As Promised, a Plug-in Kia Niro Arrives Before the New Year

It’s strange that the Kia Stinger — an aggressively styled, rear-drive, twin-turbocharged sport sedan — would get so much limelight when there’s a new Kia Niro Plug-in Hybrid to drool over. All right, that’s the one and only joke we’ll have at the well-regarded Niro’s expense. Obviously, there’ll be little cross-shopping between these two models, as both vehicles fulfill very different missions.

The Stinger’s all about letting your hair down and performing a smoke show in your old high school parking lot. The Niro Plug-in is for the rest of the week, when you’re shuttling your kids around and displaying your green bona fides to your upstanding suburban neighbors. And there’s nothing wrong with that.

Recently unveiled at the L.A. Auto Show, the plug-in Niro takes a competent package (one we hesitate to call a “crossover”) and endows it with a healthy dose of all-electric driving range.

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How Many Gas Pumps Can a Stinger Pass? Kia Releases EPA Info

When I was in California this week to drive the all-new Kia Stinger, there was one key specification question that went unanswered – fuel economy. That’s because the numbers were being finalized as we sat in the press briefing.

Now we know the numbers, at least by the American standard.

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2018 Kia Stinger Review - A Good Recipe in Need of Some Seasoning

Anyone who likes to cook knows it’s rare to get a new dish right on the first try. It usually takes a few tweaks to reach perfection, no matter how good the base recipe is.

That’s the case with the much-hyped Kia Stinger. Kia has never built a grand-touring sports sedan before, so the brand was essentially starting from scratch. Which could explain why the Stinger, which we’ve been hearing about for what seems like an eternity now, is very good, but not as great as I’d hoped.

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Ace of Base: 2018 Kia Rio LX Sedan

About a month ago, departed Sales Tim (not newly-arrived Boss Tim) wrote about Kia’s littlest car and found it to be an inoffensive hatch that could stand to make a bit more power. His, and the B&B’s, main gripe was price, given the tester was a check-every-box example with all the toys.

Kia entered our market with a value play and, 20 years later, the new base Rio shows it still knows how to play the game. The level of standard equipment on this $13,900 sedanlet far outstrips the miserable econoboxes of yesteryear.

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In Time for Halloween, Kia to Harvest 340,000 Souls

Halloween is coming up and Kia is getting into the spirit of things by harvesting a few Souls. Over 300,000 of them, to be exact.

According to a report by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, a pinion gear in certain 2014 – 2016 Kia Souls and Soul EVs is at risk of separating from the steering assembly.

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2017 Kia Niro Touring Review - Who Says Boring Is Bad?

Outside of perhaps its front styling – especially the slightly bug-eyed headlamps and the pinched grille – the Kia Niro doesn’t really stand out in a crowd.

It’s quiet, thanks to a hybrid powertrain. It’s compact in length and height. It has a driving experience that isn’t memorable in ways good or bad.

And none of that preceding paragraph is meant as an insult.

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2018 Kia Rio EX 5-Door Review - Can a Subcompact Car Be Good Enough in 2017 to Merit Attention?

During a year in which Kia is about to drop a BMW 3 Series-rivalling sports sedan with a price tag that rises above $50,000, it’s not hard to see why the arrival of a new Kia subcompact hatchback goes relatively unnoticed.

It’s not hard to see why the arrival of any subcompact goes unnoticed. In the United States, subcompact car sales are a pittance, forming just 2 percent of the market after losing one-fifth of their collective volume so far this year. Kia’s entry, meanwhile, fills only a narrow gap in America’s subcompact niche, suffering from a 51-percent year-over-year sales drop to only 11,952 sales in 2017’s first nine months, equal to just 4 percent of the subcompact market.

This is nothing new. U.S. interest in the Kia Rio, valued at over 50,000 annual sales way back in 2002, perked up with the dawn of the outgoing third-generation model half a decade ago but quickly diminished. Kia USA averaged fewer than 30,000 annual Rio sales over the last three years.

But you can forget the Stinger for a moment, you can set aside the K900, ignore the Cadenza, and temporarily dismiss the Sorento SX Limited. This is the 2018 Kia Rio. Kia won’t even let you spend more than $20,000 on this subcompact hatch.

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Bark's Bites: Kia's New 'Spin' on Compensation Might Mean a Change in Direction

For over a decade now, Kia has slowly but surely been moving toward doing the impossible —transitioning the brand image from “ subprime, budget, shady, and non-desirable” to “a slightly Buick-ized version of Hyundai.” In order to do this, Kia dealers have always relied on the one factor in their favor, which is the ability to sell on price. While the MSRPs on Kias aren’t too far off the competition, the stores have historically dumped new inventory at prices well below the sticker. Looking at an Altima? Why not try this Optima at $3,000 off instead?

Of course, when you operate this way, it makes it difficult for salespeople and managers to make any money, since there’s little to no profit in the deal. For over a decade, Kia has offered sales staff what’s known in the business as a “spin” every time they sell a new car — they can call into a number or log on to a website and enter a VIN-specific code for a “spin” and a chance to win a bonus that ranges from $25-500 per car. If you sell Kias for a living, this is likely how you’ve been paying your bills for as long as you can remember.

According to sources within Kia dealerships, a little over a month ago, without warning, Kia stopped its OEM incentive program for management. Then, for October, again without warning, Kia stopped the spin program for sales people, also with no explanation. Rumor has it this decision comes from the new VP of Sales for Kia Motors America, Bill Peffer, who came to Kia from a dealership group in the Pacific Northwest. Dealers tell me that they’ve repeatedly e-mailed their corporate contacts for explanation, but none is expected.

Other than a sharp increase in the mortgage foreclosure rate for Kia dealer employees, what does this mean for Kia in the States?

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2018 Kia Stinger is $95 Cheaper Than 2017 Kia Cadenza

Let’s face it. Most American car buyers in 2017 don’t actually want cars. You know, the traditional passenger car. Most car buyers who actually want cars don’t want full-size sedans built by mainstream sedans. And among the few car buyers who actually want full-size volume brand sedans, the overwhelming majority — 99 percent, in fact — do not want a Kia Cadenza.

The U.S. market is about to get a lot more difficult for the Kia Cadenza, which is currently priced from $32,890. Admittedly more powerful than the forthcoming 2018 Kia Stinger, the Kia Cadenza is a nearly five-year-old front-wheel-drive luxury barge in a semi-attractive Kia body.

The 2018 Kia Stinger, on the other hand, is a flashy new cut-price sports [s]sedan[/s] hatch, a model deserving of some anticipation that’s priced from $32,795, or ninety-five dollars less costly than the chronically unpopular Kia Cadenza.

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Ace of Base: 2018 Kia Soul Base

Korean automakers built their foundations on these shores by offering cars priced much more aggressively than established competition yet packed to the gunwales with features. Kia has come a long way since opening up shop with their first dealerships in – where else – Portland, Oregon. Keep it weird, Portland.

Even with the by-all-accounts superb Stinger and the not-offered-here funky Stonic pointing Kia in a bold new direction, the company stays true to its roots by continuing to offer an array of products squarely in the Mr. Noodles price range. One of the most popular? The Kia Soul, of course.

Is there a base model? Of course there is. This time, it’s right there in the name.

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Genesis Motors Boss Pays No Attention to the Kia Stinger
“It’s all about how you bring across to the customer that they don’t feel they are driving or seeing the same car.” — Manfred Fitzgerald, Genesis Motors Senior Vice President

The 2018 Kia Stinger and 2018 Genesis G70 are platform partners, two new sporty and luxurious four-doors from the Hyundai Kia Automotive Group.

The timing of their release is synchronized. They utilize the same engine portfolio. They’ll compete in a similar price bracket. But there are differences. For starters, the styling is markedly different, the kind of difference one expects to find when one car, the Kia, is a hatchback and the other is a sedan. The Kia Stinger works harder to get noticed; the Genesis G70 is more subdued.

But while Hyundai’s Genesis spinoff will need to further differentiate the G70 from a marketing standpoint in order to provide a true luxury brand glow, it’s already been made clear by Albert Biermann, the former BMW chassis guru who’s now head of vehicle testing for Hyundai and Kia, that the cars are very similar. In terms of driving experience, “It’s not so easy maybe as with the styling, but I think we can find good tuning and calibration that set them a little bit apart,” Biermann said earlier this year.

A little bit.

Yet in a conversation with Manfred Fitzgerald, the senior vice president at the Genesis brand, Wards Auto received a strikingly different answer. Asked how the Genesis G70 differs from the Kia Stinger, Fitzgerald says, “You tell me. I don’t look at the Stinger. We’re focusing on something totally different.”

Your teenager calls this #shade.

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Sorry, Stonic - Kia's Got All the Small Vehicles It Needs In the U.S.

If you’re an aspiring B-segment crossover owner looking for Korean value and a fresh face, but aren’t exactly enamored with the 2018 Hyundai Kona‘s looks, you’re out of luck. For now, anyways. The Kia Stonic, revealed in Europe earlier this summer, is definitely not making the boat ride to America. Well, probably definitely.

Definitely maybe.

The automaker says it has no current plans to offer the subcompact crossover — which is arguably better looking than the U.S.-bound Kona — to utility-crazed on this side of the ocean. It’s clear Kia isn’t so sure of the extent of Americans’ appetite for non-cavernous vehicles.

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The Best-looking Car at the Frankfurt Motor Show Might Be Kia's Concept Wagon

Kia Motors plans to reveal a sporty wagon concept at Germany’s International Motor Show in September. Calling the model an “extended hot hatch,” the automaker is following the popular trend of whetting the automotive press’ appetite with a shooting brake bodystyle that will probably never reach production.

Designed in Kia’s European design studio in Frankfurt, less than a mile from where it will be unveiled, the wagon is said to be representative of what the next-generation of Europe’s Kia Cee’d might look like. If there is any truth to that, we’d like to see it imported into North America. However, as this is just a concept car, we know the odds of its real-world counterpart not changing into an amorphous collection of painted steel panels are slim.

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The South Korean Curse: Kia Loses Landmark Wage Dispute With Employees

Seoul Central District Court ruled against Kia Motors on Thursday, ordering the automaker to pay around 420 billion won, or $374 million, in unpaid wages. Kia employees first filed an initial lawsuit in 2011, claiming a 659 billion won wage disparity, following it up with an additional suit in 2014.

However, the automaker claims the final cost will be closer to 1 trillion won, or about $890 million, and could result in a third-quarter operating loss. Interestingly, this is roughly the same amount workers demanded over their six-year legal dispute (after interest).

“The current operational situation is such that the ruling amount is [difficult] to bear,” Kia said in a statement.

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Light Entertainment: Answers To the Matching Taillight Challenge

Last week, we showed you four different vehicles, each with strikingly similar taillamps. So began the Taillamp Identification Challenge. (Un)fortunately, Flybrian was around, and came up with the correct answers just 10 minutes after the post went live.

So, the challenge was short lived, and all props go to Flybrian’s keen taillamp eye. It’s almost like he knows cars, or is a car dealer perhaps. Time for the official results.

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Hyundai Ioniq Sales Are Low, Inventory Ramp-Up Is Slow, Kia Niro Is the One Making Dough

Since arriving early this year, Hyundai Motor America has managed only a meager 4,881 sales of its Prius-fighting Ioniq. Hyundai is certain there are far more Ioniq sales that could occur, however, if only Hyundai had the Ioniqs to sell.

Supply isn’t just tight — the Ioniq Electric is essentially nonexistent at Hyundai’s showrooms in California, the only state where it’s (supposed to be) available.

Yet while Hyundai awaits greater Ioniq inventory, the lack of which is clearly to blame for the low volume to date, it’s becoming increasingly obvious that Kia came out on top in this deal.

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Time for Some Tinkering: Kia Reveals Sorento Styling Alterations and a New Transmission In Korea

Launched in third-generation form for the 2016 model year, it appears as though the Kia Sorento is due for some upgrades only two years into its lifecycle.

Perhaps the Sorento is in need of some changes. In a booming SUV/crossover market, Kia Sorento sales are down 15 percent in the United States through the first six months of 2017. It’s difficult enough matching 2016’s sales pace in 2017 when car sales are fading, but at Kia, both the Sorento and even newer Sportage are in decline, as well.

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2018 Kia Stonic Revealed; Subcompact Newcomer Hungry for Your Kids and Pets

After Hyundai dropped the curtain on its B-segment Kona crossover last week, corporate cousin Kia wasn’t far behind, pulling the wraps off its own new subcompact crossover earlier today.

The Stonic, which will go on sale in Europe in the third quarter of this year, rides atop the same platform as the Kona, but arguably wears it better. Sporting a more cohesive design, a sharp, contemporary face, and headlights in all the right places, the Stonic aims to gra Kia a slice of the growing subcompact utility vehicle market. In Europe, the segment is expected to grow to more than 10 percent of all new sales in just a few years.

That’s money Kia wants to take home to Korea. It’s not just overtaxed European buyers on Kia’s hit list, either; automakers are hurriedly adding missing CUVs to their North American lineups to boost sales and market share.

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Kia Stonic: C'mon Kids, Dig This Rad Crossover

Few automakers can afford to sit on the sidelines while rivals do battle in the growing subcompact crossover segment, and Kia sure isn’t one of them. Back in January, a trademark filing revealed Kia was developing a vehicle bearing an odd name — Stonic — which many rightly guessed would become the brand’s newest crossover. Well, that mystery vehicle is no longer a mystery.

The automaker has released concept sketches of its upcoming subcompact crossover, a high-beltline, low-roof runabout with wheels tailor-made for pelting stones off its sickly off-gold paint.

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The Koreans' American Battle: In May 2017, Kia Outsold Hyundai for the First Time Ever

May 2017 was not a particularly healthy sales month for either of South Korea’s two major automakers in the United States. Including Hyundai’s Genesis spinoff brand, the Hyundai-Kia Automotive Group declined 12 percent, year-over-year — a loss of more than 15,000 sales for the trio of Korean brands compared with May 2016.

Korea’s U.S. auto market share thus fell to 7.8 percent in May 2017, a drop of a full percentage point. In a market that’s seen sales fall 2 percent overall through the first five months of 2017, total Hyundai-Kia Automotive Group sales are down 7 percent following record annual volume in 2016.

Hyundai and Kia both underperformed the market in May, just as they’re both underperforming the market through the first five months of 2017. But by an altogether different standard, one member of the group will be pleased with May’s U.S. sales results.

In May 2017, for the first time in the brands’ U.S. sales history, Kia sold more new vehicles than Hyundai. Kia outsold Hyundai. Yes, it was the first time. But it surely won’t be the last.

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2017 Kia Optima Hybrid Review - By No Means Perfect, But Largely Free From Imperfection

Automobile manufacturers send a new car to my driveway every week. Last week, the manufacturer was Kia. The vehicle, an Optima Hybrid.

Spending a full week with a vehicle should expose a vehicle’s positive attributes, not only the most obvious traits but those hidden under the surface at a first-drive event in an exotic location or during a test drive where a yammering salesman regales you with tales of J.D. Power awards.

Spending a full week with a vehicle should also expose a vehicle’s faults, not just the glaring flaws. The kind of blunders only made evident when you truly get to know a car.

That’s my job. I’m given time to spot everything, because you won’t be afforded the same privilege. So what happens when a vehicle is unable to incite any passion in the automotive enthusiast erogenous zones while also avoiding the exposure of any intrinsic weaknesses? What happens when there’s nothing to spot?

Writer’s block.

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You Know The Future For Mini MPVs Is Bleak When Even The Europeans Don't Want Small Vans

America’s mini-MPV market is dead. It was hardly ever alive.

Canada’s mini-MPV market is dying. The Chevrolet Orlando couldn’t make a go of it. Kia Rondo and Mazda 5 sales are 80-percent lower than they were a decade ago.

And if ever you thought North America’s mini-MPV market could be regenerated based off the strength of Europe’s compact minivan segment, you thought wrong. Even the Europeans — long lovers of small, family-friendly vehicles with affordable price tags, economical engines, and notable space efficiency — are turning away from mini-MPVs. In droves.

Why buy a minivan when you could have a rugged off-roader instead?

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The Kia Niro Is A Hit, Thanks Be Unto TTAC (And The Crossover-Hungry Universe)

It’s a hybrid. It’s attractive. It’s affordable. It’s the Kia Niro. Launched at the beginning of 2017, the Kia Niro is already proving to be a surprisingly successful hit for Kia Motors America.

As competitors quickly fade into the background, Niro volume is rising steadily each month, with the Kia attracting buyers for a wide variety of reasons, not just fuel efficiency.

In fact, the Kia Niro isn’t that fuel efficient compared with other dedicated hybrids on the market today.

But the Kia Niro is a crossover. (Allegedly.) And Niro’s amalgam of characteristics — hybrid, design, affordability, crossover image — has returned a degree of sales success simply not enjoyed by most dedicated greenmobiles.

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Kia Quietly Kills Off a Model You've Already Forgotten About

We’re not talking about the K900 flagship sedan, as Kia’s luxo barge actually gets people talking — mainly due to its slow sales and LeBron James connection. No, the model lying in the casket this morning bowed out of people’s minds long before it vanished from Kia’s product cycle.

The Forte Koup.

Kia has confirmed there’ll be no future for the two-door variant of its popular Forte, though the writing was on the wall for some time. On the company’s website, too.

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Ace of Base: 2017 Kia Rio LX

Yesterday, we learned the Kia badge might not be good enough for Stingers in its home country. Around here, the slinky sedan will still carry the nameplate, despite the brand’s humble beginnings.

Twenty years ago, Kia made a name for itself on these shores hawking bargain-basement priced entry-level cars, many of which quickly returned to the earth in the form of iron oxide. Today, Kia’s smallest offering has since gone to finishing school, earning a major in Economics.

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The Kia Badge Isn't Good Enough for Korean Stingers

It was jarring, when the 2018 Kia Stinger debuted, to see the automaker’s corporate badge prominently displayed on a desirable, rear-drive sports sedan. In spite of the sales gloom that surrounds the traditional passenger car market, some of us have wondered whether the badge alone might cause performance-minded premium car buyers to overlook the model when it appears on dealer lots.

In Korea, however, no one will be able to blame the model’s success or failure on the presence of a “Kia” badge. That’s because it won’t have one.

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2017 Kia Niro EX Review - Don't Call It a Hatchback

Is it or isn’t it? A crossover, I mean. That’s been the discussion over the 2017 Kia Niro ever since it bowed. No one seems to care whether the all-new hybrid functions as it should. Instead, the argument revolves around dimensions, and everyone knows that no one wins when someone whips out a ruler.

A couple of weeks ago, Corey took one glance at a photo I shared with the TTAC staff comparing the Niro to my mother’s 2014 Corolla. The photo showed the rather insignificant difference in overall height between the two compact vehicles, and fueled the argument that the Kia Niro is not a crossover.

I’m struggling to disagree.

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Geneva 2017: Kia Reveals the Niro PHEV, a Greener Car for Those Who Don't Like Flaunting It

Kia’s new Niro lineup will get another teammate this summer — a plug-in hybrid, which the Korean automaker revealed today at the Geneva Motor Show.

The PHEV, offered first in Europe, utilizes a 1.6-liter direct-injection four-cylinder, electric motor and 8.9 kWh lithium-polymer battery pack to attain its green credentials. Kia claims the new hardware will deliver more than 35 miles of all-electric range.

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2017 Kia Cadenza Limited Review - A Better Buick

The squeals of delight from the back seat were nearly deafening. My eight-year-old had discovered the rear seat heater button while pawing at the door-mounted armrest.

She tends to underdress for the climate, and as usual, she was sporting shorts for her basketball game that morning — in 38 degree weather. Mercifully, the Kia Cadenza took the chill off both the leather seats and her butt, saving mine from a deserved berating from her mother.

The little details Kia sweated in creating this new Cadenza have added up to a remarkable luxury sedan that should be the benchmark for the class but instead will likely remain a second-tier player due to Kia’s history.

Shame, because I’m quite sure this Cadenza is a magnificent Buick.

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Mini-MPVs Just Won't Hurry Up And Die Already

99.9 percent of the minivans sold in the United States in 2016 were (oxymoronically-titled) full-size minivans.

The Kia Rondo finished its brief one-generation U.S. run in 2011, having generated 73,100 total sales over the course of nearly five years.

Having produced more than 160,000 sales for Mazda USA, the Mazda 5 is likewise no longer part of the automaker’s U.S. lineup. Mazda 5 volume was essentially chopped in half between 2008 and 2014.

The Chevrolet Orlando arrived in North America with a decidedly Floridian name but never actually made its way to Florida, or the U.S. market as a whole. Having generated 12,038 Canadian sales, the Orlando quickly departed Canada after volume plunged 81 percent between 2012 and 2014.

Yet the Kia Rondo and Mazda 5 are still available in Canada. They’re alive and (un)well. And while “full-size minivans” claim 96 percent of Canadian MPV sales, Kia and Mazda just won’t give up on their genuinely mini minivans.

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2017 Kia Niro Hybrid First Drive Review - Hold the Trimmings

Remember MTV? Back on September 18, 1983, the once-music-oriented television station — before its foray into an endless stream of mindless reality programming — broadcast a momentous event in rock history. The members of KISS, who’d never previously showed their bare faces in public, appeared in front of a camera without makeup for the very first time.

Instantly, the members of New York City rock band were normal — as far as rockers can be considered normal, I suppose.

In that same vein, Kia’s new Niro is the unmasking of the hybrid. Its crossover shape wouldn’t look out of place as a conventional, dino-juice powered vehicle on any dealer lot. The Niro sports no folded sheetmetal, no oddly proportioned kammback, and no spaghettified headlights.

It’s normal — as far as hybrids can be considered normal, I suppose. And that’s the point.

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You Want It, Kia Wants It, But Here's Why Niro Likely Won't Offer All-wheel Drive Anytime Soon

Kia’s foray into the hybrid segment might be ill-timed, considering the current contraction of sales for its main rival, the Toyota Prius, but the Korean automaker is betting big on the Niro’s traditionally boxy shape bringing in would-be Prius buyers offended by origami-esque sheetmetal.

Still, with that two-box silhouette comes some preconceived notions — like all-wheel drive.

While you want it, and Kia Motors of America would surely love to give it to you, there are a host of reasons why Kia’s newest hybrid-only crossover doesn’t offer all-wheel drive and likely won’t anytime soon.

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Soul Gets a Mate? Kia All But Confirms a Niro EV

Kia’s new hybrid crossover, the Niro, should expect a sister model that dispenses with fossil fuel altogether.

A Kia official has implied that an all-electric version of the model is coming, joining a vehicle that arrives this spring in hybrid form, with a plug-in version on the way. By offering a Niro EV, Kia would have two electric crossover-style vehicles on the market — and plenty of green clout.

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Kia Releases Pricing for Its Unusual 2017 Niro Hybrid

Kia has released the price list for its new hybrid crossover, the Niro.

The Niro, which launches in the first quarter of this year, carries a base sticker price of $23,785 after destination. Carrying a brand name that doesn’t immediately spring to mind when utility-hungry shoppers think “crossovers,” the front-wheel-drive-only hybrid Niro stands out on the basis of its powertrain alone, but is it what people want?

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NAIAS 2017: 2018 Kia Stinger Revealed in Detroit - Don't Call It A Four-Door Coupe

Kia uses the more accurate and less offensive term “fastback sports sedan” to describe the new Stinger, unveiled tonight ahead of the 2017 North American International Auto Show. Kia will offer the rear-drive, coupe-like 2018 Stinger liftback with turbocharged four-cylinder and V6 powerplants, and optional all-wheel drive.

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Kia Goes All in on the GT Sports Sedan Hype

We’ve got a pretty clear picture of what the upcoming Kia GT sports sedan will look like (thanks to this pretty clear picture of a pre-production model), but Kia wants us to look inside.

In advance of the model’s unveiling, the Korean automaker hopes to boost cardiac BPMs by releasing a high-RPM video of the model on Germany’s famed Nürburgring.

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Leaked in Photo, the 2018 Kia GT Sports Sedan Faces a Mountain of Adversity

A photo of what looks like a pre-production Kia GT was leaked to the interwebs today, revealing the upcoming premium midsize tapped to carry the brand’s performance torch.

Bowing next year as a 2018 model, Kia’s rear-wheel-drive sports sedan faces an uphill battle against a well-established competition, changing consumer preferences, and itself.

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What's The Most Popular Kia In America? Hint: Not The K900

America’s midsize sedan market is fading fast. Sales are down 12 percent this year, and the cars that operate farthest from the top of the leaderboard are the cars that are fading fastest: the Mazda 6, Volkswagen Passat, dying Chrysler 200, and the Kia Optima.

U.S. sales of the Kia Optima, the best-selling Kia in America in each of the last four years, are down 25 percent through the first ten months of 2016, a loss of more than four Optima sales for the average Kia dealer per month.

The Optima, therefore, is no longer the most popular Kia in America.

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2017 Kia Soul Turbo - Boosting the Box

Korea’s second largest automaker knows that the Soul is getting a little long in the tooth. So, to hold the public’s interest, they’ve subtly revamped the styling and added an optional turbocharged engine that makes the previous offerings seem paltry.

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Her Name Was Rio, and She Looks Bigger Than Before

Kia Motors has pulled the wraps off of its next-generation Rio subcompact ahead of its Paris Motor Show debut later this month, revealing a newfound love of straight lines that couldn’t be more different from the bulbous previous generation.

A longer, flatter hood, longer wheelbase, high beltline and upright C-pillar aim to make the 2017 Rio appear more mature and refined. Kia engineers adopted the 1950s “longer/lower/wider” approach for the redesign, as the hatch hits a growth spurt.

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The Once-Lowly Kia Rio Comes Into Its Own

The next-generation Kia Rio will receive styling to match its confidence as the brand’s best-selling vehicle.

The automaker released design renderings of the looming 2017 Rio today, in advance of the model’s world premiere at the Paris Motor Show on September 29. The sad sedans that once populated the back of used car lots are now a distant memory.

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Kia's Mexico Factory Boosts Car Production, Spawns Corruption Trial

When the new Kia factory in Nuevo León, Mexico reaches full capacity, 300,000 vehicles will leave the plant each year. At the same time, a jail cell door could slam on the government officials who brought it there.

The former governor of the Mexican state will stand trial on corruption charges linked to the tax deal behind the $1 billion assembly plant, Reuters reports. Prosecutors accuse Rodrigo Medina, along with 30 officials, friends and family members, of draining $196 million from public coffers.

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This 2017 Kia Sportage SX Was Broken and Slow, Now It's Fixed and Fast

Recognize this Kia?

TTAC’s Matthew Guy drove and reviewed this particular 2017 Sportage SX Turbo in early July. Readers need not an ability to read between the lines to locate Guy’s disappointment in the turbocharged 2.0 liter’s responsiveness, or the nearly complete and total lack thereof.

“Kia’s intent is to offer V6 power with four-banger economy. Unfortunately, I found little of either in this Coke-bottle-sized engine,” he wrote at the time.

The Sportage SX, rated at 237 horsepower and 260 lbs-ft of torque, shuffles its power through all four wheels in a 3,997-pound package. In a 2016 Kia Sorento weighing 4,303 pounds, I said the same powerplant’s mid-range “is as punchy as the Sorento’s available 3.3-liter V6,” and “passing power is plentiful as you ride a 260-lb-ft wave across a plateau of torque.”

Yet in the smaller and lighter Sportage, Matthew says, “Outside Sport Mode, it didn’t even feel like 137 hp, let alone 100 more.” In TTAC’s hyperactive Slack chat at the end of July, he continued, “It drove like cold molasses going backward uphill.”

But Guy was the first auto writer to get seat time in this specific 2017 Kia Sportage SX Turbo. Unbeknownst to him, and to the Kia Sportage’s instrument cluster, the Kia was wounded before getting to the battlefield.

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Kia Brags About Its Used Vehicles, Because Off-Lease Sales Are Hot Stuff

The record-setting surge of new vehicle sales as America climbed out of the recession sparked a whole new kind of automotive competition.

A surge in off-lease vehicles returning to dealer lots means the certified pre-owned (CPO) market — once an unsexy afterthought — is now a battleground, and Kia Motors wants everyone to know how well it’s doing.

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Kia Plans to Tighten up Its Product Line, Offer 'GT' Versions

Kia plans to let its sister division handle the sensible grocery getters and track-ready racers (assuming Hyundai’s N-Division bears fruit), while it churns out hotter “normal” cars.

According to the automaker’s performance development chief, Kia plans to offer a global GT line of its most popular vehicles, boosting the models’ performance and appearance, Autocar reports.

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2017 Kia Sportage SX Turbo Review - Jumping Off the Blandwagon

The SUV’s rise to king of the automotive fiefdom is well documented. Seizing the chance for fat profits and sales glory, manufacturers took their existing product, added a couple of doors and ladled on the chrome. Buyers flocked to them like Brexiters lining up to change their vote. In time, thanks to Prius driving tofu-twinks wearing nuclear-free peace sandals, these brutes became as politically correct as a Monsanto home fracking kit and, with a few exceptions, have been resigned to the dustbin of history.

OEMs recognized the trend, slowly backing away from the behemoth machines. Modifying their smaller unibody offerings, tall two-box crossovers soon dotted the landscape, watering down the SUV formula until buyers were left with the automotive equivalent of Metamucil.

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J.D. Power Initial Quality Study: Considering a Porsche? Kia's the One You Want

If you’re planning to buy a new vehicle this year, J.D. Power wants you to know you’ll probably happier in a Kia than a Porsche.

Well, maybe less annoyed. By the little things. On average. That’s one takeaway from the firm’s annual ranking of automotive brands based on consumer complaints logged during the first 90 days of ownership.

This year’s J.D. Power U.S. Initial Quality Study is good PR for many automakers, considering 21 of the 33 brands moved up in the rankings this year, including those in the Big Three. Domestic brands collectively recorded a lower problem tally than their foreign competition, a feat only accomplished one other time in the study’s three decade history.

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Bark's Bites: Orlando Kia West Is a Stunning Example of Why People Still Hate Car Dealers

On May 4th, my friend “Jenny” (whose name is changed for the sake of her privacy) could not contain her excitement. She posted the photo seen above to Facebook, sharing with her friends that she had just bought what she believed to be a brand-new 2014 Kia Soul from Orlando Kia West. She got what she also believed to be a rip-roaring deal, too, paying $4,000 under sticker.

Although the car was a 2014 model with 530 miles on the clock, Jenny said the dealer claimed it had never been sold to a private customer, but Orlando Kia West had to list it as a used car because it had purchased it from another dealer.

The minute I saw that, I immediately knew something was up. I contacted Jenny and asked her some questions about her experience. Fifteen minutes later, we were both furious.

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Spied: 2018 Kia GT, Now With Normal Doors

Kia’s rear-drive premium sedan is looking pretty production ready in these spy photos.

The teasing has now gone on for five years, ever since the GT concept bowed in Frankfurt in 2011. The vehicle photographed near Kia’s southern California headquarters stays true to the concept’s general proportions, though the clamshell (“suicide”) doors are, not surprisingly, absent from the mix.

Designed to battle German competitors at the high end of the market, the 2018 GT will source its platform from the upcoming Genesis G70 sedan.

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2016 Kia Sedona Review - Minivan in a Crossover Suit

Let’s face it: Nobody wants to drive what their parents drove, even if it’s the right vehicle for the task at hand. Minivan shoppers balked at their parent’s station wagon, and CUV shoppers seem to believe that minivans are the gateway to mom-jeans and velcro sneakers.

My sister-in-law is the perfect example of a conflicted minivan shopper. With four kids, she needs a minivan. However, because she grew up sitting in the back of a string of Chevrolet Astro vans, she has a special hatred reserved for minivans. It probably doesn’t help that her parents recently traded in an Oldsmobile Silhouette for a Chrysler Town & Country.

Technically, a family of six will fit in your average three-row crossover, but even the biggest CUVs have a cramped back seat and limited cargo compared to the average minivan.

Seeing an opportunity to differentiate itself, Kia decided to put a different twist on the Sedona when it was redesigned for 2015. The latest Sedona gives up some traditional minivan practicality in an attempt to appeal to crossover shoppers on the fence.

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TTAC News Round-up: Kia Invades Russia, German Diesel Fix Delayed, and a Porsche Payout

The Russian car market is looking grimmer than the last days of the Romanov family, but that’s proving to be a big opportunity for Kia.

That, a delay for Volkswagen’s overseas diesel fix, Porsche employees are rolling in dough, electric rallycross could be on the way, and FCA soars in Europe … after the break!

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2017 Kia Sportage First Drive - The RDX Alternative

In case you didn’t know it, Kia’s on a roll. Sales have more than doubled since 2009, propelling Kia from a Mazda-sized player in the American market to one that outsold established brands like Subaru, GMC, Chrysler and Volkswagen.

Kia’s transformation may seem like a night-and-day makeover, but closer inspection reveals that it’s really the result of consistent incremental improvements to its products, frequent designs and refreshes, and astute pricing.

You can think of the Sportage as the final piece of Kia’s evolving puzzle. Sales may be on a roll for the Korean automaker, but the Sportage has never sold in large numbers. It finished 14th in a segment of 17 models last year. (The Sportage beat the Volkswagen Tiguan, Mitsubishi Outlander, and Chevrolet Captiva Sport). It could be that the Kia Sorento did a better job of nipping at the heels of mid-trim Toyota RAV4 and Honda CR-V models. For 2017, Kia gives us a new Sportage targeted more at Mazda and Ford than Toyota.

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Ask Bark: Which Beater Should She Bet On?

New-to-TTAC reader Kobe writes:

Hi Bark,

I’ve only begun to read TTAC and your email responses are a great read, so I figured I’d give sending you a question a shot.

Two of my wife’s friends are looking for reliable, used cars. The parameters I’ve been given were $4,000 or less (as she will need to save a little for maintenance repairs I figure), a hatchback (preferably four-door), automatic, front- or all-wheel drive, and decent gas mileage. Her friend has lived around NYC most of her life, so although she has her driving license, she has rarely driven.

Now, I went about scrolling through all the makes and models that are listed on Autotrader and came up with this possible list:

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Super Bowl 50 Commercial Round-up

Like those who only read certain magazines for the articles, the Super Bowl brings millions of people together in front of TV screens to, ostensibly, watch a football game. Many will watch the event strictly for the commercials, which have become a cultural phenomenon in their own right. Others will watch for the halftime show, hoping for glimpses of nipples and/or sharks.

Car manufacturers have taken advantage of the massive number of eyeballs focused on the screen, and target them with high-priced, cinematic advertising loaded with celebrities and inspirational messages.

Check them all out … after the jump!

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NAIAS 2016: Kia Telluride Concept Just Wants To Make Sure You're Feeling Okay (Are You Sure? Let Me Check Your Forehead.)

Kia teased a new large SUV concept last week, the Telluride, and we were able to see more of the new, uniquely styled luxury SUV today.

Clearly, the deep metallic green paint is applied to attract football fans, timed perfectly a couple weeks before the Super Bowl and the resulting guacamole gorge.

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Kia Telluride Picks up Where Chrysler Aspen Left Off

Kia announced Friday that its upcoming concept, to debut at the North American International Auto Show next week, will be named Telluride — continuing the long, illustrious history of vehicles being named after places in the state of Colorado.

If you buy vehicles based on solely their names and currently own a Chrysler Aspen, this is your next luxury SUV.

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Kia Has A Big Luxury SUV Bound For Detroit

Kia teased Tuesday a “future premium large SUV” it has in mind for the North American International Auto Show next week.

The gold-colored SUV is heavy on promises and short on details. According to the automaker, the concept is fitted with “state-of-the-art health-and-wellness technology,” but no word on powertrain.

So does that mean it’s powered like a “Flintstones” car, or something?

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2016 Kia Optima SXL Review - Short Road to the Top (Video)

It’s easy to see why some automakers resist putting premium features in mass market models. All you need to do is look at that luxury showroom to the right. In the quest to differentiate, say, the Ford Fusion from its Lincoln counterpart, or the Toyota Avalon from the Lexus ES, and so forth, manufacturers limit the options and luxuries available on the more pedestrian models.

On the surface, the Optima SXL’s mission could be confused with that of competitors from other non-luxury marques — Accord Touring and Fusion Titanium to name two — but Kia takes its top-trim game a couple steps further. You see, Kia is in a different position as the Optima has no luxury branded sistership and Kia has nothing to lose by creating an Optima trim that could arguably compete with the Acura TLX and Lincoln MKZ.

However, the Optima SXL’s existence does give rise to a very important question: Can a gussied-up family sedan be a value alternative to a near-luxury option, such as the TLX or MKZ? Or is this a case of “making a silk purse out of a sow’s ear?”

Let’s find out.

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Kia Teases Prius-fighting Hybrid Niro

Kia on Monday released teaser images of its Prius-fighting hybrid, dubbed Niro, and said the car would go on sale late next year — maybe when gas prices aren’t $2 a gallon.

According to the automaker, the Niro’s hybrid powertrain and lightweight construction could help the car achieve up to 60 miles per gallon when it goes on sale. A plug-in variant will go on sale after a conventional hybrid arrives in 2016.

The car is positioned to fight directly against the next-generation Toyota Prius, which will go on sale later this year. It isn’t immediately clear whether the car is pronounced “NEE-ro” (like the Roman emperor) or “NY-ro” (rhymes with Cairo) because one of those would be an interesting choice.

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Kia Cadenza Will Get a Second Chance

The Kia Cadenza, a car I think is probably the best front-wheel drive Lincoln that Ford never built, will get redesigned for 2017. What surprises me more than the Cadenza’s ability to be an effortlessly comfortable full-size sedan is that it will get a second generation at all.

Kia revealed three teaser images for their Amanti successor on Thursday. From the looks of the drawings, it likely won’t change much. That’s not such a bad thing, is it?

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  • KOKing I car-sat an A32 while its owner was out of the country, and the then whiz-bang VQ motor was great, but the rest of it wasn't any better than a XV10 or XV20. Definitely the start of its downward slide, unfortunately.
  • Norman Stansfield Why are leaf springs still a thing on this truck?
  • Syke The expected opening comments. Have had mine for two years now, the car has done exactly what I want out of it, and a little better. I'm quite happy with the car, haven't had to adjust my driving style or needs in the slightest, and . . . . oh, did a mention that I don't give a damn what today's price at the pump is?Probably going to go for a second one in the coming year, the wife's happy enough with mine that she's ready and willing to trade in the Nissan Kicks. Eventually, the not often used van will end up getting traded on a Chrysler Pacifica Hybrid, basically ensuring that we don't use gas for anything except the occasional long trip.And the motorcycles.
  • Bobbysirhan I've never found the Allegro appealing before, but a few years of EV rollouts make it seem downright desirable.
  • Scoutdude I know that dealership. Way back when my friend's grandfather was that Turner that owned the Chrysler Plymouth International dealer, in MacPherson. Of course the International was dropped when they didn't deem the Scout reason enough to keep the franchise. I moved from there in late 1978 so it is possible I saw this running around town way back when.