Kia


Kia Hybrids: Ready for Higher Gas Prices.
by The Car Family
for more reviews go to https://www.motorists.org/tag/the-car-family/

This is the best time to look into hybrids with new fuel taxes on the horizon and no better place to start are with the new Kia Niro SUV and Kia Optima starting at $22,890 and $25,995 while pushing past 40 mpg. No doubt these Kias with their exceptional reliability rating and stellar warranty are worth considering especiallyconsidering the average new car is going for $32,000.

With most readers having an average one-way commute time of over 30 minutes and 15 percent spending an hour in traffic these hybrids are ideal, essentially offering savings up to 50 percent in fuel savings over typical competitors.

Kia Niro Hybrid Overview: This is a subcompact SUV and is priced under most of the hybrid competition. You can average nearly 50 mpg overall which is outstanding for a car this versatile. It has a slightly higher stance and comfortable seats, but the real star is the way six-speed, dual-clutch automatic transmission shifts.

2017 Niro – Red

Kia Optima Hybrid overview: The 2017 is new and appealing offering a calm driving experience, plenty of cargo room and 40 mpg average. Loaded with technology such as Apple CarPlay and Android Auto and safety features that include autonomous emergency braking. The ride is quiet and you get 13.4 cubic feet of storage with a lot of inside bins for personal items. Although the exterior is not as exciting as some competitors, it nevertheless looks sleek and should age well. You can also get an Optima plug-in.

2017 Optima Hybrid

Mom’s view: The Niro is fun, but get the EX model as it offers so much more with heated seats, blind spot monitoring and an abundance of other safety and convenience features. The less expensive FE is the mileage champ, but a warm bottom is well worth the extra for the upgraded model. You can get the more loaded Touring and Touring Launch as well, but their isn’t any all wheel drive option on any model. The back seats of the EX fold down giving you ample room for packages. The Optima hybrid allows you to select Eco or Sport mode outside of the standard setting. Eco takes the edge off driving and gives you superior mileage, but the cost is more relaxed acceleration. Sport brings the Optima on boil and is excellent for passing or lane merging.

2017 Optima Hybrid interior

Dad’s view: The Niro is a 1.6 liter four-cylinder gas-electric hybrid with 6-speed dual-clutch automatic drive train. It is fun to drive, but it isn’t going to set any speed records. The brakes on both vehicles take a while to get used to as they regenerate the batteries. This is good as it save on brake wear, but can be abrupt at times until a gentle touch is mastered. Steering is quite good and makes the Niro nimble and corners well. The electric motor works with the transmission and makes driving in heavy traffic easy. The Optima has an electric motor and 2.0-liter engine that combine to produce 192 hp. While most hybrids have a continuously variable transmission, but the Optima Hybrid sticks with a six-speed automatic transmission for a more traditional shifting feel.

Young working woman’s view: The Niro isn’t as comfortable to drive as the larger Optima with the latter being quieter as well. The Optima seats are fairly flat and so heavier drivers will find them a good fit. Entering and exiting both cars is easy, but the larger doors on the Optima make it a long reach to close at times. Both cars are good for those with mobility problems with just a little step over to get into a seat. The slopping roof of the Optima restricts rear vision, but the excellent rear view camera takes care of that problem. Interestingly, the vehicles are loaded with pockets for caring everything from large water bottles to small handwipes. As similar as these two Kia products are they appeal to a very different buyer. The Niro is handy and versatile. Perfect for the active family. The Optima is larger and more gentrified, perfect for those who like a quieter ride and more space. I like larger cars, but worry about mall parking lots. The special rear and skyward views on the monitor relieves that stress.

2017 Niro interior

Back to school male’s view: Working on my computer security certificate, but in the meantime the Kia’s offered some excellent technology, although the GPS was a bit slow. We had the Harman Kardon system, which was fine, and the optional wireless smartphone charging worked well. There is an adaptive cruise control and voice control, including Siri. My choice would be the handy Niro. Looks good, handy, and fuel frugal.
Family conference: The front-wheel-drive Optima hybrid has been restyled this year and improved in many areas and the Niro is all new. Kia’s warranty is special with a basic five year/60,000 coverage and roadside assistance and 10 years and 100,000 miles on the powertrain. Kia ranks highest among all automotive industry nameplates in the J.D. Power 2016 U.S. Initial Quality Study and this is the first time a non-luxury brand has led the industry. Others to consider are the Toyota RAV4 and the Nissan Rogue.

Kia Sorento: Moving On Up
by The Car Family
for more reviews go to
http://www.motorists.org/carfamily/

2016 Sorento

2016 Sorento

Kia continues it quest to become one of the more respected vehicle manufacturers in the world and the Sorento is evidence that it may have arrived. Indeed, the independent Consumer Reports lists Kia as one of the top ten car brands placing them ahead of such stalwarts as BMW and Lincoln. Consumer Reports said, “”Kia delivers competent cars sold for less than the leaders in their respective segments.” We couldn’t agree more, but beware that a loaded Kia Sorento can cost nearly $45,000, although the base price is $24,900. Perhaps best of all, the Sorento is made in the USA.

The new Sorento has a host of features with improved handling and a more refined interior. Gas mileage is around 20 mpg, which isn’t great as the four cylinder engine is always working hard to keep the 3800 pound SUV on task, even with the six-speed automatic silently doing its best. The 18.2 fuel tank makes 350 mile treks possible and probably with the Kia’s comfortable seats and relaxed fit ride.

All-new 2016 Sorento 3.3-liter V6 SXL

All-new 2016 Sorento 3.3-liter V6 SXL

The Sorento is a good dual purpose vehicle that can travel most anywhere in style with a quiet ride, roomy interior, and ample acceleration. We like the Nissan Murano and Toyota Highlander as competitors, but neither have the range of options although the Nissan is more nimble and the Toyota larger. We especially like the many unique features of this Kia such as a hatch that opens automatically when it senses you waiting, and, the side mirrors that open and close automatically. There is also a myriad of safety features.

Mom’s view: The Sorento shines most in its interior and features. Upscale materials abound and there is ample cargo room with optional third row of seats. The front passengers have excellent positioning and the seats have optional heating and cooling features. We found the Sorento’s cooling seats the best we have tested and the air conditioning was able to hold its own with temperatures over 100 degrees even though are test vehicle had the huge panoramic roof. I love the contrasting look of the interior materials. The Sorento has the appearance of a much more expensive vehicle. Standard features include Bluetooth, a USB port and satellite radio. We insist you check out the available rearview camera with the 360-degree camera system, adaptive cruise control, rear parking sensors, blind spot monitoring, rear cross traffic monitoring, forward collision warning, lane departure warning, that add to you family’s safety. Our loaded test vehicle’s GPS was easy to use with an 8-inch touch screen. Other features were a 10-speaker Infinity surround-sound audio system, and Kia’s UVO infotainment system. Overall, an interesting vehicle that will surprise you. Don’t forget to see the automatic liftgate in action. Best mall shopping option ever.

Dad’s view: Sorento’s new 2.0-liter turbocharged four produces 240 horsepower and is very frisky making freeway merging easy, but the engine is a bit gruff when pushed. Other Sorento choices are the base 185 horsepower 2.4-liter and the 3.3-liter V-6, making 290 hp and 250 lb-ft of torque and is best for towing. You can order all-wheel drive with any engine and that option features torque vectoring between front and rear wheels for stability. Brakes and steering feel are adequate, but the ride was too soft for my taste. It was tuned more for comfort. A while back Kia’s driving dynamics weren’t ready for prime time, but now they are and the result is an even handed SUV. You can switch drive modes that change the steering weighting and transmission shift points, but what most people are going to do is just appreciate how quiet this rig is and how obedient.

<img src=”https://carfamily.files.wordpress.com/2015/09/sorento_sxl-dash.jpg?w=300″ alt=”

Young working woman’s view: I don’t care for SUVs, but this might be an exception. Previous models were not as large and a bit dreary inside. The new one is much improved with more interior room and a more modern appearance. I would never think this was a Kia from the interior’s appearance. Wow. The materials are nicely coordinated and have a good feel to them. The safety features let you know whether there are cars in your blind spot or, in a parking lot, coming down the lane. There are even arrows to tell you which direction they are coming. The Sorento also offered forward collision warning, smart cruise control and a surround view parking monitor. The Kia makes you feel safe and the optional Nappa leather interior surfaces make you feel snug. Very reassuring.

Young male’s view: Adaptive cruise control, an all-around-view camera, and Siri Eyes Free for the iPhone are all part of the Sorento’s offerings and a plethora of other high-tech options enables this Kia to challenge the big boys. However, its bland looks, despite the sleeker headlights, makes it far to generic for my tastes. On the plus side the key fob has a distinct button for locking that is very useful and the front and rear doors open wide making entry and exit easy. A comforting vehicle.

Family conference: From the Smart Liftgate to the numerous options and the great warranty make the Sorento a versatile family vehicle. However, the numerous options that can raise the price nearly $20,000 makes it important that you do your homework. The result is a vehicle that you can drive with the satisfaction of advanced satiety features and a relaxed ride that are reassuring. No question about it, the Sorento is moving on up.

Using vehicles to create student interest in math and Language Arts
by National Hall of Fame Teacher Alan Haskvitz
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Alan_Haskvitz

Using vehicles is an excellent way to motivate students and to help ready them for real life buying decisions. The following links deal with the various manufactures where students can write for information, obtain pricing information and to harvest compare and contrast data for Common Core related essays.

A listing of all DMV offices.
Finding the office that deals with your state and others can provide information on how old one needs to be to drive as well as the various license fee data that could be used for Common Core math problems. I have used driver manuals to motivate students to read.
http://www.dmv.org/

Data on fuel economy
This federal site would enable students to select a variety of vehicles and there fuel mileage. This could be used for math as well as to provide statistics for an essay on the best or worst type of vehicles in terms of fuel costs.
http://www.fueleconomy.gov/

A link site to manufacturers who sell cars in America
http://search.ezilon.com/united_states/business/automotive/auto_manufacturers/

A listing of vehicle websites worldwide
http://autopedia.com/html/MfgSites.html

National Motorists Association
A great source of information on driving and the law.
http://www.motorists.org/

A listing of car value prices
A good place to find statistics for math problems about the prices of cars and motorcycles.
http://www.nadaguides.com/

Where cars are made by location
Great way to teach geography.
http://www.caranddriver.com/features/a-graphic-representation-of-whats-really-made-in-america-feature

Kia K900: Kia Builds a King
by The Car Family
For more reviews go to http://www.motorists.org/carfamily/

This is no ordinary Kia. This is a car designed to prove that this Korean company can build a car that can compete with the luxury brands at a bargain price and still provide leading edge technology. After a week evaluating this vehicle it becomes apparent that Kia has built a new King, a flagship that is elegant, loaded with features, and priced in the $60,000 range, undercutting the competition by tens of thousands of dollars, as is Kia’s forte.

The ride is plush, so don’t expect sports car drivers to be impressed with the handling, but a nudge of the accelerator brings out the 420 hp as the Kia V8 and that is up to the challenge of most any luxury sedan. Our mixed gas mileage was in the range of 21 mpg thanks to the smooth shifting eight speed transmission.

We have been testing vehicles for 20 years and this Kia has the best interior lighting of any model to date and that includes Rolls Royce, Bentley, and Cadillac. The exterior lighting is superior as well with adaptive 16 LED bulb headlights and LED daytime running lamps. And these aren’t the type that blind oncoming drivers, they provide a soft, almost natural illumination.

Mom’s view: This is a large sedan and still easy to park in a crowded mall parking lot. The interior has a number of redundant steering wheel controls so you can safely change settings without taking your eyes off the road. Our V8 K900 had white high grade Nappa leather with contrasting stitching and real walnut trim. The front seats had a myriad of adjustments and were heated and cooled. A welcome surprise is in store for the rear seat passengers with an armrest containing a panel so riders can control their own ventilation and operate the rear window sunshade. Okay, I was a bit smitten by the interior and exterior styling, but it was the safety features that I found most pleasing. Kia’s Advanced Vehicle Safety Management that brings together an Electronic Stability Control, a AVSM that alerts the driver three ways: an alarm, a visual warning and a cinching of the front seatbelts. There is also a lane-departure warning system, radar-based cruise control, and cameras that surround the car and warn of potential problems. This King Kia is most like the big Lexus LS 460 sedan in acceleration and comfort and ride. Only thousands less. A final note, when you come close to the Kia it senses your arrival and the outside mirrors open up to greet you. So cool.

Dad’s view: The Kia is 17 feet in length and that challenges the biggest Jaguars, BMW 7 Series and Lexus LS in this regard. The trunk is enormous, the acceleration linear and strong, and the rear seat spacious. The quiet and capable V8 engine and the transmission seamless. That being said, the handling is competent, but not inspiring. The fuel range isn’t great and the comfy sedan could use a bit more steering feel. This is a car that could challenge those taking the proposed high speed train to the San Francisco area. It is fast, smooth and relaxing. A hundred mile trip is almost too short for this long legged runner. The heads-up speedometer display needs to be checked often as the Kia is sneaky fast and goes about its task in silence. You can let the cruise control do the work and even to the point of stopping the car. That pesky mountian pass in your way, would a 0 to 60 mph in 5.5 seconds and 0-100 mph in about 13 seconds Kia V8 be of assistance? Suspension is all independent with the emphasis on comfort. At present, Kia’s only option is the $6,000 VIP package with heated and ventilated rear seats, an extendable cushion for the driver a huge monitor, active cruise control and more. Worth it? Well, the total price is still between $10,000 and $50,000 under the competition. Well played, Kia.

Young working woman’s view: It is not unusual to say that a Kia is a bargain, but at $60,000 plus? Well, yes. And for those willing to take the leap of faith the world-class 10-year/100,000-mile warranty provides a nice landing for those adverse to risk. One caveat is to make sure you spend a few hours with the sales person because the K900 has enough programs to challenge even a 12-year-old. For example, when the blind-spot warning beeper aggressive audio alarm goes off it isn’t just a warning, it is a threat. Stay put. Very noteworthy, pun intended.

Young working male’s view: The King Kia is loaded with interesting ideas. Sadly, I found that the GPS on this model was not as good as on the lesser Cadenza as it required the use of a BMW style control knob instead of a touch screen. There is also a head-up display that is extremely well thought out with speed, directions, and vehicle information. Entertainment comes from the 900-watt Lexicon high-fidelity audio system with a 12-channel amplifier, 17 speakers, and an inverted subwoofer. The K900 has Bluetooth, satellite programming, and AUX and USB ports. One feature that is clever is a Rear Cross Traffic Alert system that provides an audible warning to the driver if oncoming cross traffic is detected while backing. An option is the Surround View Monitor system that provides am image of what is next to the car in all directions. The Kia K900 is a tour de force and one early adopters should put on their list.

Family conference: The Kia K900’s stunning appearance belies its price. It provides elegance, oodles of features and quality attributes. If you are in the financial ballpark this is well worth a test drive. Long live the King.

Kia Sorento: A Jekyll and Hyde Bargain?

by The Car Family

for more reviews go to http://www.motorists.org/carfamily/

This is a Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde SUV. If you opt for for base four-cylinder engine you get exceptional gas mileage, literally the best in its class, but if you go with the optional six-cylinder you have one of the fastest in its class. We highly recommend you test both versions because they are that different, and consider the resale value for each version as well. The real life fuel mileage difference is about 3 mpg or ten percent better for the four cylinder version. Pricing starts well below $30,000 even with significant features that enrich the hot selling Sorento’s appeal.

As usual, Kia offers a host of standard items, an attractive exterior and comfortable interior, but there is a lot of competition in this category. One major consideration in this regard are dealership locations. There are about 2600 Kia dealers, for example, and over 4000 Chevrolet dealers. To take advantage of Kia’s excellent warranty being close to a dealership is a real plus. The reason we mention Chevrolet is that the Equinox is as close a competitor as you can get to the Sorento, but the former does not offer the third seat option. We recommend a back-to-back testing of these two vehicles.

Another Jekyll and Hyde part of the Sorento is its ability to transform itself from a five seater to one capable of holding seven thanks to an optional third row of seats. The rear two seats are a worthwhile option if you have children or supple adults willing to ride in coach.

Even a base model Kia has an abundance of standard features and the Sorento is no exception with such noteworthy items as Bluetooth and audio input jacks to note just a few. The more upscale versions of this Kia get downright fancy with GPS, garage door openers, more elegant interiors, and an array of sophisticated electronics.

Our favorite model was the EX equipped with a more potent four-cylinder engine and 18-inch wheels, automatic headlights, keyless ignition/entry, a better cooling and heating arrangement, eight-way power driver seat, leather upholstery and more. You can opt for the V6 as well. The top of the line Sorento SX comes only with the V6 and a plethora of features from LED tail lamps to rear air-conditioning and everything in between.

Mom’s View: Nice looking, decent interior features, and a useful cargo bay make the Sorento an attractive choice. However, if you get the V6 model be warned that the accelerator is a bit touchy and with the powerful engine you need to quickly learn to moderate your pedal pressure. It wants to go right now. Safetywise, the Sorento has antilock disc brakes, stability control, front active head restraints, front-seat side airbags and side curtain airbags for the first two rows and very good crash scores. I found the brakes satisfactory. The interior is nicely laid out and the materials are very upscale considering the pricing with plenty of storage bins and excellent visibility to the side and front. Overall, this is a good value, but select your model carefully as the standard features, such as the third row of seats are only be available on some models.

Dad’s view: The seats are comfortable, the ride a bit stern, and the three available engines as different as our Mr. Jekyll and Hyde. The base engine has a 2.4-liter four-cylinder engine that makes 175 horsepower and yields about 24 mpg in mixed driving. If you order the optional all wheel drive and pack the Kia you are going to note that it does not like long grades in hot weather. I recommend you order the direct-injected version of the 2.4-liter four-cylinder engine that produces 191 horsepower and gets excellent mileage. The bad boy is Kia’s 3.5-liter V6 that produces 276 horsepower and is quite fast for a SUV. Gas mileage suffers, but it may be worth it to those who live in the area of the country that has mountains or where you need all wheel drive. Sorento’s all use a six-speed automatic transmission that does its job without notice, but under power it can let you know when a shift has been made. Overall, a bargain.

Young working woman’s view: The Sorento may be a crossover, but it looks, feels, and drive large. It has good visibility, but that comes at a cost as shorter drivers need to pull themselves into the Kia. I found the Sorento fairly quiet and the controls easy to master. The steering is nicely weighted and the entire experience is pleasant, except for the touchy accelerator pedal. Truth be told, the Sorento looks much more expensive and drives that way, too.

Young, unemployed male’s view: Ten years building an open source computer business and one day it is all gone. The good news is that I still have my music, http://www.cdbaby.com/cd/simplethoughts and I was selected as the winner of the International Music competition. Meanwhile, back in the unemployment line, Sorento’s electronics need to be evaluated and I am the Man. Briefly, the voice operated system is similar, but superior to that in the quality deprived Ford line. The sound system is good overall. The GPS monitor is a bit frustrating to see in bright lighting conditions and it does not have the panache of the Nissan units. If you want value, try both the standard and upgraded versions before you decide which audio version. I would go with the $3400 Premium Package 2 and get the Infinity surround system, heated seats, the Panoramic sunroof and the extra seating.

Family conference: Without a doubt, whether or not you need a SUV with a third row of seats, the pricing and performance of the Kia should place it at the top of your shopping list. And its good quality ratings place it well above some of its competitors and there is always that warranty. The Sorento is certainly no Dr. Hyde.

For a list of all vehicle websites go to http://reacheverychild.com/business/index.html

Notable 2013 Cars

With an improving economy and the desire for many to own more fuel efficient vehicles a schism is between the practical and the look at me crowd is emerging. The result is more sophistication and a more difficult choice for buyers. It is no longer simple to buy a vehicle of your dreams without doing significant research. That is why sites such as this are so valuable in helping you winnow out the wheat from the chaff. Here are some of the most significant new cars at this point.

Acura ILX

The ILX is a more refined Honda Civic with upgrades nearly everywhere from the suspension to the interior to the engine. You can also get it as a hybrid or a hot rod version with 201-hp, 2.4-liter four-cylinder engine with a six-speed manual. Look for prices to go into the mid $30,000 range and start ten grand less.

Acura RDX

Small families in a hurry will like the RDX with a 3.5-liter V-6 creating 273 hp that uses a six-speed automatic. There is an available all-wheel-drive system. Priced between $35,000 and $41,000.

Acura RLX

For around $50,000 you can own all all new RLX that come with front wheel drive or as a hybrid with all drive. Lots of technology and fairly good fuel mileage as well. Pricing will most likely be around $50,000.

Audi Allroad

Audi Q5

Back again and this time a bit tame compared to the previous version. A tough looking little wagon with a turbocharged four cylinder engine. Figure $40,000, but not nearly as rugged as its older brother.

Audi RS5
The RS5 coupe has a V8 that makes 450 hp and is mated to a even-speed transmission and all wheel drive. This slippery two door is going to make friends quickly with the highway patrol as the rear spoiler deploys automatically at 75 mph. Perhaps a performance bargain at $80,000 or so.

Audi S6
Now with a twin-turbo V-8, eight-speed automatic transmission and a plethora of high end goodies, this Audi combines both performance and luxury.

Audi S7

Similar in nearly every way to the S6, except it costs more and is a hatchback.

Audi S8
The S8 is a big, fast sedan with power from a twin-turbo V-8 trumps and an abundance of technology and performance features. Oh, this 520 horsepower version is going to cost you well over $100,000.

Bentley Continental GT V8

We thought the GT was a bargain at $150,000 when it came out ten years ago. It now $177,000 and up, and you are reduced to just eight cylinders. Oh, you still have 500 horsepower and are driving one of the world’s most expensive gas hogs.
BMW 640i Gran Coupe

It is all about looks with this sort of new model with previous mechanics and a sculptured four door design. If you like it and have close to $80,000 you won’t have to worry about some of the impractical elements such as a small trunk and reduced visibility, You also need to control your impulses when deciding on options. but you are going to be seem in one of the all time family friendly babe magnets.
BMW M6
Seriously expense with a turbocharged V-8 places 560 hp at your disposal. For about $107,000 this is a very fast machine that handles well. Best advise, pay an extra seven grand and get the convertible. Rich speed demons will love it.

BMW X1

BMW X1

A small SUV with the BMW character for those with over $30,000, this model looks a lot like its sister, the X3 with the same engines, all wheel drive availability, the availability of a M Sports package. A plethora of options, but most important was the fact that this just might be the most useful and “inexpensive” BMW you can buy.

Buick Encore

A small Buck, who would have thought. Nevertheless, GMC is on a roll and this is one luxury placed small car, but far from tiny. The 1.4-liter turbo four-cylinder has plenty of pep and the interior r is very upscale, Look for pricing I the $20,000 plus range. Going to be interesting to see if this model brings the younger fold to the dance.

Buick Verano Turbo

The news this year is the turbo and, honest, you can order this Buick with a manual transmission. Add the usual Buick reliability and interior treatments and you have a fun, fast, family vehicle for about $30,000.
Cadillac ATS

The American BMW, this line of Cadillacs has a vast array of options from turbocharged four and six cylinders power plants to a manual transmission to all wheel drive and sophisticated suspensions. Starting prices around $34,000.
Cadillac XTS

This bigger cad is big and filled with luxury features as those of olden days. A 300 hp plus engine makes it a highway cruiser. With options the $45,000 price sprints to nearly $60,000 for this front wheel drive model. The Cue system takes voice cues and runs the information and entertainment controls. Huge touch screen. A lot of car for the money.

Chevrolet Corvette 427 convertible

Convertible, that is all you need to know. Over 500 horsepower and the wind in your hair for $77.000 or so.

2013-Chevrolet-Corvette-427-054-medium

Chevrolet Impala
A fresh face, underpinnings, and a 2.5-liter engine, a 2.4-liter hybrid and a 3.6-liter V-6 with 303 hp to keep face with the competition. Priced well under $30,000. Much more youthful looking then Ford. I family oriented winner.

Chevrolet Malibu

A couple of engine options including a form of hybrid for his well priced and equipped model.
Don’t pay more for the competition until you check it out. Prices starting around $22,000.

Chevrolet Sonic RS

A sporty compact, this sleek model has upgraded appearance and suspension and brakes. . The turbo engine creates excitement and at $20,100 it does that.

Chevrolet Spark
This is a price leader with great fuel mileage and room for four adults. Prices too low to mention here. Just kidding. About $13,000.

Dodge Dart
Built on a sporty Alfa Romeo platform and sharp looking, the Dart is a a low priced, well finished car that should draw people back to the dealerships who are looking for value and looks. Starts under $17,000.

Fiat 500L

Bigger may be better. We love the Fiat for what it is, fun-to-drive and cute. The new version is bigger and more expensive. If you need four doors this Fiat may be just right.

Ford C-Max
The C-Max hybrid can be ordered as a standard hybrid or a plug-in. We tend to wait a while before buying new vehicles laden with technology.

Ford Escape

Ditto, the Escape is all new in design and look for prices to be higher as well. A lot of competition in this segment and the trick rear hatch that opens by detecting your foot passing under the rear part of the vehicle is interesting, but what about just hitting the remote keyfob?

Ford Fusion

Well, it sure looks different and comes with a variety of power train configurations. Look for competitive pricing, but check out Ford’s quality ratings first. The are now 23rd, according to J.D. Powers.

GMC Terrain Denali

More is the operative word here. More safety features, comfort and good fuel economy with the base engine. If you must have a SUV, this one is highly recommended with great fuel economy and interior room. Priced in the mid $20,000 range for the base version.

Honda Accord
Honda does not let us test their vehicles. As such all we can say is that there is a lot of competition in this category and we highly recommend you drive them all before making a decision. Do your homework first, because there are a lot of options. As for hybrids, Honda has lagged behind Toyota in this regard for years after getting a headstart with its terrific, but small, Insight. If you are considering this type of power train take the time to see the price of replacement battery packs, too. We can recommend three Honda models based on past experience. First, the expensive Odyssey van. Next the CRV crossover. Finally, the Fit with the latter being the best value overall.
Hyundai Elantra GT

Elantra GT

Elantra GT

An exceptional combination of sporty, fuel frugal, and family friendly features makes this bargain priced Hyundai a great choice for those on a budget or who just like to have fun. Prices under $19,000 to start. Remember, if you don’t want the sporty model the base Elantra is a winner, too. Hyundai is clearly providing good looking vehicles with superior gas mileage and warranty. If you have a dealership near check out the line.

Hyundai Santa Fe

With room for seven in some versions, the Hyundai is loaded with features and priced right starting at $23,000. Expect gas mileage to be in the low 20 mpg range. The Sport model has two rows of seats. If you choice to go with front wheel drive and the smaller engine your mileage could easily be 30 percent better.

Hyundai Veloster Turbo

Looks and features are the reason for the Veloster. Good fuel economy, reasonable performance and interesting options for about $23,000.

Infiniti JX35

A three row SUV, this well equipped luxury model is an extensive list of safety items and enough goodies to entertain the family as well. Prices start at $41,000.

Lexus ES
The bread and butter car of the Lexus line-up along with the RX, the new ES is longer and better and improved in every regard. Excellent fuel mileage and performance make this a dominate player in this market segment. Also available as a hybrid and you can average nearly 40 mpg in mixed driving with this option.

Lincoln MKZ

Interesting looking and using a variety of engine combinations that are shared with the Ford Fusion, the MKZ can be ordered with all wheel drive and as a hybrid. Prices around $36,000. A direct competitor to the Lexus ES so check resale values, too.

Mazda CX-5

Mazda5

A tremendous value in base form, this SUVish hauler gets a class leading 25 to 31 mpg and plenty of technology and standard features. There isn’t much downside on this model, and it even is available with all wheel drive. Prices start in the low $20,000 range, but don’t expect luxury, expect a useful people mover that will probably be invisible to the highway patrol.

Mercedes-Benz GL
The GL can be order with a Bluetec’s turbo-diesel, a V-6 a V8, a 4.7-liter turbo, or an AMG 5.5-liter twin turbo V-8 so be prepared to spend some time test driving a variety before buying. The new model can hold seven passengers. Prices start around the mid-$60,000 range and escalate to well over $100,000 depending on your need for speed.

Mercedes-Benz GLK250 Bluetec

It is here, a diesel SUV, and with prices below $40,000 and fuel mileage in the 22 mpg range it might make sense, but be aware the higher diesel fuel costs must be considered in comparison to the premium fuel recommended for gas engined versions.

Mini Paceman

Interesting looks is what this Mini offers. Priced around the mid $20,000 depending on options.

Nissan Altima

Believe it or not this Nissan is catching on with those who like value, performance and features. Only the Toyota Camry sold more in this market segments. It is fun to drive and if you are easy on throttle with the base engine you can easily get 35 mpg. A best value if you are looking for a family car that doesn’t take away driving enjoyment.

Nissan Pathfinder

Now a crossover, the Pathfinder gets better fuel-economy, a better ride, and treats inhabitants better. Priced in the $30,000 area, the model has a lockable all wheel drive option and third row seating. It also has the great Nissan’s Around View monitor that must be seen to be believed. That alone is worth a drive to the Nissan dealership.

Porsche Boxster

All new and sharper looking and more expensive, this Porsche is no longer the poor man’s 911, but now stands alone as a top performing sports car. The S model is the one to have, but the extra horsepower will cost you over $10,000 more. Base price is about $50,000.

Scion FR-S and Subaru BRZ

Scion_FRS

The Scion is less expensive, but both sporty cars are back to basics funmobiles. The reason we compared them together is that they were developed together. In a way, they are the new Mazda Miata with a starting price in the mid $20,000, a long list of extra cost options, and Subaru’s four cylinder, 200-hp boxer engine. As close to a thrill ride is you are going to get for this price and and it has a 25 combined mpg to justify the purchase.

SRT Viper

Priced about $90,000 and with enough horsepower to challenge most anything this side of a drag strip, the modernized Viper is no longer so touchy to drive with electronics to help control the power.

Subaru XV Crosstrek

The XV Crosstrek is a more outdoor friendly Impreza. Cute, gets exceptional gas mileage for an all wheel drive vehicle, and with a starting price around $20,000 well equipped, this crossover might have the right combination to attract more buyers the same way the Outback did for the Legacy.

Tesla Model S

Tesla is a sporty electric motor powered sedan that is sexy and handles well. Driving range between charges depends on speed and the use of other features such as air-conditioning. The best thing about this model is that it is available. A tribute to tenacity. If you have the money this is a car you want to be seen driving.

Toyota Avalon

Bigger, no. Better, yes. This is a far sportier, more fun to drive, and still roomy sedan. Same engine options as the Camry. A great family sedan starting above $30,000 and more eager to please. Passengers will never know it isn’t a Lexus.

Volkswagen Beetle Convertible

_VW_Beetle

Sleeker, but retaining its charm, the new Beetle has the same engines as its hard-top VW sisters. Prices should hoover around the $30,000 range. And wait till you see the option packages that date from previous decades. Cool. You just have to go.

Family conference: Our favorites are the new Audi sedans with diesel powerplants, the BMW X1, Scion FR-S and Subaru BRZ, Buick Encore, and Elantra. We think Buick, Subaru, Nissan, Audi, Toyota, and Kia/Hyundai are on winning streaks.

Kia vs. Hyundai: Looks are Everything

by

The Car Family

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Forget what your mother told you, looks are everything. At least that is the case when it comes to comparing these two Korean built hybrids. Although there are small differences in features, interior appointments, and cost, they both have the same DNA. The result is a win-win for buyers who just might want to ignore outward appearances and go for the best deal. We liked the handling of the Kia and the ride of the Hyundai, but there were only minor differences.

As for real world driving, both cars have the same powertrain, the same hesitancy when shifting between electric and gasoline power, and abundance of standard features. These cars can easily take you to Las Vegas and back and still have enough fuel for a trip or two to Angel Stadium. They are rated at 40 mpg on the highway, but expect 35 mpg if you don’t stick to the posted speed limits.

The sedans use a 2.4-liter Atkinson cycle four-cylinder engine, complemented by an electric drive system using a 34-kilowatt lithium polymer battery pack that weighs just 96 pounds. The combined 204 horsepower is mated to a six-speed automatic transmission. The real surprise is that the Sonata’s battery pack has been given a lifetime warranty, according to Hyundai. That is remarkable as most battery packs cost several thousand dollars and another thousand to install.

As a full hybrids these cars can use either the gas engine, the electric motor, or both, and don’t require plug-in charging. They have a fairly tidy turning radius and visibility is good to the front and sides. The rear vision is more limited. There is an abundance of standard equipment, which has become the hallmark of this manufacture. Our test vehicle had the optional traffic data system that provides suggestions for detours when traffic is blocked. You can even get voice command. There is a lot of technology here that rivals the much more expensive Ford products, the these cars have superior warranties.

Mom’s view: I didn’t like the hick-up I felt when the computer software didn’t seem to know which gear and which mode, electric or gas or both, to use when freeway driving. It doesn’t take long to get become acclimatized to it, but the Toyota’s are smoother. Interestingly, the car could revert to electric only mode even when cruising on the freeway. The interiors are very different and I liked the Sonata’s better. However, it is a matter of taste and the fit and finish were excellent for the price for the Kia and the Hyundai. You lose some trunk room because of the battery placement,but that is the only negative (pun intended). Roomy, family friendly, and with an excellent warranty, it is difficult to resist especially with the Kia/Hyundai legendary warranty. A worthy effort.

Dad’s view: The Kia wants to play, the Hyundai would prefer you stayed on the freeway and enjoyed the ride. Simply pressing a button puts the car into “Blue Drive” which means the software is doing all it can to increase miles per gallon. The accelerator pedal felt a little softer in this mode, but I didn’t notice much difference other than that. Lithium polymer battery packs are expensive, we know, we have been into electric powered vehicles for nearly a decade now. That Hyundai warranty takes a lot of the fear out of hybrid ownership. Although we like Toyota’s hybrid line-up better, it does not offer the unique options these sedans offer or the trendy styling. These cars should be on test drive list if you need a one car does it all sedan.

 

Young working man’s view: The electronics are first rate and the Infiniti audio system and the Bluetooth capabilities are going to tax your teenager’s patience as they provide such an array of choices from phone to music to traffic. Now which one gets the priority? I think we know. I like the Kia best. The looks grab you, and the interior is a little, ah, more youthful. The 4.3-inch color LC D touch screen, rear view camera and voice recognition are all worthwhile. These are truly unique hybrids.

Working woman’s view: I like the ouch sensitive screen and the fact you can get five adults in without much hassle. The Eco scoring system must be seen. It sort of makes driving the car efficiently like a computer game. The seats are a bit thin on padding, but easy to adjust. The ergonomics are first rate. These cars made you feel comfortable when you are driving. Almost everywhere you look there are thoughtful touches such as an abundance of storage nooks. They even have an engine sound system that lets pedestrians know you are coming when the car is running in its siletn electric mode. I also liked the heated and cooled seats, excellent crash scores, and the many standard safety features. A feel good car.

Family conference: There are alternatives, such as the Toyota Prius and the newly redone Camry hybrid, but for fuel economy and standard features the Kia and Hyundia should be on anyone’s short list of family oriented hybrids. Before you drive on check out the manufacture websites so that you can see the option packages. However, in the end, as always, it will probably be the looks that seals the decision. Sorry, Mom.

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