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2010 Kia Forte: Kia's Growing Up

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This summer, a new Kia came to town. Following the hot and hip Kia Soul, the brand’s bread-and-butter compact sedan was updated. Instead of carrying on the Spectra name, this all-new and much improved model took the Forte name, hopefully losing some baggage along the way.
Forte deserves its new name. The model now takes fresh exterior and grown-up interior; the ongoing maturation of the company can be seen in the transition from Spectra to Forte. Since entering the U.S. market in 1993 with bargain-basement, marginally competitive products, Kia has made great strides in closing the gap against established makers. We’ve said this before, and we’ll probably say it again, at least until the Chinese brands start playing the in the States and Hyundai-Kia stop being the newest kids on the block.
Kia continues improving features, style, and content availability. The Forte offers crisp, modern style in a nicely sized package. Exterior cues include slim headlights and taillights, not unlike Acura TSX and nicely done. Not too big, not too small, and besting 30mpg highway, Forte competes against the likes of Toyota Corolla, Mazda3, Chevrolet Cobalt, Ford Focus, Volkswagen Golf, and Honda Civic. The sedan’s tailored look also makes for a nice complement next to the more fun-loving and cheery Soul. Both are inviting, happy, and willing to play, but Forte has a more adult attitude.Kia_10_Forte_c.jpg


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2009 Kia Sportage Wins AutoPacific 2009 Ideal Vehicle Award

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2009_KiaSportage_IVA.jpg“The Kia Sportage delivers what its owners want, winning AutoPacific’s 2009 Ideal Vehicle Award in the Compact Crossover SUV segment. While winning the Ideal Vehicle Award is a big deal, Sportage also won AutoPacific’s 2009 Vehicle Satisfaction Award. Since both awards are based on owner ratings, this is definitely an outstanding achievement,” said George Peterson, president of AutoPacific, Inc. The Sportage scored particularly well in the following areas:
* Exterior styling
* Handling
* Visibility
* Interior lighting


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2009 Kia Sportage Wins AutoPacific's Vehicle Satisfaction Award for Compact CUV

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2009_KiaSportage.jpgThe Kia Sportage wins the Vehicle Satisfaction Award for the Compact Crossover Sport Utility Vehicle segment on the strength of a combination of high-scoring product and financial characteristics. Sporting a fresh face for 2009MY, the four-year-old Sportage won against newer competition, including the Suzuki Grand Vitara and Jeep Compass and Patriot. Areas in which the Kia Sportage leads its segment include:
• Ride and handling
• Safety features and feeling safe while driving
• Quietness inside the vehicle
• Feel of interior fabrics and materials
• Innovative technology
• Warranty
• Price, operating costs and value for the money


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First Drive: 2009 Kia Borrego

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Nicely Developed, Designed, and Executed, but Can Kia Overcome Bad Timing?
In the midst of a shaky economy and frenzy over high fuel costs that hasn’t quite died down, Kia’s new Borrego appears to be the wrong product at the wrong time. Borrego isn’t alone in facing an uphill battle this fall, as the Dodge Challenger muscle car, Cadillac CTS-V performance sport sedan, Ford F-150 and Dodge Ram pickups, and king of any hill Chevrolet Corvette ZR-1 are just a few of the other thirsty, function-oriented entries this year.

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Yet Kia may pull some success out of an apparently difficult situation. First, Borrego is well done, competitive, and has nothing to apologize for. Second, Borrego is supported by a significant marketing program, advertising mid-size SUVs when no one else dares; this is the one segment with comparatively little ad clutter today and with the chance to grab some buyers feeling guilty about their suburban jungle Expeditions, or looking to shave a bit off the monthly payment to compensate for increased fuel costs. Third, the model is sold in South Korea as well and Kia could offer a lower-content version for some emerging markets if they chose. Finally, if sales don’t take off as expected, the economy is the easy the fall guy. If sales beat (likely readjusted) targets, then they’ve got a success to report back home.
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Kia Sorento and Jeep Liberty Win AutoPacific 2008 Ideal Vehicle Award for Mid-Size Sport Utility Vehicle

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Not only has Kia improved its image, it has reinvented itself with vehicles like the Sorento. Owners rallied around the Sorento, commending its passenger room, visibility and interior storage in awarding the vehicle a 2008 Ideal Vehicle Award in the Mid-Size Sport Utility segment.
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A vehicle still true to its off-road-capable lineage, the Jeep Liberty is no poser. Owners granted it the 2008 Ideal Vehicle Award in the Mid-Size Sport Utility Vehicle category, with highly rated safety features, technology, seat firmness and interior lighting. The Liberty also scored very well in exterior size and passenger room.

Posted in: Awards, Jeep, Kia

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AutoPacific Announces 2008 Ideal Vehicle Awards

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Tustin, California, June 30, 2008 – An “ideal” is defined as an excellent or perfect example. In the annual Ideal Vehicle Awards (IVA), announced today by automotive research and consulting firm AutoPacific, owners rate their new 2008 model year cars and trucks by how close they come to their ideal, as measured by 15 key vehicle attributes. The cars or trucks that owners would change the least are the most ideal.


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Kia Sorento and HUMMER H3 Win AutoPacific 2008 Vehicle Satisfaction Award in the Mid-Size Sport Utility Vehicle Segment

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Owners of the Kia Sorento ranked the vehicle at the top of the Mid-Size Sport Utility Vehicle Segment in the 2008 Vehicle Satisfaction Awards. Sorento received top marks for Power, Acceleration and Safety, but what really sealed the deal, owners said, was Kia’s 10 year/100,000-mile warranty.
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The HUMMER H3, with its unmistakable styling and go-anywhere attitude, earned top ranking in the 2008 Vehicle Satisfaction Awards’ Mid-Size Sport Utility Segment. Satisfaction scores for Styling, Traction in All Weather Conditions and Feeling Safe While Driving topped owners’ lists.

Posted in: Awards, Hummer, Kia

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AutoPacific Announces 2008 Vehicle Satisfaction Awards

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Cadillac Top Brand, Mercedes-Benz S-Class Top Car, Toyota Sequoia Top Truck and Top Vehicle

Tustin, California, May 29, 2008 – A study released today by noted automotive consulting firm AutoPacific, Inc. summarizes the results of its 2008 model year vehicle satisfaction research. AutoPacific’s Vehicle Satisfaction Award (VSA) is an industry benchmark for objectively measuring how satisfied an owner is with their new passenger car or light truck.
In a year that promises to be the toughest in a decade, owner-based awards like AutoPacific’s Vehicle Satisfaction Award will help customers make their purchase decisions.
The brand with the highest satisfaction rating is Cadillac. The vehicle – car or truck – registering highest overall satisfaction in 2008 is the new-for-2008 Toyota Sequoia Large Sport Utility Vehicle. The passenger car with the highest overall satisfaction score is the Mercedes-Benz S-Class.
There are twenty-eight Vehicle Satisfaction Award categories. At the manufacturer level, multiple top ranked award winners include: General Motors (eleven categories), Toyota (nine categories), Ford (six categories), Volkswagen (four categories), Honda (three categories) and Hyundai (two categories).
“Cadillac wins the Vehicle Satisfaction Award as the top brand in a close race. Strong satisfaction performance by Cadillac cars and trucks has Cadillac winning over other leading luxury marques including Lexus, Mercedes-Benz, and BMW says AutoPacific president George Peterson. “Top ranked finishes by Cadillac’s Escalade, CTS and DTS helped cement their industry topping position.”
Peterson continues, “Vehicles that are all new received top rankings in several categories: Cadillac CTS, Honda Accord, Mitsubishi Lancer, Scion xD, Toyota Sequoia, Audi Q7, Buick Enclave, Hyundai Veracruz, GMC Acadia, Saturn Vue and Nissan Rogue. These new-for-2008 vehicles were strongly rated by their owners showing that the industry continues to improve as new vehicles are added to the hotly contested American car and light truck markets.”
From a vehicle type perspective, Traditional Sport Utility Vehicles received the highest ratings as a class closely followed by Crossover Sport Utility Vehicles. Peterson says, “Clearly, SUVs continue to be one of the most popular and satisfying vehicle types available in the USA today. Even with skyrocketing gas prices, SUVs are attractive and Crossover SUVs fill the bill for most SUV buyers with better fuel economy.” Cars scored slightly below industry average followed by minivans and pickup trucks.


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New York Auto Show 2008 – A Pair from Kia

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Kia‘s New York auto show stage held both concept and production surprises. We believe that the KOUP concept, though too cutely named, hints at the next-generation Spectra. Kia described the KOUP as “closer to production than you might think,” strongly hinting Kia may add the coupe itself. The production surprise was the facelifted 2009 Optima. This new look takes Optima a step forward.

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Kia KOUP: Is there a pocket rocket in Kia’s future?

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2009 Kia Optima gets a fresh look


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Kia Borrego – Detroit Auto Show Introduction

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The all-new Kia Borrego, introduced at the 2008 North American International Auto Show in Detroit in January, is Kia’s new flagship SUV. Named for California’s Borrego desert or the big horn sheep found there, Kia’s new range topper appears to be a fully competitive traditional SUV. No crossover here.

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Over the years, Kia has shown an uncanny ability to plan, style and implement trucks that hit the center of their product segment target. The first example was the Kia Sedona, quickly followed by the Kia Sorento mid-size SUV. The Borrego promises more of the same.
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Clearly, the Borrego benchmarked the high volume body-on-frame Premium Mid-Size SUV of the era – the Ford Explorer. Borrego even looks similar. It is nicely styled. Conservative. Will not offend anybody.
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Code-named HM during development, the new Kia Borrego is the first (large) mid-size SUV from Kia and features a body-on-frame construction. With seating for up to seven occupants, Kia identified a very quiet ride as a key for acceptance and long term customer satisfaction. Incorporating the latest NVH engineering, Kia targeted enhanced refinement as a goal. The Borrego’s third-row seating is designed to comfortably accommodate two adults. The operative words here are “comfortably” and “adults”.
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The Kia Borrego will be manufactured in Korea and go on sale in its home market early in 2008, with sales in the USA and other export markets beginning in the late spring or early summer. The Borrego will be available with a choice of V6 or the company’s first V8 gasoline engines (depending on market) and will boast Kia’s largest-ever towing capacity.
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Has Kia Missed by Producing a Traditional SUV Rather Than a Crossover SUV?

Showing Kia’s commitment to designing products to suit specific markets, the Borrego is primarily intended to meet the needs of consumers in the USA and there are no plans to market this model in Europe. But Borrego is introduced just as the American market is quickly shifting away from traditional SUVs and towards crossover (car-based) SUVs. The Borrego certainly will be competent in off-road and towing situations, but those are just occasional use prerogatives (to lift a phrase from Jeep). Next time around, Kia should test the crossover market, after all, the benchmark Ford Explorer will become a crossover SUV at its next major model change (see Explorer America).
Heritage from 2005 Kia Mesa Concept
The Kia Borrego styling is derived from the Kia Mesa concept vehicle first shown by Kia at the Detroit Motor Show in 2005 and is larger than Kia’s popular Sorento model.
We’ll drop in more information and additional photos from the showfloor next week.


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