Posts from ‘Kia’
There are a lot of great cars on the market today. They go about the business of transporting people with surprising performance, impressive fuel economy, and historically high levels of refinement and creature comforts. But for the most part, you could wring every drop of personality out of them and there wouldn’t be enough to coat the bottom of the ashtray that the Fiat 500 doesn’t have.
Certainly any number of high-end sports and luxury cars have personality (some might say a snobbish one), but what we’re talking about here are cars could substitute for what the majority of people would otherwise buy.
Although the 500’s price of entry is now up to a little less than $17,000 including destination, that’s for a nicely outfitted car and not much more than you’d pay for a similarly equipped subcompact—that’s not nearly as endearing. The automatic transmission will add a stiff $1,250, but if you’re on the fence, the slick-shifting manual is the better choice. Also offered is a convertible version (it’s really more of a very large sunroof) that starts just over $20,000. Sure it’s small, but the 500 is great fun to drive and delivers most of the positive attributes of a typical subcompact competitor.
In the last five years, many cars, trucks, SUVs, and minivans have come and gone in the U.S. retail landscape. Many made indelible impressions. Others slipped softly from our consciousness. It’s the latter that I wish to celebrate. Here are five vehicles from the last five years that you either forgot were sold in the U.S. or never knew existed.
2009-2011 BMW 335d
This entry from BMW kept its talents hidden very well. On the outside, it looked like any other 3-Series sedan. Under the hood, though, was a rocket ship waiting to be unleashed. The 335d employed a 3.0-liter inline 6-cylinder turbodiesel engine producing 265 horsepower and a massive 425 pound-feet of torque. For comparison, the V8 engine found in the BMW M3 manages “just” 295 pound-feet at a much higher engine speed, 3900 rpm versus the 335d’s comparatively paltry 1750. We put that power to good use during our test drives, yet the cars returned nearly 33 mpg. Though no hard data is available, it’s been said that BMW sold fewer than 2,000 of the 335d during its brief run. A diesel 3-Series will return to the U.S. for the 2014 model year: a 4-cylinder with a less-impressive, but still meaty, 180 horsepower and 280 pound-feet of torque.
You hear often enough that ugly vehicles are the product of “design by committee” thinking. I can’t help but wonder, in the case of the five cars and trucks listed here, why no one on that committee raised his or her hand and noted, “Dude, that thing’s nasty.” But, be it too many or too few decision-makers in the design studio, these are some unpleasant-looking machines.
I certainly didn’t mean to pick on General Motors here, but the truth is unavoidable. America’s biggest car builder is responsible for three of the five ugliest vehicles built in the last decade. Sure, you can poke fun at Toyota for building cars and trucks that err design-wise on the pedestrian side, but to their credit, few would call the vehicles ugly.
General Motors bounced back, however, as the replacements for each GM vehicle listed here was decidedly better-looking. Likewise, the Kia Amanti would prove to be the last odd-looking ride from that maker. Jeep, too, quickly made amends for the Compass, fixing what ailed it and picking up buyers in the bargain.
Got your own list of ugly cars of the last 10 years? Let’s hear it.
Kia is debuting three products at the 2013 New York Auto Show, which completes the company’s plan to launch seven new or significantly freshened vehicles during the four major U.S. auto shows (Los Angeles, Detroit, Chicago, New York).
The debut of the 2014 Kia Forte Koup in New York marks the final new model in this compact car’s stable. Kia has performed a gradual rollout of the 2014 Forte, starting with the sedan’s launch at the 2012 Los Angeles Auto Show and following with the 5-door hatchback at the 2013 Chicago Auto Show.
Per brand convention, the Forte Koup returns in base EX and sporty SX trim levels. Standard on the former is a 173-horsepower 2.0-liter 4-cylinder engine paired with a 6-speed automatic transmission. The SX includes a 201-horsepower 1.6-liter turbocharged 4-cylinder borrowed from the Veloster Turbo produced by Kia’s corporate parent, Hyundai. SX buyers will have the choice of a 6-speed manual or 6-speed automatic transmission.
Every fall, our staff convenes in a room to duke it out over the year’s Best Buy choices. As might be expected, we don’t always agree. Okay, actually we rarely agree. Our consensus is always that the winners are great vehicles in their respective classes, even though some may think they’re not the best vehicles in their respective classes.
Making the decisions even tougher is that many vehicles don’t fit neatly into one of our 19 different categories. While “crossovers” are typically thought of as bridging the gap between cars and SUVs, there are numerous examples of vehicles that slot between two classes. Almost by definition, that means they may not excel in what we consider to be their class’s expected attributes, and thus they fall under the “also rans.”
To me, at least, that seems unfair. So I’ve assembled a group of cars that are fully worthy of consideration even though they haven’t been voted Best Buys. Note that all the vehicles on this list are cars (another list is forthcoming that will include SUVs), and all start at less than $20,000.
Kia unveiled a concept vehicle at the 2013 Chicago Auto show called the Cross GT. Similar in stature to the Kia Sorento midsize SUV, the Cross GT concept is a larger-size crossover that may indicate Kia’s intentions to offer a bigger and more premium-scale SUV. Based on Kia’s GT concept that debuted in 2011, the Cross GT has a longer wheelbase and more aggressive styling.
With the addition of all-wheel drive, the Cross GT is motivated by a 400-horsepower 3.8-liter V6 engine paired with an 8-speed automatic transmission. Aesthetically, Kia’s use of a swoopy silhouette and a low roofline attempt to convey more sophistication than one might associate with the brand. This is further amplified by the addition of rear “suicide” doors and the use of higher-grade interior materials, said to be inspired by equestrian saddles. Leaning toward the more environmentally friendly side, the leather seating is tanned with vegetable oil, natural dyes, and no harsh chemicals.
CG Says: With the Cross GT concept, Kia is attempting to show its interest in moving the brand upwards on the spectrum of near-luxury vehicles. We welcome the idea and hope that it can closely compete with similarly sized entries from Chevrolet (Traverse) and Dodge (Durango).
At the 2013 Chicago Auto Show today, Kia unveiled the 2014 Forte hatchback. Expected to go on sale in late 2013, the Forte offers two trim levels and two engine choices. The base EX is fitted with a 173-horsepower 2.0-liter 4-cylinder engine that’s paired with a 6-speed automatic transmission. The sportier SX comes with a 201-horsepower 1.6-liter turbocharged 4-cylinder engine that mates with a 6-speed manual transmission, although a 6-speed automatic is available with steering-wheel mounted paddle shifters.
The new Forte will boast more standard safety and technology features. Standard on the base EX is a rearview camera, Bluetooth connectivity, satellite radio, a tilt and telescopic steering column, power windows, and LED headlights.
The sport-themed SX kicks the exterior styling up a notch with dual chrome exhaust tips, LED tail lights, a larger grille opening with black gloss inserts, and faux carbon-fiber on the lower front fascia and rear valance. Alloy pedals are added to the SX along with upholstery that sports a carbon-fiber look. On the performance front, Kia is adding a sport suspension to improve handling. Pricing won’t be announced until the third quarter of this year.
We mentioned in our coverage of the 2012 Los Angeles Auto Show that Kia is going full steam ahead to push its products up the automotive food chain. At the 2013 Detroit Auto Show, the Korean brand unveiled the next step in that effort.
The 2014 Kia Cadenza will be the company’s first effort at marketing a large car in North America. Positioned above the midsize Optima sedan, Cadenza borrows its drivetrain and key chassis components from the Azera produced by Kia’s corporate parent, Hyundai.
Like the Azera, Cadenza will come in a single trim level. The engine is a 293-horsepower 3.3-liter V6 mated to a 6-speed automatic transmission. Kia vehicles typically have a more sporting flair than their Hyundai counterparts, and Cadenza is no exception. The car will include a sport suspension. Low-profile 18-inch tires are standard, while 19s are included with the optional Technology Package.
Standard features include a navigation system, Kia’s new UVO eServices infotainment system, a rearview camera, a 550-watt Infinity-brand audio system, leather upholstery, heated front seats, dual-zone automatic climate control, pushbutton engine start, a 10-way power driver seat, and a Bluetooth wireless cell-phone link.
Perhaps failures is too strong a word. But these are all vehicles that impressed me mightily when new yet suffered lackluster sales and were discontinued without being replaced by a similar model. For sake of brevity, the list includes only models that disappeared within the last decade. A couple are now fairly inexpensive used cars, while others have achieved cult or collector status and unfortunately remain out of easy financial reach. Did I miss your favorite?
1997-2002 Plymouth/Chrysler Prowler
This was certainly one of the most distinctive and adventurous vehicles to ever come out of the Big Three. As such, the Prowler is among the few cars in recent memory that was a classic right off the showroom floor. While everyone bemoaned the fact that it didn’t have a traditional hot rod’s V8 or manual transmission, the V6/automatic combination worked well enough for everyday driving, as did the car itself—which was almost a surprise considering its radical design.