Tag Archives: Sportmatic

2017 Kia Cadenza Limited

Kia’s Cadenza delivers luxury economically … 2017 Kia Cadenza

Back when I was kid in the 1960s and ‘70s a large luxury sedan meant a Buick, Lincoln, or certainly a Cadillac.

Today, nearly every car maker has a large luxury model, some on the sporty side, but more favoring the luxury end, emphasizing smoothness and quietness. As us Boomers age, both sound pretty good. But we’ve been smitten with SUVs and crossovers, so the big sedan market has languished, shrunk like cotton elephant bell jeans that went through the wash too many times.

Into this market Kia re-introduces its Cadenza, a large luxury sedan that falls between its even larger K900 and its popular mid-size Optima. Competitors include the likes of Chevy’s Impala, Toyota’s Avalon, Ford’s Taurus and Dodge’s Charger, one that definitely falls more in the sport sedan category.

I praised the first gen Cadenza for nearly everything but its ride. Consumers met it with a yawn. The revamped 2017 model should receive cheers from Boomers who like soft leather seats, a supple ride, excellent power and all the electronics we’ve grown to expect in a car, especially one starting north of $40 grand.2017 Kia Cadenza

Before that figure scares you off, consider the base Premium model (see what they did there with naming?) starts at a reasonable $32,890 and the Technology model at $39,890. Both include delivery and both have all the same mechanicals as the tested top-level Limited, which lists at $45,290 with only a pittance of options even available beyond that. Continue reading 2017 Kia Cadenza Limited

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2016 Kia Sorento SX Ltd. Turbo AWD

Handsome turbo-packing Sorento near faultless …Sorento

            Several drives in Kia’s handsome Sorento crossover during the past couple years still has me searching hard for its faults. There aren’t many.

Most test drives leave me wanting a little more, or less, of something, but Sorento just keeps impressing. Continue reading 2016 Kia Sorento SX Ltd. Turbo AWD

2016 Kia Sorento SX Ltd. AWD

Kia Sorento, a crossover that will haul seven peoplesorento

            Kia’s Sorento is a fine crossover that will haul up to seven folks and look good doing it.

The 2016 model is the continuation of a revamp from a couple years ago and the tested pearl “snow white” test vehicle was the top-level SX Limited with AWD, so stickered at $43,100, plus $895 destination and just a couple options. Grand total, $46,695.

That’s approaching the stratosphere, but if you want a larger crossover with AWD and much in the way of electronics, you’re already sticking your nose in rarified air north of $40 grand.

Sorento is pleasant looking, smooth, yet muscular. The $200 for the pearly white paint job is worth it to me as it enhances the luxury appearance. Naturally if you don’t want AWD and don’t need to be swaddled in leather or have a zillion buttons to control most everything, you can go more basic. The entry-level L with front-wheel-drive starts at $25,795. It is powered by a 185-horse 2.4-liter 4-cylinder that gets 21 mpg city and 29 mpg highway.

sorento2  The tested top-liner packs a much more satisfying 3.3-liter V6 that creates 290 horses and 252 ft.-lbs. of torque. It’ll even tow up to 5,000 lbs., so power is good, even if this version does drink more gas. The EPA rates the AWD V6-powered version at 17 mpg city and 23 mpg highway. I got 19.6 mpg in a week’s drive that was about 50-50. With gas at about $3 a gallon again, falling below 20 mpg is a little tough on the wallet. Continue reading 2016 Kia Sorento SX Ltd. AWD

2014 Kia Optima Hybrid EX

Optima Hybrid a looker with spunk, yes a hybrid with spunk!

Let’s put this right out there, I like Kia’s Optima.IMG_0981

Optima is one of the best looking mid-size cars on the market, looks like a luxury sedan and rides and feels like an entry-level luxury sedan. It also is well equipped for its price, making it a high value front drive car that will carry five comfortably.

What pushed me well toward the “love it” end of my rating spectrum is the tested blue-gray’s hybrid system. Many hybrids are still lackluster when it comes to acceleration and refinement. Kia’s Optima Hybrid EX not only looks great it performs well.

I tested this for a week that included about a 500-mile round trip to Miami County, Ind., and several days of the usual area city driving. I could have gotten by with just one gas fill-up in that period as I averaged 39.5 mpg, basically confirming the EPA estimates. On the highway the trip computer boasted 41 mpg and range was listed at more than 600 miles.

That alone makes Optima a fine highway cruiser, but riding on a 110-inch wheelbase (2 inches shorter than last week’s Ford Fusion) Optima offers a pleasant ride with just a bit of rump bumping on severe bumps. You feel well insulated in the Kia, which features a luxury-quality quiet interior.

IMG_0983But performance is equally smooth and comfortable. Acceleration is decent in full Eco mode where the electric motor portion of the hybrid powerplant does most of the work. However, you can flick off the Eco mode with a touch of your right thumb and the gas engine does more work to give you better than average acceleration. This may be preferred when you’re in serious city traffic where acceleration may be needed to avoid a jam.

While a gas-powered Optima features a 2.4-liter four-cylinder engine with a stout 192 horsepower, the hybrid system with the same sized gas engine plus electric assist ups that to 206 horses and 154 lb.-ft. of torque, a bit less than the gas-driven version, but still reasonable. Continue reading 2014 Kia Optima Hybrid EX

2014 Kia Forte EX

Common sense Forte also sporty, fun, loaded with goodies
Kia1Kia cranks out another winner with its updated Forte compact sedan, a near sport sedan with a modern sporty look and common sense price tag and performance.

The Forte is stellar in nothing, but good at everything. Such solid execution from a car maker creates the dilemma auto writers despise, precious few nits to pick.

What Forte does well is deliver smooth modern looks and a fairly quiet interior that’ll easily hold four adults while providing comfort, a big trunk and all the amenities of higher priced sport sedans.

A base Forte LX comes with a 1.8-liter I4 that delivers a reasonable 148 horses with a torque rating of 131. Yet the tested metallic blue Forte EX, its top level model, packs a 2.0-liter I4 with direct injection that’s capable of 173 horses and 154 ft.-lbs. or torque. Not monster power to be sure, but sufficient to hurry the car onto a freeway or away from a stoplight.
Putting the power to the pavement is a 6-speed automatic with Sportmatic, which means you can shift manually if you want. Plus the EX adds 17-inch alloy wheels for $300. The base car comes with 15-inch steel wheels. This gives it more rubber and much better looking wheels.

Forte is front-wheel drive and handles well on dry or snowy pavement. Traction was good even in slippery fresh snow conditions and Forte turns into corners well. Continue reading 2014 Kia Forte EX