Auto blogMon, 21 Apr 2014 08:29:00 EST
Among the dozens of foreign automakers eager to showcase their wares to the Chinese market, Kia arrived at the Beijing Motor Show with the new K4. Though technically categorized as a "concept," the K4 previews a sedan which Kia intends to launch in China later this year.
The K4 is a midsize sedan measuring 186 inches long and riding on a 106-inch wheelbase that makes it bigger than the Forte (sold in the Far East as the K3) and just a few inches shorter than the Optima (aka K5). The form is draped in familiar Kia-style bodywork, with a high trunk and low nose to give it a wedge shape and a familiar if somewhat new take on the headlights and grille seen on other new models from the Korean automaker.
Power comes from a 1.6-liter turbo four (smaller than the engines available in the Optima/K5) mated to a seven-speed DCT. Kia has also fitted the K4 concept with push-button ignition, UVO infotainment system, rear-view camera, six airbags and stability management. In short, everything you'd expect from the latest product of a global automaker.
Is it weird that one of the most exciting vehicles to arrive at the 2014 New York Auto Show is a minivan? Well, yeah, it's pretty odd. Still, with the design direction from Peter Schreyer, not to mention Kia's traditionally aggressive pricing, excellent warranty and solid list of high-end equipment, the new, 2015 Sedona could end up being a big winner for the Korean brand.
The design, which shares a lot of the styling that's been instigated by Schreyer since he joined Kia, looks just as good when shaped like a minivan. The grille and headlights clearly tie the Sedona to the likes of the Cadenza and K900, while features like its higher beltline and simple-but-stylish back end should do well with minivan buyers.
At first glance we aren't too enthused by the interior on the largest Kia, however. The dash looks rather plasticky, although the color scheme at work is pretty attractive. Of course, we'll need to get the big van out from under the auto show lights to render a final judgment on the cabin materials. On the space and versatility fronts, though, the Sedona looks like a winner. It will be available in either seven- or eight-passenger configurations, while the Captain's chairs on the seven-seat layout offer an ottoman that should make it even easier for the kids to fall asleep on family road trips.
This, ladies and gentlemen, is the 2015 Kia Sedona. The automaker is sticking firm with its convictions in the minivan segment, but it's hedging its bets, saying the Sedona's "CUV-like styling and proportions offer all of the functional convenience of the segment while defying its design limitations."
The 2015 Sedona can be configured to seat either seven or eight occupants, and its size specifications put it right at or near the top of its class in most categories, including leg room. Kia says this is the final piece of the styling puzzle that started when design director Peter Schreyer took the helm of the Korean company's studio. We certainly see some masculine cues, especially with its high belt line and relatively small windows. We think the end result is pretty attractive though it falls clearly in minivan territory, you're welcome to draw your own conclusions after scrolling through the image gallery above.
Kia promises the new Sedona will provide "an element of desire" with "improved driving dynamics" to go along with all that room inside. To that end, the new Sedona's chassis is reportedly 36-percent stiffer than the best of its competition, due to a body shell crafted from 76-percent high-strength steel. Kia expects a five-star safety rating from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, though the van has yet to be crash tested.
Kia has released a second teaser image of the next-generation 2015 Sedona minivan ahead of its debut at the New York Auto Show, and it doesn't leave much to the imagination. The van is a much-needed replacement for the current (aging) model that was briefly withdrawn from the US market and then brought back, nearly unchanged.
The new Sedona seems to take a little inspiration from the KV7 concept with its narrowing rear side glass that appears to wrap around to the back. Otherwise, it is the same general shape we have come to know from minivans. That said, the sloping A-pillar and rear spoiler provide a bit more sleekness to the appearance. The original teaser showed off the Sedona's chrome, tabbed grille and headlights.
Kia isn't confirming many details about the new eight-passenger minivan yet. What we know: it rides on a new chassis, power comes from a 3.3-liter, direct-injected V6, and it's going to be offered with Kia's UVO infotainment system. We'll get the full scoop in New York next week, but for now, scroll down for the official announcement.
While we're still a ways off from the automotive awards season proper, where things like North American Car and Truck of the Year, Motor Trend's Car of the Year and Car and Driver's Ten Best are named, that doesn't mean there aren't trophies being handed out to deserving automakers. Ward's 10 Best Interiors being one of them.
As the name might imply, the magazine focuses on the very best interior treatments in the US market. Whereas some awards purposely exclude extreme, high-dollar offerings, Ward's considers them - the only requirement is that a vehicle has a "new or significantly redesigned interior."
Ward's offered up the list of winners in simple, alphabetical order, and it only seems fair to do the same:
Kia has grown by leaps and bounds in recent years, but the Sedona has hardly been representative of that maturation. Known in some overseas markets as the Carnival, Kia's current minivan was introduced 2006, withdrawn from US showrooms at the end of 2012, then reintroduced again a year ago. Despite the product renaissance, however, the Sedona is essentially the same dated vehicle it has been for eight years now, but Kia is intent on replacing it.
We've been seeing spy shots of a new Kia minivan for several months now, and broke word a couple of months ago that the finished product would be unveiled in New York this month. Now Kia has not only confirmed the new Sedona's imminent arrival, it has released this teaser image to keep us on our toes.
The teaser shows a vehicle more or less in line with what we'd expect of a modern Kia, tabbed grille and all. This view suggests fewer design cues from the KV7 concept have been carried over than was previously thought, but we'll need to see the entire vehicle to know for sure. Kia isn't saying much about its "all-new midsize multi-purpose vehicle" in the press release below at this point, revealing only that it "will challenge the segment and will offer the functionality to transport as many as eight passengers and their belongings while also serving as a purposeful offering for adventure seekers."
Thanks to some government pressure, Hyundai's billionaire chairman, Chung Mong Koo, has revealed just how much he gets paid each year. Honestly, the amount is a bit lower than we'd expect considering he helms such a huge industrial empire. The 76-year-old chairman brought home $13 million in 2013, $5.2 million of which came from Hyundai's automotive business while both Mobis and Hyundai Steel chipped in $3.94 million, each. For reference, Ford CEO Alan Mulally netted $23.2 million in 2013, although the vast majority of that money came from stock options.
The push for Chung to reveal his pay was part of a larger effort by the South Korean government called the Financial Investment Services and Capital Markets Act. The act forces several thousand companies to release info on annual pay, bonuses and severance for employees earning over $5 million won ($469,000), according to Bloomberg.
"With the disclosure of the executives' compensation, the pressure to deliver better profits will increase," said Heo Pil Seok, the CEO of Midas International Asset Management. It seems to be working, as Hyundai shareholders, of which Midas is one, have seen their shares increase by 6.1 percent in 2014, which includes a 1.2-percent jump as of yesterday, according to Bloomberg.
Teenage passengers are often among the first people I turn to for second opinions about a test vehicle. While they understandably aren't allowed behind the wheel - most aren't even old enough to drive - their honest and generally unbiased observations, coupled with a complete lack of understanding about what a particular vehicle costs, can provide a wealth of insight.
An open-minded approach is especially important when taking a closer look at the 2014 Kia Cadenza, a premium sedan from an automaker best known for providing affordable transportation for entry-level buyers. But unlike the Rio and Forte, low-priced compacts designed to cater to consumers looking for fuel economy and value, this more substantial four-door sedan asks for twice the out-of-pocket investment in exchange for promises of luxury and technology.
With an impartial mindset and a genuine curiosity, I recently spent a week with the more substantial Cadenza to see if it could live up to its aspirations.
Kia is moving into unknown territory with its $60,000 K900 luxury sedan in many ways. Not only will it act as the company's flagship model, it will be the Korean brand's first in the US with rear-wheel drive and a V8 engine. The first batch will hit showrooms in March, but according to Edmunds, it will be a soft launch in some ways, because only around 30 percent of dealers have paid a premium to sell the plush ride.
Kia has sent the selected dealers back to school to make sure they are prepared to sell the K900 to the industry's famously finicky luxury sedan buyers. The company believes its flagship model will be "a catalyst in support of our long-term strategy to elevate the ownership experience," said James Hope, Kia's National Manager for product communications, to Autoblog in an email. According to Edmunds, the dealers paid about $30,000 each in required training, tools and showroom displays. It wants the improvements to "shift the culture" in its dealers to be ready to welcome luxury buyers, according to Hope. Kia Director of Public Relations Scott McKee told Autoblog that the brand expects buyers to be "independent thinkers" from a blend of current Kia owners stepping up to the K900 and conquests from other luxury brands.
Kia has been slowly building awareness of the K900, especially with its Super Bowl ad, but it still has a long road ahead of it to prove what makes it crown jewel different. The company believes more dealers will sign up to sell it once public awareness for the new sedan grows. "There has never been a better time to challenge the status quo," said Hope. Also, a V6 model will launch in the future at a lower price, which should bring more people into the updated showrooms. Given what Kia has accomplished in the US in the last 20 years, it would be foolish to count the K900 out, but that doesn't mean it will be easy to break into the luxury sedan market.
For most new car shoppers, three-row crossovers are little more than a way for the family-minded to avoid succumbing to the minivan stigma. Admit it - the only things that differentiate most larger CUVs from minivans are their lack of sliding side doors and - on most of them - the option of all-wheel drive. Having blossomed into a popular segment with thicker profit margins, though, automakers have plenty of incentive to keep their offerings fresh, and that's exactly why Kia is presenting its 2014 Sorento so soon.
At first glance, the crisply styled utility vehicle seen here appears to be nothing more than a mid-cycle refresh - and not a particularly extensive one, at that. But that's not the case at all. Despite looking very similar to the second-generation vehicle that came on the scene for the 2010 model year, this is an all-new Sorento. Or, more precisely, it's about 80-percent new. Kia says less than 20 percent of the parts have been carried over from the 2013 Sorento, and that's a pretty typical amount for an 'all-new' vehicle generation.
Since we've yet to spend quality time with the "Made in the USA" Sorento for more than a short First Drive in Arizona last February, we snagged the keys to a 2014 model in the all-new SX Limited trim level for a lengthy backroad sojourn from Florida to South Carolina.