• Sign in to follow this  
    Followers 0

    New York Auto Show: 2016 Kia Optima


    • Entering Stage Left, the 2016 Kia Optima


    It was five years ago that Kia shocked everyone with the introduction of the Optima. With a bold design, impressive engine lineup, and excellent value for money, the Optima put everyone in the midsize sedan class on notice and was a catalyst in the transformation of Kia. So it seems appropriate that Kia introduce an all-new Optima at New York, which is what they did today.

    The previous Optima was a big success for the brand, and that put Kia in a tough position. How do you make a popular model new and fresh, while retaining the identity that worked so well before? In the Optima's case, you leave the basic shape, but make a number of adjustments to the front and rear. The front end gets larger headlights, while the tiger-nose grille is composed in a new pinpoint design for the SX and SXL trims. Around back is a raised decklid and optional LED taillights. Wheel choices range from 16 to 18 inches. The Optima has grown in both wheelbase (110.4 inches - increased by 0.4 inches), and width (73.2 inches - increased 1.0 inch). The increase allows for increase in overall space in the cabin and trunk.

    The Optima's interior draws some inspiration from the Cadenza and K900 with more soft-touch materials, and real stitching along the dash and doors. The center stack sees better grouping and reduction of buttons to reduce confusion. The Optima will also get the second-generation of UVO with eServices, along with the introduction of Android Auto and Apple CarPlay which allows drivers to access a number core functions from their smartphones via the 8-inch touchscreen.

    Kia will be offering three different engines for the 2016 Optima:

    • 2.4L GDI four-cylinder: 185 horsepower and 178 pound-feet of torque (Available on LX and EX)
    • Turbocharged 1.6L four-cylinder: 178 horsepower and 195 pound-feet of torque (Available on LX)
    • Turbocharged 2.0L GDI four-cylinder: 247 horsepower and 260 pound-feet of torque (Available on SX and SXL)

    The 2.4 and turbo 2.0 will be paired with six-speed automatics, while the turbo 1.6 will get a seven-speed dual-clutch transmission.

    Kia says the Optima will go on sale in the U.S. in the forth quarter of this year.

    Source: Kia

    Press Release is on Page 2


    ALL-NEW 2016 OPTIMA MIDSIZE SEDAN MAKES GLOBAL DEBUT AT THE NEW YORK INTERNATIONAL AUTO SHOW

    • Kia’s Best-Selling Nameplate is Passionately Designed and Obsessively Crafted with European Styling, a Refined Premium Interior and Significant Ride and Handling Improvements
    • Optima matures into an expertly crafted sedan with two turbo engine choices and five trims, including the U.S.-exclusive SXL
    • Built at Kia’s U.S. plant, Optima features reduced NVH and a more responsive, confident ride

    NEW YORK, Apr. 1, 2015 – Five years ago Kia Motors America (KMA) debuted the re-designed Optima at the New York International Auto Show and introduced a game-changing midsize sedan that catalyzed the brand’s design-led transformation. History was repeated when the all-new 2016 Optima, a symbol of the Kia brand’s maturation through continuous refinement and obsessive attention to detail, made its debut here today. An instant hit with consumers looking for a fresh alternative to an otherwise staid segment, the Optima has been KMA’s top-selling vehicle for three consecutive years, and the all-new model is poised to continue that success.

    Conceived under the watchful eye of Kia’s president and chief design officer, Peter Schreyer, with modern and instantly recognizable design cues, the Optima maintains its athletic identity but rides on a chassis that is longer, wider and stiffer for improved ride and handling and a more spacious cabin. Available with three engine choices, including a new 1.6-liter turbocharged four-cylinder that’s mated to a seven-speed Dual Clutch Transmission (DCT), the Optima is more confident than ever on the road. The all-new Optima’s roomier, more luxurious cabin features an impressive level of craftsmanship that will come standard across five trim levels – LX, LX Turbo, EX, SX Turbo and SXL – when sales begin in the fourth quarter of 2015. As with its predecessor, the all-new Optima will be built at Kia’s plant* in West Point, Georgia. Pricing will be announced closer to the vehicle’s launch date.

    “The Optima changed the way people felt about the Kia brand, and KMA owes much of its growth and success to its head-turning design and sporty performance. It was – and still is to this day – a fresh alternative in the midsize sedan segment, and it amplified a five-year design-led transformation that propelled Kia to record-setting sales year-on-year,” said Michael Sprague, executive vice president, sales and marketing, KMA. “The all-new Optima retains the signature personality of its predecessor, but we’ve literally improved everything, providing more space, better ride and handling, more technology and greater refinement.”

    Instantly Recognizable European Design

    Because the previous generation Optima was such a success story for the brand, Kia’s designers had to strike a delicate balance, retaining the identity of the vehicle while, at the same time, making a confident move forward to keep the car modern and fresh. Sweeping contemporary surfaces and modern architecture inspired the design of the all-new Optima, revealing a sophisticated and dynamic sedan that is instantly recognizable yet has more road presence than ever.

    The all-new Optima is boldly designed to be functional and sporty with exterior dimensions that are marginally longer, taller and wider. The wheelbase has been extended to 110.4 inches (increased 0.4 inches), and the vehicle has been widened to 73.2 inches (increased 1.0 inch). Both changes enable a roomier and more comfortable cabin with more head room, shoulder room and rear seat leg room. The increased dimensions also allow for more cargo capacity in the trunk.

    The aggressive front clip pulls the sheet metal taut over the wheel arches, and the swept-back headlights reach deeply into the fenders. On the SX and SXL trims, Kia’s signature tiger-nose grille is hot stamped and composed into a sophisticated pinpoint design that bears a strong resemblance to Kia’s luxury sedan, the K900 . The all-new Optima introduces Kia’s first application of bi-functional HID headlights – with available Dynamic Bending Lamps and High Beam Assist – that illuminate the tarmac around corners.

    The greenhouse silhouette maintains the raked A-pillar and sweeping C-pillar that lend the Optima its sport-sedan appearance. The rear vent windows kick up smartly just ahead of the carved rear fenders. As with its predecessor, the all-new Optima incorporates a raised deck lid, and the use of available LED halo-style tail lights mimics that of the Cadenza premium sedan.

    The 2016 Optima rides on alloy wheels ranging from 16 to 18 inches, with three new unique 18-inch wheel designs, depending on trim level. Three new exteriors colors compliment the latest Optima’s sophisticated styling: a vibrant blue inspired by a sparkling ocean underneath a sunny sky; a dynamic grey with olive undertones, and a deep red that gains depth from the use of aluminum pigments.

    Exquisite Interior Craftsmanship

    Optima’s interior is larger and more comfortable with an innovative and functional cabin that is well-appointed with class-up touches. Drawing inspiration from Kia’s premium and luxury sedans, the Optima utilizes more soft-touch materials throughout the passenger compartment. Optima’s luxurious interior is obsessively crafted with an impressive attention to detail and features real stitching along the dash and doors, complimented by tasteful metallic accents, varying by trim level. The driver-oriented cabin has been simplified with a cleaner, more unified design than the previous generation, with a stronger horizontal plane and a wider center console that help create a greater sense of space. By grouping and reducing the number of functional keys and buttons, Kia’s already-superior ergonomics are markedly improved.

    The interior design team also paid particular attention to seat comfort. A stiffer seat frame reduces vibration and soft foam in the headrest, upper back and thigh-support areas allows occupants to nestle into seats with deeper side bolsters made with denser, more supportive foam. For extra convenience, heated and ventilated front seats are available with power adjustable driver and front passenger seats. For added convenience, the 2016 Optima offers a height-adjustable front passenger seat, a feature normally found only in premium vehicles. Depending on trim level, the seats are covered in cloth, leather or luxurious Nappa leather and two new interior colors – a rich merlot and a dark aubergine – are available.

    Convenience and Technology

    Kia’s cutting-edge connectivity system, UVO , comes standard with four additional eServices not previously available on Optima: Geo-fencing, Speed Alert, Curfew Alert and Driving Score . Additionally, Optima is Kia’s pilot vehicle for the introduction of AndroidTM Auto and Apple® CarPlay (late availability), which allow drivers to access a suite of core functions from their smartphones. After connecting their smartphone to the head unit via the vehicle’s front fast-charge USB port (another fast-charge USB port is located in the rear seat), the 8-inch touchscreen screen displays the smartphone’s most important features. Core functions including music, messaging, navigation and voice calls are available via the screen, the steering wheel or via voice command2. Kia is one of the first to deliver this technology, which is available for select Android phones operating with Lollipop or Apple phones operating with iOS8.X or higher. Any future third-party apps that are added by either Android or Apple will be available for customers to enjoy from their respective app store.

    While the standard six-speaker audio system will satisfy all but the most demanding enthusiasts, true audiophiles will gravitate to the available Infinity® Premium Audio System , which includes 14 speakers, Clari-Fi™ technology and an upgraded 630-watt digital amplifier. Clari-Fi is a patented music restoration technology that rebuilds audio signals that are lost in the digital compression process. This technology breathes new life into your favorite music, restoring a high-fidelity listening experience to any compressed digital source. Optima’s premium Infinity audio system also comes equipped with next-generation QuantumLogic™7 Surround technology, which extracts signals from the original recording and redistributes them into an authentic, multidimensional soundstage for playback that is clear, refined and detailed. Kia was one of the first automakers to incorporate Clari-Fi technology into their audio systems with the debut of the 2016 Sorento, and Optima is the first-ever Kia sedan to feature QuantumLogic Surround technology.

    The all-new Optima takes convenience to the next level with a long list of available technologies across the various trim levels. Available on every Optima is a rear-camera display while SX and SXL trims offer an available 360-degree Around View Monitor8. Available driver-aid technology, including Advanced Smart Cruise Control (SCC)8, Blind Spot Detection (BSD)8, Rear Cross Traffic Alert (RCTA)8 and Autonomous Emergency Braking (AEB)8 – which, under appropriate conditions, will bring the vehicle to a complete stop to potentially avoid a collision or reduce damage – makes the task of driving easier and more convenient. Also available for the first time on any Kia vehicle are Bi-function HID headlights with Dynamic Bending Lamps (DBL) and intuitive High Beam Assist (HBA), which recognizes oncoming traffic and automatically switches the lights to low beam until the opposing vehicle has passed.

    Smart Performance and Safety

    The 2016 Optima features a uniquely engineered body that combines various high-tensile strength steel alloys and sits on a chassis that is stiffer and more durable thanks to the increased use of Advanced High Strength Steel (AHSS). With more than 50 percent of the body constructed from AHSS, the all-new Optima represents a 150-percent increase over the previous car. The greater use of structural adhesive by more than 450 percent over the previous generation improves NVH and contributes to structural rigidity. Engineers also added more hot stamped components to the all-new Optima, a 350-percent increase over the 2015 model. This body structure helps provide crash protection, better driving dynamics, and is the foundation for a quieter ride.

    Additional innovations were implemented to reduce NVH, lighten the vehicle and enhance aerodynamics. The 2016 Optima is the first Kia to feature a panoramic sunroof support structure made with carbon-fiber-reinforced plastic, which helps reduce weight and lower the vehicle’s center of gravity. A larger full floor under cover helps reduce wind noise and aid fuel efficiency. Increased dash insulation, added windshield side molding and the increased use of structural adhesive ensure a quiet ride with reduced road and wind noise. Engine mounts, body panels and wheels all are stiffer on the all-new Optima, reducing vibrations, engine noise and road noise. Larger cross-member bushings are utilized to help isolate road and engine noise, as well as reducing engine vibration through the floor and steering wheel.

    Improving ride and handling was a top priority for engineers. Overall, the chassis is lighter and stiffer, resulting in improved steering response, high-speed stability and handling. Moving the suspension location points of the front and rear sub-frames outward optimizes suspension geometry for a smoother ride over uneven pavement. Where the previous Optima made due with dual bushing mounts, increased lateral stiffness was achieved with a four-bushing mount system for both sub-frames. The increased stiffness pays dividends in improved steering response and tractability through corners. More robust wheel bearings up front and the addition of larger dual lower control arms at the rear also help refine the all-new Optima’s ride and handling characteristics. Available Rack-mounted Motor Driven Power Steering (R-MDPS) improves steering response with a higher gear ratio.

    The all-new Optima is available with three engine choices, striking a performance balance between sportiness and fuel efficiency. Two powerplants carry over from the previous generation, the 2.4-liter GDI four-cylinder, available on the LX and EX models, and the 2.0-liter GDI turbo engine, available on the SXL and SX Turbo models. While the engines have yet to receive EPA certification, the 2.4-liter is estimated to produce 185 horsepower at 6,000 rpm and 178 lb.-ft. of torque at 4,000 rpm. The 2.0-liter turbo is expected to generate approximately 247 horsepower at 6,000 rpm and 260 lb.-ft. of torque at 1,350 rpm. Both engines are mated to a six-speed automatic transmission with Sportmatic® shifting while the SX and SXL trims add paddle shifters. Both engines have been retuned for fuel economy and better performance and drivability with maximum torque now available at a lower RPM.

    All new for the 2016 model is a 1.6-liter four-cylinder turbo engine. The 1.6-liter will be offered on the LX trim. Pushing out an estimated 178 horsepower at 5,500 rpm and a stout 195 lb.-ft. of torque at just 1,500 rpm, the new engine mates to a seven-speed DCT, a first for the Kia brand. The transmission optimizes the engine’s responsiveness for a sporty feel that doesn’t sacrifice fuel economy. Also new for the Optima, Michelin® tires are available on all trims. All three engines channel energy through the front wheels.

    0


    Sign in to follow this  
    Followers 0


    User Feedback


    KIA's played this smart. You can tell they likely learned from Hyundai's mistake of toning down the Sonata. 

     

    Still one of, if not the best, looking sedans in its category. 

    1

    Share this comment


    Link to comment
    Share on other sites

    Not sure what it is about this update but it does not hit me like the original did and maybe that is the problem. Expecting major changes rather than minor tweaks.

    0

    Share this comment


    Link to comment
    Share on other sites

    KIA's played this smart. You can tell they likely learned from Hyundai's mistake of toning down the Sonata. 

     

    Still one of, if not the best, looking sedans in its category. 

     

    Agreed. This is a good thing.

    0

    Share this comment


    Link to comment
    Share on other sites

    I'm having mixed feelings... Sure, it's great that Kia decided to not fix what wasn't broken and ruin their best-seller, but I'm a little disappointed in the finished product. It's just a little too familiar to the outgoing car and feels a little water-down from the original. The teaser shots had my attention, but the full imagery leaves me cold. I feel like something is missing, overall.

     

    Still, it was one of the better looking offerings in the class, so with the minimal changes, it still is... Minus the "wow".

    0

    Share this comment


    Link to comment
    Share on other sites

     

    A step backwards

     

    In what way?  Not disagreeing , just curious what you see

     

     

    I think it loses its edge and individuality.  More specifically, the Camry front schnoz, the interior that goes away from being driver oriented and unique / fits the character of the car, to something more generic, less interesting and not really in tune with the exterior.  The dash has a mazda6 knockoff meets wanna be Audi sort of feel to it, and Kia needs all the help on interiors it can get from the gate so imitating isn't the best thing.  In fact it looks similar to the new Sedona interior more so than a sedan.  Sonata downgraded their interior and this is some of that IMO.

     

    Then otherwise, its change for the sake of change.  They lengthened the greenhouse but the door openings stay the same and they just fill in the extra with black nothingness in large amount.  What IS that on the rear pillar? It's not that Saablike hofmeister kink anymore.   I've never been a fan of the chrome strip up high on the greenhouse but understood its a contrived sort of differentiator for the previous version and was a bit of a signature.  But with the stretched greenhouse, they merely lengthened it and its new oddness draws attention to itself.

     

    Nothing new or interesting on the behind.  In summary, they changed the car, but the front is not better or improved, neither is the rear.  The sides are the same except for the odd new black patch, which is weird.  Inside doesn't match the character of what it just worked so hard to establish the last few years.....

     

    It's gone from individual, interesting, and legit, to faux and without focus.  But maybe the goal was to sell more Credenzas......

     

    Look at the new Malibu.  That is a fantastic image makeover.  And all the parts fit as such.

    0

    Share this comment


    Link to comment
    Share on other sites

    Yes that rear window is odd but I do like the slightly lowered belt line for the rear door. The triangle pattern seats on the higher trim level does seem like a throw back.

    0

    Share this comment


    Link to comment
    Share on other sites


    Your content will need to be approved by a moderator

    Guest
    You are commenting as a guest. If you have an account, please sign in.
    Add a comment...

    ×   You have pasted content with formatting.   Remove formatting

    ×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

    ×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor




  • Popular Stories

  • Today's Birthdays

    1. aaaantoine
      aaaantoine
      (34 years old)
  • Similar Content

    • By William Maley
      Even though it was launched a week ago, there is already about possible powertrains for the Kia Stinger.
      Spencer Cho, Kia’s overseas product marketing boss told Car and Driver that Stinger would benefit from the electrification options developed for the Optima, despite the different powertrain layouts - Optima uses a transverse layout, while the Stinger uses a longitudinal layout.
      “We can utilize the currently available hybrid, plug-in-hybrid, and EV technology” for the Stinger’s benefit, said Cho.
      While there are no immediate plans to do an electric Stinger, Cho said they could develop one very quickly. The development team behind the Stinger have considered this possibility and looked into ways to perform this change. One idea was to use transmission tunnel for battery storage.
      “We don’t have any EV in the plan yet, but we have the capability to bring EVs in the near future if the demand is there, based on market reception. The global EV market is still small, but it is getting bigger and bigger due to CAFE in the U.S. and European emissions standards,” said Cho.
      I have full confidence in our engineers and if we need the EV Stinger to come to light, our engineers can come up with ideas for putting the batteries into this vehicle.”
      Source: Car and Driver
      Pic Credit: NewspressUSA

      View full article
    • By William Maley
      Even though it was launched a week ago, there is already about possible powertrains for the Kia Stinger.
      Spencer Cho, Kia’s overseas product marketing boss told Car and Driver that Stinger would benefit from the electrification options developed for the Optima, despite the different powertrain layouts - Optima uses a transverse layout, while the Stinger uses a longitudinal layout.
      “We can utilize the currently available hybrid, plug-in-hybrid, and EV technology” for the Stinger’s benefit, said Cho.
      While there are no immediate plans to do an electric Stinger, Cho said they could develop one very quickly. The development team behind the Stinger have considered this possibility and looked into ways to perform this change. One idea was to use transmission tunnel for battery storage.
      “We don’t have any EV in the plan yet, but we have the capability to bring EVs in the near future if the demand is there, based on market reception. The global EV market is still small, but it is getting bigger and bigger due to CAFE in the U.S. and European emissions standards,” said Cho.
      I have full confidence in our engineers and if we need the EV Stinger to come to light, our engineers can come up with ideas for putting the batteries into this vehicle.”
      Source: Car and Driver
      Pic Credit: NewspressUSA
    • By William Maley
      It has been over six years since Kia revealed to the world the fantastic looking GT concept at the Frankfurt Motor Show. Now fast forward to today and Kia has unveiled the production version known as the 2018 Stinger GT.
      Yes, it may not be as striking at the GT concept. But let's be honest for a moment, have most production vehicles ever lived up in terms of design when compared to the concept? Not really. The Stinger GT retains the overall sportback profile of the GT concept, but adds a bit more sharpness. The front gets dual grilles, cooling ducts for the brakes, and hood vents.
      Power will come from two engines; a turbocharged 2.0L four-cylinder with 255 horsepower and 260 pound-feet of torque or a twin-turbo 3.3L V6 producing 365 horsepower and 376 pound-feet. Both engines will come paired with an eight-speed automatic and the choice of rear-wheel drive with a limited-slip differential or all-wheel drive with torque vectoring. The GT Stinger will also be the first Kia model with an electronically-adjustable suspension.
      We'll have more details later tonight as Kia will debut the Stinger GT at an event tonight in Detroit.
      UPDATE: As promised, we have more details on the Stinger GT along with pictures!
      Let's begin with the interior which appears to take some ideas from Mercedes-Benz with the circular air vents and some material choices. A large amount of technology such as wireless device charging, 7-inch touchscreen for the infotainment system, navigation, and a small color screen in the instrument cluster. An optional Harman/Kardon audio system packs 15 speakers.
      Size-wise, the Stinger GT is bigger than many of it competitors (Audi A4 and Mercedes-Benz C-Class to name a couple). Overall length is 190.2-inch, while width comes in at 73.6 inches. The model rides on a 114.4 inch wheelbase.
      No matter which engine you pick, it will feature a set of performance tires as standard. The turbo-four rides on 18-inch wheels, while the twin-turbo V6 gets 19-inch wheels along with Brembo brakes.
      Sales are expected to begin this summer.
      Source: Kia
      Press Release is on Page 2


      2018 Kia Stinger Makes World Debut At North American International Auto Show
      Powerful all-new Fastback Sport Sedan Redefines the Kia Brand  Kia Motors follows through on the promise of a production model of the GT concept Designed in Frankfurt, developed on the Nurburgring, industry-leading quality by Kia DETROIT, January 8, 2017 – At an event typically dominated by introductions from American auto companies, Kia Motors America (KMA) today stole the spotlight with the world debut of the all-new 2018 Kia Stinger (hereafter Stinger) at the North American International Auto Show.  A five-passenger fastback sports sedan poised to redefine a segment currently populated by European automakers, the Stinger promises to be the highest-performance production vehicle in the company’s history and is backed by Kia Motors’ industry-leading quality and reliability.  Offered with multiple engine and drivetrain configurations and luxurious accommodations, the Stinger is planned to go on sale in the U.S. late this year.  Pricing will be announced closer to the vehicle’s launch date.
      “Unlike any Kia that has come before it, the Stinger really is a dream car for us, and here today in Detroit, that dream is now a reality after years of commitment and hard work from a passionate group of designers, engineers and executives around the world,” said Orth Hedrick, vice president, product planning, Kia Motors America. “From its GT concept-car origins to the years of tuning and refining on the legendary Nurburgring circuit, no detail was too small to be obsessed over, and the result is simply stunning.”
      Instantly recognizable as a direct evolution of the concept that preceded it, the all-new 2018 Kia Stinger design was overseen by Peter Schreyer, Kia Motors’ chief design officer, and his talented team of designers in Frankfurt.  Ride and handling development was looked after by Albert Biermann, head of Kia’s Vehicle Test and High Performance Development and his group of engineers in Korea and on the grueling Nurburgring racing circuit.  
      But what makes a true gran turismo?  This question was the foundation for a years-long journey that began when the GT concept was first unveiled at the 2011 Frankfurt Motor Show.  Although every Kia design study has a purpose, the GT concept was something considered by many outside the company as little more than a dream for a brand known for producing mass-market transportation rooted in value.  But the GT ignited embers of passion that sparked a fire within the organization and over the next five years that fire would grow beyond fantasy and morph into reality.
      Once the Stinger was green lighted, that gran turismo question became a mantra as development commenced.  Coming from Kia, the design had to be bold.  And it was.  But it also had to be nimble and fast while also luxurious and quiet.  It had to achieve the perfect balance of ride and handling and seat five comfortably with room for luggage. It had to be a lot of things, but most of all, it had to be an authentic gran turismo.  And it is.
      Design
      Turning a concept into a production car is no small task and Schreyer looked no further than Kia’s Frankfurt studio – the birthplace of the GT concept – to bring the Stinger to life.  “A true gran turismo, a car for spirited long-distance driving, is not about outright power, hard-edged dynamics and brutal styling, all at the expense of luxury, comfort and grace,” notes Gregory Guillaume, chief designer, Kia Motors Europe.  “The Stinger has nothing to do with being the first to arrive at the destination – this car is all about the journey.  It’s about passion.”
      From its sleek front clip through its svelte flanks, and up to its powerful haunches, the Stinger exudes a muscular confidence.  Key to its road presence are the rear-wheel-drive proportions; a long hood and short front overhang, an extended wheelbase to deliver a spacious cabin, and a long rear overhang with strong shoulders.  The Stinger’s stance and visual balance are designed to lend the car an air of elegance and athleticism, rather than boy-racer aggression.
      The wide front and rear track, along with the recessed contours along the doors, enhance the visual power of the Stinger’s shoulder line as well as its fastback silhouette.  Other purely functional elements of the exterior design – the front air curtains, wheel arch gills, smooth underbody, and integrated rear diffuser – aid its aerodynamic efficiency.  The rear valance houses four oval exhaust pipes. Kia’s signature ‘tiger-nose’ grille sits proudly between complex LED headlamps.
      The low-slung cabin with its steeply raked windshield and backlight, sits toward the rear of vehicle, creating a fast silhouette.  Inside is a space dedicated to the thrill of driving while cossetting the occupants in luxury.  Available ultra-soft Nappa leather covers the deeply contoured seats and the driver’s seat has available air-cell bladders in the seatback and bolsters for optimal support and comfort.  A confident dashboard creates a strong horizontal plane for the driver to work.  The center console is intuitively split into two specific areas: the infotainment controls sit neatly below a large color touchscreen, while the climate and ventilation controls nestle beneath.   Front and center of the driver is a thick, leather-wrapped steering wheel and a single instrument binnacle with a combination of analog and digital instrumentation.  The large gauges are ringed in metal and accentuated with sweeping red needles.  A color TFT screen between the gauges relays performance data such as cornering G-forces, lap times and engine-oil temperature, along with ancillary information such as the trip computer, driver settings, navigation and diagnostics.  Aeronautically-inspired spoked circular vents are found front and rear and a tasteful satin chrome trim piece encircles the cabin.  The effect is a feeling of cocooned intimacy.  But the long wheelbase allows for generous front and rear leg room and the low seating position provides ample head room front and back.
      Chassis
      Joining the company from BMW in December, 2014,  Albert Biermann’s first look at the Stinger signaled to him a car that had to live up to its stunning design from behind the wheel.  “I think for the Kia brand, the Stinger is like a special event,” notes Biermann.  “Because nobody expects such a car, not just the way it looks but also the way it drives. It's a whole different animal.”
      Setting the manufacturing hard-points of the body-in-white would define Stinger and the engineers looked carefully across a landscape dotted with contenders.  At 114.4 inches, the Stinger’s wheelbase is longer than the Audi A4, Infiniti Q50, Lexus IS, BMW 4 Gran Coupe and even the Lexus GS and Mercedes CLS1.  It’s also longer overall (190.2 inches) and wider (73.6 inches) than the others in the segment, allowing for spacious accommodations.  The Stinger’s cargo area is also larger than many in its class, with enough space for full-size luggage or golf bags and a power liftgate with Smart Trunk functionality is available.   
      Riding on a chassis comprised of 55 percent advanced high-strength steel, the Stinger provides an ultra-stiff foundation for the ride-and-handling engineers to work with.  This rigidity also contributes to reduced NVH and a quiet cabin.  The MacPherson front and multi-link rear suspension has been tuned to provide optimal feedback to the driver.  A Kia first, ride-damping and vehicle handling traits may be modified by the driver through an electronically adjustable suspension known as Dynamic Stability Damping Control.  While always reacting predictably to the driver’s inputs, depending on road conditions and driving style, the Stinger can be tuned to respond with more agility through corners as the system softens the front shocks and firms up the rear.  Conversely, improved high-speed stability is achieved when the system stiffens the front shocks and softens the rear.  The system is accessed through five drive modes (another Kia first): Personal, Eco, Sport, Comfort and Smart.  
      Standard variable ratio Rack-mounted Motor Driven Power Steering (R-MDPS) offers razor-sharp feedback through direct mounting of the electric motor on the steering rack, enhancing steering response and reducing unwanted vibration from transmitting through the column.  Steering boost is also adjustable through the five selectable drive modes.
      Powertrain
      If the chassis symbolizes the bones of a gran turismo, then surely the available powertrains represent its heart.  Oriented longitudinally and set rearward beneath the long, sculpted hood, a choice of two turbocharged engines are available.
      While both engines are still under development, the standard 2.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinder Theta II engine produces an estimated 255 horsepower at approximately 6,200 rpm.  Max torque of 260 lb.-ft. is available from 1,400 – 4,000 rpm.  Performance credentials are further enhanced through the available 3.3-liter twin-turbo V6 Lambda II engine, which is anticipated to produce 365 horsepower at an estimated 6,000 rpm and offer max torque of 376 lb.-ft. from 1,300 – 4,500 rpm.  Kia is targeting 5.1 seconds to 62 mph and a top speed of 167 mph with the twin turbocharged V6.
      The Stinger features a second-generation eight-speed rear-drive automatic transmission.  First offered in the K900 luxury sedan, the gearbox has been designed in-house and rewards drivers with crisp shifts and maximized fuel efficiency.  More typically found in aviation- and racing-engine applications, the transmission features Kia’s first use of a Centrifugal Pendulum Absorber (CPA) torque converter to help reduce torsional vibrations through the drivetrain.  Drivers can let the gearbox manage shifts on its own or may selectively run through the gears via paddle shifters mounted aft of the steering wheel.  As with the suspension and steering, up to five different shift patterns may be selected through the vehicle’s electronic drive-mode system.  Throttle mapping is also adjusted accordingly.
      Recognizing that passionate drivers may not always reside in optimal climes, the Stinger is Kia’s first sedan available with rear- or all-wheel drive.  Rear-wheel biased for optimal control in the wet or dry, the AWD system features a new Dynamic Torque Vectoring Control system which monitors driver inputs and road conditions and automatically applies power and braking force to the appropriate wheels to maintain course in adverse conditions.  Rear-drive vehicles get the benefit of a mechanical limited slip differential to help evenly distribute power through the rear wheels.
      A choice of alloy wheels and tires are also offered.  The 2.0-liter turbocharged 4-cylinder models ride on 225/45R-18 performance tires while the 3.3-liter V6 is shod with staggered ultra-high performance rubber; 225/40R-19 in front and 255/35R-19 at the rear. Vented Brembo®2 disc brakes are standard on the 3.3-liter twin turbo and feature quad-piston front calipers and dual-piston rear calipers.
      Advanced Technology & Convenience
      Offering luxurious amenities and unexpected features have become part of Kia’s DNA and the Stinger continues that tradition.  Multiple Advanced Driver Assistance Systems (ADAS) seamlessly work together to enhance the driving experience.
      In the United States, The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration conservatively estimates that 100,000 police-reported crashes are the direct result of driver fatigue each year3.  This results in an estimated 1,550 deaths, and 71,000 injuries annually.  A Kia first is the new Driver Attention Alert (DAA)4 system to help combat distracted or drowsy driving.  The system monitors a number of inputs from the vehicle and the driver and will sound a warning chime and display a graphic in the instrument binnacle that it’s time to take a break from driving if it senses the driver’s attention level has been significantly reduced.
      Forward Collision Assistance (FCA)3 with integrated Autonomous Emergency Braking (AEB)3 with pedestrian detection can detect a potential collision with another vehicle or pedestrian and help bring the car to a halt.  Advanced Smart Cruise Control (ASCC)3 maintains a pre-set distance between the Stinger and the vehicle in front and can bring the car to a full stop in congested traffic.  Lane Keep Assist (LKA)3 actively monitors the vehicle’s intended lane and will alert the driver with an audible warning along with providing steering input to help maintain the vehicle’s position.  Rear Cross Traffic Alert (RCTA)3 scans the area behind the vehicle when backing from a parking space and will alert the driver with an audible warning if cross traffic is detected.
      Connectivity, entertainment and vehicle information can be as important as a dynamic driving experience and the Stinger comes to market with the latest infotainment systems.  The height-adjustable color Head-Up Display (HUD)5 display enables the driver to see key driving information reflected on the windshield glass, including speed, turn-by-turn navigation, audio and cruise control settings and Blind Spot Detection information.  Resting within the center console is a wireless Smartphone charging pad and Bluetooth®6 hands-free operation is standard while many of the vehicle’s subsystems may be accessed through the steering-wheel-mounted controls.
      Long-distance travel is a hallmark of the gran turismo ownership experience and there is a trio of high-performance audio systems designed to turn the interior into a dynamic concert hall as the miles blur by.  The base audio system for the 2.0-liter turbo features six-speakers and a seven-inch haptic touchscreen with the latest version of UVO, Kia’s award-winning telematics systems.  The standard system found in the 3.3-liter twin turbo ups the speaker count to nine and includes an external amplifier.  The available premium Harman/Kardon®7 audio system pumps out 720 watts through an external amplifier to provide crystal-clear music.  With 15 speakers and Kia’s first under-seat mounted subwoofers tucked beneath the driver and passenger seats, the system features Clari-Fi™8, a patented music restoration technology that rebuilds audio signals that are lost in the digital compression process.  This technology returns a high-fidelity listening experience to any compressed digital source.  The system also comes equipped with next-generation QuantumLogic™9 Surround Sound technology, which extracts signals from the original recording and redistributes them into an authentic, multidimensional soundstage for playback that is clear, refined and full of detail.        

      View full article
    • By William Maley
      It has been over six years since Kia revealed to the world the fantastic looking GT concept at the Frankfurt Motor Show. Now fast forward to today and Kia has unveiled the production version known as the 2018 Stinger GT.
      Yes, it may not be as striking at the GT concept. But let's be honest for a moment, have most production vehicles ever lived up in terms of design when compared to the concept? Not really. The Stinger GT retains the overall sportback profile of the GT concept, but adds a bit more sharpness. The front gets dual grilles, cooling ducts for the brakes, and hood vents.
      Power will come from two engines; a turbocharged 2.0L four-cylinder with 255 horsepower and 260 pound-feet of torque or a twin-turbo 3.3L V6 producing 365 horsepower and 376 pound-feet. Both engines will come paired with an eight-speed automatic and the choice of rear-wheel drive with a limited-slip differential or all-wheel drive with torque vectoring. The GT Stinger will also be the first Kia model with an electronically-adjustable suspension.
      We'll have more details later tonight as Kia will debut the Stinger GT at an event tonight in Detroit.
      UPDATE: As promised, we have more details on the Stinger GT along with pictures!
      Let's begin with the interior which appears to take some ideas from Mercedes-Benz with the circular air vents and some material choices. A large amount of technology such as wireless device charging, 7-inch touchscreen for the infotainment system, navigation, and a small color screen in the instrument cluster. An optional Harman/Kardon audio system packs 15 speakers.
      Size-wise, the Stinger GT is bigger than many of it competitors (Audi A4 and Mercedes-Benz C-Class to name a couple). Overall length is 190.2-inch, while width comes in at 73.6 inches. The model rides on a 114.4 inch wheelbase.
      No matter which engine you pick, it will feature a set of performance tires as standard. The turbo-four rides on 18-inch wheels, while the twin-turbo V6 gets 19-inch wheels along with Brembo brakes.
      Sales are expected to begin this summer.
      Source: Kia
      Press Release is on Page 2


      2018 Kia Stinger Makes World Debut At North American International Auto Show
      Powerful all-new Fastback Sport Sedan Redefines the Kia Brand  Kia Motors follows through on the promise of a production model of the GT concept Designed in Frankfurt, developed on the Nurburgring, industry-leading quality by Kia DETROIT, January 8, 2017 – At an event typically dominated by introductions from American auto companies, Kia Motors America (KMA) today stole the spotlight with the world debut of the all-new 2018 Kia Stinger (hereafter Stinger) at the North American International Auto Show.  A five-passenger fastback sports sedan poised to redefine a segment currently populated by European automakers, the Stinger promises to be the highest-performance production vehicle in the company’s history and is backed by Kia Motors’ industry-leading quality and reliability.  Offered with multiple engine and drivetrain configurations and luxurious accommodations, the Stinger is planned to go on sale in the U.S. late this year.  Pricing will be announced closer to the vehicle’s launch date.
      “Unlike any Kia that has come before it, the Stinger really is a dream car for us, and here today in Detroit, that dream is now a reality after years of commitment and hard work from a passionate group of designers, engineers and executives around the world,” said Orth Hedrick, vice president, product planning, Kia Motors America. “From its GT concept-car origins to the years of tuning and refining on the legendary Nurburgring circuit, no detail was too small to be obsessed over, and the result is simply stunning.”
      Instantly recognizable as a direct evolution of the concept that preceded it, the all-new 2018 Kia Stinger design was overseen by Peter Schreyer, Kia Motors’ chief design officer, and his talented team of designers in Frankfurt.  Ride and handling development was looked after by Albert Biermann, head of Kia’s Vehicle Test and High Performance Development and his group of engineers in Korea and on the grueling Nurburgring racing circuit.  
      But what makes a true gran turismo?  This question was the foundation for a years-long journey that began when the GT concept was first unveiled at the 2011 Frankfurt Motor Show.  Although every Kia design study has a purpose, the GT concept was something considered by many outside the company as little more than a dream for a brand known for producing mass-market transportation rooted in value.  But the GT ignited embers of passion that sparked a fire within the organization and over the next five years that fire would grow beyond fantasy and morph into reality.
      Once the Stinger was green lighted, that gran turismo question became a mantra as development commenced.  Coming from Kia, the design had to be bold.  And it was.  But it also had to be nimble and fast while also luxurious and quiet.  It had to achieve the perfect balance of ride and handling and seat five comfortably with room for luggage. It had to be a lot of things, but most of all, it had to be an authentic gran turismo.  And it is.
      Design
      Turning a concept into a production car is no small task and Schreyer looked no further than Kia’s Frankfurt studio – the birthplace of the GT concept – to bring the Stinger to life.  “A true gran turismo, a car for spirited long-distance driving, is not about outright power, hard-edged dynamics and brutal styling, all at the expense of luxury, comfort and grace,” notes Gregory Guillaume, chief designer, Kia Motors Europe.  “The Stinger has nothing to do with being the first to arrive at the destination – this car is all about the journey.  It’s about passion.”
      From its sleek front clip through its svelte flanks, and up to its powerful haunches, the Stinger exudes a muscular confidence.  Key to its road presence are the rear-wheel-drive proportions; a long hood and short front overhang, an extended wheelbase to deliver a spacious cabin, and a long rear overhang with strong shoulders.  The Stinger’s stance and visual balance are designed to lend the car an air of elegance and athleticism, rather than boy-racer aggression.
      The wide front and rear track, along with the recessed contours along the doors, enhance the visual power of the Stinger’s shoulder line as well as its fastback silhouette.  Other purely functional elements of the exterior design – the front air curtains, wheel arch gills, smooth underbody, and integrated rear diffuser – aid its aerodynamic efficiency.  The rear valance houses four oval exhaust pipes. Kia’s signature ‘tiger-nose’ grille sits proudly between complex LED headlamps.
      The low-slung cabin with its steeply raked windshield and backlight, sits toward the rear of vehicle, creating a fast silhouette.  Inside is a space dedicated to the thrill of driving while cossetting the occupants in luxury.  Available ultra-soft Nappa leather covers the deeply contoured seats and the driver’s seat has available air-cell bladders in the seatback and bolsters for optimal support and comfort.  A confident dashboard creates a strong horizontal plane for the driver to work.  The center console is intuitively split into two specific areas: the infotainment controls sit neatly below a large color touchscreen, while the climate and ventilation controls nestle beneath.   Front and center of the driver is a thick, leather-wrapped steering wheel and a single instrument binnacle with a combination of analog and digital instrumentation.  The large gauges are ringed in metal and accentuated with sweeping red needles.  A color TFT screen between the gauges relays performance data such as cornering G-forces, lap times and engine-oil temperature, along with ancillary information such as the trip computer, driver settings, navigation and diagnostics.  Aeronautically-inspired spoked circular vents are found front and rear and a tasteful satin chrome trim piece encircles the cabin.  The effect is a feeling of cocooned intimacy.  But the long wheelbase allows for generous front and rear leg room and the low seating position provides ample head room front and back.
      Chassis
      Joining the company from BMW in December, 2014,  Albert Biermann’s first look at the Stinger signaled to him a car that had to live up to its stunning design from behind the wheel.  “I think for the Kia brand, the Stinger is like a special event,” notes Biermann.  “Because nobody expects such a car, not just the way it looks but also the way it drives. It's a whole different animal.”
      Setting the manufacturing hard-points of the body-in-white would define Stinger and the engineers looked carefully across a landscape dotted with contenders.  At 114.4 inches, the Stinger’s wheelbase is longer than the Audi A4, Infiniti Q50, Lexus IS, BMW 4 Gran Coupe and even the Lexus GS and Mercedes CLS1.  It’s also longer overall (190.2 inches) and wider (73.6 inches) than the others in the segment, allowing for spacious accommodations.  The Stinger’s cargo area is also larger than many in its class, with enough space for full-size luggage or golf bags and a power liftgate with Smart Trunk functionality is available.   
      Riding on a chassis comprised of 55 percent advanced high-strength steel, the Stinger provides an ultra-stiff foundation for the ride-and-handling engineers to work with.  This rigidity also contributes to reduced NVH and a quiet cabin.  The MacPherson front and multi-link rear suspension has been tuned to provide optimal feedback to the driver.  A Kia first, ride-damping and vehicle handling traits may be modified by the driver through an electronically adjustable suspension known as Dynamic Stability Damping Control.  While always reacting predictably to the driver’s inputs, depending on road conditions and driving style, the Stinger can be tuned to respond with more agility through corners as the system softens the front shocks and firms up the rear.  Conversely, improved high-speed stability is achieved when the system stiffens the front shocks and softens the rear.  The system is accessed through five drive modes (another Kia first): Personal, Eco, Sport, Comfort and Smart.  
      Standard variable ratio Rack-mounted Motor Driven Power Steering (R-MDPS) offers razor-sharp feedback through direct mounting of the electric motor on the steering rack, enhancing steering response and reducing unwanted vibration from transmitting through the column.  Steering boost is also adjustable through the five selectable drive modes.
      Powertrain
      If the chassis symbolizes the bones of a gran turismo, then surely the available powertrains represent its heart.  Oriented longitudinally and set rearward beneath the long, sculpted hood, a choice of two turbocharged engines are available.
      While both engines are still under development, the standard 2.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinder Theta II engine produces an estimated 255 horsepower at approximately 6,200 rpm.  Max torque of 260 lb.-ft. is available from 1,400 – 4,000 rpm.  Performance credentials are further enhanced through the available 3.3-liter twin-turbo V6 Lambda II engine, which is anticipated to produce 365 horsepower at an estimated 6,000 rpm and offer max torque of 376 lb.-ft. from 1,300 – 4,500 rpm.  Kia is targeting 5.1 seconds to 62 mph and a top speed of 167 mph with the twin turbocharged V6.
      The Stinger features a second-generation eight-speed rear-drive automatic transmission.  First offered in the K900 luxury sedan, the gearbox has been designed in-house and rewards drivers with crisp shifts and maximized fuel efficiency.  More typically found in aviation- and racing-engine applications, the transmission features Kia’s first use of a Centrifugal Pendulum Absorber (CPA) torque converter to help reduce torsional vibrations through the drivetrain.  Drivers can let the gearbox manage shifts on its own or may selectively run through the gears via paddle shifters mounted aft of the steering wheel.  As with the suspension and steering, up to five different shift patterns may be selected through the vehicle’s electronic drive-mode system.  Throttle mapping is also adjusted accordingly.
      Recognizing that passionate drivers may not always reside in optimal climes, the Stinger is Kia’s first sedan available with rear- or all-wheel drive.  Rear-wheel biased for optimal control in the wet or dry, the AWD system features a new Dynamic Torque Vectoring Control system which monitors driver inputs and road conditions and automatically applies power and braking force to the appropriate wheels to maintain course in adverse conditions.  Rear-drive vehicles get the benefit of a mechanical limited slip differential to help evenly distribute power through the rear wheels.
      A choice of alloy wheels and tires are also offered.  The 2.0-liter turbocharged 4-cylinder models ride on 225/45R-18 performance tires while the 3.3-liter V6 is shod with staggered ultra-high performance rubber; 225/40R-19 in front and 255/35R-19 at the rear. Vented Brembo®2 disc brakes are standard on the 3.3-liter twin turbo and feature quad-piston front calipers and dual-piston rear calipers.
      Advanced Technology & Convenience
      Offering luxurious amenities and unexpected features have become part of Kia’s DNA and the Stinger continues that tradition.  Multiple Advanced Driver Assistance Systems (ADAS) seamlessly work together to enhance the driving experience.
      In the United States, The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration conservatively estimates that 100,000 police-reported crashes are the direct result of driver fatigue each year3.  This results in an estimated 1,550 deaths, and 71,000 injuries annually.  A Kia first is the new Driver Attention Alert (DAA)4 system to help combat distracted or drowsy driving.  The system monitors a number of inputs from the vehicle and the driver and will sound a warning chime and display a graphic in the instrument binnacle that it’s time to take a break from driving if it senses the driver’s attention level has been significantly reduced.
      Forward Collision Assistance (FCA)3 with integrated Autonomous Emergency Braking (AEB)3 with pedestrian detection can detect a potential collision with another vehicle or pedestrian and help bring the car to a halt.  Advanced Smart Cruise Control (ASCC)3 maintains a pre-set distance between the Stinger and the vehicle in front and can bring the car to a full stop in congested traffic.  Lane Keep Assist (LKA)3 actively monitors the vehicle’s intended lane and will alert the driver with an audible warning along with providing steering input to help maintain the vehicle’s position.  Rear Cross Traffic Alert (RCTA)3 scans the area behind the vehicle when backing from a parking space and will alert the driver with an audible warning if cross traffic is detected.
      Connectivity, entertainment and vehicle information can be as important as a dynamic driving experience and the Stinger comes to market with the latest infotainment systems.  The height-adjustable color Head-Up Display (HUD)5 display enables the driver to see key driving information reflected on the windshield glass, including speed, turn-by-turn navigation, audio and cruise control settings and Blind Spot Detection information.  Resting within the center console is a wireless Smartphone charging pad and Bluetooth®6 hands-free operation is standard while many of the vehicle’s subsystems may be accessed through the steering-wheel-mounted controls.
      Long-distance travel is a hallmark of the gran turismo ownership experience and there is a trio of high-performance audio systems designed to turn the interior into a dynamic concert hall as the miles blur by.  The base audio system for the 2.0-liter turbo features six-speakers and a seven-inch haptic touchscreen with the latest version of UVO, Kia’s award-winning telematics systems.  The standard system found in the 3.3-liter twin turbo ups the speaker count to nine and includes an external amplifier.  The available premium Harman/Kardon®7 audio system pumps out 720 watts through an external amplifier to provide crystal-clear music.  With 15 speakers and Kia’s first under-seat mounted subwoofers tucked beneath the driver and passenger seats, the system features Clari-Fi™8, a patented music restoration technology that rebuilds audio signals that are lost in the digital compression process.  This technology returns a high-fidelity listening experience to any compressed digital source.  The system also comes equipped with next-generation QuantumLogic™9 Surround Sound technology, which extracts signals from the original recording and redistributes them into an authentic, multidimensional soundstage for playback that is clear, refined and full of detail.        
    • By William Maley
      2016… What a year. This year saw a number of things that no one thought would actually happen did. Not helping matters is the number of famous people that have sadly passed on. Here at the Cheers & Gears Detroit Bureau, it wasn’t such a great year for vehicles. For the 2016 review season, 44 vehicles came in for evaluation. Out of this group, only eight vehicles earned a spot of being my favorite vehicles from the year. Read on to see which vehicles made the cut.
      2016 Cadillac ATS-V Coupe
      It is amazing how far Cadillac has come in the past decade and proof of it can be shown in the ATS- V coupe. A 464 horsepower twin-turbo V6 makes the vehicle fly with no issue. A set of sticky tires and adjustable dampers show the ATS-V is just as capable, maybe more so than its German counterparts. But it can also provide decent ride around town if you set the dampers into a comfort mode. Then there is the look. I’m not usually a fan of red, but it looks killer on the ATS-V coupe. It pairs quite nicely with sharp angles and a low roofline This was one of the models where I found myself grinning from ear to ear because of how much fun I had.
      2016 Chevrolet Volt
      It is amazing how far Chevrolet has come with the Volt. Five years ago, the Volt was this odd looking vehicle with a clever powertrain that made range anxiety nonexistent. Yes, 35 miles of electric-only range didn’t seem like a lot. However, the gas generator acted as an insurance policy if you ran out of juice with the battery. Flash forward to this year and Volt has not only seen an increase in overall range to 53 miles, but it has also gotten sleeker. This is currently my favorite looking Chevrolet vehicle with the new Cruze a close second. Other plus points include an improved interior and smooth ride. The new Bolt is currently basking in the spotlight that the Volt was at one time. But let us not forget the Volt is one of the key reasons why the Bolt exists. 
      2016 Dodge Charger R/T Scat Pack & SRT Hellcat
      Dodge covered the two extremes of performance this season with the Charger R/T Scat Pack and Hellcat. The Scat Pack was first up and I fell in love with it. For almost $40,000, you basically got an SRT Charger minus the adaptive suspension and number of luxury items. It was great fun with the 6.4L HEMI V8 bellowing down the road and the sharp looking Plum Crazy paint color. I found that you really don’t need the adaptive suspension as the Scat Pack does ok on bumpy roads or curvy roads.
      Then we come to the Charger SRT Hellcat. 707 horsepower from a supercharged 6.2L HEMI V8. It seems maddening that we are given a vehicle with all of this power for a price tag under $66,000. Trying to describe the way the Hellcat goes is difficult and something you need to experience. This is a vehicle that will make you laugh like a small child every time you decide to drop the hammer to hear the whir of the supercharger and manic sound of the V8.
      2016 Kia Optima SXL
      It is no secret that the Kia Optima is one of my favorite midsize sedans. It offers distinctive looks and feature set at a price that will surprise many. But it was set to fall off my list earlier this year when I drove the Optima EX. The big issues were an uncomfortable ride and poor noise isolation. So when I found out that the top of line SXL was scheduled later in the year, I was worried that it would be plagued by the same issues. But those issues never appeared. The SXL was not only quiet but showed a noticeable improvement in terms of ride comfort. I still don’t know what black magic Kia did on the SXL, but it kept the Optima on my favorites list. Now if they could work on the lazy throttle…
      2016 Mazda MX-5 Miata
      “Sometimes to fully test a vehicle, you need to put it in a situation where it isn’t fully comfortable.”
      That was the case for the Mazda MX-5 Miata as it would not be only driven in the middle of one of the coldest winters in Michigan, but it would also be taking me to and from the Detroit Auto Show. Crazy? Of course. But the MX-5 Miata was wearing a set of winter tires which helped it stick to the road. Despite the cold temps and snow that would fall during the latter half of the week, the MX-5 Miata proved to be just as fun as it would have been in warmer weather. Sharp handling, an engine that loved to rev, and a slick six-speed manual transmission. It didn’t hurt that I could actually fit my suitcase into the trunk of the Miata for the show.
      2016 Scion iA
      I have a trend of driving brands or vehicles that will be ending. Most infamously was the time when I drove a Suzuki SX4 for review and then hearing the news of the brand leaving a couple of days after returning it. That was the case of the Scion iA. A few months after driving the iA, Toyota announced that it was shuttering the brand. Some of the vehicles, like the iA would continue as Toyotas. This was a smart move as the iA proved to be a winner. Being a rebadged Mazda2 was a big reason as to why I liked the iA. It was a fun vehicle to drive around town or on a special road. But it also featured a lot of standard equipment including automatic emergency braking. While the brand is gone, it is good to see the iA lives on.
      2016 Toyota Prius Three
      I have never been a fan of the Prius family. Every Prius that I have reviewed left me wondering who decided to start selling a science experiment and not an actual vehicle. But the 2016 Prius is my biggest shock of the year. Yes, the Prius will take its time getting up to speed on the freeway. But around town, the Prius was a spritely performer. More surprising was how well the Prius drove. Taking a corner, I was expecting to experience motion sickness because of how much body roll previous models had. But the Prius took it like a champ showing little body and some decent steering - thank the new TGNA architecture. It doesn’t hurt that I got 60.2 mpg as my average for the week. Well done Toyota.
      2016 Volkswagen Golf SportWagen
      If there is one shining light at Volkswagen, it would have to be the Golf family. Last year, I named the Golf GTI as one of my favorites. This year, that honor falls to the SportWagen. Yes, it isn’t the sharpest looking vehicle in the class and the DSG transmission needs some more work. But Volkswagen got the basics right. The 1.8T is powerful and delivers excellent fuel economy. The interior spacious for both passengers and cargo - I was able to fit two massive Ikea boxes into it. Volkswagen also mastered the dark art of balancing fun to drive with comfort. I could take the Golf SportWagen down a windy road and be entertained. Afterward, I could drive it around town and not feel any road imperfections. 
      There you go, the eight vehicles that earned a coveted spot on my favorites list. Now it should be noted that some vehicles we’re close to getting onto this list, but were kicked off for one reason or another. Here are those vehicles,
      Chevrolet Malibu 2LT: Chevrolet did an excellent job with the new Malibu with fixing a number of issues that plagued the old model. But the 2LT introduced a new set of problems - questionable materials, poor road noise isolation, and the lack of options. I really do like the new Malibu, just not in 2LT form. Chevrolet Camaro SS Convertible: Loved the V8 performance and noise. Hate the $54,000 pricetag. This might explain why GM has such a large amount of Camaros sitting on dealers. Hyundai Elantra: Hyundai played it safe with the updated Elantra and this would have been ok a couple of years ago. But in light of the redesigned Chevrolet Cruze and Honda Civic, it wasn’t enough for the Elantra to be a strong contender as it once was. Nissan Titan XD Pro-4X: This was a truck I really wanted to like. Nissan was trying something different with the Titan XD - offer something between a light-duty and heavy-duty pickup. Plus, a nice Cummins V8 diesel could have been the cheery on top. But trying to convince someone that your truck is the best is difficult since truck buyers tend to stick with one brand. Not helping is the lack of cab and bed sizes. At the time of our original review, the XD was only available as a crew cab. A regular cab has been since introduced. But it seems Nissan doesn’t fully understand the truck market. You need to have a lot of options available to buyers at launch, not down the road.
      View full article
  • Recent Status Updates

  • Who's Online (See full list)