Tag Archives: Nappa leather

2019 Kia Sorento SXL AWD

Sorento trims galore will fit all SUV lovers’ budgets … 2019 Kia Sorento

It had been a couple years and three model years since I’d driven Kia’s Sorento, its large SUV that aims to be a family hauler and has migrated, in top-end trim, to being a luxury vehicle.

Luckily all the good stuff remains, including a standard third row seat, and a few new goodies have been added. But at its core, Sorento is a stout entry in this market and comes in enough flavors (trim levels) to satisfy any SUV cravings a driver may have. Continue reading 2019 Kia Sorento SXL AWD

2017 Volvo XC90 T6 AWD Inscription

New Volvo XC90 packs in a lot … 2017 Volvo XC90 T6

Honestly, the new Volvo XC90 is a bit overwhelming.

It’s a big luxury crossover or ute, whichever you prefer. It looks buttoned-down collar sharp and has nearly every conceivable electronic doodad, safety device and feature one could expect. But there’s just so much here to enjoy and learn it’s a bit like going to flight school straight from junior high shop.

There’s no denying Volvo has been a fuddy-duddy brand for years, the square car in the round hole that is the wagon and now crossover marketplace. Safety was its gig, which is laudable, but styling and luxury were, let’s say, well down Volvo’s best practices list.

The luxury bit has been addressed in the past several years, but the XC90 brings Volvo up to and beyond some peers in the luxury market and now its sophisticated styling is a big help.2017 Volvo XC90 T6

First, the XC90 ranges from moderate luxury to full-on eye-popping price tag luxury. The base T5 Momentum starts at $46,745 in front-drive mode and still features the potent 2.0-liter, supercharged and turbocharged I4 that runs throughout the lineup. It creates 250 horsepower in the base model and 316 horsepower in the tested T6 model with all-wheel drive. Both feature a smooth shifting 8-speed Geartronic automatic transmission.

The tested T6 AWD Inscription lists at $51,600, plus $995 delivery, but the Inscription package adds another $5,600. The metallic black test ute ended up at $72,805 after adding nine more options and packages.

Now hold on for the upper end. Volvo’s plug-in hybrid, the T8 Excellence lists at $105,989 with delivery. You read that right, but it adds an 80-horse electric motor to the equation to boost gas mileage to a still mild 25 mpg, but can run 25 miles on an electric charge. It also includes heated and massaging rear seats, a built-in fridge and a 20-speaker Bowers & Wilkins stereo.

OK, back to reality, sort of! Continue reading 2017 Volvo XC90 T6 AWD Inscription

2016 Audi TT 2.0T Quattro

Audi’s latest TT is slick, squatty, luxurious, sporty2016 Audi TT coupe

Sports cars seem an endangered species and nearly as hard to find as polite political discourse. So my recent landing of a new Audi TT coupe seemed quite a coup.

I hadn’t driven a TT for nine years. That’s how rare they are in the automotive test fleets. But this new third generation coupe was worth the near epochal wait.

The TT still features a slick rounded roofline and low-slung squatty appearance that made it so darned appealing when it first launched in 1998. Yet this one looks more modern, what with its LED headlights and more aggressive nose.

Looks make any sports car and the TT remains a head-turner.

2016 Audi TT coupeBut luxury performance at a reasonable price has been its hallmark and Audi doesn’t stray from that formula. A sports car, for the uninformed, isn’t a supercar. Sports cars are light and lively, the sort of car you can toss around corners and zip away from stoplights without squealing your tires and without a growling V8 sucking down another gallon of gas.

TT, for instance, features a turbocharged 2.0-liter I4 that gets 220 horsepower and delivers 258 lb.-ft. of torque. Turbos are always heavy on torque, that’s the fun part, zipping away from a stop while the “sport” utes lumber along behind you. Continue reading 2016 Audi TT 2.0T Quattro

2016 Kia K900 Luxury

Kia K900 delivers luxury ride, amenities big time …kia

Ah, luxury; it has its perks.

For instance in Kia’s new K900 luxury sedan the rear seats partially recline, the steering wheel is heated, there’s a power rear sun shade, manual side window shades, a front passenger’s seat with full power and two memory settings.

Some of that comes with a $5,000 VIP package, but what’s standard here is impressive at the $54,900 list price. Ouch, you say, that much for a Kia?

Yes, but cars that are this quiet inside, this luxurious, with this much power and so many features often start at $60 grand or beyond. With the right logo on the hood or trunk, some can run $70 grand or more.

kia4So consider this, the K900 delivers excellent power from a 3.8-liter V6 that is strong, quiet and melds beautifully with an 8-speed automatic. Shifts are silky and there’s 311 horsepower to gently move the rear-drive sedan to speed.

Like many cars today, the K900 also has a button to engage a Sport mode that firms the steering a bit and gives the Kia more oomph, more punch off the line.

Handling is typical standard car handling, a bit of play in the wheel, but not much. Steering effort is easy, until Sport mode is engaged, then there’s more resistance to the wheel. It’s all easy to deal with though. Continue reading 2016 Kia K900 Luxury

2014 Dodge Dart GT

Sporty, high-value Dart GT has power, but ride is too sportydart

My previous test of the compact Dodge Dart was near perfect. That was the Limited model, this metallic red beauty was the sportier GT.

Blame it on age or our increasingly decrepit roads, but this one was harder on the derriere.

Oh, I still like the Dart and would recommend the Limited or any model without the sport suspension that the GT features. This one is just too stiff with the ride bordering on harsh. Racy R18-rated tires didn’t help either. The GT intends to be a boy-racer toy at a modest price and it comes close to that goal.

There’s strong power here with a 2.4-liter I4 Tigershark engine with MultiAir to increase fuel efficiency. It generates 184 horses and a torque rating of 171. So pound the gas pedal and the Dart GT responds.

In normal city driving there’s good power too, although some hesitation as you accelerate. Linked to a 6-speed manual, which is standard, you could likely have some fun with the GT. But the test car added an optional $1,250 6-speed Powertech automatic that tames the oomph factor, mostly. You’ll still hit highway speeds easily, but the car feels a bit heavy and the shifts are not as crisp or timely as they would be if the driver was handling those duties.

Cool rear taillight bar!
Cool rear LED taillight bar!

Still, the car looks sporty with trim lines and an attractive profile. I like the car’s nose and the full body-width LED taillight that reflects other Dodge model styling. Dart looks sharp. Continue reading 2014 Dodge Dart GT

2014 KIA Cadenza Premium

Cadenza delivers solid luxury, stellar looks

After a week of hearing jokes from colleagues about me driving a piece of office furniture, a more musically minded friend clued me in to the KIA Cadenza sedan’s true meaning.cad

For non-music majors, cadenza is usually an improvised ornamental passage, played or sung by a soloist, often at the end of a piece. Think of all the fru fru add-ons today’s singers often give us at the conclusion of the national anthem, for instance. You know: … “the home of the … braaaaaave, aaaaave, aaaaave!”

One assumes KIA was aiming more for the creativity and ornamental implications of the name. Surely the new large luxury-leaning sedan is a sparkling new addition to KIA’s lineup, and its styling, while not earth-shattering, borders on sporty luxury. It is certainly better looking and more original than say a Lexus, more along the lines of an Infiniti.

But to me it compared well with the previous week’s tested Chevy Impala. Both are nearly identical in dimension, riding on roughly 112-inch wheelbases. The Impala is 6 inches longer, contributing to its giant 18.8 cubic foot trunk, while Cadenza’s is a generous 15.9.

Both have roomy comfortable interiors, with plenty of leg, knee and headroom for four or five adults. I ran up to Road America in the Cadenza with a couple buddies and the back seat was deemed extraordinarily roomy and comfy. Continue reading 2014 KIA Cadenza Premium