2014 Kia Sorento LX AWD: Filed under “Things I want to own”


When the 2014 Kia Sorento showed up in driveway last week I thought, “Let me get my diaper bag and stroller.” Because this is clearly not the part of my life that requires 7 seats and a hatchback.

And then Jane had five friends over who wanted to go the High School football game and I felt like a genius for having just the right vehicle to cram a couple of 6 foot tall teenage boys into the back seat.

I felt safe and secure in the Sorento but the NHTSA star ratings aren’t in yet on the 2014 model. The 2013 Sorento is all four and five stars so I think it’s reasonable to expect that the 2014 will be at least as safe as the 2013.

Let’s talk about what it’s like to drive a Kia. As I’ve mentioned before Kia has a terrific navigation and bluetooth system. When Christina and I are waiting at the bus stop for our kids she’ll often hop into the cars I’m driving and we’ll lament the sad state of affairs on our luxury vehicles. Why is it that a $35,000 SUV is so superior to a Mercedes or a BMW navigation system? I was going to add Jaguar but I figured y’all would just laugh and be all, “Jaguar and technology bwah hahahahaha.”

The Sorento is not a quiet vehicle and you can hear the road, particularly if it’s rough. The Sorrento is also not a noisy one. It’s sort of in the middle with everything. You can feel the road enough to enjoy the ride but it’s not a bouncy four wheel drive truck experience nor is it the floating down the road sensation you get on some of GM’s larger trucks.

Kia is doing it’s own thing and that’s a good thing. Much like some of the other vehicles in the Kia lineup the Sorento appears to be designed around the actual needs of the driver. Does an SUV need to be high off the ground? Yes. How high? Not so high that you can’t get in an out in a skirt. Heated seats? Yessir, they have cooled seats too. Do you want to stream Pandora? Easy as pie with the Kia. All wheel drive? Of course.

One of things I couldn’t figure out until midway through the week was where the trunk release was located. Look up ladies and gents because there it is. When you’re dropping off the carpool kids they never close the trunk (they also don’t turn off lights and I’m unsure if that’s related) so one touch closes the trunk, just look up to the sunroof controls and you’ll see the button there. If there’s no sunroof look up anyhow.

I love third rows of seats but I hate it when they’re complicated to use. Apparently Kia wants me to be happy because the third row folds flat and doesn’t require an engineering degree to make it work. The second row seats also adjust and recline in case you’re taking a long road trip or if you need to adjust them to make a car seat fit more safely.

There’s no luxury missing from the Sorento. The MPG (19 to 24 with an average of 21) is good considering the curb weight and it’s a very attractive vehicle. I drove an AWD LX with a premium touring package that priced out at $35,750. If you can swing it I absolutely recommend the premium package because the zone heating and cooling made the kids really comfortable and I dislike having them scream at me that the car is too stuffy (my kids don’t actually scream but it sure feels like they do).

I need to note that although I was in a 4 cylinder small SUV with a paltry 191 hp I spent the week assuming it was a 6 cylinder. It’s somehow quite peppy and I like getting on the freeway at a decent speed.

If getting more than you paid for is attractive to you then the Kia Sorento is drop dead sexy.


2014 kia sorento red sorento seats fold flat

sorento and uvo

The Kia Rio on a Friday


A few weeks ago I was in the 2013 Kia Rio. It’s adorable and small and not very fast but it’s incredibly comfortable and stickers around $17,000 (I drove a well equipped Rio that was $21,340). You understand that we’re not dealing in a luxury vehicle here but a perfectly good car.

This is how I spent Friday in the Rio.

Left the house at 12:45 to get Jane to her massage at 1. While she was getting massaged I brought Alexander to Target to pick up a gift card and some nuts. We’re sort of addicted to the cashew mix from Archer Farms.

Screen Shot 2013-08-24 at 4.44.34 PM

No big deal, two miles there, two miles back. With traffic, 10 minutes

So we’ve got 20 minutes of car time and 40 minutes to shop at target. We grab eighty dollars worth of nuts and I pray that I have secured a Target-free life until November.

It’s back in the car and we have to get Jane from her massage. We rush through a bank and then head to volleyball practice. Practice begins at 3 in Calabasas.

14.4 miles of mostly highway driving takes 40 minutes

14.4 miles of mostly highway driving takes 40 minutes

We arrive at 2.57 at which point Jane informs me that she’s supposed to be there 15 minutes early to help set up. I’d been congratulating myself all week for getting my kids everywhere on time. Apparently Monday through Thursday were a bust.

What? You don’t hear Queen singing We Are the Champions when you get your kids where they need to go on time? Embrace the minor victories ladies. Moms don’t really get that many of them.

I drive Jane through, slow the car down, she jumps out and we head back on the 101 to get Alexander to the birthday party in Studio City that begins at 4pm. It’s a surprise party, we cannot be the assholes who are late. We have to be a different kind of asshole today.

This is a 17 mile drive on a highway. At 4pm in LA it takes 50 minutes

This is a 17 mile drive on a highway. At 4pm in LA it takes 50 minutes

We arrive early to the party. We are there at 3.50 and are the first by about 10 minutes. This is unfamiliar and Alexander and I both sort of look at each other like Oh, this is how it feels?

When the other kids got there at 4pm I left to trek back to Jane and her volleyball practice. It was another 50 minutes for 17 miles and practice ran overtime so I got to watch Jane defy gravity for a bit which always delights me. We headed back to Studio City for Alexander which took over an hour and then grabbed dinner on the way home.

At this point you’re probably like, “So what about the Rio?”

Well, it was comfortable. It cooled down reasonably on 105° days. It’s not a fast car but it’s not slow either. The seats were comfortable enough even though they were manual and the rear seats were fine for the kids (everyone is over 5 feet at this point) but one of the seat belts broke on us so we had one kid sitting in the middle and another behind me. It wasn’t ideal but you know… lemonade and all.

I think that what’s so interesting about the Rio is that it’s completely unremarkable and utilitarian. The most attractive thing about the Rio I drove is it’s color. If I’m being completely fair it is an outstanding shade of red and I wish more carmakers would embrace rich colors like this.

Everything else is bland without being blah (how’s that for articulate?). Please understand that I mean this in a flattering manner. Let’s face it, people eat a lot of vanilla ice cream. The 2013 Kia Rio is the vanilla ice cream of the compact cars. It’s reliable (okay maybe just not the seatbelt but I’m not convinced that one of the 90 kids who was in that vehicle didn’t twist/trap/pull/push it in an improper manner) and it’s got enough power to get you on the highway and keep you in the fast lane but the automatic transmission just isn’t as fun a the manual transmission on a much less expensive and poorly equipped Mazda.

I went through two tanks of gas with the Rio in a week. It was a week of heavy driving and I enjoyed every bit of it. I had the Mercedes sitting next to it just gathering dust for a week and never felt deprived of much. Like other Kias the navigation is a joy. Take a look at the window sticker and note that this nicely equipped vehicle costs less than a luxury cruise for a family of four. Actually I feel compelled to add that this $21,000 Kia has a tech package that’s more impressive than the Benz that’s all dusty next to it.

Kia monroney rio 2013

Now that we’re looking at having a teen driver in the house the only things that give me pause are the four star safety ratings. Historically I’ve been 100% on board with vehicles that have four and five star safety ratings but imagining my daughter behind the wheel has me wishing for five stars all the way through. The rear seat side scored five stars and every other measurement was four stars. The reality is that this is a safe little car, the mom in me would like her to drive a tank (not literally – even though I have).

Putting two car seats in the Rio would be no problem though I doubt you’d fit in a third. To be fair I doubt any car in this class would support three car seats.

I love the Rio for it’s unfussiness. It’s a car. It’s a compact car that handles very nicely, features a good number of amenities, keeps you safe and doesn’t break the bank. It’s the vanilla ice cream of cars and I say that with unending love for tradition.

2013 kia rio red kia rio rear 2013 kia rio red

I Brought Two Kids and A Red Soul! to Florida


A few months ago I took Alexander and a friend to Amelia Island. I’d been there on a press trip a few months before and knew that it was the perfect vacation for my boy but not for my daughter. Since Jane was on a class trip overseas and Mr. G would be working I decided to take Alexander and a friend to the resort.

The best part of being a car reviewer is that you can sometimes review a car on vacation so when I told the folks at Kia that I’d be in Florida they said they had a Soul! there. Apparently the Soul! was meant to be ours, just check the plates.

Kia Soul!

I’m sure you’ve seen these little SUVs on the road. They’re similar in size and shape to the Nissan Cube and do believe that the two have cornered the market on adorableness. There’s some sort of anthropomorphic fun to be had with the profile of the vehicle.

anthropomorphic kia soul

I see these on the road and wait for a Disney animator to make it speak.

I’d always looked at the Soul and thought it was a young person’s car. Like a recent grad or even a college student but after having spent a week in it with all our gear I think it’s actually a great family car too.

2013 kia soul cargo trunk

The trunk space isn’t deep but because it’s a hatchback it’s efficient. There were three of us in the car and we put a good number of miles on it and we were all quite comfortable.

There are sedan drivers and SUV drivers. There are people who are quite simply drivers but the devoted SUV or minivan crowd who relishes the upright front seats will adore the Soul. As I was sitting bus driver style with my knees as close to a 90 degree angle as any vehicle would ever let me be I just grinned like an idiot and understood the allure of the minivan (though I still can never in good conscience allow a friend to drive one).

The Soul! isn’t a fast vehicle but it has pretty good pickup. It’s a 4 cylinder engine with 164 hp at the redline but with a fairly light curb weight of 2,778 (as low as 2,615 on a manual transmission) it’s fun and safe to accelerate onto highways (because my readers would never be racing off a red light).

The real joy of the Soul is in the cabin. It’s light and bright and although I was in a compact SUV I never felt like I was cramped (as is possible in compact vehicles). This isn’t a wide car so I don’t see it accommodating three car seats but two would be easy. Since the seats are so upright it would be easy on a mom’s back if she’s pulling kids in and out of their seats.

Unfortunately for Audrey the cargo area won’t be large enough to accomodate a Newfoundland Terrier but it’s a fantastic choice for just about anyone, particularly folks who occasionally haul things and for anyone who loves a road trip.

The model I drove was fully loaded at $23,575 and Kia has a 10 year/10,000 mile powertrain warranty so it’s the perfect option for people who actually make fiscal plans.

Also… icing on the cake? Check out the sound system at night. So. Much. Fun.

2014 Kia Sorento Review and First Drive


2014 Kia Sorento

Starting a Kia Sorento is an adventure taken in style. Starting a family is an adventure. Many might say it is the greatest adventure of your life. It’s a journey that we take with our children from birth until we die so why shouldn’t it be taken in style. Enter the Kia Sorento.

When I think of starting a family, like most parents, I think of it as a great blessing but at the same time it’s a time of great sacrifice. The saying that a baby changes everything is the truest statement ever made. It does and it usually starts with the car you drive. It’s a little difficult driving around town with a kid in a cool two-seater.

The 2014 Kia Sorento lets you take the journey of parenthood in style, high tech and affordability. You might have to sacrifice your sports car for something to keep the twins safe in but that doesn’t have to mean that you have to sacrifice all style and sophistication. Kia has made safety a priority in this vehicle because they know that you are carrying around the most precious cargo of all but they have also made it pretty freaking cool.

The interior has anti-static and anti microbial qualities, which is great for little hands that stick everything in their mouth, and then promptly drop it to the floor. It has a stronger, safer body design and fast-response AWD system. It also has a blind spot detection system to help protect you from any unforeseen accidents while dropping off and picking up the kids from school. Let’s face it we don’t always check the blind spot as well as we ought to, sometimes there’s dry cleaning hanging right there or when you’re up a little high some teeny Miata-like-thing will merge next to you in total stealth mode. Blind spot detection systems are a godsend. The 2014 Sorento also has a programmable power liftgate, which is great when unloading packages in the garage, especially if you have a low ceiling and are distracted by little people running off in all directions. This means that if you have a height restriction you can set the liftgate to open only to a given height so it won’t pop up and hit the top. Also if you’re really tall you can have it open up higher each time so you’re thunking your head less often. My husband is 6’5″ and this is a feature that he loves.

Speaking of style that the whole family will enjoy; it has built in 2nd row sunshade blinds to protect little eyes from the bright sun while napping on the road and a new panoramic roof which provides endless hours of name that cloud entertainment for the toddler set. It also has 5-speaker premium Infinity sound system, so you can blast Yo Gabba Gabba to get the sillies out or Fun to remind yourself that you are still young enough to take this car out for a spin in the mountains.

The new design is technologically advanced; this is not the station wagon our parents were doomed to once they had kids. The optional console screen is eight inches and integrates navigation, SiriusXM Traffic with real-time road information updates, SiruisXM Satellite Radio, Bluetooth hands-free connectivity, vehicle settings and UVO eServices. Who says you can’t have kids and still be cool? A fully loaded Kia is a shockingly luxe vehicle with everything the big boys offer including heated and cooled seats.

With three rows of seating there is plenty of room to expand your family or pile in and head out for a family road trip that none of you will ever forget. With the 2014 Kia Sorento, you can make your family journey as exciting as the destination.

2014 kia sorento trunk

2014 dash Sorento Kia



The UVO interface is going to need a blog post of it’s own.

You can find Debi blogging at The Truth About Motherhood or follow her on Twitter

And a note from Jessica…

Here are the numbers you know you wanted:

Sorento LX 2.4L I4 FWD – 6 A/T $24,100.00
Sorento LX 2.4L I4 AWD – 6 A/T $25,800.00
Sorento LX V6 3.3L V6 FWD – 6 A/T $25,700.00
Sorento EX V6 3.3L V6 FWD – 6 A/T $30,000.00
Sorento SX 3.3L V6 FWD – 6 A/T $35,000.00
Sorento SX-L 3.3L V6 FWD – 6 A/T $38,000.00
Sorento LX V6 3.3L V6 AWD – 6 A/T $27,400.00
Sorento EX V6 3.3L V6 AWD – 6 A/T $31,700.00
Sorento SX 3.3L V6 AWD – 6 A/T $36,700.00
Sorento SX-L 3.3L V6 AWD – 6 A/T $39,700.00

And here are some comparison stats including the two engine models. The four cylinder (hello city driver!) with 191 horsepower and the six cylinder which boasts 290 hp. The four cylinder version has 181 lb. ft. of torque at 4,250 rpm and the six boasts 252 lb. ft. of torque at 5,200 rpm. If all you can afford is the four cylinder version I’d highly recommend not test driving the larger engine as those numbers are far enough from each other that you might experience some disappointment in the power going from 6 to 4…. or you could go ahead and embrace The American Way and buy a car you can’t quite afford. I’m not here to judge.

Here’s a little comparison sheet on three of the 2014 Kia Sorento Specifications.



It’s Possible that in Korea “Optima” means Wisdom


It’s the end of 2012 and the Kia Optima Hybrid with a Premium package finally made it’s way to my house. The only other Kia I’ve driven has been the Rio and as adorable as the Rio is you get zero respect from the valet attendants (except the guy at Barneys who happened to love it as much as I did).

The Optima is a mid size sedan maybe teetering on the edge of full sized. It’s got a lot of leg room for everyone and parked next to the XF it looked similar in stature. The Optima has something that most luxury cars charge a ton of dough for, luxury. The sun roof on the Optima is not to be missed. If you love light coming at you Kia has embraced the oversized sunroof with a dual design.

Driving the Optima Hybrid is lovely. It’s a fairly quiet car. It doesn’t have the capsule like feel of a heavier sedan and you can hear the engine wind down into hybrid mode but that’s something that I’ve experienced with every hybrid under $50,000. With a $25,700 base price the Optima Hybrid exceeded my expectations on everything but fuel consumption. It pains me to say it but I got just 29 miles a gallon from this vehicle after a week. I thought I was doing something wrong and when I ran into my friends at Gadget Review I asked them what kind of mileage they got and they were 36 or so… I’m just baffled by this and don’t really have a good explanation.

Here’s the window sticker for the vehicle I drove. You’ll see it’s very nicely equipped.

Driving the Optima in the Los Angeles rain was interesting. One of the reasons that Angelinos drive so poorly in the rain is because it rains so rarely that in a downpour (like I had while driving this car) loads of grease and oil and make the roads suddenly slick, there’s no slow washing away of debris so our streets are a disaster in the first hours. Not being one to miss an opportunity I found myself an empty road, got up to 45 miles an hour and slammed on the brakes. The Optima handled this like a champ, stopping on a dime without even the tiniest swerve.

The crash ratings are good on this car, I’d like to see five stars everywhere but with things like effective ABS brakes (I assure you not all ABS braking systems are made equally) and Hill Start Assist (no more rolling backwards when you’re stuck at the light on Sunset and La Cienenga) you’ll have much less use for curtain airbags. Since I’m two years away from having a teenage driver I’m starting to look at vehicles differently, accident avoidance is key.

The Optima is a good car in many ways. It’s not an exciting drive, it’s not particularly fast but it’s also not annoyingly slow. It’s a sedan and has the capability of being a great daily driver. What makes the Optima a brilliant sedan is that it’s a Kia. If this vehicle had any other badge on the hood it would be at a different price point. The 10 year powertrain warranty and five year limited are also incredibly convincing reasons to buy a Kia.

If you’ve got a family back seats matter. There is a lot of legroom in this car and as an added bonus you can get heated rear seats. I’ve only seen this in the 7 series BMW and the S Class Mercedes. My iphone integrates beautifully with the Kia and as I’ve noted before the navigation system is wonderful.

This is a smart car, it’s simple and sturdy. I’m more than a little concerned about the difference I experienced in fuel consumption but even with that in mind I think it’s a smart purchase for folks who love sedans.

The trunk is huge (and remind me to tell you about the world’s best bath towels)