Korea. Or, to be more precise, it will add a GT model that will borrow some of the show car’s design cues but which may undergo significant changes from the vehicle displayed in Germany.

Most notably, the production Kia GT may wind up shifting away from the concept’s rear-wheel-drive layout, opting instead for a front-drive platform like those used for all but the Korean maker’s biggest new executive car.

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“We have plans to build a GT – we spoke about it at our global marketing conference in Singapore,” Soon-Nam Lee, Kia’s vice-president of overseas marketing, told the British publication Auto Express. “We’ll be mainly targeting the end of 2016 or early 2017.”


First Drive: 2012 Kia Rio Hatchback

First mainstream use of gas-saving Stop/Start technology.

by on Oct.26, 2011

The 2012 Kia Rio 5-door matches its mileage numbers with a distinctive design.

Long an afterthought in the American marketplace, Korean carmaker Kia is rapidly emerging from the shadows of its better-known sibling Hyundai.  And the 2012 Kia Rio hatchback is proof why.

This impressive new entry into the fast-growing subcompact segment is the maker’s latest to get 40 miles per gallon on the highway out of its direct-injected four-cylinder engine.  Give some of that credit to Kia’s introduction of breakthrough Stop/Start technology that can boost fuel economy as much as 5% — the first time this system has been offered in a mainstream U.S. product.

But while mileage may today be one of the first boxes buyers check when shopping for a new car, there are other key factors in the decision process and Kia comes to the front there, as well.

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Stylish on the outside and roomy on the inside, the new Rio is the handiwork of Kia’s Southern California styling center, which has done a first-rate job on the overall re-design.   Anyone who hasn’t check out the new look of the brand, in recent years, will be in for a shock at what has been accomplished by Kia’s design chief Peter Schreyer – who was responsible, in a past life, for Audi’s bold look.


Hip-Hop Hamsters Help Kia Outpace Industry

Korean maker now fastest-growing brand in U.S.

by on Oct.24, 2011

Kia's Hamstars are back - and continue to help draw new buyers into the maker's showrooms.

In a crowded field, Kia has emerged as the fastest growing automotive brand in the United States with a combination of new products, clever marketing and growing owner loyalty that has satisfied customers coming back for more. The combination also suggests Kia is benefitting from a surge of favorable “world-of-mouth” endorsements over backyard fences and across driveways.

Using hip-hop hamsters to promote new products that have shifted from stodgy to stylish is clearly paying off for Kia, long lost in the shadows of its better-known Korean sibling Hyundai.

Kia’s dealer count has gone up modestly but sales per dealership have doubled since 2008 as the company’s aggressive product cadence has produced a series of well-designed vehicles such as the Soul, Forte, Forte Koup, Sorento, Sportage, Optima and now the subcompact Rio and Optima Hybrid.

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The results have been an impressive sales surge. Kia announced best-ever September sales of 35,609 units, an 18.4% increase over the same period last year and the company’s 13th straight monthly sales record. For the year-to-date, Kia’s sales are up 37%, topping 365,000, boosting the company’s market share to 3.9%. The Korean automaker also expects to increase its 2011 market share for the 17th consecutive year, according to Tom Loveless, its vice president of sales.


Kia’s Hamsters Are Back

And this time they’re dancing to the Soul beat.

by on Aug.26, 2011

Kia's Hamstars are back -- and this time amateur video makers can get into the act.

Kia’s hip-hop hamsters are back and showing again that they’ve got soul.  Make that Soul, with the Korean maker ready to roll out an updated version of its boxy crossover.

The original, 2010 campaign for the Kia Soul introduced the animated stars and created perhaps more of a sensation for the commercial than for the car itself, though the crossover has proven itself a solid seller and a real halo product for the fast-growing brand.

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First shown driving amidst a wasteland of me-too automobiles, the “Hamstars,” as Kia calls them, returned to rap in a second campaign last year.  Now, they’re back and dancing to the sounds of “Party Rock,” the hit by electro-pop band LMFAO in a 60-second spot that somehow combines a music video with a setting that might have come from the popular videogame Halo.


Hyundai Tops Toyota, Honda in Owner Loyalty

“The power of attractive design.”

by on Jul.19, 2011

A "product renaissance" is helping Hyundai improve owner loyalty, according to a new study.

The upstart Korean automaker Hyundai has arguably done the best job of gaining ground at the expense of Japanese makers still struggling with shortages caused by the March 11 earthquake and tsunami.

Indeed, it seems like a lot of things are going right for Hyundai which now has topped traditional leaders Toyota and Honda in terms of owner loyalty, according to a new study.  The news lends credence to claims by the Korean maker that it will set another U.S. sales record this year.

According to online sales and data service, 52.3% of Hyundai buyers researched another model by the Korean maker as they searched for a new vehicle during the second quarter of 2011.  That compares to:

  • Honda at 49.7%;
  • Toyota at 47.7%;
  • Ford at 45.4%; and in fifth place
  • Subaru at 44.8%.

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Some industry analysts might question the metrics used by KBB, as loyalty is more traditionally defined as someone owning a vehicle actually purchasing a model from the same brand again.  But the research reflects general trends in Hyundai’s favor.


First Look: 2012 Kia Rio

Kia Soul facelift also debuting at NY Auto Show.

by on Apr.15, 2011

A very different Kia Rio debuts in NY.

The Korean carmakers are making record inroads into the U.S. market – and are determined to keep the momentum going.  So, look for some big news from Kia when it gets its turn in the spotlight at the upcoming NY Auto Show.

The smaller sibling of Hyundai has several big announcements coming at the Jacob Javits Convention Center, including the global debuts of the 2012 Kia Rio sedan and Rio5 hatchback, as well as the unveiling of the much-anticipated update of the quirky Kia Soul.

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The maker is keeping images of the latter box-mobile close to vest but we’ve gotten our hands on several shots of the next-generation Rio, shown here.  The updated model clearly adopts the aggressive new styling language we’ve already seen on models like the ’11 Optima and the new Elantra.

Chief designer Peter Schreyer’s team has come up with a small car that manages to look a lot more sporty and up-market than the old Rio, which was a classic econobox.  Both the sedan and Rio5 hatchback get more aggressive wedge shapes with broad, sloping shoulders.  In keeping with the latest styling trends, the two body styles feature large wheel wells and deeply sculpted door panels.

Kia will offer both a 4-door sedan and the Rio5 hatchback for 2012.

Both models are wider and longer than the vehicles they replace – but still deliver better mileage, a bit more than 40 mpg on the highway.  To get that additional economy Kia adopts new Direct-Injection technology, as well as Idle Stop-Go, which instantly shuts off the engine when idling, auto-restarting when the driver’s foot lifts off the brake.

The updated Soul, meanwhile, is expected to boast about 35 mpg on the highway, even though Kia hints it will announced a “significant” increase in performance during its NY news conference.  Give credit there to a new 6-speed gearbox.

Grainy spy shots suggest the basic shape of the wildly popular Soul won’t change much, though it is always about details.  New LED projector headlamps help Kia round out the overall silhouette of the 2012 Soul update.

First Drive: 2011 Kia Sportage SX

Forget the “cute ute.”

by on Mar.11, 2011

Kia's focus on distinctive styling shows through with the 2011 Sportage SX.

When it first appeared last year, the Kia Sportage crossover got generally good marks – and plenty of attention to its distinctive design.  The Korean maker has made a high priority of styling, as models like the all-new Optima demonstrate, and so, the Sportage took a distinctive route one might call the antithesis of the “cute-ute” styling repeated, as nauseum, by so many competitors.

That doesn’t mean it’s got a face only an owner could love.  This is no Pontiac Aztek.  The 2011 Sportage looks nice, whether parked or driving up in your rearview mirror.

Add to that a comfortable interior, excellent overall packaging and utility and with a substantial amount of standard equipment at a highly competitive price point and what you get is a surprisingly solid offering making its push into one of the most hotly contested segments in the car business.

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There was one frequent complaint raised, or at least whispered, by the car jocks who thought it was a bit under-powered out there on the great American highway.

Not anymore.  The new Kia Sportage SX blows away the perception that the vehicle’s innards are somehow compromised. Indeed, the turbocharged SX blows the doors off most of the cute utes without sacrificing the features that the Korean carmaker first introduced last year.


First Drive: 2011 Kia Optima

Known for cheap-and-cheerful offerings, Kia comes up with a styling benchmark with plenty of upscale features.

by on Sep.01, 2010

Striking good looks and plenty of features could help the new Optima win a new generation of buyers for Kia.

It’s not often that a single car can redefine a brand.  The original BMW 3-Series, for one, the new Hyundai Sonata at the other end of the spectrum.  Can Kia pull off the same sort of brand remake when it launches the 2011 Optima, later this year?

The Kia brand has been around for decades, though in its original incarnation its products were used to flesh out the low end of the Ford line-up, cheap-and-cheerful offerings like the Ford Aspire.  After it launched its own U.S. dealer network, in 1994, Kia continued to pursue the low end of the spectrum where only three things matter to buyers: price, price and price.

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But the automaker’s new crossover, the Kia Sorento, suggests that things just might be in for a big change, and the 2011 Kia Optima, which made its world debut at this year’s New York International Auto Show, is a sign of just how far the Korean carmaker is ready to reach.

Optima is the work of Peter Schreyer, the inordinately talented former Audi chief of design, who joined Kia several years ago with the promise of revamping the maker’s entire line-up.  If Sorento and, now, Optima are any indication, Kia could push past its big brother, Hyundai, which took control of the smaller Korean manufacturer in 1997.


Kia Uncovers a Quartet of New Products in New York – and Promises More

Korean maker aiming for big bump with 2011 Optima, exploring wagon options with Forte 5-door.

by on Apr.01, 2010

Kia has big expectations for its 2011 Optima midsize sedan, one of four new models unveiled at the New York Auto Show.

Aiming to build on its current momentum, Kia rolled out a quartet of new products at the New York International Auto Show – and promised more will soon follow, including the brand’s first hybrid-electric vehicle.

The most significant of the new offerings on display at Jacob Javits Center is the 2011 Kia Optima, an all-new update of the Korean carmaker’s midsize sedan.  Like its sibling brand, Hyundai, Kia has been putting an increasing premium on styling, and the ’11 Optima is no exception.

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“This is a design to be benchmarked in the future,” declared Peter Schreyer, the German designer who has been leading the automaker’s move towards more expressive styling.  If anything, said several observers, after the news conference, the 2011 Kia Optima is more up-market and distinctive than the well-reviewed new Hyundai Sonata.


First Look: 2011 Kia Optima

Debut planned for New York Auto Show.

by on Feb.22, 2010

Look for a New York Auto Show debut for the 2011 Kia Optima.

If the name, Kia, calls to mind cheap and cheerful subcompacts, you might think again after checking out these renderings of the new midsize sedan the Korean carmaker plans to unveil at the upcoming New York Auto Show.

Kia has been making a move up-market, it recent years – though not quite as successfully as its sibling, Hyundai.  The new model, which replaces the outgoing Optima, could prove a big step forward for Kia.


Set to reach dealer showrooms in the fall of 2010, the 2011 Kia Optima will be longer, lower and wider than the old model.  It features a “significantly longer” wheelbase than the old ’10 Optima, Kia says, (though it’s holding hard numbers for the NY Auto Show preview).  That should translate into a fair bit more interior passenger and cargo space.  The comparable Hyundai Sonata, for example, slips into the EPA “Large Car” category in terms of cabin room, though it sits on a midsize platform.   (more…)