Category Archives: New Cars

Quick Overview: 2014 Kia Sedona

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2014 Kia Sedona EX

After a year of absence from the Kia lineup, the Sedona minivan returns for 2014 with significant updates. This will be the last year for the current Sedona as a redesigned van will arrive for 2015. Despite being on the market for more than seven years, the Sedona hides its age well allowing for generally good impressions.

2014  brings a reworked front fascia with two strips of LEDs and a new lower grill.  Chrome strips, and Kia’s corporate “Tiger Nose” upper grill help bring the styling in line with the rest of the lineup.   The headlights are somewhat triangular in their shape and the short hood features a slight bulge that helps to highlight the grill below. The  sharp crease below the side windows  and slightly bulging wheel wells add some character to the van while plastic strips attached across the doors helped keep the Sedona from looking slab-sided. The rear of the van features a large hatch and very tall angular tail lights. Overall, the Sedona’s styling looks modern and clean, if a little plain.

Inside, the van has a commodious, mostly well put together interior. The front leather seats were exceptionally comfortable, and headroom was aplenty. The leather wrapped steering wheel only tilted and did not telescope, perhaps limiting comfort for some drivers. The instrument cluster was easy to read and adequately comprehensive, while the center stack was within easy reach. Controls for the infotainment system and climate control seemed logically placed and a storage bin with various auxiliary power outlets was located below the climate controls. Oddly, the Sedona featured a cigarette lighter and ash tray possibly making it one of the last vehicles sold in the United States to include these features. Towards the bottom of the dash,  cup holders could be pulled out and a small glove box accessed.

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Interior

A larger glove box providing ample room for napkins, books, and miscellaneous items could be accessed on the passenger side. A small tray located between the front seats offered storage space for only thin items however it could be folded away to create a sizable pathway to the rear of the van. The second row captain’s chairs were very comfortable although they could not be folded into the floor. The third row seat was comfortable as well, and space seemed plentiful. 32.2 feet of cargo space can be used behind the third row seat, while this can be expanded to 80.1 cubic feet when the third row is folded, while 141.5 cubic feet can be found once all of the rear seats are stowed away. Total interior volume is 172.3 cubic feet. The interior was nicely constructed towards the front as many materials were soft to the touch, however the hard plastics used in the rear of the van felt cheap in places.

Equipment and Specifications

The Sedona uses Kia’s 3.5 liter V6  which produces 269 horsepower and 246 pounds-feet of torque and is paired only with a six-speed automatic transmission allowing the Sedona to tow 3,500 pounds. Fuel economy is rated at 17 mpg in the city and 24 mpg on the highway. Two trim levels are available, the base LX and the more upscale EX. Highlights of the LX include sixteen inch steel wheels, cloth seating, SiriusXM Satellite Radio, auxiliary input jacks, a reverse warning system, tire pressure monitoring system, and stability control. The EX  demands $5,000 more over the $25,900 price of the LX and adds seventeen inch alloy wheels , chrome exterior trim, heated side-view mirrors, dual-zone climate control, standard power-sliding doors and power hatch, an optional navigation system with an Infinity sound system, leather seats, powered and heated front seats, and an optional sunroof among other features.

Sources

Kia Motors America, Inc. 2014 Kia Sedona Minivan – Trims & Colors. N.p., n.d. Web. 03 Oct. 2014. <http://www.kia.com/us/en/vehicle/sedona/2014/trims&gt;.

2014 Ram 1500 Outdoorsman

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Recently, a host of updates shot the Ram 1500 to the top of its segment. A class leader, the Ram boasts refined driving characteristics, an excellent interior, a seemingly endless versatility. While the full-size pickup segment faces changing regulations and consumer tastes, the Ram 1500 goes beyond expectations.

Styling

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In a world where the latest Nissan Altima can be confused for a Chevrolet Impala, pickup trucks all carry distinctive design elements that make then easily identifiable. The Ram adheres to this principle thoroughly with its sinister yet sleek styling. Canted slightly forward, a truly enormous cross-hair grill dominates the front. The hood sits noticeably high while the rectangular headlights sit on defined front fenders. From the side, the Ram looks aerodynamic without looking soft. The windshield is raked back significantly and the front fenders flow seamlessly into the doors while the curved rear fenders prevent a slab-sided look. The round wheel openings, and lack of many complex  creases in the sheet metal make for a simple, yet pleasant design. Moving towards the rear of the truck, the tail lights are positioned vertically in typical pickup truck fashion. Two creases in the tailgate and large chrome badges are nice touches as is the elegant lip spoiler.

Interior

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Chrysler has noticeably improved their interiors on all vehicles. Gone are the days of flimsy, cheap, and even warped plastics, instead Chrysler vehicles now offer some of the nicest interiors in their respective classes. Soft-touch materials are in all the right places, primarily the areas that are touched the most such as door panels and the center armrest. Hard plastics are used, however they are of a nice texture and will hold up well over time. The cavernous interior allows for copious amounts of leg room and headroom in both the front and back. The tested truck featured the optional cloth front bucket seats which proved to be reasonably comfortable and supportive. A huge center console with many storage areas is very useful, as were the dual gloveboxes. The 60/40 split folding rear seat can be folded upwards and a carpeted platform extended in its place, making for a flat and generously sized load floor. As far as ergonomics are concerned, controls are placed logically, and most are within easy reach. The Uconnect infotainment system worked seamlessly. The large 8.4 inch touch-screen displayed graphics clearly and responded immediately to touch. The controls and menus were easy to understand however physical controls below the screen can be used if preferred. Various goodies including Integrated Voice Command with Bluetooth and Sirius XM Satellite Radio are standard on the tested Outdoorsman model while navigation and a slot for SD cards are among the optional equipment.

Driving Impressions

The tested truck came equipped with the 5.7 liter HEMI V8 rated to produce 395 horsepower and 410 pounds-feet of torque. As with all of the offered engines, the HEMI comes mated with an eight-speed automatic transmission. The HEMI had power to spare and the eight-speed was commendably smooth even under hard acceleration. A 305 horsepower 3.6 liter V6 serves as the base engine while a 3.0 liter EcoDiesel turbo diesel V6 is optional. While producing only 240 horsepower, the EcoDiesel makes up for the lack of horsepower with an astounding 420 pounds-feet of torque. Plenty of feedback was channeled through the steering wheel and the steering was neither to tight nor too loose. As for handling, the truck does exhibit body roll, especially during aggressive driving, however it felt secure under most situations. For being as big as it is, the Ram was remarkably maneuverable. Visibility; aided by a backup camera, large mirrors, and expansive windows; was good. Although maneuverable, the Ram is still an enormous vehicle and parking can be a chore. With the coil-sprung rear suspension, the Ram rides very smooth and outside noises are extremely well suppressed. A height-adjustable four-corner air suspension is also available. Rear-wheel drive is standard, while a four-wheel drive system is optional.   The four-wheel drive system works very well. While driven in loose sand, the truck was able to get traction even without employing the low-range setting.

Fuel Economy and Capacities

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The tested Ram 1500 was EPA rated to get 15 mpg in the city, and 21 mpg highway. Compared to a similar Ford F-150, the Ram is more efficient, however a Silverado gets a one mile per gallon better rating than the Ram in both the city and on the highway. A Ram 1500 equipped with the 3.6 liter V6, is rated to get 17 mpg in the city, and 25 mpg on the highway, while the 3.0 liter diesel is rated to get 20 mpg in the city and 28 mpg on the highway. A HEMI powered 1500 not equipped with four-wheel-drive is rated to get 15 mpg in the city and 22 mpg on the highway. Fuel economy drops slightly with the selection of four-wheel drive. A Ram 1500 Outdoorsman equipped with the Quad Cab has a payload capacity of 1,580 pounds, and a towing capacity of 10,350 pounds while a 1500 with a crew cab and a 5 foot 7 inch bed has a payload capacity of 1,620 pounds and a towing capacity of 10,300 pounds. A crew cab truck with a 6 foot 4 inch bed is rated to carry 1,560 pounds and tow 10,250 pounds.

Conclusions

The Ram 1500 Outdoorsman comes with a base price tag of $34,585. That price gets you a Quad Cab, 3.6 liter V6, two-wheel drive, and a 6 foot 4 inch bed. As you select options, the trucks price can climb quite steadily as with most pickups. The 1500 Outdoorsman seems to be good value, combining most of the features of the Big Horn trim with a some extras, and a few styling tweaks. Overall, the Ram is a solid vehicle and a great choice for those searching for a full-size pickup. By combining comfort, versatility and strong powertrains, the Ram brings some serious competition to the segment.

Sources

 “Model Compare.” Compare RAM 1500 Models. Ram Trucks, n.d. Web. 24 July 2014. <http://www.ramtrucks.com/model-compare/quick-chart/?modelYearCode=CUT201413&&variation=0,2&gt;.

“Model Compare.” Compare RAM 1500 Models. Ram Trucks, n.d. Web. 24 July 2014. <http://www.ramtrucks.com/model-compare/quick-chart/?modelYearCode=CUT201413&&variation=0,3&gt;.

“Model Compare.” Compare RAM 1500 Models. Ram Trucks, n.d. Web. 24 July 2014. <http://www.ramtrucks.com/model-compare/quick-chart/?modelYearCode=CUT201413&&variation=0,4&gt;.

“Compare Side-by-Side.” Compare Side-by-Side. n.d. Web. 24 July 2014. <http://www.fueleconomy.gov/feg/Find.do?action=sbs&id=34537&id=34115&id=33689&gt;.

“Search Results.” Fuel Economy. N.p., n.d. Web. 24 July 2014. 

Quick Overview: 2014 Kia Soul

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Kia’s funky box-on-wheels has received complete redesign for 2014 and despite the updates many aspects of the original Kia Soul remain. Styling is certainly familiar due to the boxy profile, black a-pillars, large rear tail lights, and side glass that becomes progressively smaller towards the rear of the car. More angular headlights, a thinner upper grill,  larger lower grill, and a more pronounced front bumper are some of the changes to the front end. The rear of the car gets black accents around the tail lights and hatch creating a truly unique look. Although new and improved, the new Soul keeps the styling elements that made the car a hit in the first place. The interior is also well done thanks to the combination of practicality and design. The new cabin features a conventional single instrument pod, a bulging center stack, redesigned air vents, and a sportier, more substantial feeling steering wheel. Some of the hard, cheap-feeling plastics remain, although they are improved from the previous model. Seats are comfortable, yet a bit firm. Head room is plentiful, and in the rear seat there is a sizable amount of leg room. Cargo space however is lacking at 18.8 cubic feet with the rear seats up, and 49.5 cubic feet with the seats folded down. Cargo space is increased to a reasonable 24.2 cubic feet with the seats up, and 61.3 cubic feet with them down when the cargo tray is not present. Engines are carried over from last year. The 1.6 liter four-cylinder produces 130 horsepower and 118 pounds-feet of torque, while the 2.0 liter makes 164 horsepower and 151 pounds-feet of torque. The 1.6 can be mated to a six-speed manual, or six-speed automatic. The 2.0 liter comes six-speed automatic. The base Soul starts at $14,700 and comes with the 1.6 liter engine, Bluetooth, and Sirius satellite Radio. The midrange + (plus) adds alloy wheels, cruise control, and the 2.0 liter engine and is priced at $18,200. The top of the line Soul, the ! (Exclaim), comes with LED tail lights and LED headlight accents, power folding mirrors, and UVO eServices. The Soul, when equipped with the 1.6 liter four-cylinder and manual transmission, is able to achieve 24 mpg in the city and 30 mpg on the highway. These numbers do not change when the car is equipped with the automatic transmission. The 2.0 liter engine allows the Soul to get 23 mpg in the city, and 31 mpg on the highway.

Sources

http://www.kia.com/us/en/vehicle/soul/2014/trims

http://www.kia.com/us/en/vehicle/soul/2014/features

http://www.fueleconomy.gov/feg/PowerSearch.do?action=Cars&path=4&year1=2013&year2=2014&make=Kia&srchtyp=newMake&pageno=1&sortBy=Comb&tabView=0&rowLimit=200

http://www.thecarconnection.com/news/1086647_2014-kia-soul-first-drive

Quick Overview: 2014 Fiat 500L

Fiat 500L Trekking shown

Fiat’s second entry into the U.S market since their recent comeback sure looks promising. On paper, thanks to its unique looks, fuel-efficient engine and spacious, versatile interior, Fiat’s latest iteration of the beloved 500 should be a hit. If only it was also promising in the real world. Outside, the 500L looks like a bloated 500, and is a rather poor adaptation of the 500’s classic styling. However, it is unique and greatly stands out among some of its bland and boring CUV competitors. The front end is familiar, with two elliptical headlights, and turn signals below. Between the headlights is a chrome strip, with the Fiat logo residing at the center. The front fascia has a stepped look to it, and below the turn signals, is a thin grill. At the bottom of the bumper is a large, rounded, rectangular grill in which a black, plastic bar runs across. The fog lamps sit just underneath. The side profile is certainly different, with large windows all around, including front and rear quarter windows, nearly eliminating visibility issues. Toward the bottom of the doors is a chrome strip, running along the side between the pronounced fenders. The rear features tail lights that are elliptical in shape, and a rear bumper with a protective black plastic insert. The interior is extremely airy and spacious. Headroom seems so plentiful, you may be able to wear a sombrero in the little Fiat, leg room is also generous in both the front and back. Seats are very comfortable and supportive. Interior appearance is also another strong point. Everything in the interior is of a rounded shape, including a large body colored insert that mimics that of the regular 500. Controls are easy to reach, and the interior has a generally ergonomic layout. In the back is a respectable 23.1 cubic feet of cargo space, more than enough for the daily shopping expedition. Unfortunately, the interior of the 500L also features the same style gauge cluster as its smaller sibling, where the gauges sit on top of each other, making them difficult to read. The quality of the interior plastics is appalling, the dashboard and door panels feel cheap and hard. There are only a few areas where the plastics and craftsmanship of the interior are satisfactory. Under the hood is a 1.4 liter MultiAir turbo charged four cylinder, putting out 160 horsepower and 184 pound-feet of torque. This engine is also found in the 500 Abarth and the Dodge Dart. Acceleration to 60 comes in 9.1 seconds, and cornering has been said to be sporty and enthusiastic. Fuel mileage is very good, at 24 mpg city, and 33 mpg highway. Equipped with the manual transmission, the car achieves 25 mpg city. Pricing is an area, besides interior quality, where the Fiat is a letdown. The base Pop starts at $19,900, and it only comes with a six speed manual.  However, it does come equipped with a tilt and telescoping steering wheel, and heated rear view mirrors. The next model is the $20,195 Easy, which adds features such as aluminum wheels and a six speed automatic. Next is the Trekking model, which features a unique front and rear fascia and body side cladding, supposedly creating a rugged look. It starts at $21,195. The top of the line Lounge model, priced at $24,195, adds chrome body accenting and an optional sunroof among other features. The Fiat 500L does not make as much sense to purchase as certain competitors. Although cheaper than the Mini Countryman, it does not have the value pricing that competition such as the Kia Soul and Scion Xb posses.

Sources

http://www.autospies.com/news/Fiat-Places-Mini-In-The-Crosshairs-With-19-000-500L-76252/

http://www.fiatusa.com/en/2014/500L/pop/

http://www.fiatusa.com/en/2014/500L/

http://www.fueleconomy.gov/feg/bymake/Fiat2014.shtml

http://www.edmunds.com/fiat/500l/2014/road-test.html