The 2014 Kia Optima is the highest scoring Mid-Size Car in AutoPacific’s 2014 Vehicle Satisfaction Award research. Coming in behind the Optima are the Ford Fusion, Hyundai Sonata, Chevrolet Malibu, Nissan Altima, and the Toyota Camry. The Optima also won the VSA for its class in 2013 giving it two years as the top satisfying Mid-Size Car.
The 2014 Kia Optima leads its category with eighteen wins and ties out of fifty attributes. The Optima also comes within one tenth of a satisfaction point in fourteen other categories. For over sixty percent of the satisfaction measurements the Optima is on top.
The top ten highest ratings by Kia Optima owners are: the exterior styling and color, image, warranty, the perception of reliability and dependability, overall quality and image, exterior size, safety rating, and feeling safe while driving.
Subjectively, even as it ages, the Optima remains one of the best styled mid-size cars of recent years.
AutoPacific’s Vice President of Industry Analysis, Ed Kim, has always had an affinity for small cars with a performance personality and a load of equipment. Our recent week-long evaluation of the 2014 Kia Forte5 SX seems to fit his requirements. The Forte5 SX is a front wheel drive five-door hatchback that provides a lot of utility for a small family. Its useful interior package is wrapped in a very nice looking and sporty skin.
Technology Laden Interior Standard The interior is full of Kia’s latest technology. Standard are heated outside mirrors with mirror head mounted turn signal indicators, automatic light control, projector headlamps, LED fog lamps, LED positioning lights. LED taillamps, 18-inch alloy wheels. Comfort and convenience features abound in the interior with standard AM/FM/CD/MP3/SiriusXM audio, UVO eServices Infotainment System, rear camera, Bluetooth wireless connectivity, cruise control, steering wheel controls, paddle shifters with automatic transmission, tilt and telescoping steering column, power windows/locks, air conditioning, leather wrapped steering wheel, the list goes on.
Advanced Powerful Engine The Forte5 SX is powered by a 1.6L Turbocharged DOHC 4-cylinder engine with dual continuous variable valve timing and gasoline direct injection. These engine specs place the SX model at the forefront of today’s advanced gasoline engine technology. Given these engine specs, the SX has 201-horsepower and 195 lb-ft of torque driving through the front wheels.
So, without any options, the Kia Forte5 with a six-speed automatic transmission goes for $20,900.
More Goodies Can be Added If you want to spring for more technology, Kia has option packages that can provide it. For an additional $2,200, a premium package is available that includes a sunroof, auto dimming rear view mirror with Homelink, leather seat trim, power driver’s seat, heat and ventilated front seats, heated rear seats and heated steering wheel. Once you’ve popped for the Premium Package yo can decide to add the Technology Package that includes HID headlamps, 4.2-inch display in the instrument cluster between the tach and speedometer, dual zone air conditioning and a navigation system. That adds another $1,800 to the price. Destination charges are another $800.
Fully Loaded – <$26,000 So for less than $26,000 you can get a fully loaded Forte5 SX.
Spirited, Pleasant to Drive OK, we’ve talked about the impressive equipment level and powertrain under the hood, but would the Forte5 SX live up to Ed Kim’s driving requirements. Absolutely. This is a fun to drive small car with “spritely” performance. It rides well, has more-than-adequate power and acceleration and gets good fuel economy (21mpg city/29mpg highway). Not bad at all.
How could this car be improved? First, the interior is available only in black, so the tone of the environment is a bit dour. There should be a light grey leather seat option with door trim panels to accent the seats. The headliner should be light. These changes would open up the interior to make the car seem more spacious. That’s about it. Upgrade the interior here and there and the Kia Forte5 SX is an even bigger winner than it already is.
I’m really not a hypermiling type of guy – I usually drive a twin-turbocharged V6. When the opportunity to drive from Miami Beach to Key West came up, I admit the allure of Key West was more than the chance to get the maximum fuel economy out of a Kia Optima Hybrid and new Kia Rio. Having grown up in Florida, the northern part, I had never been to Key West – got as far as the Everglades a couple of times.
Kia Optima Hybrid and Kia Rio
The cars did not disappoint and Kia threw in the chance to attend GRAND-AM Continental Tire/Kia200 Sports Car Challenge race at the Homestead-Miami Raceway. So how could I refuse?
Optima – Elegant Mid-Size Style With Maximum Fuel Economy The Optima is one of my favorite mid-size cars. Its styling is great and interior is very easy to live with. From my perspective, the Optima style is very sophisticated and European. Coming from the “junior” Korean manufacturer, the Optima is much better looking than the swoopy Hyundai Sonata that has turned so many heads since its introduction in early 2010. My guess is that the Optima style has more staying power than the Sonata which may age pretty quickly.
Adding the Hybrid model to the Optima lineup gives Kia a price-efficient, fuel-efficient combatant in the growing fuel economy battleground among mid-size cars.
All New Rio – Bottom-Feeder No More This was the first chance I have had to drive the all new Rio. As the bottom entry in Kia’s lineup, the Rio has evolved from a cheap, cheap tin can to a very worthy small car. Of course, it is not cheap, cheap any more, but it is reasonably priced. The model we drove was priced a notch above $20,000 but had everything on it including a navigation system, sun roof and leather seats. In previous generations, it would have been unheard of to have this level of equipment available in the lowest priced car from a mainstream brand. With a front seat package rivaling a mid-size car in size, folks are no longer “sentenced” to drive a small car.
This is almost becoming repetitive. How many times have we reviewed a new small entry level car and declared it filled to the brim with style, features, performance, and personality? It’s gotten to the point where I was searching hard for another angle with this all-new 2012 Kia Rio5 that I recently got to drive in Austin, Texas, but as it turns out, I’m going to have to essentially tell you the same story again.
It’s not everyday you have the chance to visit a brand spanking new automotive assembly plant, but the new Kia plant in western Georgia (USA, not Eastern Europe) makes Kia latest “transplant” to build new vehicles in the States. Kia began producing the all-new 2011 Kia Sorento in small volumes in fall 2009, right on schedule. Full production begins in mid-November.
Kia Motors Manufacturing Georgia (KMMG) is a 300,000 unit capacity assembly plant situated along Interstate 85 in western Georgia adjacent to the Alabama border. Its location is about 85-miles east up the 85 from the Hyundai assembly plant in Montgomery, Alabama. Surrounding and between the plants are suppliers providing components not only to the Kia and Hyundai plants in the area but some also produce components for Honda, Mercedes, and Nissan plants in Alabama and Mississippi.
OK, OK. I know that title has been used for about every traditional SUV that has evolved into a Crossover SUV in its latest incarnation and that is just what the 2011 Kia Sorento has done. Sorento becomes thoroughly modern with the introduction of its 2011 model.
The first generation Sorento; Kia’s first entry in the mid-size SUV arena, was a traditional SUV It had body-on-frame construction, was based on rear wheel drive architecture, had a traditional shape, carried five passengers and was powered by a V6 engine. Many people thought the Sorento was based on the Hyundai Santa Fe, but that was far from the truth.
The first year the Sorento was on the market it won AutoPacific’s Vehicle Satisfaction Award for best-in-class Mid-Size SUV. Clearly, its owners liked the product.
Now comes the all, new Sorento…
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.
New Study Shows Willingness to Accept Unknown Brands
Tustin, CA (July 28, 2009) — Newly released research shows fifteen percent of new car buyers in the United States say they would consider purchasing their next vehicle from China, and eleven percent would consider buying a car from India, without knowing specific brands or vehicles. This compares with sixteen percent who said they would consider a vehicle from Korea, which has been marketing vehicles in the U. S. since the 1980s.
“As Hyundai and Kia have been on the American scene for decades now, it’s surprising that consideration for Chinese and Indian brands, sight unseen, would be about as strong as it is for the Korean brands,” said George Peterson, president of automotive research firm AutoPacific and author of the study. “However, with so many premium and high-tech non-automotive products already being made in China and purchased by Americans, why not automobiles too? It appears that buyers in America are willing to give Chinese and Indian vehicles a chance right out of the box. Understanding these consumers will be critically important to the success of any newcomer.”
“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
* Interior lighting
The 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
• Price, operating costs and value for the money