The Truth About Cars » Kia http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com The Truth About Cars is dedicated to providing candid, unbiased automobile reviews and the latest in auto industry news. Sat, 21 Feb 2015 13:21:21 +0000 en-US hourly 1 http://wordpress.org/?v=4.0.1 The Truth About Cars is dedicated to providing candid, unbiased automobile reviews and the latest in auto industry news. The Truth About Cars no The Truth About Cars editors@ttac.com editors@ttac.com (The Truth About Cars) 2006-2009 The Truth About Cars The Truth About Cars is dedicated to providing candid, unbiased automobile reviews and the latest in auto industry news. The Truth About Cars » Kia http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/wp-content/themes/ttac-theme/images/logo.gif http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/category/reviews/kia/ Geneva 2015: Kia Optima Sportspace Revealed Ahead Of Show http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/02/geneva-2015-kia-optima-sportspace-revealed-ahead-show/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/02/geneva-2015-kia-optima-sportspace-revealed-ahead-show/#comments Tue, 17 Feb 2015 19:09:04 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=1003074 Ever wondered what an Optima would look like as a wagon? Behold the Kia Optima Sportspace, bowing just ahead of its official debut in Geneva. Images of the concept appeared on Bobaedream.co.kr today, showing off the concept’s long, low roofline draped in red paint. Inside the wagon, four sport seats of stitched leather and carbon […]

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Ever wondered what an Optima would look like as a wagon? Behold the Kia Optima Sportspace, bowing just ahead of its official debut in Geneva.

Images of the concept appeared on Bobaedream.co.kr today, showing off the concept’s long, low roofline draped in red paint. Inside the wagon, four sport seats of stitched leather and carbon fiber await occupants, as well as front and rear controls for the concept’s infotainment system.

Other details unearthed include: two gasoline engines — 2-liter GDi and 1.6-liter Turbo GDi — and a hybrid diesel option; seven-speed dual-clutch auto; smart cruise control, and night vision. More to come when the wagon fully bows early next month.

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Chicago 2015: 2016 Kia Rio Sedan Makes Global Debut http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/02/chicago-2015-2016-kia-rio-sedan-makes-global-debut/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/02/chicago-2015-2016-kia-rio-sedan-makes-global-debut/#comments Thu, 12 Feb 2015 21:18:35 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=998594 The 2016 Kia Rio Sedan made its global debut at the 2015 Chicago Auto Show alongside the Rio 5-Door that bowed in Paris last year. The Rio gains more Euro-centric styling cues for the 2016 model year, including revised front and rear. New fog light surrounds and rear reflectors, revised grill inserts similar to those […]

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The 2016 Kia Rio Sedan made its global debut at the 2015 Chicago Auto Show alongside the Rio 5-Door that bowed in Paris last year.

The Rio gains more Euro-centric styling cues for the 2016 model year, including revised front and rear. New fog light surrounds and rear reflectors, revised grill inserts similar to those on the Optima and Soul, and inward-positioned headlamps further contribute to the compact’s updated design. The compact also receives two new colors this model year: Urban Blue and Digital Yellow.

Power for the Rio continues to come from a naturally aspirated 1.6-liter four delivering 138 horsepower and 123 lb-ft of torque to the front via a six-speed manual or optional six-speed auto; the Rio 5-Door no longer has its manual.

Other features for the Rio (in LX, EX and SX trims) include: SiriusXM radio; air conditioning; hill-start assist; power windows/door locks; electronic stability; remote keyless entry (EX, SX); 17-inch alloys (SX); push-button start (SX); and standard power sunroof (SX).

Both Rio Sedan and 5-Door are due in showrooms sometime in Q1 2015.

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Chicago 2015: Kia Trail’ster Concept Unveiled http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/02/chicago-2015-kia-trailster-concept-unveiled/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/02/chicago-2015-kia-trailster-concept-unveiled/#comments Thu, 12 Feb 2015 16:49:55 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=997978 Appearing ready for the showroom than previous concepts, the Kia Trail’ster Concept hit the stage at the 2015 Chicago Auto Show. The Soul-based Trail’ster is raised 2.5 inches higher than the original hamstermobile for better ground clearance, with aluminum skid plates protecting the underbody and its AWD system, and Pirelli Winter Carving tires to carve […]

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Appearing ready for the showroom than previous concepts, the Kia Trail’ster Concept hit the stage at the 2015 Chicago Auto Show.

The Soul-based Trail’ster is raised 2.5 inches higher than the original hamstermobile for better ground clearance, with aluminum skid plates protecting the underbody and its AWD system, and Pirelli Winter Carving tires to carve winter snow and mud like an Easter ham.

Power for the concept comes from a 1.6-liter turbo-four pushing 185 horsepower/lb-ft of torque to the front, while an electric motor moves the back under acceleration, and can push the Trail’ster up to three miles if necessary. The two independent systems deliver 220 horsepower and 285 lb-ft of torque to the trail or the street.

The concept’s independent systems are designed to garner better fuel economy per Kia. The automaker didn’t offer any specifics, but it believes the concept will perform 25 to 30 percent better in the city and 10 to 15 percent better on the highway than the Soul and its 2-liter engine.

Like Hyundai’s Santa Cruz Concept from last month’s Detroit Auto Show, the Kia Trail’ster Concept is meant to appeal to consumers who call the city their home, yet adore the outdoors. No word on whether or not this one will enter showrooms just yet, however.

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Hyundai, South Korean Government Opening Fuel-Cell Innovation Hub http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/02/hyundai-south-korean-government-opening-fuel-cell-innovation-hub/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/02/hyundai-south-korean-government-opening-fuel-cell-innovation-hub/#comments Wed, 11 Feb 2015 14:00:35 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=996650 Hyundai Motor and the South Korean government are coming together to open a hydrogen innovation center to help spur a creative economy. Just-Auto says the automaker plans to attract startups to the center in Gwangju by granting access to 1,000 unused patents related to said technology: The centre will focus on nurturing start-ups, providing key […]

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Hyundai Motor and the South Korean government are coming together to open a hydrogen innovation center to help spur a creative economy.

Just-Auto says the automaker plans to attract startups to the center in Gwangju by granting access to 1,000 unused patents related to said technology:

The centre will focus on nurturing start-ups, providing key infrastructure and creating an “ecosystem” for the hydrogen economy by training workers and strengthening necessary networks.

Hyundai and its investor partners will raise ₩117.5 billion ($164 million USD) to bring the innovation center online, and will be one of 12 centers to be established throughout South Korea over 2015.

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Kia Lowers K900 Pricing With New Premium Trim http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/01/kia-lowers-k900-pricing-new-premium-trim/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/01/kia-lowers-k900-pricing-new-premium-trim/#comments Thu, 29 Jan 2015 13:00:09 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=989946 Shopping around for a Korean premium sedan with rear-wheel drive and V8 power, but not looking to spend much? Kia just might have what you need. Motor Authority reports the brand recently dropped the price on its K900 sedan with the help of a new Premium trim that deletes niceties like LED headlights, chrome and […]

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2015 Kia K900

Shopping around for a Korean premium sedan with rear-wheel drive and V8 power, but not looking to spend much? Kia just might have what you need.

Motor Authority reports the brand recently dropped the price on its K900 sedan with the help of a new Premium trim that deletes niceties like LED headlights, chrome and Nappa leather. The price of admission, as a result, begins at $55,400. To get those back, consumers would have to upgrade to the Luxury trim, which begins at $59,500; the previous sole K900 model had an MSRP of $60,400.

No matter if your K900 is loaded or barely stripped, the sedan still has its 5-liter, 420-horsepower V8, and still costs less than similar machines from Lexus or Mercedes. That said, Kia may need all the help it can get to move its flagship out of the showroom, having sold just 1,330 units in 2014 in comparison to the brand’s other premium and near-premium models, the David Bowie-enhanced Cadenza (9,267), and the Jaguar XF-esque Optima (159,020).

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Chicago 2015: Kia Bringing Rugged Concept To Show http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/01/chicago-2015-kia-bringing-rugged-concept-show/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/01/chicago-2015-kia-bringing-rugged-concept-show/#comments Wed, 28 Jan 2015 11:00:17 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=989506 Joining Mitsubishi, Honda and Chevrolet in the rugged category at this year’s Chicago Auto Show is Kia with a rough-and-tumble concept debut of its own. The all-too-brief official release mentions that the concept “re-imagines one of the brand’s most popular vehicles,” with styling to come out of Kia’s design studio in California. Said concept echos […]

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Joining Mitsubishi, Honda and Chevrolet in the rugged category at this year’s Chicago Auto Show is Kia with a rough-and-tumble concept debut of its own.

The all-too-brief official release mentions that the concept “re-imagines one of the brand’s most popular vehicles,” with styling to come out of Kia’s design studio in California. Said concept echos a similar intent behind the Hyundai Santa Cruz concept from the 2015 Detroit Auto Show earlier this month: a vehicle for “city dwellers seeking an adventurous escape and intended to enable a variety outdoor activities.”

Though little more was mentioned, Autoblog speculates the vehicle providing the foundation for the concept may be the Soul, which is offered with a SUV Styling Pack for the European Domestic Market. The publication adds that the name and a teaser image will be revealed Thursday, per Kia representative Emily Grannis.

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Hyundai, Kia $360M US Justice Department Settlement Approved In District Court http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/01/hyundai-kia-360m-us-justice-department-settlement-approved-district-court/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/01/hyundai-kia-360m-us-justice-department-settlement-approved-district-court/#comments Wed, 21 Jan 2015 16:00:33 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=986762 The $360 million settlement between the U.S. Department of Justice and Hyundai and Kia for overstating fuel economy figures was approved Tuesday by the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia. The Detroit News report the approval also rejected a request from the attorneys general in New York, Connecticut, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Mexico, Oregon, […]

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The $360 million settlement between the U.S. Department of Justice and Hyundai and Kia for overstating fuel economy figures was approved Tuesday by the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia.

The Detroit News report the approval also rejected a request from the attorneys general in New York, Connecticut, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Mexico, Oregon, Rhode Island and Vermont, asking the court set aside a minimum of $25 million for their states’ respective electric vehicle programs. The court sided with the Justice Department in its ruling, warning that such a request would threaten the original settlement agreement with more complex and lengthy negotiations.

The agreement includes $100 million in civil penalties, $50 million for independent auditing of the Korean duo’s offerings, and a forfeiture of $210 million in greenhouse emission credits. It also ends the Environmental Protection Agency’s investigation into the overstated figures, and affects 600,000 Hyundai and 300,000 Kia models made between 2011 and 2013.

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Supplier Woes Lead To Lada’s First-Ever Loss Of Monthly Sales Crown http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/01/supplier-woes-lead-ladas-first-ever-loss-monthly-sales-crown/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/01/supplier-woes-lead-ladas-first-ever-loss-monthly-sales-crown/#comments Thu, 08 Jan 2015 11:00:21 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=973537 Since the first Ladas left the assembly line in the 1970s, the automaker has always held the top spot on the sales podium, month after month, year after year. Until November 2014, that is. Automotive News Europe reports that problems between parent company AutoVAZ and several of its suppliers helped to bring Lada’s continuous dominance […]

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Since the first Ladas left the assembly line in the 1970s, the automaker has always held the top spot on the sales podium, month after month, year after year. Until November 2014, that is.

Automotive News Europe reports that problems between parent company AutoVAZ and several of its suppliers helped to bring Lada’s continuous dominance over the Russian domestic market to an end that month, when Kia moved 10,834 Rios over the former’s 10,520 Grantas to take the monthly gold. Those problems have since been resolved, per an AutoVAZ representative.

Despite the hiccup, Lada is still the czar of the Russian market, having sold 351,992 units between January and November of last year; Kia holds a distant second with 175,491 sold. The Granta is also holding its own overall, with 139,405 copies taking to the highway over the same timeframe. Hyundai’s Solaris (105,142) and the Kia Rio (84,350) round out the top three.

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Grandma Review: 2014 Kia Soul http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/12/grandma-review-2014-kia-soul/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/12/grandma-review-2014-kia-soul/#comments Tue, 02 Dec 2014 13:30:24 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=954585 Derek’s Grandma returns, by popular demand. I am a very lucky lady. And I don’t say that because I have won the slots every time I have gone to Vegas. I live in the kind of comfortable circumstances than many seniors do not enjoy. I have had a fulfilling career as an educator of children […]

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Derek’s Grandma returns, by popular demand.

I am a very lucky lady. And I don’t say that because I have won the slots every time I have gone to Vegas. I live in the kind of comfortable circumstances than many seniors do not enjoy. I have had a fulfilling career as an educator of children and adults that I only recently gave up. I am surrounded by amazing friends and family and have been fortunate to get through 81 years without any major health problems. So it was just my luck that my brand new Honda Fit was crashed into just days after I got it.

Since the case is now in the hands of police, I can’t talk about it too much. But I was left without my new car for a week. Fortunately, everyone involved was fine, and Derek and his parents helped document the incident, get the car to the body shop and arrange a rental for me.

When Derek and I first went car shopping, he tried to show me the Soul. I dismissed it immediately. It looked far too odd for me, and truthfully, I had my heart set on the Fit as soon as I drove it. But I didn’t want a big car as my rental, and I had a choice between the Soul or a Hyundai Sonata.

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The first thing I noticed about the Soul is that it makes you sit a lot higher and more upright than the Fit. I like this. It’s easier to get in and out of, and the visibility is good – but I miss the little glass triangular windows in the Fit, that are placed ahead of the front windows. The interior of the Soul also looks a lot more like my old 2000 Civic. There’s no touch screen (something I’ve gotten used to, having had lots of practice on my Samsung tablet) and it feels a bit dated compared to the Fit. Derek tells me that most rental cars are basic, and the Soul that I had was probably a base model. But everything seemed dark and drab. I find that now that I’m used to the touch screen, it’s easy for me to use. Getting used to lots of unfamiliar buttons has turned into something that distracts me.

I also didn’t like the lack of cargo room in the Soul. Even though it seemed like a bigger vehicle, i immediately missed the space in the trunk, and the flexibility of the seats. My gentleman-friend’s walker didn’t fit in the back, and the rear seats couldn’t fold as well as the Fit to help me put it in easily.

What I did like? Power. Lots of it, compared to the Fit. The engine felt much stronger and more responsive. The Fit feels like it has one second of hesitation before it gets going. In the Soul, it was instant. The visibility and the higher seating will be two things I miss. I even came around to the looks of the car. It’s cute and easy to find in a parking lot.

If I had a bit more money to spend, then a Soul with more features and equipment than my rental would have been nice. But I’m happy with my Fit, and even happier to be back on the road in my own car.

Derek’s Grandma provided the rental car, gas and insurance. Photos and editing courtesy of Derek.

 

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Rental Review: Doing Some Soul Searching http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/11/rental-review-soul-searching/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/11/rental-review-soul-searching/#comments Mon, 24 Nov 2014 13:30:15 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=945969 About five years ago, I made a career decision that I wish I had made much earlier: I decided to get into the Learning and Development field. Unfortunately for about twenty or so people, I had spent the previous fifteen years managing sales people, and I fired a lot of them. As a result, I […]

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About five years ago, I made a career decision that I wish I had made much earlier: I decided to get into the Learning and Development field. Unfortunately for about twenty or so people, I had spent the previous fifteen years managing sales people, and I fired a lot of them.

As a result, I also spent a great deal of time interviewing people. One of the things that every HR person will tell you about interviewing is that you’re supposed to look for what they call “contrary evidence.” As an interviewer, you’re going to form an opinion about a candidate pretty quickly—it’s human nature. So you’re supposed to ask questions that could lead to evidence that is contrary to your original impression. If you naturally like a candidate, you should ask questions that could reveal negative things about him, and vice versa.

Thus, when I selected a 2015 Solar Yellow Kia Soul Plus for my one-day trip to the ATL last week, I looked for things to dislike about it.

Spoiler alert: I didn’t find any.

I’ve always been a fan of the Soul. Why? Simple. It’s the closest thing to a compact wagon currently for sale in the United States. It’s a quirky-looking car, with love-it or leave-it looks. The hamster campaign from years ago was easily the best and most memorable ad run by an automaker in recent history. I’ve owned three Hyundais, and all were excellent cars, so I have no K-car bias. In fact, if I were in my mid-twenties, I’d be in the market to buy one.

Yet, as I bypassed some of my favorite rental selections to pick the Soul, including a V6 Impala, I realized that I had formed all of my opinions just like the best Facebook and YouTube commenters do—that is to say, I had never driven one. I figured it was time to fix that.

My first impression of the Soul? It’s much, much bigger inside than I expected. I hopped in the back seat just to verify, and my 5’9″, 165 lb frame would have been entirely comfortable on a journey of any length. But while the Soul excels at people carrying, the storage with the back seats up isn’t sufficient for a 27″ suitcase, or for carry-on luggage for more than two. Not a huge deal unless you’re planning to make it your primary vehicle for a family of four.

The interior is cleanly designed, with simple, intuitive controls. My rental only had about 2K miles on it, so I don’t know how it will hold up over time, but all the interior materials appeared to be of acceptable quality. Unlike my previous week’s rental, a 2015 Ford Escape SE, everything inside the Soul makes sense. My iPhone was easy to pair, and the stereo system lived up to its rapping rodent credentials. While the clarity wasn’t the best, it thumps out the bass with effortless joy. I didn’t get the upgraded UVO infotaintment in my rental, but I don’t know if I’d want it—this one seemed to work just fine.

The seating position is one of the best I’ve seen in any car—it’s upright but still very comfortable. The visibility is quite good through the windshield as well as through the mirrors.

However, the joy of driving the Soul was about to be severely tested by a commute from the airport to the Perimeter North part of town. In ideal traffic conditions, it should take about twenty-five minutes. In this particular morning’s rush hour, it took nearly ninety.

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No matter. The XM Radio gave me plenty of choices for music and/or talk radio, and the Soul handled the start-stop nature of the traffic without much consternation. The 2.0 liter, 164 HP, direct fuel injection motor is neatly paired with a six-speed automatic that never seems to search for the right gear. My rental didn’t have the Idle Stop and Go option, but still managed 24 MPG along the way, which is one of the best ATL traffic numbers I’ve seen.

Even so, the motor gives more than enough power when called upon, and definitely more than I expected from the little four-banger. Max torque can be found at around 4000 RPM, which helps in dealing with the seventh circle of traffic Hell known as “Atlanta.” I was able to dart and dodge through I-75 and I-85 traffic quite fluidly, as the size of the Soul made it easy to fit into the tightest of spots.

I swear I tried to find things not to like about this car. It just does everything well, and it does many things very well. The only thing I can really think of is the price. A Soul Plus optioned out exactly as my rental was stickers at $19,400, which just seems like a bit too much for this car. I’d probably look for a base Soul with the 1.6 liter four cylinder and manual transmission for my own car—but I would just be looking for an airport commuter and fuel saver. For those looking for a true daily driver, the Plus would be the way to go. Also, the Solar Yellow isn’t available on the base car…damn. Okay, I’d get the Plus, too.

Having previously driven the Cube and the xB, this car is, by far, the best choice in this category. The interior is light years ahead of the Toyota and Nissan offerings, and the motor is the equal of the ubiquitous Toyota 2.4 2AZ-FE in the xB (and so much better than the Cube that it’s not even funny). Although it’s purely subjective, I think you’d have a hard time finding anybody who didn’t think the Soul was the best looking of the trio, too.

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In fact, the highest compliment I can pay the Soul is that, for the only the second time ever after driving a rental car (which I do over 25 times per year), I went to the OEM site to configure and price one. The first time I did that, I ended up buying a Ford Flex. I’m not saying I’ll end up buying a Soul, but only because I don’t have a need for one right now.

So, yes, if I were interviewing the Soul, I’d hire it immediately. And if you’re currently interviewing compact cars, make sure that you bring the Soul in for a look. You’ll be glad you did.

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Hyundai, Kia Fined $300M By State, Federal Agencies Over Erroneous Fuel Economy Numbers http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/11/hyundai-kia-fined-300m-state-federal-agencies-erroneous-fuel-economy-numbers/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/11/hyundai-kia-fined-300m-state-federal-agencies-erroneous-fuel-economy-numbers/#comments Tue, 04 Nov 2014 11:00:34 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=940209 Being an asterisk regarding fuel economy numbers isn’t the only penance Hyundai and Kia must pay: The U.S. Department of Justice, the Environmental Protection Agency and the California Air Resources Board dropped a collective $300 million penalty on the South Korean brands for mistating fuel economy numbers on their respective 2011-2013 lineups. Autoblog reports the […]

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Being an asterisk regarding fuel economy numbers isn’t the only penance Hyundai and Kia must pay: The U.S. Department of Justice, the Environmental Protection Agency and the California Air Resources Board dropped a collective $300 million penalty on the South Korean brands for mistating fuel economy numbers on their respective 2011-2013 lineups.

Autoblog reports the two alone will pay a total of $100 million to the EPA, the highest such fine in the agency’s history. Hyundai’s part of the bill comes to $56.8 million, while Kia will foot the remaining $43.2 million. The brands will also forfeit 4.75 million greenhouse emissions credits, worth approximately $200 million, and contribute a requested $50 million in investments “to prevent future violations of the Clean Air Act” by automakers.

In-house, parent company Hyundai is establishing “an independent certification test group” to handle future fuel economy testing and reporting, along with training proctors on the proper methods. The company maintains the erroneous reporting was due to the methodology used in the EPA’s test schedule, as well as errors from the coastdown portion of the test.

Hyundai and Kia are also auditing 2015 and 2016 models for accurate fuel economy numbers in light of the previous errors.

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Hyundai/Kia Reconsidering US Diesel Market Stance http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/10/hyundaikia-reconsidering-us-diesel-market-stance/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/10/hyundaikia-reconsidering-us-diesel-market-stance/#comments Tue, 14 Oct 2014 13:00:57 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=930882 With their portfolio of hybrids and EVs in place in the United States, Hyundai/Kia are now reconsidering their stance on bringing diesel power over to the market. According to Ward’s Auto, Hyundai/Kia America Technical Center powertrain director John Juriga says his employer sees “some value with diesels,” stating the South Korean duo had planned to […]

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With their portfolio of hybrids and EVs in place in the United States, Hyundai/Kia are now reconsidering their stance on bringing diesel power over to the market.

According to Ward’s Auto, Hyundai/Kia America Technical Center powertrain director John Juriga says his employer sees “some value with diesels,” stating the South Korean duo had planned to bring them over as far back as 2009, only to back out due to then-upcoming regulations for cleaner diesels, the costs in creating them, and the higher price of diesel compared to gasoline. He says that while those issues “haven’t necessarily been eliminated, they’ve been understood better,” leading to a “more direct path” toward a U.S. diesel lineup.

Additionally, CAFE targets — especially the 2025 fleet target of 54.5 mpg — could necessitate Hyundai/Kia to add diesel to its green weapons arsenal. Juriga stated Hyundai may bring cylinder deactivation, PHEVs and EGR between 2016 and 2021, while nine- and 10-speed automatics could further its fuel efficiency game between 2021 and 2025.

That said, the duo’s diesel efforts would need to find the right fit in the U.S. in order to achieve success. Juriga explained that the Chevrolet Cruze Diesel made up just 3 percent of overall Cruze sales, and that the vehicle chosen by Hyundai/Kia would also have to go against Volkswagen strong diesel lineup. Though he didn’t offer what vehicle the duo had in mind, he believes the automakers’ customer base would be “more accepting of the technology and willing to pay a premium for the engine type in the correct product.”

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Paris 2014: Kia Unveils Updated 2016 Sorento http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/10/paris-2014-kia-unveils-updated-2016-sorento/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/10/paris-2014-kia-unveils-updated-2016-sorento/#comments Thu, 02 Oct 2014 14:00:41 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=923321 Behold the new face of the 2016 Kia Sorento as revealed at the 2014 Paris Auto Show. The updated SUV holds either five or seven passengers depending on configuration, with increases in head- and legroom within its overall measurement of 188 inches. The cargo area also gained more space, now at 21.3 cubic feet with […]

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Behold the new face of the 2016 Kia Sorento as revealed at the 2014 Paris Auto Show.

The updated SUV holds either five or seven passengers depending on configuration, with increases in head- and legroom within its overall measurement of 188 inches. The cargo area also gained more space, now at 21.3 cubic feet with all rows folded down; the second row is split 40/20/40.

Up front — in Europe, at least — two diesel and one gasoline four-bangers will be available to move the Sorento around: an entry-level 2-liter with 182 horses and 297 lb-ft of torque, mated exclusively to a six-speed auto; a 2.2-liter with 197 horsepower and 325 lb-ft of torque; and a 2.4-liter with 185 horses and 178 lb-ft of torque.

Inside, plenty of safety technology can be fitted, including backup camera, lane departure, speed limit informer et al. Sound deadening materials help cut interior noise up to 6 percent, while all occupants will be treated to leather and soft-touch materials.

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Hyundai’s Gangnam Style Leads To Partial Strike http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/09/hyundais-gangnam-style-leads-partial-strike/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/09/hyundais-gangnam-style-leads-partial-strike/#comments Wed, 24 Sep 2014 13:00:33 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=917626 Due to a Gangnam-style real estate deal in the Gangnam district of Seoul, South Korea, workers at Hyundai and Kia have gone on partial strike for the next few days. Bloomberg reports the unions leading the strike will do so through September 26, while wage talks with the parent company are indefinitely postponed. In turn, […]

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PSY's Gangham Style

Due to a Gangnam-style real estate deal in the Gangnam district of Seoul, South Korea, workers at Hyundai and Kia have gone on partial strike for the next few days.

Bloomberg reports the unions leading the strike will do so through September 26, while wage talks with the parent company are indefinitely postponed. In turn, shares in Hyundai fell 2 percent to close at ₩191,500 ($184 USD) on the Korea Exchange, the lowest since May 2013.

The trigger for the strike was ₩10.6 trillion ($10 billion) real estate deal for property in the Gangnam district of the South Korean capital between Hyundai, Kia and affiliate Hyundai Mobis. The unions claim this move as not only proof Hyundai can pay its workers better, including bonuses — which have been mandated by the country’s supreme court to be a part of a worker’s base pay — but that company chair Chung Mong Moo’s management style leaves a lot to be desired.

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2015 Kia Soul EV Coming To US With $33K Price Tag http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/09/2015-kia-soul-ev-coming-us-33k-price-tag/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/09/2015-kia-soul-ev-coming-us-33k-price-tag/#comments Fri, 12 Sep 2014 10:00:45 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=911033 Looking for an EV that doesn’t cost Tesla money or resemble a jelly bean? Then Kia might just have what you need with its electrified version of the Soul when it arrives in showrooms later this year. AutoblogGreen reports the compact EV — the South Korean automaker’s first such mass-market offering — will enter showrooms […]

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2015 Kia Soul EV

Looking for an EV that doesn’t cost Tesla money or resemble a jelly bean? Then Kia might just have what you need with its electrified version of the Soul when it arrives in showrooms later this year.

AutoblogGreen reports the compact EV — the South Korean automaker’s first such mass-market offering — will enter showrooms with a base MSRP of $33,700 before the $7,500 federal tax rebate is applied. The price of admission places the Soul EV above the Nissan Leaf ($28,980), but just below the Volkswagen e-Golf ($35,445).

The base model — dubbed Base — brings a 6.6kW on-board charger and an “exclusive” HVAC system designed to maintain the vehicle’s 93-mile range “by minimizing energy draw.” The UVO eServices system, which provides in-car and — via the UVO app — smartphone info on range and were to pull over for a charge, comes standard. Other amenities available include Bluetooth, rear-camera display, cruise control and power windows.

Meanwhile, the top-of-the-line + — or Plus — model adds heated leather-trimmed seats, fog lights and power-folding mirrors, all for a starting price of $35,700 MSRP pre-rebate.

For those who would rather lease, Kia is offering an introductory $249/month rate for 36 months on the Soul EV Base with $1,999 down. Either way, the crossover will only be available in a few California markets, with expansion planned down the road.

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Kia Set To Build “Range” Of Compacts At Monterrey Plant In 2016 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/08/kia-set-build-range-compacts-monterrey-plant-2016/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/08/kia-set-build-range-compacts-monterrey-plant-2016/#comments Thu, 28 Aug 2014 12:00:13 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=902129 Kia announced Wednesday that it plans to build “a range of yet-to-be confirmed compact models” at its new plant in Monterrey, Mexico after Job 1 production begins in H1 2016. Automotive News reports the automaker is still determining which vehicles it plans to produce at the $1 billion plant, as it will be set-up to […]

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2014 Kia Forte EX Exterior-001

Kia announced Wednesday that it plans to build “a range of yet-to-be confirmed compact models” at its new plant in Monterrey, Mexico after Job 1 production begins in H1 2016.

Automotive News reports the automaker is still determining which vehicles it plans to produce at the $1 billion plant, as it will be set-up to produce both compact and subcompact models at a rate of 300,000 units annually once full production begins.

Kia adds that the plant will also serve as a potential launching pad for production throughout Central and South America, as well as a supply line to a new sales channel in Mexico:

With its strong growth forecasts for new vehicle demand, Mexico was chosen as the site for Kia’s next overseas plant given that it is one of the few remaining major markets in the world in which Kia does not have a sales presence.

Kia will begin construction of its new facility in late September.

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Kia In Talks With Mexican Officials Over $1.5B Nuevo Leon Plant http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/07/kia-in-talks-with-mexican-officials-over-1-5b-nuevo-leon-plant/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/07/kia-in-talks-with-mexican-officials-over-1-5b-nuevo-leon-plant/#comments Mon, 28 Jul 2014 12:00:33 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=874337 With the need to increase supply to meet U.S. demand, Kia is in talks with Mexican officials about building a new factory in the country. Reuters reports the $1.5 billion facility would pump out 300,000 units annually, and would be located in Monterrey. The output would consist of two small vehicles to start, augmenting the […]

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With the need to increase supply to meet U.S. demand, Kia is in talks with Mexican officials about building a new factory in the country.

Reuters reports the $1.5 billion facility would pump out 300,000 units annually, and would be located in Monterrey. The output would consist of two small vehicles to start, augmenting the output at Kia’s sole plant in the Southeastern United States.

Nuevo Leon secretary of economic development Rolando Zubrian, along with other state and federal officials, began talks last week with the automaker, and hopes a deal would be made sometime during the first two weeks of August. The plant may also pave the path toward a resumption of bilateral free trade negotiations between South Korea and Mexico.

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Nissan: 633 CHAdeMO Fast Chargers Available For Use Today, More Coming http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/07/nissan-633-chademo-fast-chargers-available-for-use-today-more-coming/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/07/nissan-633-chademo-fast-chargers-available-for-use-today-more-coming/#comments Thu, 03 Jul 2014 12:00:57 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=858009 Just in time for the Fourth of July travel weekend, Nissan Leaf and Mitsubishi i-MIEV owners will have access to 633 CHAdeMO fast chargers, up from 160 stations in January 2013. Green Car Reports says back then, the majority of those chargers were along the West Coast and Texas, with Nissan promising to triple that […]

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Just in time for the Fourth of July travel weekend, Nissan Leaf and Mitsubishi i-MIEV owners will have access to 633 CHAdeMO fast chargers, up from 160 stations in January 2013.

Green Car Reports says back then, the majority of those chargers were along the West Coast and Texas, with Nissan promising to triple that number within 18 months. Nissan North America senior manager of corporate communications Brian Brockman announced last week that his employer had gone above and beyond by bringing online nearly 500 units in the time period, with all listed on PlugShare.

As for the rest of FY 2014, Nissan will push forward to bring more CHAdeMO stations online, from its network of dealerships, to top Leaf markets such as Atlanta, Los Angeles and Houston. Meanwhile, another vehicle will be able to make use of the chargers when the 2015 Kia Soul EV goes on sale later on this summer.

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Capsule Review: 2014 Kia Soul http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/06/capsule-review-2014-kia-soul-2/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/06/capsule-review-2014-kia-soul-2/#comments Tue, 17 Jun 2014 13:00:13 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=845121 Even those who didn’t appreciate the first Kia Soul’s eye-catching exterior would acknowledge the Soul was a car that majored on style. Replacing the underlying platform, updating the interior, and adding features are, to a degree, a set of secondary concerns in a car like this. The new Soul had to look every inch like […]

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Even those who didn’t appreciate the first Kia Soul’s eye-catching exterior would acknowledge the Soul was a car that majored on style.
Replacing the underlying platform, updating the interior, and adding features are, to a degree, a set of secondary concerns in a car like this. The new Soul had to look every inch like the Soul, but if it didn’t look new, it may not incite the necessary reaction from the style-conscious portion of the car-buying public.

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Let’s not bore ourselves with the details: the plentiful black surround on the tailgate, the headlamps that no longer grow deformities out of themselves, and the tiny but meaningful increases in length and width. To my eye, it looks like a more modern Kia Soul. Job well done. You are welcome to be the final arbiter.
As much as the exterior is an important section on the 2015 Soul’s resume, I had high hopes that the rest of the car would undergo the more serious makeover. The first-generation Soul was obviously a marketplace success, but not because it rode smoothly, steered sweetly, or made efficient use of its powerplants, and not because it felt as well-built as the vehicles Kia has introduced since 2009.
In the 2015 model I drove around last week, superior ride quality was the most dramatic dynamic improvement. You’ll continue to suffer from a few unwelcome encounters out back where there’s still a torsion beam, but if poor ride quality was the key factor restraining a potential Soul buyer a year ago, they won’t feel the same way now. Losing the 18-inch-wheels from this fully-optioned SX Luxury model (a $21,095 ! with The Whole Shabang Package for $26,195 including destination, in U.S.-speak) may further isolate road imperfections.
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Kia’s FlexSteer, which allows you to select one of three steering weight modes, is not uncommon in its lifelessness. I’d take GoodSteer from the latest Mazda 3 over the Soul’s trio of optional steering modes, but the Soul’s rack isn’t offensive. Nor is the handling anything worse than perfectly adequate. This isn’t a sporting device; there is no great level of athleticism. But as with any properly small car, the Soul is delightfully agile in urban scenarios, and the new Soul is also pleasantly quiet during highway jaunts.
I would appreciate the availability of a manual transmission with the 2.0L engine. Subcompact-like dimensions and 164 horsepower sounds fun at first. This Soul, however, is carrying around 3100 pounds, and it’s fitted with a 6-speed automatic that favours smoothness over swiftness. The 2.0L-powered Soul Exclamation Point isn’t slow, but there is a sense of weight you don’t expect in a car that’s only 163 inches long.
Regardless of its on-road characteristics, the Soul has proven to be a winner because of its engaging design, outside and in, and its vast interior. Rear leg room is terrific, and thanks to our slim Diono car seat, two adults could sit in the back with the baby and voice no complaints. The driver’s seat doesn’t have the top-end Forte’s extendable seat cushion, but I still enjoyed the chair-like seating position and the improved material quality in all the places no car owner ever touches except when cleaning. The driver’s seat is powered in all sorts of ways, including lumbar, but the passenger makes do with basic manual adjustments. Both receive heated and cooled cushions, however. Living alongside the north Atlantic as I do, those ventilated front seats sure do come in handy for a long stretch during, well, the first week of August.
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A bit longer than a Rio hatchback and a bit shorter than a Forte hatchback, the Soul’s interior only forces you to sacrifice when it comes to seats-up cargo capacity. It’s decidedly more subcompact-like than compact-like (18.8 height-assisted cubic feet compared with 15 in the Rio hatch and 23.2 in the Forte) until you fold the seats down. At which point, the Soul’s boxy shape creates greater space than you’d get in, say, hatchback versions of the Mazda 3 or Ford Focus.
The Soul also feels like a much better-built car than the majority of, if not all, subcompacts. The rear doors thunk just as well as the front doors, rather than the thunk/thwack front/rear disagreement endured in many small cars. Kia’s UVO system continues to operate at an above-average level, with multiple menus visible on the screen at any given time, quick responses, and conventional controls for most features.
For way less than $30,000, the level of luxury content in this Whole Shabanged Exclamation Point Soul is impressive, from the panoramic sunroof to the upgraded Infinity stereo, navigation, and heated rear seats. Plus, power-folding mirrors that unfolded and folded back a thousand times while I did yardwork beside our driveway with keys in my pocket, wondering all the while what that faint buzzing sound was.
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The Soul still isn’t sufficiently fuel efficient relative to most small cars, with EPA ratings of just 23/31 mpg. There is also genuine potential for a hot hatch here, and it would be wonderful if the Forte’s turbo and manual transmission made the trek over to the Soul. It’s easy to suggest that halo models are insisted upon only by non-buying enthusiasts but won’t turn out to be profit generators. Yet the Soul’s audience has become so numerous that I have to believe a turbocharged, all-wheel-drive, sport-suspended Soul would gain more than just a small cult following.
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Perhaps not. I won’t argue with the merits of the car in its current state, nor the level of success Kia has stumbled upon with the Soul since it arrived in 2009. Through the end of May, Americans have registered nearly 500,000 Souls. Sales have improved every year, rising above 118,000 units in 2013. So far this year, U.S. Soul volume is up 21%, and it’s outselling all “small” cars other than the Corolla, Civic, Cruze, Elantra, Focus, Sentra, and Jetta.
Kia Canada provided the vehicle and insurance for this review.
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Kia Building First Mexican Plant To Alleviate Strained U.S. Production http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/06/kia-building-first-mexican-plant-to-alleviate-strained-u-s-production/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/06/kia-building-first-mexican-plant-to-alleviate-strained-u-s-production/#comments Mon, 09 Jun 2014 11:00:07 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=840426 In light of high demand in the United States for its offerings, Kia will build its first Mexican plant in Monterrey to help bring additional capacity to North America. Reuters reports the factory will open 21 months after groundbreaking, supplying a total of 300,000 vehicles annually to the United States. Production will focus on Kia’s […]

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In light of high demand in the United States for its offerings, Kia will build its first Mexican plant in Monterrey to help bring additional capacity to North America.

Reuters reports the factory will open 21 months after groundbreaking, supplying a total of 300,000 vehicles annually to the United States. Production will focus on Kia’s compacts — the Forte and Rio — at first before taking on work from the brand’s sole U.S. factory in Georgia, where the Optima, Sorento and Hyundai Santa Fe are assembled, and from Hyundai’s Alabama plant, where the Sonata and Elantra are built. No word was given on when the first shovels would break the earth.

Aside from supply-and-demand issues in the U.S., Kia is likely building the Monterrey plant — to go with Hyundai’s production expansion into Chongqing, China — in order to maintain its market share around the globe. The duo together hold fifth place in the global auto sales race, a position it could lose by 2016 if no more capacity is added, according to Korea Investment & Securities auto analyst Suh Sung-moon.

The capacity limit was unofficially put in place by Hyundai/Kia chair Chung Mong-koo over two years ago, fearing his two brands would end up like Toyota in the 2000s if they expanded as aggressively as had the Japanese automaker.

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New York 2014: 2015 Kia Sedona Live Shots http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/04/new-york-2014-2015-kia-sedona-live-shots/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/04/new-york-2014-2015-kia-sedona-live-shots/#comments Thu, 17 Apr 2014 21:34:17 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=803610 The 2015 Kia Sedona quietly made its public debut at the 2014 New York Auto Show, ready to take up to eight passengers to the nearest Trader Joe’s after soccer practice. Behind the tiger nose, Kia dropped in a 3.3-liter V6 pushing 276 horsepower and 248 lb-ft of torque to the front wheels through a […]

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The 2015 Kia Sedona quietly made its public debut at the 2014 New York Auto Show, ready to take up to eight passengers to the nearest Trader Joe’s after soccer practice.

Behind the tiger nose, Kia dropped in a 3.3-liter V6 pushing 276 horsepower and 248 lb-ft of torque to the front wheels through a six-speed automatic.

Inside, up eight passengers can pile in depending on configuration, with third-row riders receiving 34.8 inches of legroom, second-row gaining 41.1 inches, and the parents enjoying 43.1 inches up front. Access to the third row is enabled by the Sedona’s Slide-n-Stow system in the second row, which also allows for increased storage room if needed.

Other features include auto-opening tailgate, surround-view monitoring, electronic stability control and ABS.

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Hyundai Sonata Fuel Economy Rating Found Lower Than Stated, Corrected http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/03/hyundai-sonata-fuel-economy-rating-found-lower-than-stated-corrected/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/03/hyundai-sonata-fuel-economy-rating-found-lower-than-stated-corrected/#comments Tue, 18 Mar 2014 13:40:58 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=774929 Hyundai announced a correction in the upcoming 2015 Sonata’s fuel economy upon findings showing the economy figures to be lower than originally stated. Reuters reports the sedan claimed a 6 percent-climb to 12.6 kilometers per liter, a figure based on tests at the automaker’s research center. However, government tests returned a 2 percent-climb of 12.1 […]

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2014 Hyundai Sonata

Hyundai announced a correction in the upcoming 2015 Sonata’s fuel economy upon findings showing the economy figures to be lower than originally stated.

Reuters reports the sedan claimed a 6 percent-climb to 12.6 kilometers per liter, a figure based on tests at the automaker’s research center. However, government tests returned a 2 percent-climb of 12.1 kilometers per liter than the outgoing model.

Analysts, including Korea Institute for Industrial Economics & Trade senior researcher Cho Chul, said the impact of the error and subsequent correction would be short-lived, having been announced prior to the new Sonata going on sale later this month in its home market:

This may have a short-term impact on its reputation. But for the longer term, it is better for Hyundai to take quick action before controversy erupts.

Both Hyundai and Kia are rebuilding their reputations regarding fuel economy after overstate figures in their respective lineups led to recalls and customer lawsuits, paying $395 million total in settlements in the United States in 2012 for over 1 million vehicles with erroneous mileage.

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Less Than Thirty Percent Of Kia Dealers To Sell 2015 K900 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/02/less-than-thirty-percent-of-kia-dealers-to-sell-2015-k900/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/02/less-than-thirty-percent-of-kia-dealers-to-sell-2015-k900/#comments Thu, 27 Feb 2014 13:55:24 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=756329 Kia’s first RWD V8 premium sedan for the United States is set to arrive next month, though less than 30 percent of all Kia dealerships will be ready to welcome the K900 when the first shipments arrive. Edmunds reports the $60,000 sedan — aimed at the Lexus LS 400 and Mercedes S550 — will be […]

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Kia’s first RWD V8 premium sedan for the United States is set to arrive next month, though less than 30 percent of all Kia dealerships will be ready to welcome the K900 when the first shipments arrive.

Edmunds reports the $60,000 sedan — aimed at the Lexus LS 400 and Mercedes S550 — will be sold by dealerships who signed up for the $30,000 training and display package designed around the K900, according to Kia spokesman Scott McKee:

The experience is designed to shift the culture, prepare authorized K900 dealers to welcome customers who may have never visited a Kia dealership and bring with them expectations set by other luxury brands. That cultural change will have a ripple effect through our network, elevating the experience for all Kia customers.

Kia executive vice president of sales and marketing Michael Sprague added that 220 of Kia’s 765 dealers in U.S. premium markets along the coasts and within the South and Chicago have signed up thus far, though he expects more will join the party once the first phase of the training and marketing push behind the K900 is successful.

As for what customers will see when the K900 arrives in those select showrooms, the premium sedan will have its own space, with dark wood inlays cut into the floor, displays highlighting various color and trim options, and a touchscreen device showing a video of the car’s interior.

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Capsule Review: 2014 Kia Soul ! http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/02/capsule-review-2014-kia-soul/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/02/capsule-review-2014-kia-soul/#comments Fri, 21 Feb 2014 14:00:45 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=749409 Winter can be stern and humorless. Into the frozen fray trundled a visitor from California. I told the 2014 Kia Soul that it was out of place. Then a whole bunch of snow fell. The Soul’s chipper personality replied “no worries, brah.” With only all-season tires, I was worried, though. Without winter tires, any-wheel drive […]

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red 2014 kia soul under snow cover

Winter can be stern and humorless. Into the frozen fray trundled a visitor from California. I told the 2014 Kia Soul that it was out of place. Then a whole bunch of snow fell. The Soul’s chipper personality replied “no worries, brah.” With only all-season tires, I was worried, though. Without winter tires, any-wheel drive may be inadequate, proper equipment really does matter. The California license plate peeked out as if to say “Let’s crush some dendrites.”

Turns out the Kia Soul is more than just a whimsical set of wheels. See, whimsy is a tricky thing. It’s a subset of humor, and humor requires a deft touch. The joke is funny when it bends. Go too far, though, and it breaks. Nobody laughs when the funny breaks.

The Kia Soul has been a practical personality box since 2009, and it’s all-new for 2014. You might have to look closely to spot the changes, and that’s good. The original Soul was charming and stretched the gags just enough. In contrast, the Scion xB, this segment’s pioneer, had already lost the plot by 2009.

The example of the xB’s second-generation Thorazine shuffle hung ominously over the 2014 Kia Soul. Would Kia mess up its cheeky little hedgehog-inspired dumpling?

 

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If styling permanence works for the Porsche 911, why can’t it work for the Kia Soul? In fact, it works quite well. It’s hard to be unhappy with so much style for so little money. The base Soul will run you $14,900. I was driving the Exclaim trim, and it turns out the price of my totally-loaded Soul was $27,000. At that price, there’s lots of alternatives, but nothing is quite like the Kia Soul.

Like MINI or the Volkswagen Beetle or even the Jeep Wrangler, the 2014 Soul hews tight to the look established by its predecessor. Park them next to each other, though, and the 2014 Soul instantly makes the original look old. The styling of the new Soul is further refined and smoothed out. Kia makes it sound like there’s a bunch of the Track’ster concept in the new car, but it’s mostly just details like the lower fascia, grille and floating body-color panel in the tailgate. The 2014 Soul looks mostly like the 2009 Soul, though it sits on its wider, longer wheelbase with more visual authority. The stoplights are the easiest tell, if you’re a car-spotter.

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We are in a new age of “Lower! Longer! Wider!” but the dimensional growth is welcome in the 2014 Soul. The back gate is wider, which leads to a larger cargo area. There’s more legroom for both front and rear seats, more front headroom, a lower hip point and reduced step-in height, adding up to a Soul that’s friendlier and more useful. The 2014 Soul turned out to be surprisingly excellent in the snow, even on the all-season tires the standard 18” alloys it wears, so it’s not useless outside of Cali.

Think of the Soul as the 2000s version of the Honda Civic Wagovan or Nissan Stanza Wagon. It’s usefully boxy, economical, easy to get in and out of and easy to drive. For something on a small 101.2” wheelbase, the 24.2 cubic feet of cargo space behind the rear seat is impressively large. Fold that second row down and there’s 61.3 cubic feet of room.

Being loaded up with features that used to be luxury car stuff probably didn’t hurt my impression, either. I sat on ventilated leather. Everyone had seat heaters, front and rear. Automatic HID projector headlights burrowed through the swirl of the storm, and I was directed by the navigation system. Above my head, a giant panoramic moonroof gave me an underside view of the glacier on the roof, the Infinity audio system was plenty entertaining, though the pulsing Hamster-Nightclub interior lights were doused quickly. The top-spec infotainment system was easy to use, and the rest of the ergonomics in the Soul are good because they don’t try to be cutesy. The dash speakers that look like coasters are a little weird, though.

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Even without the list of equipment that’s longer than a Dickens story, the Soul would be a pleaser. The base engine for the Soul is a 1.6 liter DOHC direct-injected four cylinder with a healthy-for-its-size 130 hp and a slightly disappointing 118 lb-ft of torque. It’s probably nice enough, like listening to the neighbor kid’s well-practiced rendition of Sing, Sing, Sing, but the Plus and Exclaim get a 2.0 liter that’s Benny Goodman backed by Gene Krupa, instead. (Hey, you carped about my Led Zeppelin reference…) That’s an exaggeration, but the 2.0 liter has 164 hp, 151 lb-ft, and a high 11.5:1 compression ratio. It’s a snappy little number, for sure.

What kinda harshes the buzz is the fact that the only way to get a six-speed manual is to go with the small engine. The six-speed automatic that’s paired with the 2.0 liter is a pretty decent consolation prize, though. It’s well matched to the engine and shifts well, though it exhibits some of the pulsating wonkiness under hard acceleration that’s an apparent trademark behavior of this Hyundai design.

The Soul is perhaps the most vivid example of Kia’s learning curve. Kias used to look great on paper, with lots of features and equipment for less money than the competition, but you could always count on them being short on integration. In less than a decade, that’s been completely reversed. The 2014 Soul drives like a car designed, assembled, and tuned by people who actually spoke to each other.

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The last piece of the puzzle was suspension tuning, and Kia has figured out how to make the seemingly-dowdy combo of MacPherson struts in the front and a torsion-beam rear axle ride with compliance and yet handle with some spirit, too. Other style-boxes can’t pull that off. The xB is hopelessly uninteresting to drive, and the Nissan Cube is as soft as nursing home pudding. It’s like Kia looked at what they had, realized that the first-generation VW GTI managed to do pretty damn well with the same basic parts, and got inspired.

I’d still have preferred to try the Soul in the snow on winter tires, but on its 18” alloys and surprisingly wide 235/45 Kumho Nexens it cut through like a champ. I’m also a little surprised that there’s not an all-wheel drive version of the Soul, because I think it would sell like moonshine in a dry county. I’d have an alternative to the Subaru Forester to recommend to people, and  that’s something I dearly desire. On the other hand, there’s a new Soul EV, which I can’t wait to get my hands on.

The Soul is aptly named. It’s a boxy little car with a bunch of personality. In this time of bland-but-pretty, rare is the car that both stands out for its styling and delivers some fun for everyone at a price normal people can swing. Get down with your bad self, Kia.

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Hyundai Ready To Add Capacity After Two-Year Break http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/02/hyundai-ready-to-add-capacity-after-two-year-break/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/02/hyundai-ready-to-add-capacity-after-two-year-break/#comments Tue, 11 Feb 2014 17:00:59 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=739417 After a two-year break in expansion mandated by Hyundai Motor Company Chairman Chung Mong-koo in order to avoid quality issues experienced by Toyota during their aggressive growing spurt in the 2000s, Hyundai and Kia are both looking through feasibilities studies to determine where to invest in expanding their manufacturing footprint. Though the mandate is still […]

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Hyundai production line Alabama plant

After a two-year break in expansion mandated by Hyundai Motor Company Chairman Chung Mong-koo in order to avoid quality issues experienced by Toyota during their aggressive growing spurt in the 2000s, Hyundai and Kia are both looking through feasibilities studies to determine where to invest in expanding their manufacturing footprint.

Though the mandate is still in place, the expansion freeze is putting the pressure on both brands’ existing factories to produce more vehicles as it is. In 2013, Hyundai and Kia utilized 105 percent capacity of their factories around the globe, with those in the Southeastern United States running flat-out between 125 percent and 135 percent on two shifts per day.

Sources closes to the expansion plans noted the current ban, though highly beneficial to the parent automaker’s bottom line, is ultimately unsustainable for future success; Hyundai aims to sell nearly 8 million units globally in 2014, and expansion into Mexico and China — and possibly the U.S., though through a cautious approach due to tougher competition in a tight market — would help move the goal post past 8 million

The renewed interest in expansion comes as costs in labor and languid growth prospects in the automaker’s home market are prompting competitors — such as General Motors — to cut back on manufacturing and export, something Hyundai refuses to contemplate. Thus, the search for “investment opportunities” outside of a local market set to peak at 1.6 million sales annually through 2020 beginning in 2016, including three sites in China, whose local market could see 33 million to 38 million sales annually by 2020.

If approved, the fourth Chinese factory would be Hyundai’s first major manufacturing capacity investment since opening their third plant in 2012 alongside one in Brazil, both announced prior to the expansion ban in 2010 and 2008, respectively.

That said, Chung could veto any new expansion investment should such plans be presented.

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