Saturday Road Test – Kia Sorento





2015 Sorento

2016 Sorento

All-new 2016 Sorento 3.3-liter V6 SXL

All-new 2016 Sorento 3.3-liter V6 SXL

2016 Kia Sorento

A Hot Item in a Hot Market

By Ron Amadon

DAMASCUS, MD. – In a land where families once favored large (fake) wood sided cars called “Station Wagons” tastes have changed. Now the hottest market is for midsize crossovers with wood making a more tasteful move to the interior on upscale models.

Kia is a key player in this realm, and keeps the heat on the competition by redesigning its Sorento for the new model year. In addition to a crisp new look outside, the interior moves upscale trim wise, and the wheelbase grows three inches to 109.4 inches for additional cargo space and improved ride quality.

A 2.0-liter, 240 horsepower turbo four is now included in the engine lineup and the base 2.4 liter four carries over with its 185 horsepower. The test Sorento had the more powerful 3.3-liter V6 with 290 ponies and 252 lb-ft of torque. I recommend it.

Matched with a six speed automatic the combination is rated at 18 to 26 miles per gallon with 21 mpg combined. I came in at 22 mpg in a week’s worth of driving.

With the six, Kia said the Sorento can tow up to 5,000 pounds, a not insignificant gain of 1,500 pounds from the previous model.

Finding one that fits your option desires and budget should be easy given that Kia offers the Sorento in eight different trim levels from “L” on up to “Limited V6.” The test vehicle was outfitted in EX trim – smack dab in the middle of the list.

It came well equipped with standard dual zone automatic climate control, rear camera display, satellite radio, Bluetooth, leather seat trim, 50/50 split folding third row seats, and heated outside mirrors among other items.

A $2,500 EX “Premium Package” added push button start, power folding exterior mirrors, Blindspot Detection and Cross-Traffic Alert, among other items. A nice touch entering after dark was the “Smart Welcome Door Illumination.” One option that teens might hate and parents might love is curfew alert.

One must move up to the V6 to get the third row seats with overall room for seven, otherwise there are two rows with room for five.

The second row gains a half inch of legroom for the new year with very versatile seats that slide back and forth, recline and fold flat when cargo hauling is included in weekend chores. The third row is best reserved for the younger members of the dynasty but the Kia is hardly alone here.

In the nifty features department was a liftgate that will open itself if you stand near it for a few seconds with the key fob in your purse or pocket. Handy when you’ve had an intense visit to the farmer’s market.

If you look at the price sticker and wonder what “Driver Mode Select” is, it allows the operator to choose different transmission shift points and steering effort. My guess is most will leave it in Normal, but Dad might select Sport when he is alone on back roads, where the Sorento performed rather well for this type of vehicle. Frugal operators might keep it in Eco.

The ride was neither too soft nor too hard with the all wheel drive EX performing admirably on a semi-washed out mountain topping dirt road. But one would do well to limit off road expeditions, in that this is not what the vehicle was designed for.

Base price is $24,900 for what Kia calls its “perfect getaway vehicle.” With transportation included, the test Kia came to $37,045 – more than reasonable in today’s market.

With its attractive new exterior design, more upscale interior, driver friendly controls, easy cargo loading, and Kia’s well known long list of standard features, this should be, I believe, your first choice to test drive if you are looking for a midsize crossover. And there is that 10 year, 100,000 mile limited powertrain warranty.





Auto News for Aug. 21

The average used car is getting younger and more expensive according to Edmunds. Com. The average price hit a record high of $18,800 in the second quarter, a 7.6 percent increase from a year earlier. The average age of used cars was 4.5 years, down from an average of 4.9 percent in the past year. Edmunds said the influx of lease returns is the major reason why. Pickups are seeing the highest price increase while cars are generally showing declines. The average amount financed on a used car is $20,732, a three percent gain year over year.

When you sit down in a new or used car can you tell if the seats are made of leather or leatherette that is actually vinyl? Consumer responses indicate that leather and leatherette have such a similar look and feel that it’s difficult to tell the difference, according to a study from J.D. Power. That’s beneficial to automakers who can offer leatherette at a fraction of the cost of the real thing. And Power said designing seats to accommodate a range of consumer sizes continues to be an issue for suppliers Those who are shorter and weigh less than 135 pounds report more seat problems than other size ranges.

The redesigned Honda Pilot for 2016 has earned a Top Safety Pick Plus rating from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety when the vehicle is equipped with optional front crash protection. It is the group’s highest rating.


How does a Mustang with a 5.2-liter V8 cranking out 526 horsepower and 429 lb-ft of torque sound to you? Think it might be fast? Well, the first of what will be a limited production Shelby GT 350 and more track oriented GT350R rolled off the production line yesterday. The cars will appear in showrooms this fall. Only 100 of the GT350s and 37 of the GT350Rs will be offered.



Auto News for Aug. 20

141202_Ferrari FXXK33056 - Very High Res.jpg 962419_Aston Martin Vulcan_01McLaren

As we all await a getaway Friday, let’s savor three of the world’s greatest cars that few would pass up the chance to own, if only the bank account were more robust. The news peg on this is that the three, the McLaren P1 GTR, Ferrari FXX K, and the Aston Martin Vulcan will be on display at the Salon Preve to be held at Blenheim Palace in the UK next month. All three of the cars have six figure price tags, extremely limited production numbers, and ownership by invitation only. While it is rather unlikely that either you dear reader or I will attend this event, let’s just enjoy the pictures and dream.

Audi has confirmed that its e-tron Quattro concept will be displayed at the Frankfurt auto show next month. It is designed from the ground up as an electric car and should make its market debut in 2018 with a range of just over 300 miles. See a teaser drawing of the concept in yesterday’s Auto News.

General Motors will spend $9.1 million to increase production at its Oshawa, Ontario plant, a facility that it has often threatened to close. Now it wants improvements to crank out more of the Chevy Equinox so it has extended plant production until 2017.


They did it! A 1915 Model T Ford has completed a more than 3,500 mile trek across the United States recreating the journey that Edsel Ford and six friends took 100 years ago. Back in ’15 it arrived in San Francisco from Detroit in time for the World’s Fair. The whereabouts of the original Edsel Ford Model T is not known. You can see the latest car’s arrival at the Palace of Fine Arts and learn more about the trip at:

It will take part in ceremonies marking the 100th anniversary of the fair.

Auto News for Aug. 19

audi-e-tron-quattro-conceptaudi concept interior

Audi has released some teaser drawings of an all-electric SUV that it hopes to have on the market in 2018. It is said to have a range of 310 miles and a low coefficient of drag of just 0.25 – something Audi said is a record for any sport utility. Size wise it will be somewhere between the current Q5 and the Q7 according to some reports and will be displayed in some form at the Frankfurt Auto Show in mid-September. Audi said a large lithium-ion battery will be located between the axles and below the passenger compartment and three electric motors – one on the front axle and two on the rear axle – will drive the vehicle. A challenge to Tesla? Sounds like it!

A Toyota official has told Bloomberg that the next generation Prius will be displayed to the press on Sept. 8 in Las Vegas. The hybrid has not been updated since 2009.

There will be a delay in the introduction of the incredible Acura NSX. It was expected to hit the market by the end of the year, but now may not appear until next spring. Acura cited a change to a more powerful engine and the design alterations that came with it as the reasons for the delay.

Women tend to believe in the technology and safety potential of connected vehicles and autonomous driving much more so than men, according to a survey of more a thousand people conducted by Jabian Automotive. A total of 38 percent of women believe driverless cars are the wave of the future, compared to only 21 percent of men. More than half of the women surveyed would pay for an app that allows their car to communicate what’s wrong with it prior to service, compared to only 38 percent of men. Jabian said women want to use technology for convenience and empowerment, while men tend to favor its use for efficiency and entertainment. One quarter of the women in the study said they would get rid of their car in favor of public or alternative transportation if it was available, compared to only 15 percent of men.

Auto News for Aug. 18

Police in Detroit have recovered the 1971 Camaro that belongs to Papa John’s Pizza and was stolen during the annual Dream Cruise event. The Detroit News said it was located between two boarded up houses in the city and first spotted by a lawn maintenance man.

Let’s emphasize that this is a routine event in auto talks. The United Auto Workers will ask members for the right to call a strike against Fiat Chrysler and General Motors if contract talks bog down or hit an impasse, but this does not mean that a walkout will actually occur. A four year contact with the auto companies is coming to an end in mid-September and the main issue will be how much of Detroit’s current sales prosperity will be shared with union members.

The Detroit Free Press reports that Buick would like to start selling a Chinese made crossover here in the U.S. by late next year. It has been a hot seller for the General in China and is about the size of a Honda CRV, so it is right in the middle of the hottest segment of the domestic market. The question of whether the crossover would be imported from China or manufactured here could be a tricky one.

Auto Pacific is out with its list of the vehicles that best meet their owner’s expectations and desires, known as the “Ideal Vehicle Awards.” Porsche ranks as the top luxury brand for the third year in a row while GMC tops popular brand honors for the second year in a row. Ford and Subaru picked up three wins apiece.

The airport in Portland, Oregon now says it has more electric vehicle charging stations than any other airport in the country – 42 of them. They will be available to airport workers and to travelers.

And it is worth noting that to mark its tenth anniversary of supporting Habitat for Humanity, Nissan announced a $1-million grant and the donation of ten vehicles to the organization. Nissan workers will also volunteer to help build housing both in the U.S. and Canada.



Auto News for Aug. 17

The big Dream Cruise of classic cars and trucks went off pretty well over the weekend in the Detroit area with the exception of three classic cars reported stolen. The Detroit News reported that one, a 1971 Camaro, belongs to the Papa John’s Pizza Corporation and was used for promotional purposes.

wedding vows

On a brighter note, more than 150 classic car owners renewed their marriage vows in their vehicles at the Dream Cruise. The event was sponsored by Hagerty, a leading insurance provider for classic vehicles. “So many special life moments that create lasting memories are connected to cars. We wanted to find a way to rekindle those memories for couples who love their cars almost as much as they love each other,” said McKeel Hagerty, the insurance firm’s CEO. Pictured are Gordon and Geri Rinschler of Birmingham, Mi., who were married 47 years ago in the very same 1930 Model A Ford.

Those giant explosions and fire in China have forced Toyota to shut down three of its production lines until at least Wednesday. The three lines are in a plant included in the evacuation zone. Another facility further away depends on those facilities for parts, and it too will be idle.

Fiat Chrysler will part of the marketing campaign for the new Star Wars film that will open to popcorn consumers in December. It is not known which models will be included in the campaign. A black Hellcat model called the “Darth Vader?”

Saturday Road Test – Mazda CX-9


Mazda CX-9

Room for Seven

By Ron Amadon

DAMASCUS, MD. – Mazda calls the CX-9 its “Elder Statesman” given the fact that it has been around since 2007. While there are ample suggestions that a replacement model is on the way, right now we know more about the El Nino in the Pacific than the CX-9 to be. (More on that later.)

None of this should deter you from checking out the current model that offers three row seating for seven, excellent cargo space, good power and comfort for the crowd.


The top-of-the-line test vehicle was a Grand Touring All Wheel Drive well equipped with 20-inch alloy wheels, and rain sensing wipers, fog lights, power lift gate, bi-xenon high intensity automatic off/on headlights, and three-position memory driver’s seat.

A Tech Package added a 10-speaker Bose sound system, a Tom-Tom based navi system and satellite radio for $2,435 that also included a moonroof. There were multi-adjustable leather seats in front that were also heated. You may not engage that feature for while but hey, Halloween stuff is already in stores and on some lawns.

The 5.8 inch touch screen was on the small side and didn’t offer all the features of newer models. I was not a fan of the clamshell like doors that open on the center arm rest console.

Certainly of interest to families would be the optional rear seat entertainment option with DVD player, 9-inch screen and an 11 speaker Bose audio system. However, then you say farewell to the moonroof. Which would the kiddos vote for on a long trip?

For those with longer legs or a build like Ronda Rousey, the second row seats not only slide back and forth, they recline. Headroom was a tad tight for third row passengers, but getting there was easy. Fold everything down and you create 101 cubic feet of cargo capacity, enough to put a smile on the face of the store manager at the big box hardware store.

Up front is a 3.7-liter V6 with 273 horsepower and 270 lb-ft of torque married to a six speed automatic. There was plenty of power for most needs with an EPA rating of 16-22 mpg with an average of 18. During a week of testing in the city, country and on the interstates, I came in at 18 mpg. And praise be there is no CVT.


Everything was quiet and peaceful inside so the CX-9 would be perfect for long distance trips and the ride was comfortable on all types of roads. Handling was better than one might expect in a family style SUV – zoom zoom anyone?

With options, the test vehicle, and remember this is a top-of-the-line model, came to $39,890 a figure that you could easily ring up among its competitors. If it is space and a touch or three of sportiness that you are looking for, check out the CX-9 in its current form.


Looking ahead, as was mentioned in a recent “Auto News” column, Mazda will use the Frankfurt auto show unveil a new crossover concept, presumably the replacement for the CX-9. But we will not know for sure until the German auto show opens on Sept. 15 to the press. Still others say the new CX-9 will make an appearance at the Los Angeles show in November.

So change is in the winds, like the El Nino.

Some Specs:


3.7-liter DOHC 24-valve V6

Horsepower: 273 @ 6,250 rpm

Torque: 270 lb-ft @ 4,250 rpm

Redline: 6,500 rpm

Recommend Fuel: Regular Unleaded

Drivetrain: Front-wheel drive or Active torque Split All-Wheel Drive

Automatic Transmission: 6-speed electronically controlled Sport with Adaptive Shift Logic and sport shift mode.

Turning circle, curb-to-curb: 37.4 ft

Suspension: Front MacPherson strut with stabilizer bar

Rear: Multilink with stabilizer bar

Brakes: 4-wheel disc

Curb weight: Front wheel drive 4323 pounds

All Wheel Drive: 4959 pounds