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    Review: 2014 Kia Forte EX


    • This Isn't Any Kia Compact You Have Ever Seen Before


    The past few years have seen Kia rise up from its cheap car roots and become a major player in some of the key areas of the automotive marketplace. But there has been one area that the automaker hasn't been quite able to wrap its hands around; the compact car. Kia has tried its hand before at building compact vehicles, but the results have ranged from middling to somewhat decent.

    But Kia thinks that with the 2014 Forte, they have cracked the compact car code. Let's find out if they have.

    The 2014 Forte continues Kia's trend of designing sharp looking car. Draped in what the automaker calls Abyss Blue and a set of optional seventeen-inch alloy wheels on the EX, the Forte in my eyes has to be one of the best looking compact vehicles on sale. The overall shape mimics the smaller Rio sedan with similar front and rear end styling. Up front is the distinctive honeycomb grille that is flanked by upswept headlights. Around back are a set of taillights that extend into the rear quarter panels.

    The Forte's interior is very stylish with a large amount of soft-touch materials and premium touches such as a stitched cover for the instrument cluster. It makes the Forte feel much more special than many of its counterparts. Build quality is also excellent.

    Being a little bit longer and wider than its predecessor, the 2014 Forte does boast a bit more interior space. This is apparent for back seat passengers as legroom is in abundance. Headroom is decent, but taller passengers will find it somewhat tight due to the sloping roofline. There is also the option of heated seats for the back to make passengers feel comfortable during the winter. Up front are heated leather seats, with the driver also getting power adjustment and cooling. Trying to find a comfortable position in the front proved to be a difficult task for me as I constantly adjusted the seat, trying to get that perfect setting.

    2014 Kia Forte EX 13

    This particular Forte EX came equipped with Kia's UVO infotainment system and eServices. As I have written previously on Kia's UVO system, it is very easy to comprehend at glance and use. With the addition of eServices which brings forth such features as automatic 911 notification and vehicle diagnostics, Kia has possibly one of the best all-around infotainment systems on the marketplace. But I had an odd problem arise with the UVO system in the Forte. I found the that hands-free calling system would end the call at exactly 15 minutes. At first, I thought it was my phone dropping the call, but I soon figured out it was UVO. I'm not the only person to experience this. A fellow writer who drove a Forte around the same time as me had the same thing happen to him. Now I have sent Kia an inquiry about this and I'm currently waiting to hear back from them.

    For more on the powertrain and ride, see page 2.


    The Forte EX comes equipped with a 2.0L direct-injected four-cylinder engine that packs 173 horsepower and 154 pound-feet of torque. This is paired with a six-speed automatic. The engine is more than suitable for most situations that you'll find yourself in as it provides robust acceleration and torque coming on strong early on in the rev range. This is helped by the Forte's low curb weight of 2,959 lbs. The six-speed automatic provides quick shifts and helps keep the engine right in the sweet spot of power. EPA rates the 2014 Kia Forte EX at 24 City/36 Highway/28 Combined. My average for the week landed me around 28 MPG.

    2014 Kia Forte EX 9

    Under the Forte's skin, Kia employs a strut setup for the the front and a torsion-beam for the rear. This helps give the Forte a big car ride. As for driving fun, the Forte is competent around corners. Its not a Mazda3 by any stretch of the imagination, but it does show that Kia is learning how to build a fun car. A couple places that Kia should work on in the near future is reducing the amount of wind and road noise that comes into the cabin and working on a better steering system than the current and gimmicky driver-selectable steering system.

    The 2014 Kia Forte shows that Kia has finally figure out not only how to build very competent compact car, but one that is very much vying for top in class honors. Taken as a whole, the Forte does most everything well. If you're considering a compact car, it would be a disservice to yourself if the Forte isn't on your list.

    gallery_10485_782_1553706.jpg

    Disclaimer: Kia Provided the Forte EX, Insurance, and One Tank of Gas

    Year: 2014

    Make: Kia

    Model: Forte

    Trim: EX

    Engine: 2.0L GDI DOHC D-CVVT Inline-Four

    Driveline: Six-Speed Automatic, Front-Wheel Drive

    Horsepower @ RPM: 173 @ 6500

    Torque @ RPM: 154 @ 4700

    Fuel Economy: City/Highway/Combined - 24/36/28

    Curb Weight: 2,959 lbs

    Location of Manufacture: South Korea

    Base Price: $19,400.00

    As Tested Price: $25,515.00 (Includes $800.00 Destination Charge)

    Options:

    Premium Package - $2,600.00

    EX Technology Package - $2,300.00

    17-Inch Alloy Wheels - $300.00

    Carpeted Floor Mats - $115.00

    William Maley is a staff writer for Cheers & Gears. He can be reached at william.maley@cheersandgears.comor you can follow him on twitter at @realmudmonster.

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    Cute car that should be a decent competitor in the compact market.

    Personally I am tired of the sloping roof line as it eats up valuable head room and cramps us big people. Not everyone is 5' 8" tall.

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    Cute car that should be a decent competitor in the compact market.

    Personally I am tired of the sloping roof line as it eats up valuable head room and cramps us big people. Not everyone is 5' 8" tall.

    Fewer people are 6'6" than are 5'8". ;)

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    Loading up a compact with options is not a financially good move, lots of options at 25K like the Optima, Accord Sport etc if you are ok with a larger car, or Verano if you are ok with below average fuel economy.

    Edited by frogger
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    Loading up a compact with options is not a financially good move, lots of options at 25K like the Optima, Accord Sport etc if you are ok with a larger car, or Verano if you are ok with below average fuel economy.

    That's a lot of ifs for potential buyers in this segment. Big ifs, in fact.

    Edited by Lamar
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    Loading up a compact with options is not a financially good move, lots of options at 25K like the Optima, Accord Sport etc if you are ok with a larger car, or Verano if you are ok with below average fuel economy.

    I get more power and more premium feel in a Verano... plus bank vault quiet.

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    Just got the chance to drive one of these...

    Cruze, while still much better, might have to worry about this one......

    Handles much better than any other little Kia that I have driven. Handling is starting to get there......

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    • 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
      Last fall, I had the chance to drive a Dodge Charger R/T Scat Pack for a week and fell in love. It was basically an SRT Charger, minus a few items for just under $40,000. This fall, another high-performance Charger came in a week’s stay and it was packing more heat. 707 horsepower to be exact. Yes, I finally got my hands on a Hellcat. What was it like? It was fast, but you want more information than that.
      That 707 horsepower figure comes courtesy from a 6.2L supercharged HEMI V8. Torque is rated at 650 pound-feet.This is backed up by an eight-speed automatic only. If you want a manual, then you’ll need to get the Challenger Hellcat. Trying to explain just how fast the Charger Hellcat is difficult. This is a car that you need to drive or sit in to experience the ferocity of the V8 engine. The best way I can use to describe the Hellcat’s power delivery is engaging warp drive. Step on the accelerator and the supercharger whirrs into life and the V8 produces a roar very few vehicles can dream. Blink and you’ll be at an illegal speed before you know it. Taking turns in the Hellcat is somewhat difficult because of the accelerator. You need to roll on it if you want to do it smoothly. If you step on the accelerator pedal like you would on a standard vehicle, the back will become very loose and the stability control will kick on to get the vehicle straightened out. This is especially important due to the tires fitted to Hellcat, a set of Pirelli P-Zeros. These tires need to be warmed up before they begin to bite the road. The Hellcat will be a regular at the fuel pump with fuel economy figures of 13 City/22 Highway/16 Combined. I got about 14.3 mpg during my week in mostly city driving. Handling? That’s the surprising part as the Charger Hellcat doesn’t embarrass itself. Fitted with an adaptive suspension system, the Charger Hellcat shows little body roll when put into Sport and provides a smooth ride when in comfort. The steering system provides the right amount of feel and heft you want in a performance vehicle.  Bringing a 707 horsepower vehicle to a stop is no easy task, but a set of massive Brembo brakes is up to the task. It brings the Charger Hellcat to a quick halt. The Charger Hellcat looks like your standard SRT Charger with a new front clip and lowered stance. There are some slight differences such as a new hood, 20-inch wheels finished in a dark bronze color, and the requisite Hellcat emblems on the front fenders. Inside, the Hellcat isn’t that much different from the standard Charger aside from the speedometer going 200 mph. It would have been nice if Dodge could have done some sprucing of the interior to not make it feel so dank and dark. A little bit more color on the dash would not be a bad thing. The front seats have extra bolstering to hold you in when you decide to let loose all 707 horsepower or take a turn a bit too fast. As I mentioned in my Ram 1500 Quick Drive last week, the Charger’s UConnect system is beginning to show its age. The interface is still easy to use but is beginning to show signs of aging. Performance isn’t as snappy either as in previous FCA models. Hopefully, the 2017 model is able to get the updated UConnect system that debuted in the Pacifica. The UConnect system in the Charger Hellcat does come with SRT Pages. This allows you to record 0-60, quarter-mile, and reaction times. It also allows you to change various performance settings such as gear changes, suspension, and whether you want the full 707 horsepower or 500. The last one pertains if you happen to have the red key. In terms of pricing, the Charger Hellcat kicks off at $65,495. With options and a $1,700 gas guzzler tax, our tester came to $72,820. Compared to other high-performance sedans, the Hellcat is quite the steal. If it was my money on the line, I would go for the Charger R/T Scat Pack. I get most of the enjoyment of the Hellcat, minus the supercharger whine. But I would have a fair chunk of change that I could spend on hopping it up. But I understand why someone would go for the Charger Hellcat. It is a four-door sedan that provides explosive acceleration and engine note that no other vehicle can dare match. There’s something magical about stepping on the accelerator, being flung back into the seat due to power on tap, and then laughing like a four-year old after what happened. Disclaimer: Dodge Provided the Charger Hellcat, Insurance, and One Tank of Gas
      (Author’s Note: That’s a wrap for the 2016 review season. We’ll be back with the first batch of 2017 model year vehicles after New Years. But I will be picking my favorite vehicles I drove this year. Expect to see that before the year comes to a close.)
      Year: 2016
      Make: Dodge
      Model: Charger
      Trim: SRT Hellcat
      Engine: Supercharged 6.2L HEMI V8
      Driveline: Eight-speed automatic, Rear-wheel drive
      Horsepower @ RPM: 707 @ 6,000
      Torque @ RPM: 650 @ 4,800
      Fuel Economy: City/Highway/Combined - 13/22/16
      Curb Weight: 4,570 lbs
      Location of Manufacture: Brampton, Ontario
      Base Price: $65,945
      As Tested Price: $72,820 (Includes $995 Destination Charge and $1,700 Gas Guzzler Tax)
      Options:
      Customer Preferred Package 23T - $1,995.00
      20-inch x 9.5-inch Brass Monkey SRT Forged Wheels - $995.00
      275/40ZR20 P Zero Summer Tires - $595.00
      Redline Red Tri-coat Pearl Exterior Paint - $595.00

      View full article
    • By William Maley
      Last fall, I had the chance to drive a Dodge Charger R/T Scat Pack for a week and fell in love. It was basically an SRT Charger, minus a few items for just under $40,000. This fall, another high-performance Charger came in a week’s stay and it was packing more heat. 707 horsepower to be exact. Yes, I finally got my hands on a Hellcat. What was it like? It was fast, but you want more information than that.
      That 707 horsepower figure comes courtesy from a 6.2L supercharged HEMI V8. Torque is rated at 650 pound-feet.This is backed up by an eight-speed automatic only. If you want a manual, then you’ll need to get the Challenger Hellcat. Trying to explain just how fast the Charger Hellcat is difficult. This is a car that you need to drive or sit in to experience the ferocity of the V8 engine. The best way I can use to describe the Hellcat’s power delivery is engaging warp drive. Step on the accelerator and the supercharger whirrs into life and the V8 produces a roar very few vehicles can dream. Blink and you’ll be at an illegal speed before you know it. Taking turns in the Hellcat is somewhat difficult because of the accelerator. You need to roll on it if you want to do it smoothly. If you step on the accelerator pedal like you would on a standard vehicle, the back will become very loose and the stability control will kick on to get the vehicle straightened out. This is especially important due to the tires fitted to Hellcat, a set of Pirelli P-Zeros. These tires need to be warmed up before they begin to bite the road. The Hellcat will be a regular at the fuel pump with fuel economy figures of 13 City/22 Highway/16 Combined. I got about 14.3 mpg during my week in mostly city driving. Handling? That’s the surprising part as the Charger Hellcat doesn’t embarrass itself. Fitted with an adaptive suspension system, the Charger Hellcat shows little body roll when put into Sport and provides a smooth ride when in comfort. The steering system provides the right amount of feel and heft you want in a performance vehicle.  Bringing a 707 horsepower vehicle to a stop is no easy task, but a set of massive Brembo brakes is up to the task. It brings the Charger Hellcat to a quick halt. The Charger Hellcat looks like your standard SRT Charger with a new front clip and lowered stance. There are some slight differences such as a new hood, 20-inch wheels finished in a dark bronze color, and the requisite Hellcat emblems on the front fenders. Inside, the Hellcat isn’t that much different from the standard Charger aside from the speedometer going 200 mph. It would have been nice if Dodge could have done some sprucing of the interior to not make it feel so dank and dark. A little bit more color on the dash would not be a bad thing. The front seats have extra bolstering to hold you in when you decide to let loose all 707 horsepower or take a turn a bit too fast. As I mentioned in my Ram 1500 Quick Drive last week, the Charger’s UConnect system is beginning to show its age. The interface is still easy to use but is beginning to show signs of aging. Performance isn’t as snappy either as in previous FCA models. Hopefully, the 2017 model is able to get the updated UConnect system that debuted in the Pacifica. The UConnect system in the Charger Hellcat does come with SRT Pages. This allows you to record 0-60, quarter-mile, and reaction times. It also allows you to change various performance settings such as gear changes, suspension, and whether you want the full 707 horsepower or 500. The last one pertains if you happen to have the red key. In terms of pricing, the Charger Hellcat kicks off at $65,495. With options and a $1,700 gas guzzler tax, our tester came to $72,820. Compared to other high-performance sedans, the Hellcat is quite the steal. If it was my money on the line, I would go for the Charger R/T Scat Pack. I get most of the enjoyment of the Hellcat, minus the supercharger whine. But I would have a fair chunk of change that I could spend on hopping it up. But I understand why someone would go for the Charger Hellcat. It is a four-door sedan that provides explosive acceleration and engine note that no other vehicle can dare match. There’s something magical about stepping on the accelerator, being flung back into the seat due to power on tap, and then laughing like a four-year old after what happened. Disclaimer: Dodge Provided the Charger Hellcat, Insurance, and One Tank of Gas
      (Author’s Note: That’s a wrap for the 2016 review season. We’ll be back with the first batch of 2017 model year vehicles after New Years. But I will be picking my favorite vehicles I drove this year. Expect to see that before the year comes to a close.)
      Year: 2016
      Make: Dodge
      Model: Charger
      Trim: SRT Hellcat
      Engine: Supercharged 6.2L HEMI V8
      Driveline: Eight-speed automatic, Rear-wheel drive
      Horsepower @ RPM: 707 @ 6,000
      Torque @ RPM: 650 @ 4,800
      Fuel Economy: City/Highway/Combined - 13/22/16
      Curb Weight: 4,570 lbs
      Location of Manufacture: Brampton, Ontario
      Base Price: $65,945
      As Tested Price: $72,820 (Includes $995 Destination Charge and $1,700 Gas Guzzler Tax)
      Options:
      Customer Preferred Package 23T - $1,995.00
      20-inch x 9.5-inch Brass Monkey SRT Forged Wheels - $995.00
      275/40ZR20 P Zero Summer Tires - $595.00
      Redline Red Tri-coat Pearl Exterior Paint - $595.00
    • By William Maley
      Like life, reviewing vehicles sometimes mean having a curveball thrown your way. Originally, I was going to be reviewing the Chrysler 200 before its production run would end. Sadly, the 200 was pulled out of Chrysler’s test fleet before I was able to drive. But sometimes, that curveball can be a positive. In this case, a Ram 1500 Laramie Longhorn would take its place. More importantly, it would be equipped with the 3.0L EcoDiesel V6. We like this engine in the Jeep Grand Cherokee. How would it fare in the Ram 1500? Quite well.
      The EcoDiesel V6 in question is a turbocharged 3.0L with 240 horsepower and 420 pound-feet of torque. This comes paired with an eight-speed automatic transmission. Our test truck came with four-wheel drive, but you can order the EcoDiesel with two-wheel drive. The EcoDiesel might not have the roar or performance figures of the 5.7L V8 (0-60 takes about 9 seconds for the diesel compared to just a hair over 7 seconds for the V8), but it is a very capable engine. There is a lot of punch on the low end of the rpm band and the engine never feels that it is running out of breath the higher you climb in speed.  You can tell the EcoDiesel is a diesel during start up as it has distinctive clatter. Also, it takes a few seconds for the engine to start up if you let the truck sit for awhile. But once the engine is going, you can’t really tell its a diesel. Whether you’re standing outside or sitting inside, the V6 is quiet and smooth. The eight-speed automatic is one of the best transmissions in the class as it delivers imperceptible gear changes. In terms of towing, the EcoDiesel V6 has a max tow rating of 9,210 pounds (regular cab with 2WD). The crew cab with 4WD drops the max tow rating to 8,610 pounds. This does trail the V8 considerably (max tow rating of 10,640). But the EcoDiesel makes up for this in terms of fuel economy. EPA fuel economy figures stand at 19 City/27 Highway/22 Combined for the EcoDiesel equipped 4WD. Our average for the week was a not too shabby 23.4 mpg. This generation of the Ram 1500 has garnered a reputation for having one of the best rides in the class. We can’t disagree. The coil-spring setup on the rear suspension smooths out bumps and other road imperfections very well.  Our truck also featured the optional air suspension which is more focused on improving the capability of the pickup and not ride comfort. There are five different ride height settings that allow for easier access when getting in and out of a truck to increasing ground clearance when going off-road. The air suspension will also level out the truck if there is a heavy load in the bed or pulling a trailer. The Ram 1500’s exterior look hasn’t really changed much since we reviewed one back in 2014. Up front is a large crosshair grille finished in chrome and large rectangular headlights with LED daytime running lights. The Laramie Longhorn features it own design cues such as two-tone paint finish, 20-inch wheels, and large badges on the front doors telling everyone which model of Ram you happen to be driving. Inside, the Laramie Longhorn is well appointed with real wood trim on the dash and steering wheel, high-quality leather upholstery for the seats, and acres of soft-touch plastics. Some will snicker at the seat pockets that are designed to look saddle bags, complete with a chrome clasp.  Comfort-wise, the Laramie Longhorn’s interior scores very high. The seats provide excellent support for long trips, and no one sitting in the back will be complaining about the lack of head and legroom. One nice touch is all of the seats getting heat as standard equipment, while the front seats get ventilation as well. The UConnect system is beginning to show its age with an interface that is looking somewhat dated and certain tasks taking a few seconds more than previous versions. There is an updated UConnect system that debuted on the 2017 Pacifica with a tweaked interface and quicker performance. Hopefully, this is in the cards for the 2017 Ram 1500. As for pricing, the Laramie Longhorn Crew Cab 4x4 comes with a base price $52,365. With options including the 3.0L EcoDiesel, our as-tested price was $60,060. Sadly this is the new reality for pickup trucks. Many buyers want the luxuries and features found on standard vehicles and are willing to pay for it. The Ram 1500 Laramie Longhorn Crew Cab 4x4 can justify the price for what it offers, but it is still a lot of money to drop. The nice thing about the Ram 1500 is the number of trims on offer. You’ll be able to find a model that should fit your needs and price range. Personally, I would be happy with a Big Horn or Laramie as they would offer everything I would want or need in a truck. But if you want something luxurious with a cowboy twist, you can’t go wrong with Laramie Longhorn. The EcoDiesel is just the cherry on top.   
      Disclaimer: Ram Trucks Provided the 1500, Insurance, and One Tank of Diesel
      Year: 2016
      Make: Ram Trucks
      Model: 1500 Crew Cab
      Trim: Laramie Longhorn
      Engine: 3.0L EcoDiesel V6
      Driveline: Eight-Speed Automatic, Four-Wheel Drive
      Horsepower @ RPM: 240 @ 3,600
      Torque @ RPM: 420 @ 2,000
      Fuel Economy: City/Highway/Combined - 19/27/22
      Curb Weight: N/A
      Location of Manufacture: Warren, MI
      Base Price: $52,365
      As Tested Price: $60,060 (Includes $1,195.00 Destination Charge)
      Options:
      3.0L EcoDiesel V6 - $3,120.00
      4-Corner Air Suspension - $1,695.00
      Wheel to Wheel Side Steps - $600.00
      Convenience Group - $495.00
      Trailer Brake Control - $280.00
      Cold Weather Group - $235.00
      3.92 Rear Axle Ratio - $75.00

      View full article
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