2013 Kia Optima SX Limited: Akatuki4 Review

Posted in Car Reviews, Featured, Import Review, Kia, Akatuki4 Review by Kurt Ernst | February 25th, 2013 | Leave a Reply |

2013 Kia Optima SXL

Thumbs Up: Looks good, best-equipped Kia we’ve ever driven

Thumbs Down: More chrome does not equal more luxury

Buy This Car If: You’re a Kia loyalist who’s looking for entry-level luxury

Not too many years ago, Korean automotive brands were shopped almost exclusively by those who couldn’t afford a Japanese alternative. Then Hyundai and Kia borrowed a page from the Japanese automaker playbook; once they’d drawn in the initial batch of customers with low prices, the Korean brands began to step up quality. Read More…

2012 Kia Soul +: Akatuki4 Review

Posted in Car Reviews, Featured, Import Review, Kia, Akatuki4 Review by Kurt Ernst | June 5th, 2012 | Leave a Reply |

2012 Kia Soul +

Thumbs Up: Great value for the money

Thumbs Down: A little heavy on the bling for some

Buy This Car If: You’re looking for affordable and stylish basic transportation

The all-important Millennial age group is the auto industry’s equivalent to Captain Ahab’s vexing white whale. Try though they might, automakers just can’t seem to pen a ride that’s universally loved by the under-30 crowd. The automotive landscape is littered with failed attempts to lure young buyers, including the now discontinued Honda Element (much beloved by those over 50), the underselling Nissan cube and the cancelled-at-the-end-of-current-production Scion xB. Read More…

Out Of The Habitrail And Into The Hood: Kia’s Hamsters Are Back

Posted in Funny Videos, Kia, Videos by Kurt Ernst | August 29th, 2011 | 1 Response |

When Kia launched their original hamster ad for the Soul MPV, it took the advertising world by storm. Everyone loved the driving and rapping rodents, so Kia’s decided to bring them back to shill for the 2012 Kia Soul, which now delivers better horsepower and improved fuel economy compared to last year’s model. What’s your take on the shuffling hamsters dancing through a post apocalyptic landscape in Kia’s latest ad? Is it rodents FTW, or is it time to break out the baited mousetraps? Read More…

2011 Kia Forte SX Hatchback – Akatuki4 Review

Posted in Car Buying, Featured, Import Review, Kia, Akatuki4 Review by Kurt Ernst | June 20th, 2011 | 4 Responses |

2011 Kia Forte SX Hatchback

Thumbs Up: Exceptional value, remarkable build quality

Thumbs Down: Automatic transmission has pointless manual function

Buy This Car If: You’re looking for the best bang for the buck in a five door hatch

Let’s say you’re in the market for a five door, compact hatchback. Chances are good that you’ll shop the new Ford Focus, and you’ll certainly look at the VW Golf. If you like driving and want sharp handling, you’ll add the Mazda 3 to the list; live somewhere where winter is a factor and you may add the AWD Toyota Matrix or Subaru Legacy as well. Chances are good that your shopping list won’t include the Kia Forte Hatchback, and that‘s a shame since you’d be missing a valid contender for compact hatchback supremacy. Read More…

2011 Kia Optima EX: Akatuki4 Review

Posted in Car Buying, Featured, Import Review, Kia, Akatuki4 Review by Kurt Ernst | May 31st, 2011 | Leave a Reply |

2011 Kia Optima EX

Thumbs Up: Comfort and luxury at an affordable price.

Thumbs Down: Needs a proper sport-shift automatic and less body roll.

Buy This Car If: You want a near luxury sedan that’s fun to drive, at a great price.

The previous generation of the Kia Optima was a blend-into-the background sedan that could hardly be called aspirational. It was a car that you had to justify to your neighbors by saying, “I got a good deal on it. A really good deal.” That’s no longer the case with Kia’s midsize sedan, which boasts jaw-dropping good looks, amazing fit and finish, a stylish and comfortable interior and a price that’s thousands less than equivalent cars from better known brands. The new Optima is a bona fide sales success for Kia, and the Optima drew more questions and praise from friends and neighbors than any other press fleet car in recent memory (except, of course, the Kia Optima Turbo). Read More…

2011 Kia Sportage EX AWD: Akatuki4 Review

Posted in Featured, Import Review, Kia, Akatuki4 Review by Kurt Ernst | May 16th, 2011 | Leave a Reply |

2011 Kia Sportage EX

Thumbs Up: It’s the best looking compact crossover on the market.

Thumbs Down: Lacks interior space and headroom compared to others.

Buy This Car If: You want a decent handling CUV with a unique sense of style.

The Kia Sportage has been sold on and off in the U.S. market since 1995, but you’re forgiven if you had no idea that it’s been around so long. The first generation, sold here from 1995 through 2002 was an anonymous box-on-box compact SUV notable only for introducing the knee airbag in 1998. The second generation, introduced here in 2005, was a little more stylish, a little better built and a lot more popular with the general public. Kia sold over 190,000 second generation Sportages over a five year period, helped by the truck’s five star NHTSA rating. The conventional box-on-box styling was a step forward from the first generation, but it was still evolutionary, not revolutionary. Consumers bought the second generation Sportage because it was a safe car at a good price, not because of its stunning good looks. Read More…

Kia To Begin Building Optima Sedans In Georgia

Posted in auto industry, Hyundai, Kia, News by Kurt Ernst | April 23rd, 2011 | 2 Responses |

Kia’s manufacturing facility in West Point, GA, is currently busy cranking out their Sorrento crossover alongside Hyundai’s Santa Fe SUV. There’s still some capacity leftover, so the Korean automaker has announced plans to begin building their new Optima sedan in the Georgia plant. Even better, this move will create an estimated 700 new jobs within Kia’s plant, which will have a ripple effect on the local economy. Kia says the overall net effect will be 7,500 more jobs for local suppliers, but that estimate may be generous; still, I give a big thumbs up to any company creating jobs in the current economy. Read More…

Kia Celebrates Their First Race Win

Posted in auto industry, Kia, News, Racing Coverage by Kurt Ernst | April 15th, 2011 | 2 Responses |

The Kinetic Motorsports Kia Forte Koup. Image: Kia Motors

This may not seem like big news, but it is: Kia Motors is celebrating their first professional racing victory, earned at last weekend’s Continental Tire Sports Car Challenge event at Barber Motorsports Park. A Kia Forte Koupe, driven by Michael Galati and Nic Jönsson, gained the lead on lap 54 and fought off the BMW 128i of Tim Bell and BJ Zacharias for the win in the Street Tuner (ST) class. Although this is Kia’s second year of professional racing, 2010 was considered a development year with little chance of podium finishes. Team expectations for 2011 were modest, and after the race driver Nic Jönsson remareked, “It’s so fantastic. Bringing Kia Motors to the top of the chart in one of the toughest sports car series in the world in less than two years. The goal for this year was to have one or two podiums. Now we have a first and a second.” Read More…

2011 Kia Optima SX Turbo: Akatuki4 Review

Posted in Featured, Import Review, Kia, Akatuki4 Review by Kurt Ernst | April 12th, 2011 | 12 Responses |

2011 Kia Optima SX Turbo

Thumbs Up: Style, performance and a surprisingly low price.

Thumbs Down: Where’s the six speed manual transmission?

Buy This Car If: You’re looking for the best value in a sporty sedan.

Friends and neighbors are used to a steady stream of press fleet cars in and out of my driveway. Most are met with indifference, since manufacturers typically supply a lot more crossovers, minivans and SUV than they do sport sedans or coupes. I’ve had my share of high profile, fun to drive cars, too, but none has ever attracted the same amount of attention as the 2011 Kia Optima SX Turbo. It seemed that no matter where I went, someone had questions on the car. Most started with “what kind of car is that?”, while those in the know usually began with “how do you like the new Optima?”. I’m convinced that I helped Kia sell at least three units (so remember me at Christmas time, Kia), but the most remarkable part of my week with the Optima Turbo was the realization that I’d buy one myself. Read More…

Behind The Scenes At Kia’s Epic Ride

Posted in Kia, Videos by Kurt Ernst | March 9th, 2011 | 1 Response |

It’s a story we’ve all seen before: cop steals car, which then gets hijacked by evil megalomaniac’s henchman in a helicopter. Poseidon intervenes and snatches car, crashing the helicopter and flooding Mr. Evildoer’s yacht. Aliens steal the car from Poseidon and beat feet back to their own planet, before the car is hijacked again and sucked through a wormhole opened by an Aztec priest. I think Shakespeare was the first to write this particular story, which has been ripped off by everyone from Kurosawa through Spielberg. Even Woody Allen wrote a script, but his story was more focused on the interplay between the neurotic Aztec priest and his overbearing wife.

Sarcasm aside, there seems to be two camps of people when it comes to Kia’s innovative Superbowl commercial: those who loved it and those who hated it. Either way, it was probably one of the most complex and expensive car ads ever filmed, and the video below shows you why. Read More…