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Kia Attempts to Take over Paris Motor Show

Maker debuts several vehicles, puts 23 cars on display.

by on Sep.30, 2014

The 2015 Kia Rio debuts at the Paris Motor Show. The maker will have 23 vehicles on display at the show.

A few years ago, it was Lotus that tried to make a big splash at the Paris Motor Show and now Kia seems to be grabbing the spotlight for this year’s event, which starts later this week.

The South Korean automaker will have 23 vehicles on its stand in the City of Light this year, including an Optima T-Hybrid and a new Rio, which hasn’t been updated since 2011, as well as new versions of its Sorento SUV.

The Optima features diesel-electric hybrid powertrain with a 1.7-liter diesel boasting a turbocharger and a supercharger. The new diesel uses less fuel than a comparably sized gas engine, but develops more low-end torque, which is an advantage in city driving.

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“No plans have been confirmed yet for mass production of the Kia Optima T-Hybrid show car,” the maker said in a statement. “The T-Hybrid powertrain remains under consideration for new Kia models in the future.” (more…)

Kia Nabs Design Awards

More feathers for design chief Schreyer's bonnet.

by on Jul.06, 2012

The new Kia Rio lands a double accolade.

Kia, the ambitious South Korean automaker, has walked off with two major awards in the U.S. and Germany for the design of the subcompact Rio with its sculpted, sloping shoulder lines and wedge-shaped exteriors.

The first of the two new awards came from the first IDEA Design Award in the Transportation category, the second trophy a highly coveted Red Dot Design award.

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The IDEA Award is handed out by the Industrial Design Society of America and recognizes designs that affect a person’s quality of life and economy in 18 categories, including Transportation, Design, Technology, and Design Strategy.


Kia Slammed By 2nd Recall in Two Days

Faulty brakes, air bags impact nearly 100,000 Korean vehicles.

by on Jun.06, 2012

A defective brake pedal on the 2009 Borrego forces Kia's second recall in two days.

It’s not been a good week for Kia – nor its customers.  The Korean carmaker has announced its second recall in two days, the pair of problems involving nearly 100,000 utility vehicles and sedans due to brake and airbag problems.

The latest service action involves 21,912 Kia Borrego crossover/utility vehicles sold during the 2009 model-year.  The problem involves a brake pedal mount that could break lose during a collision, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

It might sound moot at that point but NHTSA notes that a motorist wouldn’t be able to stop the vehicle from continuing to roll and possibly becoming involved in a second accident.

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The vehicles affected by the latest recall were produced between May 2, 2008 and January 20, 2009 and are designated 2009 models.  An owner can verify if they have one of the vehicles likely covered by the recall by checking the date of manufacture which is noted on a plate in the driver’s door jamb.

Yesterday’s recall involved approximately 73,000 subcompact Kia Rio models produced during the 2006 through 2008 model-years.


Kia Rio Wins Subcompact Sedan Shoot-Out

But Consumer Reports slams Toyota Yaris.

by on Mar.22, 2012

Strong praise for the Kia Rio from Consumer Reports.

Don’t call the new Kia Rio sedan a “penalty box.”  There was a time when that might have applied to subcompact sedans in general – and Korean-made products in particular – but a shoot-out among domestic and import small cars suggests the best of the subcompact segment deliver more than just a cheap price tag.

The Rio EX, in particular, made a strong impression on the folks at Consumer Reports, the non-profit publication rating the Korean subcompact best in an otherwise impressive class of sedans.  The Rio hatchback didn’t score quite as well, but still landed in the top three among a field that also includes the Honda Fit and Nissan Versa.

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Notably, CR some harsh and unexpected pot shots at the Toyota entry into the growing – and increasingly competitive – subcompact segment , suggesting the Japanese giant’s Yaris hatchback  “continues to underwhelm.”  Once dominant in the small car market, Toyota has been losing ground of late, and many industry analysts believe its decline is only tangentially related to last year’s Japanese earthquake and tsunami.

The challenge is keeping up with a segment that has improved dramatically in recent years.


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 Pulls a Surprise With Rio and Rio5

Not just a Hyundai clone.

by on Apr.22, 2011

Kia sets out a more distinct visual brand identity with the NY Auto Show introduction of the 2012 Rio re-make.

When Hyundai unveiled its next Accent subcompact on the first press day of the 2011 New York International Auto Show, almost all in attendance expected that Kia would follow with the debut of the related Rio sedan and Rio5 hatchback.

After all, the two brands have historically relied stuck with a badge engineering approach that has yielded a steady stream of Hyundai and Kia clones.  But if the Rio is any indication, the Korean carmakers are making good their word to develop their own visual brand identities.

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That’s not to say they don’t have some key features in common.  Like the Accent, the two redesigned Kia subcompacts get their power from a 138-horsepower 1.6-liter four-cylinder engine that mates to either a 6-speed manual or 6-speed automatic. Also like the Accent, the Rio is expected to have maximum fuel economy ratings of 30 mpg city and 40 mpg highway.


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 Look: 2012 Kia Rio

“Korean spice and Latin flair” to debut in Geneva.

by on Feb.11, 2011

The new Kia Rio will debut in Geneva next month.

One by one, Kia is redesigning its entire line-up, putting each new model in sync with the critically well-received styling transformation underscored by the new Optima.

Next to come out of Peter Schreyer’s studio is the 2012 Kia Rio, which will make its debut at the upcoming Geneva Motor Show, alongside another new model, the Picanto.

Selling the market on B-segment models like Rio isn’t easy.

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They’re typically been targeted to the price conscious, or those who look at fuel economy above all else.  But styling has become an increasingly critical competitive edge, as Ford has demonstrated with the latest-generation Fiesta.  And Kia is betting it can get a leg up with a look it describes as a blend of “Korean spice and Latin flair.”


First Look: 2012 Kia Rio

Debut scheduled for Geneva Motor Show.

by on Jan.13, 2011

Kia design chief Peter Schreyer's latest project is the next-generation Rio.

The turnstiles haven’t even been opened to the public at this year’s Detroit Auto Show, but we’re already getting word of what’s coming later this year on the auto show circuit – including an all-new version of the Kia Rio, which will roll out in Geneva later this winter.

Kia clearly is on a roll.  Following its bigger sibling, Hyundai, it has made a major effort to replace old and stodgy products with sleek new ones, scoring an especially big hit with the latest-generation midsize Optima sedan.

But the subcompact Rio has been more at the heart of where the global market is trending, as downsizing becomes much the norm, so the launch of the 2012 update will be a significant event for the Korean carmaker when the new model reaches the Geneva Motor Show.