Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Kia Accessory Store's Deal of the Week - 12/31/13 - 01/07/14

Save An Additional 10% On All Orders

Thank you for another great year. Have a safe and happy New Year!


Can not be combined with any other offer. Limit one coupon per order. Offer expires January 07, 2014 11:59pm (EDT). Please call 1-800-509-2652 for complete details.

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Kia Accessory Store's Deal of the Week - 12/17/13 - 12/24/13


Kia Accessory Store's Deal of the Week

Kia Genuine Hood and Bumper Protection


Hood protectors provide protection from stone chips, bug residue, and other road debris.

Rear bumper appliques provide protection for your rear bumper from the wear and tear of transporting goods.

Can not be combined with any other offer. Limit one coupon per order. Offer expires December 17, 2013 11:59pm (EDT). Please call 1-800-509-2652 for complete details.

*Shipping promotion only applicable to the lower 48 states. Does not apply to HI, AK, US territories, or international orders. Not responsible for typographical, technical, or descriptive errors of products herein. Prices are subject to change.

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Kia Accessory Store's Deal of the Week - 12/10/13 - 12/17/13


Kia Accessory Store's Deal of the Week

Kia Genuine Cargo Trays


Keep the original carpeting of your Kia's cargo area from wear and tear with these specially fitted Cargo Tray. Washable and durable, these tray will help your cargo area free from spills, dirt and other debris.

Can not be combined with any other offer. Limit one coupon per order. Offer expires December 17, 2013 11:59pm (EDT). Please call 1-800-509-2652 for complete details.

*Shipping promotion only applicable to the lower 48 states. Does not apply to HI, AK, US territories, or international orders. Not responsible for typographical, technical, or descriptive errors of products herein. Prices are subject to change.

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Kia Accessory Store's Deal of the Week - 12/03/13 - 12/10/13


Kia Accessory Store's Deal of the Week

Kia Genuine All Weather Floor Mats


Floor mats are something you probably don't think about very often. But if you consider the cost of replacement carpet for your car, floor mats suddenly become a fantastic value. Floor mats are required equipment when it comes to protecting your investment, especially if you live in an area that sees lots of winter weather. These rubber mats are made out of natural heavy-duty rubber and have molded channels designed to trap water, road salt, mud and sand. Made of pliable natural rubber, these mats won't curl or harden in sub-zero weather. Molded for a exact fit.

Can not be combined with any other offer. Limit one coupon per order. Offer expires December 31, 2013 11:59pm (EDT). Please call 1-800-509-2652 for complete details.

*Shipping promotion only applicable to the lower 48 states. Does not apply to HI, AK, US territories, or international orders. Not responsible for typographical, technical, or descriptive errors of products herein. Prices are subject to change.

Thursday, November 21, 2013

Free Shipping - BlackCyberSaturday Sale - Through December 31, 2013!

Where you going to find the best deals? Black Friday? Small Business Saturday? Cyber Monday? You don't have to wait! We are proud to announce FREE SHIPPING on all orders over $25.00 now through December 31, 2013. This is our way of saying thank you for all the support you have shown. Remember, your Kia deserves a gift too.

Kia Accessory Store would like to wish you a Happy Thanksgiving and a safe holiday!

Order now and avoid the rush! This offer expires December 31, 2013. For more information, please contact a member of our Parts and Accessories Department at 1-800-852-4216.

Thank you,

UPS holiday shipping schedule

Order before the following dates to ensure delivery before Christmas.
Applies to in stock items, out of stock parts may require additional handling time.


Monday December 16

3 Day

Wednesday December 18

2nd Day

Friday December 20


Monday December 23

Friday, November 15, 2013

KiaAccessoryStore's Deal of the Week 11/12/13 - 11/18/13


Kia Accessory Store's Deal of the Week

2012-2013 Kia Soul Retractable Cargo Cover

35% OFF - $226.40!

Protect your valuables from view with this Genuine Kia cargo screen. Fits in the factory holes on your trim panels.

Can not be combined with any other offer. Limit one coupon per order. Offer expires November 18, 2013 11:59pm (EDT). Please call 1-800-509-2652 for complete details.

Not responsible for typographical, technical, or descriptive errors of products herein. Prices are subject to change.

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Kia Accessory Store's Deal of the Week - 11/05/13 - 11/11/13


Kia Accessory Store's Deal of the Week

Kia Genuine Cargo Nets

SAVE $5.00 on Kia Cargo Nets - use coupon code "DOTW1105"

Keep groceries, sport gear, valuable and fragile items from roaming around the trunk area of your Kia. This cargo net was designed to help organize your trunk area while allowing easy access to your stowed possessions.

Can not be combined with any other offer. Limit one coupon per order. Offer expires November 11, 2013 11:59pm (EDT). Please call 1-800-509-2652 for complete details.

Not responsible for typographical, technical, or descriptive errors of products herein. Prices are subject to change.

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Kia Accessory Store's Deal of the Week - 10/29/13 - 11/04/13


Kia Accessory Store's Deal of the Week

Kia Genuine Cargo Tray

SAVE $10.00 on Kia Cargo Trays - use coupon code "DOTW29"

Molded from flexible, skid-resistant rubber, these durable Cargo Trays help prevent cargo from moving about as you drive, protecting against spills, dirt, grease and grime. These trays have a raised outer lip to retain fluids, resistant to most automotive chemicals. They are custom molded to fit the exact contours of the cargo space, yet remove and install in seconds for easy cleaning.

Can not be combined with any other offer. Limit one coupon per order. Offer expires November 4, 2013 11:59pm (EDT). Please call 1-800-509-2652 for complete details.

Not responsible for typographical, technical, or descriptive errors of products herein. Prices are subject to change.

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

KiaAccessoryStore's Deal of the Week 10/22/13 - 10/29/13


Kia Accessory Store's Deal of the Week

Kia Genuine All Weather Floor Mats

SAVE $10.00 on All Weather Floor Mats - use coupon code"DOTW22"

Floor mats are something you probably don't think about very often. But if you consider the cost of replacement carpet for your car, floor mats suddenly become a fantastic value. Floor mats are required equipment when it comes to protecting your investment, especially if you live in an area that sees lots of winter weather. These rubber mats are made out of natural heavy-duty rubber and have molded channels designed to trap water, road salt, mud and sand. Made of pliable natural rubber, these mats won't curl or harden in sub-zero weather. Molded for a exact fit.

Can not be combined with any other offer. Limit one coupon per order. Offer expires October 29, 2013 11:59pm (EDT). Please call 1-800-509-2652 for complete details.

Not responsible for typographical, technical, or descriptive errors of products herein. Prices are subject to change.

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

KiaAccessoryStore's Deal of the Week - 2011-2014 Kia Sorento Sport Visors


Kia Accessory Store's Deal of the Week

2011-2014 Kia Sorento Sport Visors

Now only $84.99 SHIPPED!

Made of reinforced acrylic in dark smoke grey, the Vent Visor keeps rain out and lets fresh air in. Vent Visors also reduce heat buildup in parked cars by allowing windows to be kept partially open, and install easily with 3M brand OEM-approved tape.

*Shipping promotion only applicable to the lower 48 states. Does not apply to HI, AK, US territories, or international orders.

Friday, October 11, 2013

Kia Accessory Store's Deal of the Week - 2011-2013 Kia Soul Compact Spare Tire Kit


Kia Accessory Store's Deal of the Week

2011-2013 Kia Soul Compact Spare Tire Kit

Now only $199.99 SHIPPED!

A flat tire can happen at any time in any weather. The time to prepare for an emergency is before it occurs. This is the Kia Genuine designed compact spare (doughnut) tire kit. Professionally mounted by an ASE Certified Technician.

  • Fits all 2011-2013 Kia Souls regardless of wheel size

*Shipping promotion only applicable to the lower 48 states. Does not apply to HI, AK, US territories, or international orders.

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Gary Rome Auto Group Partners With Premier Motoring Concepts

Holyoke, MA, October 8, 2013 - - Gary Rome Auto Group has embarked on a lucrative partnership with Premier Motoring Concepts (PMC). The deal allows the auto dealer group to feature PMC products on its accessory store websites while simultaneously providing 120 more product choices for customers.
Premier Motoring Concepts is a Hyundai and Kia accessories distributor which sources Hyundai and Kia parts and accessories from South Koreaand make them available in the United States. Featured products are not sold through Hyundai Motor America or Kia Motor America. PMC’s customer base includes the five largest-volume Hyundai dealers in the U.S., as well as dealers that sell fewer than 50 units a month. The company prides itself on its excellent reputation for outstanding customer service and impeccable attention to detail.
“We are very excited to be offering more product categories for customers to choose from in our Hyundai and Kia Accessory Stores” says Gary Rome, President of Gary Rome Hyundai in Holyoke, MAand Kia in Enfield, CT. “This partnership is possible because we always listen to our customers and find ways to solve their problems. Our relationship with PMC will help us supply products which are otherwise unavailable in the United States.
This press release has been distributed by Gary Rome Auto Group. Gary Rome Hyundai, based in Holyoke Massachusetts, and Gary Rome Kia, based in Enfield Connecticut provide Hyundai and Kia sales and service to all of Massachusetts and Connecticut. When you visit our car dealerships, expect the superior customer service that you deserve. With years of experience and training, the Gary Rome Kia and Hyundai teams are your Connecticut and Massachusetts Hyundai and Kia dealer, and will get you into the car that was built for you. Get the new or used car that you have been dreaming of by calling or visiting Gary Rome Kia of Enfield and Gary Rome Hyundai of Holyoke today. For more information, go to http:// www.garyromekia.com/or http://www.garyromehyundai.com/.

Thursday, July 18, 2013

Own The Justice League-inspired Kia Sorento

Did you know, for the past 10 months, Kia Motors America has joined forces with comic-book publisher DC Entertainment to create a fleet of custom Justice League Super Hero-inspired vehicles that have been unveiled at auto shows and comic book conventions around the country. These fantastical Kias – Superman Optima Hybrid, Batman Optima SXL, Aquaman Rio5, The Flash Forte Koup, Wonder Woman Sportage, Green Lantern Soul and Cyborg Forte5 -- have captured the imagination of fans everywhere while raising awareness for Kia and our support of “We Can Be Heroes,” DC Entertainment’s giving campaign to fight the hunger crisis in the Horn of Africa.

As a finale to this enormously successful program, the eighth and final vehicle, a Justice League-inspired Kia Sorento, was unveiled to the press at San Diego Comic Con on Wednesday. This highly collectible and fully-drivable Kia features custom artwork by legendary comic book artist, Jim Lee, and will be auctioned online with all proceeds going to the “We Can Be Heroes” charity.

This vehicle will be featured on the site www.ebay.com/wecanbeheroes. It will be going live at 2:30 pm PST on 7/17 and end at 2:30 pm PST on 7/27.

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

One millionth Kia rolls off Georgia assembly line

The one millionth Kia produced at the South Korean automaker’s plant in West Point rolled off the assembly line last week, the company said.

The vehicle was a snow white pearl 2014 Sorento SXL, Kia said. The company began operations at the plant in November 2009 after investing $1 billion to produce the Sorento CUV. The plant, called Kia Motors Manufacturing Georgia, was expanded last year with an additional $100 million investment, and it added the Optima sedan to production.
The Troup County plant, about 45 minutes southwest of Atlanta, has a capacity for manufacturing 360,000 vehicles each year.

Kia said its first North American plant employs more than 3,000 but is responsible for creating more than 11,000 jobs in the area when related jobs such as suppliers are taken into consideration.

Despite the milestone, the company said the one millionth vehicle will end up on a lot like others before it at one of Kia’s more than 765 dealerships nationwide


Saturday, June 15, 2013


June 13, 2013, ENFIELD, Conn. There were five keys, only one would be a perfect fit.  On Wednesday the 12th, at 11:00am, Gary Rome KIA held a drawing to determine the winner of an all new 2013Kia Soul from the five eligible students from Enfield High School in Enfield, CT.  All of the Enfield High School senior class along with the five lucky students came to the Enfield Fire Department at 199 Weymouth Street, Enfield, CT   06082, to enjoy the senior class picnic and watch as one lucky senior drove home the prize.

The five finalists were: Brandon Andexler, Ryan Zetterholm, Conor Sutphin, Nicholas DiProto, and Rebecca Labbe.

Congratulations to Nicholas DiProto on winning your new 2013 Kia Soul!
Each qualified student chose a key from a basket hoping that theirs would be the only one that started the car.  Gary Rome, CEO of Gary Rome KIA of Enfield, is delighted that he can give this car to such a worthy young student.  "All of these students worked hard in and out of school and deserve to be commended for their efforts. I hope that whoever wins enjoys this new 2013 Kia Soul for years to come."

 To qualify for the opportunity to win the new 2013 Kia Soul, students had to show a dedication not only to their studies, but to outside interests and to their communities. Each potential winner had a grade point average of at least "B", and had shown exemplary behavior and attendance at school.  Outside the classroom, each student was involved in at least two extracurricular activities and devoted at least forty (40) hours to community service.

Gary Rome KIA of Enfield serves all of Western Massachusetts and Northern Connecticut with new and used Kia cars.  The staff at Gary Rome KIA of Enfield is ready to help you purchase a new Kia or used car in Enfield.  When you visit our car dealership, expect the superior customer service that you deserve.  With years of experience and training, the Gary Rome KIA of Enfield team is your Connecticut Kia dealer, and will help get you into the Kia that was built for you. Drive the new or used car by Kia in Enfield that you have been dreaming of by calling or visiting Gary Rome KIA of Enfield today.  Check out our website at http://www.garyromekia.com.


Gary Rome KIA of Enfield

809 Enfield Street

Enfield, CT  06082


Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Road Test: 2014 Kia Cadenza

SAN DIEGO, CA (KDKA) – The folks at Kia — who have, by the way, been doing nothing but a bang up job at rolling out vehicles that give you bang for the buck — say that after the top of the line Optima sedan, their customers who want more have nowhere to go but another brand. That’s why the Cadenza was born.
A little bigger and much more upscale, the Cadenza is Kia’s first attempt at keeping that customer who wants to move up from moving out of a Kia store and into somebody else’s entry level luxury sedan. So the first question is, how did they do?
After spending a day rolling around the hills outside of San Diego, the short verdict is not bad. The Cadenza is a sharp looking car with the distinctive front grille and lamp treatment made a bit more distinctive. A sharp profile with well-placed lines and an athletic looking stance give way to a fairly Audi-esque looking rear complete with oval dual exhaust ports.

High marks on fit and finish inside
Inside, the Cadenza gets high marks on fit and finish as well as materials. A 10-way power driver’s seat with heating and cooling and six-way passenger seat with just heating come with the car. The rear seats are also heated. Legroom is more than ample, especially in the rear when they put that extra two inches they stretched the platform.
The dash is well laid out, logical, and Kia’s UVO e-services system is among the best in the business. It takes connecting you to the car to a new level. It also comes with a 10-year free subscription and smartphone app. The fully loaded Cadenza I spent the day in also included a spectacular Infinity sound system and panoramic sunroof.

Under the hood and the drive feel
Under the hood the Cadenza gets Kia’s 3.3-liter 6-cylinder that cranks out 293 horses. Married up to Kia’s 6-speed automatic, it moved the sedan through the hills quite briskly. Paddle shifters are included with every model and give you a bit more of the sports sedan feel. Jumping onto the freeway is done without laboring the engine and passing on a two-lane road when safe is done with confidence that the engine has more to give if you need it.
The ride is generally solid and confident due to a great set of suspension components, although hitting a number of potholes can be a bit jarring. Steering is light, with minimal road feel, but the Cadenza never felt hinky on curves. Braking was solid and confident.

Pricing and gas costs
One of the great things about the Cadenza is that as I said you get bang for your buck, especially when it comes to safety. Distronic cruise control, blind spot warning, lane departure control and a number of other safety systems usually found in cars costing more are in the Cadenza.
Kia starts the Cadenza at $35,100 pretty well loaded. Add technology and luxury packages and you get to $41,100-plus destination. It is without a doubt a lot of car for the money. Fuel mileage figures: 19 city, 28 highway. In my day in the Kia with combined freeway and rural driving, we averaged 22 mpg. The Cadenza uses regular unleaded gas.

An overall impressive drive
The Cadenza is an impressive effort by Kia. In eight hours or so of driving it, I came away with almost the same thought I had when I drove its cousin the Hyundai Azera: a solid effort to create a better than you would expect car. It’s one that should keep the Kia buyer that wants more, in a Kia showroom. How will it do against the Maximas, Avalons, Taurus’ and Impalas of the automotive jungle? Ah…that my friends is the $41,100 question!
Get more reviews, news about cars and the people who drive them, interviews and tips on how to get more out of your driving experience all on Drivetime with Vinnie Richichi and Rob Pratte Saturday mornings 7 a.m. to 8 a.m. on NewsRadio 1020 KDKA. Also listen to Vinnie on The Vinnie and Cook Show Monday-Friday 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Sportsradio 93-7 The Fan.

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Gary Rome Needs Your Help to Donate to The One Fund

This is Gary Rome and I'm here to talk to you about something much more important than cars. I want to talk to you about our friends and families that were impacted by the tragic events at the marathon. My family at Gary Rome Auto Group came to me and asked me what can we do? We decided to support the Boston One Fund. For every test drive we'll donate $10 and $100 for every car purchased. And because we know how important time with our family is, I'm going to give you a $10 gift certificate to Squires Bistro on Main Street in Agawam.

Please come to Gary Rome Hyundai in Holyoke or Gary Rome Kia in Enfield and take a test drive and I'll donate $10 to The One Fund and I'll give you a $10 gift certificate to Squires Bistro in Agawam and when you decide to buy from me, I'll then donate $100 to The One Fund. Gary Rome Auto Group, helping those that help us. It doesn't cost any of us extra to be nice!

You can also donate directly to The One Fund: OneFundBoston.org

Thursday, May 2, 2013

2014 Kia Forte delivers for families


Kia’s redesigned 2014 Forte sedan looks more aggressive; it has Kia’s distinctive black-mesh “tiger-nose” grille and is framed in chrome. (CARANDDRIVER.COM)

By Peter Couture and Lyra Solochek Tampa Bay Times

Sometimes we get as excited over a modestly priced car as we do over the latest exotic. We’re serious. An economy car has to provide more bang for the buck in areas that matter to busy families. So we appreciate when a car delivers. Kia’s all-new 2014 Forte sedan does this surprisingly well. It should hit dealerships any day now.

Appearance: Overall, this new Forte is longer, lower and wider than its predecessor. If you say it resembles the Honda Civic, we won’t correct you. We think so, too — especially in profile. And while Kia probably doesn’t like to hear it, we submit that such suggestions are high praise. (Peter is a Civic owner). This new Forte looks more aggressive; it has Kia’s distinctive black-mesh “tiger-nose” grille and is framed in chrome. The design is tied into aggressively upswept headlights that feature LED “eyebrows.” The lower black-mesh air intake is flanked by fog lights. The body side panels are tastefully creased, recalling its Hyundai cousins’ fluidic design. Complementing this handsome package are sculpted, 17-inch alloy wheels.

Performance: The Forte now comes with two choices: 1.8- and 2.0-liter 4-cylinder engines. Our top-of-the-line EX tester had the latter, which gets Kia’s GDI (gasoline direct injection) technology and produces 173 horsepower. The gearbox is a smoothing-shifting, six-speed automatic transmission. This all translates into steady acceleration and more-than-adequate merging power on the highway. Despite its light weight — 2,857 pounds — the Forte’s ride feels solid and assuring, even in high winds. In an example of technology filtering down to more modest cars, our tester came with Kia’s new Flex Steer system that lets the driver choose the feel of its electronic power steering with comfort, normal and sport modes. (Peter didn’t feel much difference between the three settings.)

Interior: The cockpit is quiet, roomy for its class and sensibly laid out with controls all in easy reach for the driver. The cabin has plenty of head, leg and elbow room. Our tester had the EX Premium ($2,600) and EX Technology ($2,300) packages, which include luxury-car features including power sunroof, heated leather seats (including rear), ventilated driver’s seat and heated steering wheel. Overall, Kia does the details well. A few examples: The 7-inch touchscreen is slightly angled on the dash to give the driver a better view. The clock and exterior temperature are placed well within view in a small dash-top screen. One not-so-good placement: The chrome exhaust tip extends out a bit, so if you’re reaching far into the trunk at a certain angle, you might feel the hot metal.

Safety features: Front and side airbags, side curtains, ABS with 4-disc brakes, traction control, electronic stability control, vehicle stability management, hill assist control, rear-view camera

The bottom line: Granted, our tester had every possible option, but the new Forte rises to the top of its class with its comfort, drivability and technology. Who needs a luxury car?


Saturday, March 30, 2013

2014 Kia Sorento - Review

By Marty Padgett; March 12, 2013

The Kia Sorento hasn’t been on sale for all that long in its current form (since the 2011 model year). Still, for 2014, the Sorento is already up for some significant improvements. And it's no minor refresh, either: Kia says that more than 80 percent of the parts in the new Sorento are either all-new or significantly redesigned.

You might not know it by looking at the exterior, however. The 2014 Sorento is a clear continuation of the current design—but with some fresh details that crossover shoppers are going to be able to pick out. New front and rear fascias and low body work both serve to make the Sorento look a bit lower and wider, while the ‘tiger-nose’ grille gets either an anodized metal or black mesh look, with a cross-hatched pattern in the lower valance. Kia has also added LED combination taillamps and redesigned wheels. Inside, the Sorento gets a new instrument panel, while EX trims and above get a new reconfigurable seven-inch TFT LCD gauge cluster.

The most meaningful difference for many families may very well be the introduction of a more fuel-efficient V-6. The all-aluminum 3.3-liter GDI V-6 makes 290 horsepower and 252 pound-feet of torque. A 191-hp, 2.4-liter GDI four-cylinder engine is standard, but likely to be rare--and rightly so, since the V-6 almost matches it on gas mileage, and far outpoints it in pure power. The Sorento delivers its power to the road with the help of a well-sorted six-speed automatic transmission; it's either configured with front-wheel drive or with an enhanced torque-vectoring version of the all-wheel-drive system.

Other key upgrades help the Sorento ride less stiffly and steer more swiftly. The Sorento’s hydraulic power steering system has been swapped out for an electric system, and on the Sorento SX it's driver-adjustable through a range of three modes (Comfort, Normal, and Sport), to nominal effect. Ride and handling have been improved through a more rigid body structure plus the addition of a front strut-tower brace and a new independent front suspension with an H-shaped sub-frame cradle; new bushings have been added to the multi-link rear suspension. It's much calmer, and more capable of rounding off pavement burrs than before, though it's still a slightly firm setup compared to the gooey ride of a Highlander.

The interior of the Sorento grows incrementally, with slightly more leg room and good seats, now with heating offered on the first two rows and ventilation available up front. We like the Sorento as a five-seater, where it has plenty of legroom and headroom for adults, front and back, yet leaves plenty of cargo space when the back two rows of seats are folded down on three-row versions. There's not much room behind the third-row seat when it's used for passengers, though.

 All versions get standard Bluetooth, satellite radio, and power features; a panoramic sunroof is a new option. The top Sorento SX Limited adds some of the top-lux features gained by the Optima SX this past year; it includes Nappa leather upholstery, heated rear seats, and a wood-trimmed heated steering wheel, plus a soft-touch headliner. On the outside it’s distinguished by its HID headlamps, red-painted brake calipers and special 19-inch chrome wheels.

The rest of the Sorento line gets an expanded feature set for 2014, and especially of note is that infotainment has been upgraded, with a large new eight-inch touch screen that combines navigation, real-time traffic, Infinity premium audio, Bluetooth, and next-generation UVO eServices features that ditch Microsoft's kludgy software for smartphone-driven access to Google maps--for free. A 115-volt power inverter, second-row sliding sunshades, a panoramic sunroof, and dual-ventilated air-cooled front seats are among the other new features for 2014.

Friday, March 29, 2013

Comparison: The Big Test: Compact Sedans

By Scott Evans; March 25, 2013
Dodge Dart vs. Honda Civic vs. Kia Forte vs. Mazda3 vs. Nissan Sentra

5th Place: Nissan Sentra
Poor handling, poor fuel economy, and a shorter feature list outweigh a low price and big back seat.

4th Place: Honda Civic
A weak drivetrain, poor fuel economy, and frustrating nav system sank a solid entry.

3rd Place: Dodge Dart
Sport handling and a long list of features weren’t enough to overcome a high price and terrible gas mileage.

2nd Place: Mazda3
An enthusiast’s special and fuel-sipper to boot, weighed down by a heavy price tag and missing features.

1st Place: Kia Forte
Handles well, sips fuel, loaded with exclusive features, and priced just right. What’s not to like?
According to the old maxim, Americans don’t like small cars. We buy trucks by the truckload and midsize sedans more than any other car segment. But because of gas prices, the tough economy, or both, the compact segment is growing. In 2012, it accounted for roughly 13 percent of the U.S. car market, with most entrants registering sales increases over 2011. With frugality in vogue, automakers expect the segment to keep growing during the next several years.

Last year, the Mazda3 went bumper to bumper with the Chevrolet Cruze, Ford Focus, Honda Civic, Hyundai Elantra, and Volkswagen Jetta in a battle of 40-mpg-capable cars. The Mazda won because we framed the conversation thus: Is there a 40-mpg car you’d want to own? The question was directed at the enthusiast who wants a high-efficiency car that’s also fun to drive. In that measure, the Mazda was without question the Goldilocks car. It finished mid-pack on fuel economy, but it was far and away the driver’s choice.

Since then, three new pretenders to the throne have arisen, and a fourth made an emergency update to better position it against the competition. More important, we’re no longer asking which is the best sports car, but which is the best all-around car for the average consumer. We’re looking for the car that offers the best value, content, fuel economy, and safety in addition to performance. It’s a whole new ballgame.

In claiming its previous victory, the Mazda3 dazzled the judges with its crisp, natural steering feel; responsive, unshakable chassis; and sport sedan handling. It led this competition with the same trump card, at least in the dry. As it happened, rain struck during our evaluation loops, and opinions of the Mazda changed quickly. Those who drove it in the dry were again smitten with its excellent handling on the winding road portion. Those who drove it in the wet, however, told a different tale. Editors found it breaking loose at both ends on wet roads when pushed hard, eroding confidence. One point we all agreed on was the ride quality, which was among the best in the group.

Another car that divided the judges was the Dodge Dart. Opinions were mixed on the thick, meaty steering wheel — while it felt direct, the steering was surprisingly heavy. Also heavy was the car itself, outweighing the nearest competitor by more than 300 pounds, and it felt heavy from behind the wheel. The Dart threw its heft into a corner, but once the weight transferred, it was a smooth and stable handler. The weight made the car feel planted on the road, but it also hurt the ride quality, though it wasn’t the worst in the group.

In terms of ride and handling, the worst was the Nissan Sentra. There wasn’t a large difference in ride quality among the group, but the Sentra was at the bottom of the spectrum. Where it really disappointed was in handling. The Sentra received constant complaints of terminal understeer, egregious body roll, and lifeless steering, and it lacked grip. Said associate online editor Karla Sanchez: “This car handled so terribly, I couldn’t wait until the loop was over.”

On the opposite end of the spectrum, the Kia Forte surprised everyone. In general, we’ve known Kias to have rough rides and elastic-feeling steering, but not this car. The ride was pleasantly firm, almost sporty, and the steering felt naturally weighted and responsive, though it still provided no feedback. Many editors found it the second-most fun car to drive behind the Mazda.

Somewhere in the middle was the Civic. The lightest of the group, it felt that way on the road. Ride quality and handling both fell in the middle of the pack, though the steering took some hits. Editor-in-chief Edward Loh found that the “light steering feels artificial and requires jerky inputs. Initial input doesn’t seem to do much, so I kept dialing in more and more steering. Hard to be smooth.”

The Kia surprised us at the track. It was the quickest to 60 mph by half a second and stopped the shortest from the same speed by 2 feet. On our skidpad, it put up respectable grip numbers and was the quickest around our figure-eight course. Out in the real world, we found the power strong compared with the rest of the group, and the transmission shifted quickly and smoothly and seemed to never select the wrong gear.

Less surprising was the poor showing from the Sentra. It was the slowest to reach 60 mph and needed the longest distance to stop. The car also was slow to accelerate and lacked brake bite. The primary culprit in drivetrain complaints was the continuously variable transmission, which all agreed was slow to respond and then provided insufficient additional leverage when it did. Despite its poor handling on the road and lowest average g on the figure-eight test, the Sentra did manage to tie the Dart for the highest average on the skidpad.

The Dart was a disappointment. Its raspy exhaust and turbocharged engine seemed to promise performance, but its jog to 60 mph fell right in the middle of the pack, as did its stopping distance. As noted above, it posted the highest average g on the skidpad and the figure eight, but tied the Mazda for second in figure-eight lap time. Where the Dart really fell down was in everyday driving. The dual-clutch transmission was jerky and often seemed confused in automatic mode, whether dicing in the city or carving a canyon. The only remedy was to manually shift using the gear stick, which delivered fairly quick and crisp shifts, though it upshifted automatically at redline.

We were likewise disappointed in the Civic. The engine felt weak at low rpm, but like the Sentra, the fault lies squarely with the transmission. The aging five-speed gearbox was slow to shift and had no manual mode. This carried over to the track, where it was the second slowest to 60 mph and the slowest around the figure eight. Its low curb weight contributed to the second shortest stopping distance, but it posted mid-pack average g numbers.

The Mazda3 was a curiosity rather than a disappointment. Despite its stellar dry performance on the road, it didn’t post the big numbers at the track. It was the second quickest to 60 mph and around the figure eight, but dead last on the skidpad. It also finished third in braking. Somehow, though, it all came together on real-world roads, making the Mazda3 the clear driver’s favorite.

The two cars with the most overt technological approaches to fuel efficiency performed the poorest. An accelerating trend in the automotive industry today is to replace a larger engine with a smaller, turbocharged one that, in theory, provides the same power while using less fuel. This was not the case for the Dart. Its turbocharged 1.4-liter engine was the smallest and offered the most torque and second-highest horsepower rating, but it returned a dismal 19.5 mpg on our evaluation loops, well below its EPA estimates of 27/37 mpg city/highway.

Likewise unimpressive was the Sentra’s continuously variable transmission, which should theoretically always be at the optimum gearing for fuel economy. With the least horsepower and tied for the least torque, you’d expect it wouldn’t burn much fuel, but it returned the second-lowest observed fuel economy at 21.2 average mpg. With ratings at 30/39 mpg city/highway, it was a long way off. “Nissan might be on to something,” quipped senior features editor Jonny Lieberman. “No one will drive this car quickly and in an inefficient manner, as it actually sounds like you’re injuring the car with your right foot.”

As much as we knock the Civic for its old five-speed transmission offering no manual control, it still gets the job done. The Civic was the second-least powerful car present and it felt like it, but that little engine and old gearbox know how to use fuel wisely. The Civic returned 23.5 mpg, which, while not stellar, was at least closer to its 28/39-mpg city/highway ratings.

Kia had a rough go of it last year after the EPA unceremoniously lowered the fuel economy ratings on a number of its cars. The Forte was unaffected, but the new car has struck back with a vengeance. Despite having the most horsepower and second-highest torque rating, as well as an conventional six-speed automatic, the Kia returned 24.4 mpg — falling nicely within the estimated EPA city/highway ratings of 24/36 mpg and good for second best in this comparison.

The big winner, though, was the car that won the fuel economy comparison on handling rather than mpg. The Mazda3, with its funny-sounding Skyactiv badging and no obvious technological tricks (they’re all deep inside the engine), was the longest running model in this test and by far the fuel-sipping champ. It handily bested the competition by returning 25.3 average mpg against its 28/40-mpg city/highway ratings.

Many people put a lot of stock in how a car looks, but the truth is, you’ll spend far more time looking at the inside of it than the outside, and it greatly shapes your perception of the vehicle. In this category, the Sentra clawed back some favor with the judges. The rear seat and trunk are cavernous for the class, and the navigation and entertainment systems are simple and intuitive to use. Some editors found the design dull, likening it to a doctor’s waiting room, but others pointed out that it barely feels down-market from the larger, more expensive Altima, a nice treat for a value-conscious buyer.

The Forte received similar praise for being second to the Sentra in rear seat space. It was also dinged, albeit less so, for being cold and dark with some odd ridges on the dash. Those gripes were quickly overlooked, however, in light of the segment-busting list of features, such as heated and cooled front seats and power-folding mirrors.

Also feature-rich was the Dart, with its massive touchscreen infotainment system and high-resolution, reconfigurable gauge display. We appreciated the clear, easy-to-use UConnect infotainment system, even if it did seem a bit cluttered compared with Kia’s UVO system. Editors also liked the front-and-back steering wheel controls. Where the Dart struggled was in seating, with hard perches front and rear and compromised rear headroom. The editors complained about the grainy, low-resolution back-up camera.

Riding mid-pack was the Civic, whose bi-level instrument cluster and funky shapes divided editors. It was given high marks for being a strong improvement over the poorly received 2012 model, and we appreciated the better materials and quieter cabin. We took issue, though, with the old, low-resolution navigation system and its tiny buttons, and rear seat space ranked smallest among the competitors.
Receiving some of the harshest criticism was the Mazda3. While we liked its sporty, supportive seats overall, many were disappointed with its small, cramped rear seat. The dashboard also drew fire for looking the oldest and appearing to be made of the cheapest materials. “The split screens are at least well-organized/executed,” wrote Loh. However, “none of the screens matches in background colors, fonts, or font colors, not in the instrument panel, infotainment screen, or the two tiny screens above.” We were disappointed with the lack of a back-up camera, but equally delighted by the preferred manual shifting orientation of forward for downshifts and backward for upshifts, which the Dart shared.


With safety a key concern among buyers, it’s no surprise all these competitors performed well in crash testing. They were not, however, all created equal. For example, Honda found out about the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety’s new small-offset crash test and designed the new Civic accordingly. As such, the Civic is the only car here to be named a Top Safety Pick+ after receiving a Good score in all tests. (None of the others has yet completed the small-offset test.) The 2013 Civic hasn’t been tested by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration yet, but the 2012 car received 5-star front and side ratings and a 4-star rollover rating for 5 stars overall.
Like the Honda, the 2014 Forte hasn’t been crash tested yet. In this case, though, the Kia is a thoroughly redesigned car and not a refresh, so it’s difficult to say how it will fare. The old Forte, for what it’s worth, received 4 stars and Good ratings in all tests and was named a Top Safety Pick.

It’s a similar story with the 2013 Sentra, which also has yet to be fully tested. NHTSA has crashed it, and gave it a 5-star side impact rating, 4 stars for front and rollover tests, and 4 stars overall. IIHS hasn’t tested it, but the old model was not a Top Safety Pick because of an Acceptable rating in the roof crush test.

There is plenty of information, however, on the oldest car in the test. The Mazda3 is an IIHS Top Safety Pick thanks to Good ratings all around, but it didn’t fare quite as well at NHTSA. It’s a mixed bag, with a 5-star front impact rating, 4-star rollover rating, and 3-star side impact rating, combined for a 4-star overall rating. Editors also noted and appreciated the optional Blind Spot Warning system.

We appreciated the Blind Spot Warning and Rear Cross Path Detection systems on the Dart as well, not to mention the only Driver Knee Bolster airbags in the group. That car fared better in crash testing, earning a 5-star overall rating on 5-star front and side impact ratings and a 4-star rollover rating. It is also a Top Safety Pick with Good scores across the board.

In a price-conscious segment like this, value is a major consideration. That’s especially true in this test, where all the competitors were heavily equipped with pricey options such as navigation systems, leather seats, keyless entry, and more. None was more heavily loaded than the Mazda3, which rang in just above the Dart at $26,420. Being the oldest model in the test and lacking a back-up camera hurt its value argument, though we enthusiasts found quite a lot of value in its handling and performance.
The Dart also became something of a tough sell at $26,415. It was feature-rich with its big display screens, automatic headlights and wipers, heated steering wheel, and more. The problem is, the Forte offers all that and more for $805 less. With by far the worst observed fuel economy, the Dart’s value appeal dropped precipitously in the eyes of the judges.
That Forte, though, blew us away. Power front seats that are both heated and cooled, heated rear seats, power-folding side mirrors, a heated steering wheel, multiple steering modes, and more, all for a mid-pack price of $25,610. Add to that the second-best fuel economy in the test and far and away the best warranty, and the Kia makes a serious value proposition.
The Civic was a tougher case to make. It offered many of the features the others did, but the clunky navigation system and second-worst observed fuel economy hurt it. On the other hand, it was very nearly the least expensive car here at $24,555, and it got high marks for its quality interior materials.
The Sentra fell into the same trap as the Civic, offering the lowest as-tested price by just over a hundred dollars at $23,715. While that appealed to our wallets, the second-worst observed fuel economy and the poor handling made us reconsider how our hypothetical money was being spent.

Some comparison tests are blowouts, and those are easy to judge. Then there are tests like this, where the field is closely matched in nearly every category. Each car had strengths and weaknesses and none completely ran away with the award. There wasn’t a “perfect” car in the bunch, but several that would be very good choices depending on your priorities.
If, for example, you’re an enthusiast like us, you’ll be happiest with the sporty Mazda. It would also appeal to those who value fuel economy above all else. If safety is your priority, you’ll be comforted by the Honda’s class-topping crash test scores. Those who love features will be very happy with the Dart and Forte, and the buyer shopping on price will find the Sentra’s low as-tested price very appealing.

After weighing the contenders in each category against what would best serve the average compact car buyer, we picked the 2014 Kia Forte as the best all-around car here and the winner of this test. Its combination of performance, fuel efficiency, reasonable pricing, and endless feature list had our judges agreeing it’s the car we’d recommend to our friends and family.

Monday, March 11, 2013

Dealership News!

Check us out on Facebook and YouTube. Our Holyoke dealership currently has 1,294 friends and our Enfield dealership has 552 friends. Join us and out and find out if our friends are also your friends.
Our Facebook pages are a place where we get to communicate with our
customers. We get to show what we are doing in our dealerships in real time. It gives
customers the opportunity to also communicate with us and share things that
they might have not otherwise share. With our Facebook pages, we are always
giving away prizes. It’s fun and helps us as a company to be with the Social Media movement.

Our Enfield store is starting a YouTube channel. We will be adding a new video every week, so don’t miss out.
Click on the links below and begin connecting with us now!

Friday, March 8, 2013

2014 Kia Forte: In It To Win It: New Compact Sedan has an Ample Bag of Tricks

With the 2014 Kia Forte sedan now in the picture, the Korean automaker has reinvented its compact sedan twice within the last five years. While that may seem excessive, the cutthroat compact car segment is like the fashion world. You might only be 27 years old, but that translates to 59 in model years. With the 4-year-old Forte losing relevance, Kia had to act fast. Luckily, it already had a winning formula, thanks to the current-gen Optima midsize sedan, which is the brand’s best-selling model to date. The Optima has earned lots of brownie points for its sleek styling, performance, and smorgasbord of premium features, and the 2014 Forte doesn’t deviate from that formula. Defined by curvaceous body lines, the familiar tiger nose grille, sweeping head- and taillights, and a sharply raked windshield, the Forte commands attention, especially EX models equipped with LED accents above projector halogen headlights. (HIDs are optional.) The strips are slanted into the grille, resembling furrowed eyebrows that may intimidate those who look in their rearview mirrors. It’s wider (0.2 inch), longer (1.2 inches), and lower (1.0 inch) than its predecessor, with a wheelbase 2 inches longer at 106.3 inches.
Looks aside, lots of tinkering went on beneath the skin. A reworked direct-injection, 2.0-liter I-4 feeds 173 horses and 154-lb-ft of torque to the front tires via a six-speed automatic transmission, allowing the compact to scoot from 0 to 60 mph in 7.8 seconds and reach the quarter mile in 16.0 seconds at 87.3 mph. The numbers are leaps and bounds over the last Forte EX we tested in 2011, which needed 9.2 seconds to reach 60 mph from a standstill and 17.1 seconds to pass the quarter-mile line at 83.2 mph. The Honda Civic and Toyota Corolla may best the Forte in compact sales, but the Korean compact puts them to shame in this category—the cars needed 9.1 and 9.8 seconds to get from 0 to 60 mph, respectively. Away from the track, the 2.0-liter buzzes happily when you put the pedal to the metal, making highway merging easy. The Forte’s cabin is surprisingly quiet for a car that belongs in the compact segment, with hardly any vibrations felt through the steering wheel, floor panels, or pedals. Kia engineers can pat themselves on the back for this, since an aluminum bed plate located beneath the engine block diminishes engine noise, while other NVH materials inside the doors reduce wind noise.
In our figure-eight test, the new Forte took advantage of its increased torsional rigidity, producing an improved time of 27.6 seconds at 0.60 g (average) versus the previous car’s 28.9 seconds at 0.56 g (average). Although it’s no sports car, the Forte embraces squiggly canyon roads with delight, as it eagerly turns into corners without too much body roll. The Forte is offered with a three-mode electrically boosted steering system (Normal, Comfort, and Sport), but the differences between the Normal and Sport modes aren’t easily discernible, and Comfort made steering feel more disconnected than comfortable. A stiffer chassis and recalibrated rear torsion beam allowed the Forte to float over hard impacts while delivering a smooth and balanced ride. Meanwhile, the compact stops from 60 mph in 117 feet compared with the outgoing car’s 141.
Like the Optima, the Forte is packed with all the standard amenities you could reasonably expect in its segment, including Bluetooth, satellite radio, power windows/locks, air conditioning, and a 60/40 split-folding rear seat. Our EX tester further spoiled us with a Google-powered UVO infotainment system with eServices, hands-free keyless access, cruise control, leather-wrapped steering wheel and shifter, and rearview camera. Fully loaded with the Popular and Technology Packages, our tester boasted navigation, power folding mirrors, HID headlights, heated front and rear seats, ventilated 10-way adjustable power driver seat, and dual-zone climate control. Heck, it even had a heated steering wheel, but even more useful are the puddle and door handle lamps, which come in handy at night.
The Forte sedan’s controls and the 4.2-inch LCD touch screen are easy to reach thanks to the angled center stack, and the navigation is intuitive. Although the Civic and Corolla offer 0.3 and 0.4 inch more rear seat legroom, respectively, my rear passengers happily stretched their legs to utilize all 35.9 inches of Forte legroom, and they didn’t complain about the 37.3 inches of headroom, a smidge more than both Japanese rivals have to offer. Although every single creature comfort was available in our fully loaded EX tester, I wonder if we would get the same kick out of the 2014 Forte sedan in LX trim, with its 1.8-liter I-4. Either way, the improved ride quality is what impressed most. Fuel economy figures have not yet been released, but expect them to fall within the lines of the outgoing EX’s 26/36 mpg city/highway. Estimated to start at about $17,000, the redesigned Forte is in it to win it with its bag of tricks and treats. Further pricing details will be revealed closer to the Forte’s on-sale date this spring.

Monday, February 25, 2013

Kia Rondo gets a turn in the torture chamber

Graeme Fletcher | Feb 23, 2013 9:00 AM ET | Last Updated: Feb 22, 2013 5:48 PM ET

 Graeme Fletcher/National PostAfter it was tested in the extreme cold, the Kia Rondo was completely stripped and evidence of wear was minimal..
Many toy manufacturers brag about their latest products being indestructible — they are when tested by adults, but put them in the hands of a child, and things get pear-shaped in a hurry. Having raised four girls, I can attest to the torture Barbie after Barbie received at their young hands — everything from being buried in the name of research to being hurled out of a bedroom window and landing under the tire of a passing truck. Sadly, that particular Barbie was DOA when I finally retrieved it.

Likewise, how many times have you had to reboot your computer, new or otherwise? Imagine having to do the same to your new car on an annoyingly frequent basis. We are, after all, talking about the second largest investment most consumers ever make. It is for this very reason, and, of course, to protect the maker from excessive warranty claims, that durability testing is such an important part of the development process regardless of manufacturer.


The First Shift: Kia blows away at the Chicago Auto Show

Preview: Kia Forte is quick to impress for 2014

Everything from crash safety and performance to comfort and dependability has to be tested and evaluated. It is an extensive routine that’s conducted to ensure that when the newbie reaches market, it will function as intended. Remember, the average automobile is comprised of around 20,000 parts (or more) — the list runs from the bolts and rivets that hold things together, the stampings welded together to form the body and the wires in the wiring harness to light bulbs, seats, audio equipment and even the pointer on the speedometer. Then there’s the engine, transmission and sundry other drivetrain components. All have to be manufactured, assembled and then work as one for the life of the car, which, in the extreme, can mean being driven for 300,000 kilometres or more.

The validation process involves scorching the subject in places like Death Valley and then freezing them in some far-flung cold weather test facility. Although these conditions are beyond the extremes most cars will never see, every new car has to be subjected to them over and over until it passes muster.

Graeme Fletcher/National PostThe Rondo was first driven for 100,000 kilometres in Quebec, then underwent severe cold weather testing in Alma and Quebec City..

It’s extremely rare for a manufacturer to lift the curtain and show what goes on behind the scenes, but that’s exactly what Kia did by allowing me to examine a 2014 Rondo following the durability and cold weather testing conducted here in Canada. Yes, it had been tested in other parts of the world before arriving in Canada, but as it is going to be a Canadian-only model (as in not sold in the U. S.), it had to be tested in our climate to validate what had been learned in the initial testing phase.

Between September 2012 and January 2013, the Rondo was tested in the wilds of Quebec for a distance of 100,000 kilometres. It was then subjected to severe cold weather testing in Alma and Quebec City, where the temperatures at the time ranged from a high of -16C to a frosty low of -35C. It was here the heater and defroster systems were evaluated, as were the cold start characteristics and brakes — the latter for performance and feel under these severe conditions. Finally, the engineers checked the Rondo for the noise, vibration and harshness that typically arrives with frigid weather — trim squeaks, oval tires and frozen windows all show up as the temperature plummets. Left unchecked, these small items combine to cast an unfavourable shadow over the entire vehicle regardless of how well it is designed and built.

 It is remarkable what Kia has accomplished in a very short period of time — two of the three worst cars I have ever tested belonged to Kia. The Lada Sagona was the absolute worst, but the original body-on-frame Sportage and the Sephia sedan were not too far behind.

After all of the testing, the Rondo was returned to Kia’s head office and completely stripped — and I mean completely stripped. Only the wiring harness remained in the body. Everything else was taken apart and examined for wear and tear. Remarkably, after examining each and every component only one was returned to Korea for further evaluation — a small plastic trim piece.

 The wear evident in the engine’s vital components was remarkably small. The pistons and rings were in good shape and the block showed virtually no sign of wear. In fact, salt stains on the engine cover a side, it was difficult to tell the engine had been pushed to the extreme.

The transmission was in the same condition. The fluid was clean and the clutches that are subjected to enormous stress under normal conditions were pristine. Little wonder then that other manufacturers are beginning to use this transmission — it is the six-speed automatic found in the Dodge Dart.

Graeme Fletcher/National PostEngine wear was minimal - the pistons and rings were in good shape and the block showed virtually no wear..

While all manufacturers conduct the same sort of testing, precious few ever let a journalist or mechanic poke around — I enjoyed playing snoop for a day. It is remarkable what Kia has accomplished in a very short period of time — two of the three worst cars I have ever tested belonged to Kia. The Lada Sagona was the absolute worst, but the original body-on-frame Sportage and the Sephia sedan were not too far behind. That was then.

Today, it’s a very different story thanks to the sharp designs being penned by styling chief Peter Schreyer, the smart engineering practices evident in every facet and the rigorous testing that goes on behind the scenes. The work has produced an enviable portfolio where, Sedona aside, the oldest ride in Kia’s line up is the current Sportage, and it is in its prime.


Tuesday, January 29, 2013

2013 Kia Soul offers great mix of features and value

January 28, 2013 @ 4:12pm | Lary Coppola ~ KPBJ Publisher

No matter how you feel about those rapping wannabe gangsta hamsters, the 2013 Kia Soul offers an interesting mix of good looks, technology, functionality, efficiency and refinement, in an incredibly affordable package, and does it in a way that attracts a wider spectrum of buyers than those hamsters are aiming for.

In spite of new engines and tweaked styling received in 2012, it’s still an inexpensive box-shaped runabout with Gen Y firmly in its crosshairs. But it’s surprisingly suitable for anyone — no matter what their age — who appreciates youthful styling, fuel economy, daily practicality, coupled with useful standard features like Bluetooth, iPod, and USB connectivity, and the best warranty on the planet.

While the Soul attempts to stand out in a sea of sameness — in spite of its basic shape — there are plenty of options and accessories to seriously personalize it. Kia makes no bones about what the Soul is — and is not: It’s a car — not a cute-ute, or “compact utility” as that segment is labeled, and certainly not an SUV, crossover, or minivan surrogate. Mechanically, it’s your basic small sedan, with no all-wheel or four-wheel drive offered.
Model Lineup: The 2013 Kia Soul comes in three models: Soul, Soul+ (Soul plus), and Soul! (Soul exclaim).
The Soul ($14,400) features an inline, 138-horse, 4-cylinder, 1.6-liter engine and comes with air conditioning, power windows and door locks, 15-inch steel wheels, black trim, body-color door handles and mirrors, AM/FM/XM/CD/MP3 stereo, USB and auxiliary inputs, Bluetooth with steering-wheel controls, 6-way manual drivers seat, tilt/telescoping steering wheel, 60/40 split folding rear seat, remote keyless entry, and variable intermittent wipers. The base Soul comes with a 6-speed manual transmission, but a 6-speed automatic is available ($16,200).
Options include alloy wheels and an ECO package that includes idle-stop-and-go start-stop system, power mirrors, alloy wheels, luggage under-floor tray, illuminated visor mirrors with extensions, and low rolling resistance tires. Accessories include illuminated sill plates, cabin lighting, auto-dimming mirror, floor mats, cargo net and rear spoiler.
The Soul+ ($16,700) upgrades to the 2.0-liter engine, and adds 16-inch alloy wheels, stereo tweeters, leather-wrapped steering wheel, Soul logo inserts on the upholstery, and metal-finish trim. The 6-speed manual is standard, but it’s available with the 6-speed automatic ($17,700). Options available only on automatic versions include a power sunroof and fog lights ($800), 350-watt Infinity/UVO by Microsoft entertainment system with rear camera and HD radio, and the ECO package.
The top of the line Soul! ($19,900) offers only the 2-liter and 6-speed automatic, and adds 18-inch alloy wheels, body-color trim, LED running lights, projector headlights, sand and black interior with houndstooth upholstery inserts, standard UVO, and more. The main option is the premium package that includes navigation, XM traffic, leather seating trim, heated front seats, climate control, and push-button start/Smart Key.
Safety equipment on all models includes six airbags, active front headrests, LATCH seating system, electronic stability control, antilock brakes, and a tire pressure monitor.
Walkaround: With rear windows that are narrower than those in front, it appears there’s a rear downward slope to the roof, but it’s a clever optical illusion because of the rising beltline below the windows. There’s also a black, horizontal, ding strip on the doors that’s both functional, and adds to the strong straight-line design.
The corners on the Soul are nicely rounded, taking away some of the hard edge of its box-like shape, with help from strong, chiseled wheel wells. The smile-like grille is small, and no bigger than necessary to suck in fresh air for the engine. The stylish front lighting elements are new, and include LED running lights and projector headlamps.
Big vertical LED taillamps outline the rear pillars, and complete the wraparound look. The rear window and liftgate are clean and smooth, with an indented handle and a stylish chrome Soul badge.
The 16- and 18-inch alloy wheels are larger than what’s often available in this market segment.
Interior: Everything inside the Soul is simple, clean, functional, and ergonomically positioned. The front bucket seats are more comfortable than I thought they’d be — especially after a couple of long jaunts. They offer plenty of legroom, and enough headroom for six-plus-footers.
Rear seat legroom is tight, but fine for kids or adults of average height, and the 60/40 rear seats easily fold flat. There’s a handy compartment under the trunk floor, and below that a space-saver spare tire. There’s 19 cubic feet of space behind the rear seat, about four under the floor, totaling 53.4 with the back seats folded down.
The interior vinyl and cloth trim is above average, and there are bottle holders in the front door pockets, plus cupholders in the console, which also offers a deep storage compartment. There’s a surprisingly large dual-level glovebox, map nets on the front seatbacks, and grab handles over every door. There are auxiliary audio, iPod, and USB port connections, and two 12-volt outlets.
The steering wheel boasts the usual standard controls, while the three-ring instrumentation is clean, with an eave over the gauges so they’re readable in the sun. The modest center stack features business-like knobs and buttons that accommodate the revised shifter and UVO/Microsoft entertainment system, which includes a rear camera.
There’s throbbing-to-the-beat rims of changing colored lights surrounding the front door speakers. This can be turned on and off, and you can program the way it reacts to sound — a quick way to amuse yourself while stuck in traffic.
Under The Hood: The 2.0-liter inline-four (which our test model was equipped with) got a much-needed upgrade during the 2012 model year refresh. Power was increased by 16 horses to 164, and torque by 11 pound-feet to 148. The base powerplant is a 138-horse, 1.6-liter (up from 122).

Kia upgraded the transmissions as well last year. The six-speed automatic is smoother, even when shifting down a couple of gears for acceleration and highway passing, with mileage improved by 1-4 mpg whether automatic or manual, to 27/35 mpg for the 1.6-liter and 26/34 mpg for the 2.0-liter.

Behind The Wheel: I found the Soul nimble, and fun to drive. There’s sufficient power available, although the transmission will run a gear up all the way up to redline before shifting under heavy acceleration. If that’s your driving style, you’ll pay for it with lots of engine noise. Road noise is also a factor, but no worse than any other vehicle this size, and this low to the ground.

Handling and braking are more than adequate for this class of vehicle, and there is that level of utility that makes this a surprisingly adaptable daily driver.

Whines: Having an upright windshield and large greenhouse make for great for visibility, but wind noise is harsh.

Bottom Line: The Kia Soul offers simplicity, four-door upright hatchback versatility, great gas mileage, and styling with personality. It’s easy to drive in urban settings because of its nimble size, and with a price of $25,555 for the top-of-the-line Exclaim with every single option available — not to mention Kia’s 10-year/100,000-mile warranty — this car is an enormous value.