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    Review: 2015 Kia Sedona SXL


    • Something Different Comes This Way In the Minivan Class

    In a person’s life, there will be an event that happens on a rare occurrence. Seeing a comet streak across the sky or watching the Detroit Lions have a winning season. For those who care about the automobile, seeing a new Bentley or Rolls-Royce model being introduced counts as one of these events. Similarly, seeing an automaker introduce a new minivan can be put on that list.

     

    Very few automakers compete in the minivan class as it's dominated by the stalwarts such as Dodge Grand Caravan, Honda Odyssey, and Toyota Sienna. But once in a blue moon, a new minivan comes around to challenge them. Case in point is the 2015 Kia Sedona. Kia’s minivan underwent a massive revision and came back last year to try and take a nice chunk of the minivan marketplace. We spent a week in the Sedona SXL to see if Kia has a chance.

     

    Kia’s designers must have been impressed when Nissan launched the current Quest minivan a few years back. We mention that because that’s what the Sedona’s overall look reminds us of. Both vans feature a cargo van look with flat sides and a large area of glass. Where the Sedona differs from the Quest is the front end. There is a distinctive grille insert surrounded by chrome. A set of trapezoidal headlights flank either side with a strand of LEDs splitting the middle and running towards the outer edge.

     

    The Sedona’s interior follows the same template as Kia’s larger sedans, the Cadenza and K900, with a modern design and quality materials used throughout. Stepping inside our SXL tester and for a moment, we thought this was a luxury sedan, not a minivan. From the two-tone Nappa leather used on the seats to the solid feeling controls for the infotainment system, the Sedona oozes a lot of class.

     


    2015 Kia Sedona SXL 11


    The Sedona can seat up to eight people through our SXL tester was equipped for seven due to the second row having the optional captain chairs. No matter which row you find yourself in, there is more than enough head and legroom for even the tallest of passengers. Those sitting in the second row of the SXL will be pleased as they can recline and bring up a footrest for that extra level of comfort. But much like the Toyota Sienna which had this feature, there isn’t enough space to pull this off for most passengers.

     

    In terms of cargo space, the Sedona isn’t quite as big as the Sienna. With all three rows up, the Sedona offers 33.9 cubic feet of space. Fold the third row down and space increases to 78.4. With the second row down, space measures 142 cubic feet. For comparison, the Sienna offers about eight more cubic feet of space. There’s also one specific problem for the Sedona SXL. The second-row seats cannot do the Slide-n-Stow (Kia’s name for the folding seat system) or be removed from the van because they are locked into place. This means you will lose a bit more cargo space. If you do want the maximum cargo space in your Sedona, stick with one of the lower trims.

     

    The Sedona SXL also came equipped with the latest version of Kia’s UVO infotainment system. As we have written in previous Kia reviews, this system is one of the best in terms of overall usability and performance. A simple interface with large touchpoints and redundant buttons is paired with quick performance in terms of moving from various functions to figuring our directions for the navigation. A number of OEMs would be wise to study Kia’s system.

     


    2015 Kia Sedona SXL 8


     

    For power, the Sedona uses the 3.3L V6 found in the Cadenza and Sorento crossover. This V6 produces 276 horsepower and 248 pound-feet of torque. A six-speed automatic transmission gets power to the front wheels. The V6 moves the Sedona without any complaints. The automatic transmission provided smooth shifts and was quick to downshift whenever more power was needed, such as making a pass. In terms of fuel economy, the Sedona SXL is rated at 17 City/22 Highway/19 Combined. Our average for the week landed around 20.3 MPG. Now it should be noted that lower trims of the Sedona return better fuel economy numbers of 18 City/24 Highway/20 Combined thanks to lower curb weights.

     

    The Sedona’s ride quality is comfortable on most road surfaces, although the nineteen-inch wheels on our SXL tester did let in a few bumps. Road and wind noise were kept to a minimum. Despite the large size of the Sedona, we found it to be quite maneuverable thanks to light steering and an around-view camera system that provided different views to help us to get into tight parking spaces. Handling characteristics are what you would expect in a minivan, a fair amount of lean and not that much feel from the steering. If you want a little bit of sport in a minivan, then look at the Dodge Grand Caravan or Honda Odyssey.

     

    The Kia Sedona comes as a bit of surprise in the minivan marketplace. While the likes Dodge, Honda, and Toyota have a tight grasp on the class, Kia uses the formula that has propelled it to the spotlight time and time again; offering a sleek design with loads of equipment that won’t break the bank. Whether that makes a difference in the sales chart remains to be seen. But if you are considering a minivan and want to stand out from the usual suspects, the Sedona is very much worth your consideration.

     

    Disclaimer: Kia provided the Sedona SXL, Insurance, and One Tank of Gas

     

     

    Year: 2015
    Make: Kia
    Model: Sedona
    Trim: SXL
    Engine: 3.3L DOHC GDI CVVT V6
    Driveline: Six-Speed Automatic, Front-Wheel Drive
    Horsepower @ RPM: 276 @ 6,000
    Torque @ RPM: 248 @ 5,200
    Fuel Economy: City/Highway/Combined - 17/22/19
    Curb Weight: 4,720 lbs
    Location of Manufacture: South Korea
    Base Price: $39,700
    As Tested Price: $43,295 (Includes $985.00 Destination Charge)

     

    Options:
    SXL Technology Package - $2,700.00

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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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