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Kia teases next Sorento [w/video]

07/30/2014   [Original: Autoblog]
Category: Videos, Crossovers/CUVs, Kia

Kia Sorento

We recently spotted it testing, and now Kia digitally dropped all of the cladding and obfuscation from its next-generation Sorento crossover to tease its true face. For the new model, it certainly looks as if the company's designers will evolve the current CUV's shape to be a bit more curvaceous than before.

According to Kia, the new design has a lower roofline and higher beltline than the current model, and the side windows certainly look a lot narrower than they are now. These renderings also hint at the next Sorento's more rectangular, vertical front end with the Korean automaker's now recognizable "tiger-nose grille." At the back, the styling appears to be a bit more rounded with the rear glass and taillights wrapping around slightly.

We won't have to base our opinions on renderings for long. Kia says that it will unveil the new Sorento in Korea at the end of August and will debut it to Europeans at the 2014 Paris Motor Show in early October. Scroll down to watch a video showing off some more renderings of the upcoming model and read Kia's teaser release.

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Kia negotiating to build $1.5B auto plant in Mexico

07/25/2014   [Original: Autoblog]
Category: Plants/Manufacturing, Kia

Kia Cadenza

After a string of recent announcements from automakers, Kia may be the next business to break ground on a factory south of the border. The Korean company is reportedly nearly finished with negotiations to build a $1.5-billion plant near the city of Monterrey in the Mexican state of Nuevo Leon. The state's secretary of economic development confirmed the news to Reuters and anticipated talks to be completed in the first two weeks of August. Unnamed insiders also said that the location was aiming for an annual production capacity of 300,000 vehicles.

Rumors from a month ago first suggested the possibility of the new factory. It would reportedly build two models of small cars, and assembly could potentially begin as soon as 21 months after breaking ground. Currently, Kia only has one North American plant, in Georgia, that builds the Sorento and Optima.

In the last few years, Mexico has become of hotbed of North American automobile production. Mazda, Honda and Volkswagen all recently opened new or expanded factories to build cars there. There are even more on the way with a joint venture plant from Mercedes-Benz and Infiniti and BMW's announcement of its own $1 billion undertaking in Mexico.

Autoblog reached out to Kia for official confirmation of the Mexican factory, and the company emailed the following prepared statement to us:

"As one of the world's fastest growing automakers in recent years, Kia Motors Corporation is currently evaluating various options for the establishment of a new overseas manufacturing plant in order to secure future growth for the brand. As a part of these efforts, and to better cope with the ongoing supply shortage situation in the Americas region, Mexico is being considered as a possible location of our next overseas production facility."

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Kia still said to be considering diesels in US

07/18/2014   [Original: Autoblog]
Category: Diesel, Kia

Is Kia making diesel rumors a biennial thing? The South Korean automaker once again may take a closer look at making an oil-burner available for US consumption, JustAuto says. All in the name of fuel economy, of course.

Kia Motors America vice president Orth Hedrick tells JustAuto that the automaker may start selling diesels in the States during the next few years. Kia is getting ready to debut its Soul EV battery-electric in the US later this year, and with diesel powertrains gradually overcoming their perceptions of being slow and loud, the company may find a receptive audience in the US for these powerplants.

The problem has always been the inconsistent emissions standards between Europe and the US, but that may be resolved by 2018, says Hedrick. Kia's obviously encouraged by rising diesel sales from German automakers such as Volkswagen and Audi, as well as the fact that it just completed a record-breaking six-month sales period for the US. Kia spokesman Scott McKee, in an email to AutoblogGreen, would only say that "identifying new opportunities for growth is part of our long-term strategy" but reiterated that no announcements have been made.

Of course, there was a similar buzz during the spring of 2012, when reports surfaced that Kia would start making a diesel-powered Optima, which it provides to European customers.

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Kia recalls over 50k new Soul compacts over steering issue

07/18/2014   [Original: Autoblog]
Category: Economy, Wagons/Estates, Recalls/TSBs, Safety, Hatchbacks, Kia

2014 Kia Soul

Kia is recalling certain 2014 models of its adorable Soul due to a bad adhesive used in the steering system. According to the bulletin from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, the "thread-locking adhesive" that attaches the plug between the pinion gear and steering gear assembly could come loose.

Should that happen, the condition could lead to a "loss of steering," which, of course increases the likelihood of a crash. The 51,641 affected cars were built between July 21, 2013 and January 17, 2014. There have been no reported accidents, let alone injuries or deaths due to this issue.

Kia is in the process of notifying owners of the affected vehicles as well as dealers in possession of the faulty Souls.

Scroll down for the official bulletin from NHTSA.

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Kia Sorento spotted high-altitude testing after 'Ring run

07/08/2014   [Original: Autoblog]
Category: Spy Photos, SUVs, Crossovers/CUVs, Kia

2016 Kia Sorento

Some models stick around the market longer than others. The Kia Sorento, for example, lasted for a good eight years in its first iteration, and the second-generation model has been around for five years now. Sure, it had a facelift a couple of years ago, but if it's going to make it in the highly competitive midsize crossover market, Kia is going to have to do better than that.

And that appears to be just what it has in store. Following the previous spy shots we brought you from the Nürburgring the better part of a year ago, the next-generation Sorento has now been spotted shlepping a trailer up a mountain.

Expected to debut as soon as the Paris Motor Show in October, the third-generation Kia Sorento appears to have grown longer in order to better accommodate third-row passengers. You can also expect the latest technologies on board and maybe, just maybe, a plug-in hybrid powertain option. Watch this space for more and scope out the spy shots in the gallery above for a closer look.

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Audi, Jag, Kia and Tesla top Strategic Vision 2014 Total Quality Index

07/06/2014   [Original: Autoblog]
Category: Audi, Jaguar, Kia, Tesla

Audi Q5 TDI

KiaA couple weeks ago, J.D. Power released its latest Initial Quality Study, which gave high marks to Porsche, Hyundai and General Motors, with the latter earning more individual IQS awards than any other manufacturer. Now, it's Strategic Vision's turn, and it's doling out its praise not to Porsche, but to Tesla, which wasn't even included in the JD Power IQS.

The Model S was named the best vehicle overall in total quality, while Porsche's corporate brother and endurance-racing rival, Audi, was named the best premium brand, alongside Jaguar. Strategic Vision cited the Q5 and the ancient Q7 for individual segment awards, as well as the A5, which was a mere point off the top of its segment. SV also handed out compliments for the Audi's interior work. The win for the German brand is a nice improvement over its IQS score, with which it landed above the industry average, but solidly mid-pack.

Jaguar was without a segment winner, although SV did say that the Indian-owned English brand had a number of vehicles very near the top of their segments. This is the second significant win for Jag in two weeks, after it finished second overall on the JD Power IQS a few weeks ago.

In a surprise win, Kia took the title for mainstream manufacturers, with Strategic Vision calling out the Soul and the Optima for their "youthful, cool styling cues that not only make a strong statement but offer a solid foundation of quality." The South Korean brand took seventh in the JD Power IQS.

Notable segment winners include a few that left us scratching our heads, like the Mitsubishi Lancer tying the Dodge Dart for the best small car, and the Mini Cooper Roadster beating out the Mazda MX-5 Miata for the Standard Convertible segment. Others, though, were more predictable - the Chevrolet Corvette Stingray topped its segment, as did the Volkswagen Golf, Lexus IS and Mercedes-Benz SL.

While Strategic Vision calls this study its Total Quality Index, unlike JD Power, there's more to it than simple reliability. In addition to reliability, it also analyzes positive and negative experiences from consumers as they relate to problems with their vehicle, the driving experience and other, unnamed measures.

"Quality is much more than simply counting problems and watching for the horse race," Darrel Edwards, the founder and executive chairman of Strategic Vision, said in what seemed like a thinly veiled shot at JD Power. "When we declare Total Quality rankings, you're seeing results of something meaningful and predictive, which are the result of measuring what matters to the customer."

You can view the full press release from Strategic Vision below, which includes a complete listing of winners in each category.

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In lifetime analysis, Kia Soul EV is way, way cleaner than diesel model

06/24/2014   [Original: Autoblog]
Category: EV/Plug-in, Kia

Kia Soul EV

The heart of the matter is that the battery-electric Kia Soul is better for the environment. And not just because it doesn't create any emissions while on the road. From beginning to end, the Soul EV has a far lower environmental impact than its more conventional counterparts.

TUV Nord, the German technical inspection group, says the Soul EV has a carbon footprint that is 40-percent smaller than the one from the diesel-powered Soul sold in Europe. That's factoring in everything from the materials that go into building the car to the recyclability once it's defunct to, of course, tailpipe emissions. Or lack thereof.

Kia plans to start sales of the Soul EV in its native South Korea sometime this year and is keeping global sales expectations modest, saying it plans to make about 5,000 Soul EVs annually. The car will be priced at the equivalent of about $39,000 US in South Korea, though government subsidies will cut that down a bit. Kia hasn't set an official launch date for the car in the US, but expects for the Soul EV to be available to Americans by the end of the year, Kia US spokesman James Hope told AutoblogGreen. Check out the press release about the Kia Soul EV's TUV Nord score below and read our First Drive impressions of the model here.

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Kia recalls 2014 Cadenza over wheel fractures

06/19/2014   [Original: Autoblog]
Category: Sedans/Saloons, Recalls/TSBs, Safety, Kia, Luxury

2014 Kia Cadenza

Kia is officially recalling just over 3,100 2014 Cadenza sedans. While that might not seem like a lot of vehicles, the reason for the recall is particularly troubling - the optional 19-inch wheels on these cars are prone to cracking. Doubly troubling? Cold weather tends to make things worse, so if you drove your new Cadenza during this past Winter of Hell, you'll want to get on the horn with your local dealer.

The affected cars, all of which have 19-inch wheels, were built between February 1, 2013 and August 27, 2013. Kia is in the process of notifying owners, and should be completed by the end of the month. Based on the recall documents, it doesn't appear that there have been any injuries or crashes due to the wheel fractures.

Owners will need to report to dealers, where their cars will be fitted with replacement wheels, free of charge. Scroll down for the official bulletin from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

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Porsche, Hyundai and GM impress in J.D. Power Initial Quality Study, Fiat and Jeep don't

06/19/2014   [Original: Autoblog]
Category: Buick, Chevrolet, Chrysler, GM, GMC, Hyundai, Jaguar, Jeep, Kia, Porsche, FIAT, Ram

Porsche badge

JD Power IQSConsumers continue to struggle with the advanced user interfaces and technologies being fitted to new cars, according to the latest J.D. Power Initial Quality Study. Overall, the industry average for problems per 100 vehicles climbed three percent, to 116 issues reported in the first 90 days of ownership.

Vehicles from the General Motors' family were dominant, with Buick, Chevrolet and GMC capturing more individual IQS segment awards than any other manufacturer. Despite its well-publicized issues, six GM vehicles (Buick Encore, Chevrolet Malibu, Chevy Silverado HD, Chevy Suburban, GMC Terrain and GMC Yukon) were given IQS awards for their respective segments.

Hyundai was ranked the best overall mass-market brand, with just 94 issues in every 100 vehicles reported in the first 90 days. Parent Hyundai Motor Company, meanwhile, trailed GM with five vehicles winning their segments, including the Hyundai Accent, Elantra and Genesis, as well as the Kia Cadenza and Sportage.

On the premium end of the scale, Porsche was tops for the second year in a row, with just 74 issues per 100 vehicles. Not only was it the best premium brand, it had the best score of any marque surveyed. Weirdly, it was followed by Jaguar, which handily topped quality stalwart Lexus, with just 87 problems per 100 vehicles (don't worry, Jag's sister company, Land Rover, still finished well below the industry average).

While Land Rover was its usual disappointing self when it comes to the IQS, Fiat easily took the crown as the worst performer overall. Owners of the diminutive Italian cars reported 206 problems per 100 vehicles during the first 90 days of ownership. Yes, that works out to over two problems per vehicle within the first three months. In fact, Fiat Chrysler Automobile's brands did rather poorly in general ­- Jeep was the second worst brand, with 146 issues while Dodge had 124. Ram matched the industry average, while Chrysler was the only FCA brand to finish above the industry average.

You can take a look at the full release of results from J.D. Power, available below. You can also click the inset image for a graphical breakdown of this year's IQS.

Continue reading Porsche, Hyundai and GM impress in J.D. Power Initial Quality Study, Fiat and Jeep don't

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Ford dominates most-stolen SUV list

06/18/2014   [Original: Autoblog]
Category: SUVs, Safety, Crossovers/CUVs, Ford, Jeep, Kia

2013 Ford Escape

The Ford Escape leads the NICB's list with 1,421 examples stolen.

If you drive a recent Ford SUV or crossover, you may want to keep a watchful eye out for thieves - especially if you live in the New York metro area or in Detroit. A new study from the National Insurance Crime Bureau has named three Ford models as the most likely vehicles in their genre to be stolen, with CUVs in general being especially attractive to bandits.

The study focused on thefts in the US of 2011-2013 model-year SUVs and CUVs that occurred between January 1, 2010, and December 31, 2013. It found 21,711 heisted vehicles meeting those criteria, and they were about 73-percent crossovers versus 27-percent sport utilities. Ford's models would appear to be particularly tempting. Although, they are also often among the bestsellers in the niche too. The Escape leads the NICB's list with 1,421 examples stolen, followed by the Edge with 1,140 thefts and the Explorer with 958 gone missing. Rounding out the top five were the Jeep Grand Cherokee with 912 thefts and the Kia Sorento at 725. Given this data, it suggests that just those three Blue Oval models accounted for about 16 percent of vehicles stolen in the segment in those years.

"Ford is the utility-vehicle sales leader in North America - we've been the number one utility brand for the past three years. I think it is fair to say, unfortunately, that vehicles popular with consumers are also popular with thieves," said Ford spokesperson Mark Schirmer about the results to Autoblog.

The NICB also looked at the places where the models were mostly likely to be stolen. By state, California had a significant lead, with 3,531 vehicle thefts compared to Florida in second place with 1,897 and Michigan in third with 1,834.

The study drilled down one step further, as well, to find the most dangerous metropolitan areas for vehicle thefts. The New York City metro area, which included the city, Long Island and parts of New Jersey and Pennsylvania, led the results with 2,530 thefts. The much smaller area of Detroit-Warren-Livonia, MI, ranked second with 1,701 thefts, representing about 93 percent of all of the stolen cars in Michigan in that time. The Los Angeles area, including Long Beach and Santa Ana, ranked third with 1,300 pilfered vehicles.

Ford is usually among the first to crow about how popular its vehicles are, but somehow we don't see them being particularly eager to promote these results, as it's news that will probably will be relished only by insurance companies.

Scroll down to read a short version of the study or download it as a PDF with charts and graphs, here.

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