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What you missed on 10.17.14

Filed under: Spy Photos, Kia, Nissan, Toys/Games, Celebrities


Review: Driveclub for Playstation 4

Every new video game comes to market with high expectations. But a title like Driveclub - set to be the first PS4-exclusive racing game yet, and already delayed by more than a year - has more to achieve than most. We've been playing the socially augmented racer for the last few weeks, and report in with a full review. Do Forza fans have an excuse to jump systems?

Ladies and gents, your 2016 Nissan Maxima

When Nissan showed off its Sport Sedan Concept at the last Detroit Auto Show, hopes were immediately brightened for the next-generation Maxima that it foretold. Now, thanks to some crafty lens-work, or spies in the field have captured concrete evidence that bits of the concept will make it through to production. Get a glimpse of the future, here.

LeBron James to rep Kia K900

When one thinks about vehicles that all-world pro basketball players drive, names like Range Rover, Mercedes and even Cadillac Escalade come to mind. The Kia K900... not so much. So consider how surprising it was to learn that the best baller in the NBA drove Kia's flagship, even before he got the gig repping it. Find out why King James is such a fan of sensible luxury.

Top Stories Ford Focus RS ready to make our hot hatch dreams real Watch Jimmy Kimmel become an Uber driver for an afternoon Honda accused of not reporting all airbag problems

What you missed on 10.17.14 originally appeared on Autoblog on Fri, 17 Oct 2014 19:30:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds.


LeBron James to rep Kia K900

Filed under: Sedan, Marketing/Advertising, Kia, Celebrities, Luxury

LeBron James 2015 Kia K900

"I was a Kia K900 driver and fan before we decided to become partners, so I'm really excited to be Kia's first-ever luxury ambassador." - LeBron James

LeBron James is taking his talents to Kia.

The 10-time NBA all-star has signed on with the Korean automaker as a spokesman for Kia's first luxury sedan, the 2015 K900. While the move isn't as shocking as his 2010 defection from the Cleveland Cavaliers to the Miami Heat (he re-signed with the Cavs this summer), it has raised eyebrows, as James is a noted car collector who has owned a Ferrari, Lamborghini, Porsche and other high-end models.

Still, James said that he was a fan of the K900 before he signed on as a pitchman. Perhaps telegraphing the upcoming deal, he posted a photo of himself in the car in August, saying: "Rolling around in my K900. Love this car!"

Kia said James reach out to the company to sample the K900. "I was a Kia K900 driver and fan before we decided to become partners, so I'm really excited to be Kia's first-ever luxury ambassador," he said in a statement. He added: "For me, a partnership has to be authentic and real to who I am, and that's what makes this one so special."

Kia is a longtime sponsor of the NBA and serves as its "official automotive partner." In 2009, James received a Kia Borrego for earning MVP honors, though he donated it to the Akron (OH) Urban League.

Terms of the deal were not disclosed. James, who will officially be called a "luxury brand ambassador," joins fellow NBA star Blake Griffin, tennis player Rafael Nadal and professional golfer Michelle Wie in Kia's lineup of celebrity endorsers. James will appear in TV advertisements, including a spot called Fit For A King, which launches in November as the NBA season tips off.

Kia hopes the partnership with James will raise the profile of the K900. Though it's expected to be a relatively low-volume car, Kia sold just 56 of them in September and has sold 1,106 units this year. As Kia's flagship, the K900 aspires to compete with sedans from BMW, Mercedes-Benz, Lexus and others. It offers powerful V6 and V8 engines paired with an eight-speed automatic transmission, a luxurious cabin with wood and leather features, and design flourishes like LED lights and a prominent chrome grille. It starts at $59,500.

For more, scroll through Kia's press release down below.

Continue reading LeBron James to rep Kia K900

LeBron James to rep Kia K900 originally appeared on Autoblog on Fri, 17 Oct 2014 10:15:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds.


Kia’s brand perception still painfully lags behind reality

Filed under: Car Buying, Kia

Kia K900

I can't tell you how many times I've been driving with friends or family in a decidedly nice Korean press car, only to have a passenger notice the logo on the steering wheel and exclaim, "Wait... this is a Kia?" For every time I roll my eyes at a story with a lede about how Hyundai "is really gaining momentum these days," I get equally annoyed when people comment on how Kia is finally starting to make decent cars. This is hardly news. The brand has been pumping out really solid stuff for a while now.

But as it turns out, not everyone knows that. According to Ward's Auto, speaking to Kia marketing chief Michael Sprague, the automaker recently placed third-to-last in a recent ALG Brand Perception of Quality study, only besting Suzuki and Smart. Wow.

Ward's notes that Kia recently earned a credible sixth place in J.D. Power & Associates' Initial Quality Study, and yet still fell way behind pretty much every other brand in the ALG study. The Korean automaker's cars have also won numerous awards in recent years, and have generally earned positive reviews from the media, Autoblog included.

So, what is Kia doing to change this? "It's doing ride-and-drives at the auto shows, it's showing up at food-and-wine events with vehicles like the K900," Sprague told Ward's. He also cited the company's growing presence in motorsports, and its major advertising push in recent years as part of its effort to improve its reputation.

After 20 years in the US, you'd think Kia's perception would certainly be higher, but Sprague's Kia indeed has a long road ahead. "When I came into the position six years ago, in my head I thought it was going to be about a five-year period of time to change (Americans' perception of us)," he told Ward's. "And it has changed. But I'd like it to go faster. I haven't gotten everybody yet."

Kia's brand perception still painfully lags behind reality originally appeared on Autoblog on Sat, 11 Oct 2014 14:58:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds.


Kia GT five-door approved, will tackle A7, Panamera

Filed under: Sedan, Kia, Design/Style, Luxury

Kia GT Concept

Kia might finally be entering the four-door coupe market in the near future with a production version of its GT Concept from the 2011 Frankfurt Motor Show. According to Edmunds, Kia execs at that Paris Motor Show confirmed that the swoopy model finally has been given the green light to go on sale, and that would likely be sometime in 2016 in the US.

Kia would reportedly focus the GT on the US market, but a European version with a diesel is also a possibility. As with the K900 premium sedan, the brand is taking on some established competition with the new model, including the likes of the Audi A7 and Porsche Panamera. Judging from the rest of the Korean company's range, an attractive feature for many buyers would likely be a price several grand lower than the challengers in the segment.

"Four-door coupes aren't necessarily sales champs, but right now they are popular, just as the retro theme was the "in thing" 15 years ago," said auto industry analyst Dave Sullivan from AutoPacific to Autoblog. Something like the GT would also help with Kia's increasing focus on improving its design design because it can "make a statement about what your brand stands for."

In concept form, the GT sports a 3.3-liter turbocharged V6 making 389 horsepower and 394 pound-feet of torque and routes power to the rear wheels through an eight-speed automatic transmission. According to Edmunds, the prototype's suicide doors wouldn't make it to production. That's hardly a surprise since they're generally the first thing cut in the transition to the showroom. Hopefully, it's weird, flying buttress air intakes at the front make it to the final form, though.

Rumblings about the GT seeing production go back several years and even include the possibility of wagon and coupe variants. However, anything beyond the four-door coupe version is pure speculation at this point because Kia has to figure out whether it's a success or not first.

Kia GT five-door approved, will tackle A7, Panamera originally appeared on Autoblog on Thu, 09 Oct 2014 14:15:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds.


2015 Kia Sorento shows its new face in fashion-forward Paris

Filed under: Paris Motor Show, Crossover, Kia, Diesel

The 2015 Kia Sorento at the 2014 Paris Motor Show, front three-quarter view.

It seems like we've been catching glimpses of the 2015 Sorento for ages now, but Kia has finally revealed the European version of its revised crossover at the 2014 Paris Motor Show.

For the latest Sorento, Kia a few of the elements from the Cross GT concept and adapts them for the road. The production model has the brand's familiar mesh grille up front and headlights that wrap around the body with large foglights below. It features a modified version of the concept's swept-back stance that thankfully removes the awkwardness from the original design. Kia says that shaping the latest crossover was truly a global effort with input coming from Korea, Germany and the US.

For Europe, powertrains amount to a trio of four-cylinder engines with a 2.4-liter gasoline unit with 185 horsepower, a 2.0-liter diesel with 182 hp and 2.2-liter diesel with 197 hp. They're all available with a six-speed automatic, and a six-speed manual is offered on the petrol mill and 2.2-liter oil-burner.

Both five- and seven-seat variants are both available in Europe, but the exterior dimensions are the same either way. The new model grows by about 3.7 inches overall with roughly three inches more wheelbase. All of the extra length translates to more room to haul stuff inside with Kia claiming over 17 percent more cargo room than before with the third row folded down, plus new under-floor storage compartment.

Kia is definitely showing a big focus on styling and design for the new Sorento. With the crossover market getting so packed, every model has to find some way to stand out from the crowd. Scroll down to read the company's full announcement.

Continue reading 2015 Kia Sorento shows its new face in fashion-forward Paris

2015 Kia Sorento shows its new face in fashion-forward Paris originally appeared on Autoblog on Fri, 03 Oct 2014 05:01:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds.


2015 Kia Rio freshens up for France

Filed under: Budget, Europe, Hatchback, Kia

2015 Kia Rio at the 2014 Paris Motor Show, front three-quarter view.

We've always felt that the current-generation Rio is styled with European flair, so good on Kia for showing its refreshed new look here at the Paris Motor Show.

The B-segment hatchback's aggressive looks get modestly more so for the new model year, with a revamped tiger nose grille and new light fixtures, along with a pair of hash marks in the fog lamp area. To us, the current car, introduced for 2012, still looks quite fresh, but we like the subtly new light fixtures and suite of new wheel designs.

Interior highlights include a rationalized center stack with updated audio and navigation systems, revised cloth on EX models and additional brightwork around the air vents.

Mechanically, the European-spec Rio will offer a range of four engines ranging from 74 to 108 horsepower and benefit from an available stop/start system to maximize fuel economy. We're not sure if the latter technology will be available in our market, but we fully expect the North American model to continue with its 1.6-liter Gamma four, which in the 2014 model generates 138 hp and 123 lb-ft and is paired with either a six-speed manual or automatic gearbox.

The updated Sohari, Korea-built Rio goes on sale in Europe early next year as a 2015 model. For our part, we've reached out to Kia Motors America to find out if and when North American customers can expect to see these exterior and cabin upgrades, and will update this story when we hear more. In the meantime, check out our high-res gallery above and the official press release below.

Continue reading 2015 Kia Rio freshens up for France

2015 Kia Rio freshens up for France originally appeared on Autoblog on Thu, 02 Oct 2014 14:40:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds.


Kia bringing updated Rio, Venga to Paris

Filed under: Budget, Minivan/Van, Europe, Paris Motor Show, Hatchback, Kia

2015 Kia Rio

The Rio may not be the most popular Kia in the United States - not by a long shot - but it was the brand's top seller globally last year. Little wonder, then, that although the current fourth-generation model was only introduced in 2011, the Korean automaker is already rolling out a facelifted version.

Set to be revealed later this week at the Paris Motor Show, the 2015 Kia Rio has been updated inside, out and under the hood. The front end gets a new grille, bumper and foglights, there's a new bumper around back, and a fresh array of alloy wheels ranging in size from 15 inches to 17. There are also two new colors on offer, and the interior has been updated with a new center stack and chrome trim.

Powertrain options depend on local market demands but range from 74 horsepower to 107, driving the front wheels through a five- or six-speed manual or four-speed automatic and available with stop/start ignition. The updates were announced for the European-spec model; we're waiting for confirmation on what, if any, of these revisions will reach US showrooms, so watch this space.

While it's at it, Kia has also revealed an updated Venga, the mini-minivan based on the same platform as the Kia Soul and Hyundai i20, introduced in Europe five years ago. Scope out the full details of both models in the press releases below.

Continue reading Kia bringing updated Rio, Venga to Paris

Kia bringing updated Rio, Venga to Paris originally appeared on Autoblog on Tue, 30 Sep 2014 08:28:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds.


Kia showcasing Optima T-Hybrid concept in Paris [w/video]

Filed under: Concept Cars, Hybrid, Sedan, Videos, Paris Motor Show, Kia, Diesel

Kia Optima T-Hybrid Concept

At the Geneva Motor Show earlier this year, Kia showcased a new diesel hybrid powertrain. And at the rapidly approaching Paris Motor Show, it will present that new technology in the Optima sedan concept you see here.

Called the Kia Optima T-Hybrid, the concept mates a 1.7-liter diesel with both a turbocharger and electric supercharger to a small electric motor and a 48-volt lead-carbon battery. The mild hybrid setup allows it to travel in electric-only model at low speeds and at cruise, regenerating brake power to recharge the battery. Kia said it chose the lead-carbon battery pack over lithium-ion because it's easier to recycle and does not require active cooling.

Because the powertrain is still under development, Kia isn't saying what kind of fuel economy or emissions figures it gets in the Optima T-Hybrid concept, but it is targeting a "significant reduction" in emissions and fuel consumption, while delivering 15 to 20 percent more power. Check out the system in action in the video below.

Continue reading Kia showcasing Optima T-Hybrid concept in Paris [w/video]

Kia showcasing Optima T-Hybrid concept in Paris [w/video] originally appeared on Autoblog on Mon, 29 Sep 2014 17:35:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds.


Sales incentive growth clustered around brands with few CUVs, trucks

Filed under: Honda, Kia, Toyota, Volkswagen, Earnings/Financials


While it's arguably been around the longest, the dominance of the four-door sedan has been under threat for many years. As a further sign of the hurtin' that SUVs and crossovers have put on today's four-doors, a new report from Automotive News points to the increasing use of incentives by brands reliant on cars and light on CUVs and pickups.

Honda, Toyota, Volkswagen and Kia have all been stung by double-digit increases in their incentives-to-transaction price ratio, according to AN, which cites data from TrueCar. Honda's ratio is up 14 percent, while Toyota, VW and Kia are up 18, 15 and 19 percent, respectively.

"Most of the incentive growth we have seen is in product segments with low demand - midsized or large sedans," TrueCar CEO John Krafcik told AN. "As this trend goes on, the brands with three-sedan strategies are going to be in worse shape on incentive spending than the crossover brands."

Krafcik backed up his argument with this fun fact: Honda sales were up just two percent in August, compared to Jeep, whose sedan-free fleet saw sales jump 49 percent in the same period.

The move towards CUVs isn't too hard to figure out, with AN pointing out the increasingly fuel-efficient high-riders that are overtaking showrooms. That's bad news for both sedans and the manufacturers that produce them.

Sales incentive growth clustered around brands with few CUVs, trucks originally appeared on Autoblog on Wed, 24 Sep 2014 14:31:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds.


Autoblog Podcast #398

Filed under: Podcasts, Government/Legal, Ford, Kia, Lexus, Toyota

Autoblog Podcast logo

Episode #398 of the Autoblog Podcast is here, and this week, Dan Roth, Brandon Turkus, and Michael Harley talk about the 2015 Ford Mustang, the 2015 Toyota Camry, and the Congressional grilling NHTSA received last week. We start with what's in the garage and finish up with some of your questions, and for those of you who hung with us live on our UStream channel, thanks for taking the time. Check out the rundown below with times for topics, and you can follow along down below with our Q&A. Thanks for listening!

Topics: 2015 Ford Mustang 2015 Toyota Camry NHTSA under Congressional fire
In The Autoblog Garage: 2014 Lexus ES 300h 2014 Lexus GS 350 F-Sport 2015 Kia K900
Hosts: Dan Roth, Michael Harley, Brandon Turkus
Runtime: 01:36:56

Rundown: Intro and Garage - 00:00 2015 Ford Mustang - 28:58 2015 Toyota Camry - 42:41 NHTSA - 57:55 Q&A - 01:17:15 Get the podcast:
[UStream] Listen live on Mondays at 10 PM Eastern at UStream
[iTunes] Subscribe to the Autoblog Podcast in iTunes
[RSS] Add the Autoblog Podcast feed to your RSS aggregator
[MP3] Download the MP3 directly

Email: Podcast at Autoblog dot com

Review the show in iTunes

Continue reading Autoblog Podcast #398

Autoblog Podcast #398 originally appeared on Autoblog on Wed, 24 Sep 2014 10:00:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds.

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