Detroit Bureau on Twitter

Posts Tagged ‘korean car reviews’

First Drive: 2014 Kia Soul

Subtle changes yield big improvements.

by on Oct.07, 2013

Kia's 2014 Soul remake delivers subtle visual tweaks but more significant interior changes and revisions to drive dynamics.

Few cars have done a better job of putting a relatively unknown brand on the radar for a broad swath of American car buyers.  The 2009 Kia Soul and the hip-hop hamsters who became its spokes, er, rodents have carved out a unique and enviable niche in the market. So, with the launch of the 2014 Soul, Kia faces both risk and opportunity.

Anyone who has watched TV or gone to the cinema in recent weeks probably knows the slimmed-down “Hamstars” are back, their latest, catchy spot, backed by Lady Gaga vocals, meant to draw attention to the launch of the updated urban crossover.  Their help is needed. The 2014 Kia Soul’s distinctive design undergoes evolutionary, rather than revolutionary, changes that might otherwise be missed by most buyers.

Your Trusted Review Source!

That said, Kia’s priority was coming up with a more comfortable CUV that resolves some of the earlier model’s issues with driving dynamics and refinement. Our experience during a Minneapolis driving event suggests the Koreans have largely succeeded.


First Drive: 2014 Hyundai Equus

A premium luxury sedan without the premium price tag.

by on Jul.16, 2013

Hyundai has made some modest but notable changes to the 2014 Equus sedan.

It’s a big year for premium luxury car buyers, what with some major new products hitting market in the months ahead – notably including an all-new version of the Mercedes-Benz S-Class. But while Hyundai isn’t starting from the ground up with the 2014 Equus update, the big sedan is impressive any way you approach it.

The elegant sedan’s long, sleek silhouette conveys an enhanced sense of luxury, style and sophistication that is harder to ignore with the update for the 2014 model-year. Hyundai’s decision to update the Equus might, in fact, seem surprising since it was seemingly introduced only yesterday.

Get a Free Subscription!

In fact, the Hyundai Equus made its American debut in 2010, and a lot has happened in the luxury market since then, as the new S-Class underscores. So, Hyundai’s timing is on target, enhancing the visual appeal of the 2014 sedan, adding a mix of new features and tweaking the car’s performance and handling.


First Drive: 2014 Kia Cadenza

The Korean maker targets the premium segment.

by on May.22, 2013

The 2014 Kia Cadenza.

Kia has grown quickly in recent years by offering consumers an array of interesting and well-designed vehicles that belie the brand’s original image as the maker of stripped-down econoboxes even while Kia maintains its focus on value.

The introduction this month of the Kia Cadenza is yet another big step in the evolution of the Korean brand, Kia taking its first step into $35,000-plus price range was once reserved for major luxury. Much like the Genesis offered by sibling Hyundai, the new Cadenza offers a level of refinement and features until now not associated with the Kia brand.

Global Auto Reviews!

Moreover, the Cadenza, like the Hyundai Genesis, is a very attractive vehicle. Its long, low silhouette endows the new Kia sedan with a long, elegant stance that conveys the sense this is a luxury vehicle. The front and rear fascias are very handsome with a nicely tailored appearance set off by the distinctive lamps at all four corners of the vehicle.


First Drive: 2014 Kia Forte

The art of making an affordable, fun-to-drive small car.

by on Feb.13, 2013

The look of the 2014 Kia Forte sedan builds on the maker's now-familiar tiger-nose design.

Car making is an art.

But it seldom reveals the kind of breakthrough genius or inspiration that infused, say, Beethoven’s Fifth Symphony. Instead the creativity and improvement seem to come in increments.

The new 2014 Kia Forte is a case in point on how well-thought out incremental changes can improve a vehicle substantially.

Sitting on an all-new chassis that is longer, wider and lower than the previous-generation Forte, the updated version of the Forte delivers slightly better performance and some incremental improvements in the suspension and steering that make it more fun to drive out on the open road. It’s also roomier and a lot more pleasant to look at.

Your Auto Source!

And that we can credit to Peter Schreyer, the maker’s new president but, more importantly, one of the industry’s most creative designers.  His arrival at Kia in 2006 marked a grand transformation of a brand whose products could then best be described as cheap and cheerful. The former Audi styling chief introduced Kia’s distinctive “tiger-nose” theme that today positions it as one of the industry’s design trend-setters.


First Drive: 2013 Hyundai Elantra GT

A European spin on a popular Korean compact.

by on Aug.08, 2012

The 2013 Hyundai Elantra GT.

After scoring a hit with its latest compact sedan, the Elantra, Hyundai is aiming to broaden the nameplate’s appeal with two spin-offs, the Elantra Turbo and the even sportier Elantra GT.

The maker has good reason to want to expand the line-up, considering Elantra’s success in the U.S. market.  The base car won the coveted North American Car of the Year award, last January, and Hyundai has ever since been struggling to meet demand. If anything, the 2013 Hyundai Elantra GT could put the model in even shorter supply.

Your Auto Review Source!

The GT is more than just a tarted-up version of the current Hyundai Elantra sedan. It features a distinctive hatchback body originally developed for Europe, where it is sold as the i30.  The version we’ll get here is largely the same motorists can buy in London or Berlin – though Hyundai has softened the suspension a bit for American tastes.


First Look: Kia K9 Luxury Flagship

Is the maker barking up the right tree with its latest push up-market?

by on Feb.28, 2012

Kia will launch a new rear-drive flagship, the K9.

Kia has been doggedly moving up-market, in recent years, and with the launch of its new K9 luxury flagship it will mark a dramatic shift from the cheap-and-cheerful little econoboxes that used to define the Korean carmaker’s line-up.

The formal announcement of the rear-drive model echoes the strategy followed by sibling brand Hyundai, which scored big with the launch of the big Genesis sedan in 2007, and last year’s launch of the even larger and more upscale Equus.

While Kia isn’t releasing details on the K9, it’s believed to be sharing many of the same underpinnings – and powertrain options – of the rear-drive Hyundai line, such as the 5.0-liter direct-injection V-8 offered in both the Genesis and Equus.

News Now!

Though traditional Korea buyers might be surprised to see such a large and lavishly equipped offering at their local Kia showroom the new K9 won’t seem completely unfamiliar.  It features the brand’s stock pinched grille and fender vents.  But the overall design feel is more elegant if not exactly all-new.  There is at least one place where the maker nudges the cutting edge, opting for LED headlamps as well as taillights, technology the rest of the luxury market is just migrating to.


First Drive: 2012 Hyundai Veloster

Endearingly asymmetric.

by on Sep.21, 2011

Hyundai's new Veloster goes up against the likes of the Scion tC and the Honda CR-Z

There’s something endearingly odd about the new Hyundai Veloster.  The Korean maker’s latest entry — which some are comparing to the old Honda CRX, others to the Mini Clubman – is an immediate eye-catcher.  But it takes a moment to realize something is just, well, different.

Start with the fact that the 2012 offering has just three doors – okay, four if you count the hatchback – one on the driver’s side and two on the passenger side.  This asymmetric design is meant to give especially easy access to the coupe-like Veloster’s back seat.

Trust Our Reviews!

No, it’s not the first three-door we’ve seen.  Saturn was there before, but the rear gangway was a “suicide door” design that also required you to open the front passenger door first.  No such complications for the 2012 Hyundai Veloster, which has a conventional and surprisingly large third door.  But that only underscores the functionality that has been blended with distinctive styling.  If this were an ice cream sundae, the cherry on top would be the Korean offering’s surprisingly affordable price tag, which starts at just $17,300 – plus another $760 in delivery charges.


First Drive: 2012 Hyundai Accent

Getting in the game.

by on Jul.06, 2011

Hyundai hopes the 2012 Accent will make it a competitive player in the subcompact segment.

Let’s face it, when someone mentions Hyundai you’re more likely than not to associate the brand with low-priced econoboxes, rather than high-end products.

Sure, that’s begun to change as the Korean carmaker launches more sophisticated offerings, like the Genesis and Equus.  But the Accent has been the classic cost-leader, a subcompact traditionally appealing to those on a budget, with a starting price tag of just under $10,000.

Subscribe for Free!

If you’re one of those motorists who ignored the Hyundai Accent, you may have to think twice when the 2012 model rolls into showrooms, however.  On the downside, you’ll have to pay a fair bit more, the all-new model starting at $13,205 including destination charges.  But what you’ll get for the money is a car you no longer have to apologize for, bragging only about the bargain you got.

And, if nothing else matters, you’ll be able to crow about the latest Hyundai Accent’s new Gamma engine, an all-aluminum I-4 that delivers impressive fuel economy – it’s the Korean maker’s latest offering to deliver better than 40 mpg on the highway. (more…)

First Drive: 2011 Hyundai Equus

Maker’s first premium luxury sedan expected to carry a low-$60,000 base price.

by on Jul.29, 2010

Hyundai takes on the premium luxury market with the new Equus sedan.

The corners come up fast when you’re pushing 150 mph.  But with little more than a whoosh, we blast around the high-banked oval at the Hyundai Namyang Proving Grounds, the big sedan firmly locked in its lane.

Though there aren’t many places where you can expect to clock those sorts of speeds in South Korea, Hyundai has reason to show off the high speed handling of its new Equus sedan, its first to go up against the best the Germans can offer, better-known nameplates like the Mercedes-Benz S-Class and BMW 7-Series.

It’s been two years since the Korean carmaker first entered the luxury market with its Genesis sedan.  The offering took the market by surprise, winning the coveted North American Car of the Year trophy and building a reasonably solid market among buyers who sought a mid-range luxury sedan without the high-priced sticker of import offerings like the Audi A6 or Lexus GS.

News, Reviews and More!

But it’s another matter entirely to push into the premium luxury market, where buyers are far less forgiving of flaws and far more demanding when it comes to quality, refinement and features.  So, how does the new Equus stack up?

Certainly, there are those who will think Hyundai is over-reaching with the sedan.  There’s no question that the Korean carmaker has done a credible job improving its image with a steady string of solid offerings, but this is a rarified segment of the market where only the best can compete.  But, then again, isn’t that what we said, two decades ago, when the Lexus LS first came to market?


First Drive: 2011 Hyundai Sonata 2.0T

V6 performance, I4 economy?

by on Jul.13, 2010

The 2011 Hyundai Sonata 2.0T will launch from 0 to 60 in 6.5 seconds.

Hyundai has had a way of defying expectations.  In its early years in the U.S. market it undercut the Japanese on price.  And then, when it seemed that price alone wasn’t enough, it took steps to correct its quality problems, backing that up with the industry’s best warranty.  Known for its cheap-and-cheerful small cars, the Korean carmaker swatted a home run with its first-ever luxury model, the Genesis sedan, winning the coveted North American Car of the Year trophy, in the process.

Hyundai served up another ace – to mix our sports metaphors – when it launched the sixth-generation Sonata sedan for 2010.  Roomy, affordable and arguably the best-looking model in the midsize segment, it delivered another surprise by offering buyers only a peppy, fuel-efficient inline-four engine.  No V6s now or later, Hyundai officials declared.

But they did hint that a couple other powertrain offerings were on the horizon, and got to check both of them out during a trip to South Korea and a visit to the maker’s Namyang Proving Grounds.  We’ll have a review of the 2011 Hyundai Sonata Hybrid – the maker’s first gas-electric offering – next week.  But let’s start with a look at the 2011 Hyundai Sonata 2.0T.

Subscribe - It's Free!

The Sonata turbo delivers a one-word answer to the nagging question: does a maker need to offer a V6 for a midsize sedan.  “No.”  Make that “N-O. “  With 274 horsepower and 269 pound-feet of torque, the 2.0T blows off just about anything you can think of in its class, whether turbocharged or naturally aspirated.  And yet, with a forecasted 22 mpg City, 34 Highway, it’s right up there with the best-in-class for mileage, as well.