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February 25, 2013

Kia Shows off Two Updated Models with More for Your Money

Sorento-1For its fourth birthday as a unibody crossover SUV, the Kia Sorento is getting the equivalent of a pony, a piñata party and a wardrobe of amazing new clothes all at once. Among its gifts: a completely new chassis, a new V6 engine, a redesigned interior and some vamped-up, top-of-the-line features including an entirely new high-end trim line. Kia wants to be known for design, safety and value.

  The Sorento’s facelift freshens its design, while inside you’ll find improved conveniences, upgraded materials and more amenities. A top IIHS safety pick, Sorento seats five or seven (there are 2-row and 3-row versions), and comes in front-wheel drive and all-wheel-drive models that start at $24,950, including destination charges. In case you have not noticed, there are a lot of vehicles in the competitive compact and medium-sized utility vehicle (CUV) segment – and they start to all look alike after awhile. Although Sorento doesn’t look radically different from its contemporaries, it has a few distinctive features that help it stand apart. Among them: a beefy grille and deep front air dam with black hexagonal grille inset behind chrome trim. Vertically set rectangular fog lamps offset sleek, slanted headlamps.

The rear end sits high and is capped at the bottom by a kickplate with a sweet-looking oval tailpipe.

Sorento-2The new Sorento rides on redesigned 17-, 18- or 19-inch wheels. Inside, Sorento has been refreshed with a new center stack layout – buttons are easier to reach and feel good under your fingers. The cabin seats five comfortably in standard cloth seats; leather is also available. Steering wheel-mounted controls and an AM/FM/CD/MP3/Sirius XM stereo system are standard, as are power windows and locks and a second-row center armrest with cupholders. Under the hood is a choice of the standard (on LX and EX models) 2.4-liter four-cylinder engine making 191 horsepower and 181 lb.-ft. of torque or an all-new, all-aluminum 3.3-liter V6 delivering 290 horsepower and 252 lb.-ft. of torque. It’s available optionally on the LX and EX and is standard on LX V6, EX V6, SX and SX Limited models. Both engines are mated to a six-speed automatic transmission. We drove the 2014 Sorento V6 over a course of 125 miles, from the busy streets of Scottsdale, Arizona to the rural high country outside of the city environs, with ample opportunity to assess its driving dynamics and handling as well as the collection of onboard amenities and electronics. We loved the heated seats ( 2nd row, too!), the power liftgate (new this year!), and the sliding/folding second-row seat. We also appreciated the new electronic, power-assist steering and the variable steering settings on top level models that lets you chose between normal, comfort and sport. On the road, the all-new chassis increases torsional rigidity by 18-percent and it shows with a highly responsive ride; independent front suspension incorporates a stiffer H-shaped sub-frame cradle and the rear suspension is a multi-link setup with new bushings and mounts for less noise and vibrations in the cabin.

Sorento-3Sorento comes in six trim lines: LX, LX V6, EX, EX V6 and the new SX and SX limited. LX and LX V6 models have an AM/FM/CD/MP3/Sirius audio system, cloth seats, manual air conditioning, power outside mirrors, windows and door locks, and 17-inch tires and wheels. EX adds a large center gauge cluster with7-inch TFT LCD projecting a digital speedometer, trip and vehicle information, and optional navigation updates. Also on EX models are a back-up camera, UVO audio, push button start, dual-zone automatic climate control, leather trim, 18-inch rims, heated seats and power-adjusting driver’s seat. To that, SX adds cooled front seats, power passenger seat adjustments, blind spot detection, powerliftgate, 19-inch wheels and rear air conditioning. At the top of the lineup, SX-Limited has 19-inch chrome wheels, red-painted brake calipers, Nappa leather trim and heated second-row seats.

2014 Kia Forte

Forte-1A no-Compromise Compact A compact sedan with some great luxury features, the 2014 Kia Forte has been completely redesigned inside and out for this model year. Kia debuted the Forte- a sleek little wedge with a longer wheelbase, wider stance and lower profile than last year’s model-at the LA Auto Show in November. There, the country’s top enthusiast audience got a first glimpse of this glossy compact, which was designed just a few miles away in Irvine, California. Forte has a chrome-trimmed grille and low front air dam – along with a snubbed nose and steep windshield angle; these elements stack up to a sporty first look. Side seams stretch back to a rear end that appears to ride high and is capped by big, wraparound taillamps wth lighting patterns that look inspired by Tron. Standard 15-inch wheels can be upgraded to 16- or 17-inch rims with higher end trims and options packages. Inside, cabin surfaces undulate and curve, covered in soft-touch materials. Cloth seats are comfortable and supportive, and the 10-degree banking of the cabin’s position provides both an excellent view of the road and a feeling of coziness that’s not always found in small sedans. Chrome accents, Bluetooth connectivity and power windows are all standard, as is leather upholstery.

Forte-2Under the hood is a choice between two four-cylinder motors: a 1.8-liter powerplant making 148 horsepower and 131 lb.-ft. of torque, and a 2.0-liter motor delivering 173 horsepower and 154 lb.-ft. of torque. The smaller engine is mated to a standard six-speed manual transmission or an optional six-speed automatic; 2.0-liters engines get the automatic tranny. Kia’s revamped sedan has a longer, lower and wider chassis with a 106.3-inch wheelbase, two inches longer than the outgoing model. Suspension components include McPherson struts up front and a coupled torsion beam rear axle. Larger bushings and other changes make for improved steering, while power steering has replaced the hydraulic system from the previous generation Forte. The Forte is available in two trims: LX and EX. LX models come with the 1.8-liter motor, 15-inch wheels, standard with steering wheel mounted audio controls, SiriusXM Satellite Radio, Bluetooth, power windows, air conditioning power heated outside mirrors. LX packages include the Popular Package with 16-inch alloy wheels, cruise control, keyless entry with remote trunk release and a sliding front armrest. The Eco Package includes Kia’s ISG (Idle Stop & Go) system, dual-zone automatic temperature control with rear seat ventilation and a unique “eco” badge. EX trim includes the Kia in-vehicle infotainment system, which can be integrated with the optional navigation system that comes with 4.2-inch color LCD screen. Additional standard EX features include remote keyless entry with trunk opener, rear camera back-up display, a sliding center armrest and a cooling glove box. The new optional Flex Steer system allows you to choose between three distinct steering profiles: Comfort, Normal and Sport, a surprise and delight upgrade for a car in this class. An optional Premium Package include heated front and rear seats, a 10-way power adjustable driver’s seat with class-exclusive air-cooled ventilation, leather seat trim, power sunroof, 17-inch alloy wheels and push button start with Smart Key and a heated steering wheel. A Technology Package adds HID headlights, LED tail lights, a 4.2-inch color LCD cluster screen and dual-zone automatic temperature control with rear seat ventilation.

Sue Mead



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