Despite Kia’s obvious efforts to transform its lineup into a slew of handsome models offering more of what drivers want, it continues to have trouble with some of them catching fire. That’s likely going to be a deal-breaker for many shoppers, especially with the latest recall suggesting flames could spring up after vehicles have been turned off.
Hyundai Motor Group (which owns Kia) is requesting 440,370 examples of the Optima and Sorento be returned to dealers over a potential brake fluid leak that may damage the hydraulic electronic control unit (HECU) and start a fire. The notice comes just weeks after Hyundai asked to see 125,800 automobiles (Kona, Veloster, Elantra) and Kia wanted to check on 147,000 (Seltos, Soul) models for the same issue.
Hyundai and Kia are recalling nearly 200,000 vehicles in the United States over a potential short in the antilock brake system of select models. Problem vehicles include around 180,000 examples of the 2019-21 model year Hyundai Tucson and roughly 9,000 Kia Stingers from 2019.
Based on the recall information provided by the manufacturers, around six Stingers have caught fire over the issue. Regulators have confirmed that the issue lies in the ABS control module and that combustion is still possible when the vehicle has been shut down. That has led us to believe this might be related to an earlier recall involving 283,803 Kia Optima sedans (MY 2013-15), 156,567 Kia Sorento crossovers (2014-15), and 151,205 Hyundai Santa Fe Sport crossovers (2013-15). Each of those models ran the risk of brake fluid seeping out onto the hydraulic electronic control unit and causing a fire.
A rumor that began spreading last year seems to be borne out. Those whispers, which grew in volume after company executives failed to downplay the suggestion, hinted that Kia’s midsize Optima could see a name change for the 2021 model year.
Following its Hyundai Sonata sibling by a year, the radically redesigned midsizer could be the automaker’s last attempt to woo the American public and solidify its standing in the shrinking segment. At this point in the game, will a name change help at all? Maybe the better question is: would it hurt?
A decade — isn’t that hard to believe? — after the debut of the radically styled third-generation Kia Optima, the automaker has another salvo waiting to launch against midsize boredom. Trailing its equally daring 2020 Hyundai Sonata sibling by a model year, the revamped 2021 Optima ditches the downgraded clothes that appeared in its closet for 2016.
Like Hyundai, Kia feels that style is its best bet to capture attention — and buyers — as the midsize sedan market contracts.
While the writers of this website do not universally endorse the designs coming out of Hyundai Motor Group, the general consensus is that there has been a concerted effort on behalf of the styling department to up its game. Pretty much everything the company as previewed for us over the last couple of years has at least been interesting. We even said so earlier this week, after Hyundai teased the new Azera/Grandeur.
While that model is likely to remained locked inside other parts of the globe for now, North America is getting boldly redesigned versions of the Hyundai Sonata and Kia Optima. Whereas the Sonata is being prepped for sales this fall, Optima is a bit further out — likely arriving for the 2021 model year. But it should have a similarly ambitious and impactful design, assuming the latest mockups are indicative of the production car.
You have to give Hyundai Motor Group credit — it’s certainly not shy when it comes to design. It hasn’t been for a while, and the 2011 Sonata can attest to that. After Hyundai toned things down for the follow-up generation, the brand realized its mistake: to get noticed alongside Camry and Accord, you needed to go way out and wild.
Perhaps too wild, some who’ve viewed the 2020 Sonata might say. However, if Hyundai’s midsizer is too much for your stomach to handle, Kia’s sister car may be the remedy you’re looking for. You know, if you’re still into sedans and all that.
In the midst of a market that apparently abhors the traditional four-door sedan, Kia showrooms are awash with them. The new K900 appeared in New York this week, the Cadenza occupies a sliver of segment, the Stinger is taking care of the sporty crowd, and the Optima goes head-to-head with Camcords.
For 2019, Kia has bestowed the latter with new driver assists, some infotainment tweaks, and a choice of no fewer than three different engines. If a sedan is on your shopping list, it would seem the Korean automaker has plenty of choices (and choices within those choices) from which to select. As for visual clues that you’re looking at a 2019, well, meet the new 보스, same as the old 보스.
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.
TTAC commentator Arthur Dailey writes:
Over 40+ years of driving, I have traditionally changed cars every 2 years and never kept one for longer than 5 years or 150,000km. However I made my most recent car purchase with the intention of keeping it for 8 years or 200,000km.
With the belief that in modern autos perhaps the most expensive item to repair is the transmission (owning 4 Caravans in the preceding 15 years reinforced this), following the truism that “it is more fun to drive a slow car fast than a fast car slow”, and being admittedly George Costanza like in my spending habits I ordered a vehicle with a manual transmission. Yes, a manual Hyundai Sonata.
I have a question related to maintenance on a 2011 Kia Optima SX Turbo. It currently has 45k miles, and I have owned it for only 4 months (had 20k when I took ownership of it). As you can see, it is driven a whole lot, almost exclusively on the great interstates of the Southeastern US of A. I average 5-6k per month. I am an outside sales rep. and drive from SC to MS and everywhere in between weekly.
My question is this:
Ever since Isaac Singer figured that he could make more money making sewing machines for the European market in a factory near Glasgow rather than export them from his Elizabeth, New Jersey plant, manufacturing companies have built products where they’ve sold them.
I’m a product of the 1970s, and as a result I was just the right age to remember when Kia came on the scene in 1992 (available for sale 2 years later), the first Kias were cheap to buy but fairly cheaply made as well prompting the running joke was that Kia meant: “Korean, Inexpensive, and Awful.” Fast forward to 2011; Kia/Hyundai products are on an impressive roll, sporting competitive looks and competitive features without the sting of a large price tag. Could the new Optima Hybrid be the frugal shopper’s green alternative to the mainstream Camry and Fusion or even the Lexus HS250h? Let’s find out.
Offering everything from the Accent subcompact to the Equus large luxury sedan, Hyundai covers a lot of territory. With gas, turbo, and hybrid engines, and basic, sporty, and luxury trims, the Sonata stakes out much of the midrange sedan segment. Which leaves Kia and its new Optima midsize sedan…where? Mercury to Hyundai’s Ford? Not if Kia and chief design officer Peter Schreyer (of Audi TT fame) can help it.
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