GirlDriver, USA

GirlDriver, USA
Look! It's GirlDriver, USA.

Saturday, January 18, 2014

My Buddy-- The 2014 Kia Sorento

There was a girl in my high school who had a Nash Rambler and she called it her Buddy.  I think they were called "Buddies." She said she was going to live in her Buddy when she became an opera singer and travel around in it to her engagements.  Hey, she had dreams.

I thought of the classmate and her Buddy on my drive out to Detroit in the 2014 Kia Sorento for the North American International Auto Show.  The Sorento, redesigned in 2012, could not have been more accommodating on our solo road trip.  It was me traveling to an engagement in a vehicle that felt like my Buddy.  Malcolm Gladwell was on audio reading his treatise, Outliers--a blog for another day.  I had clementines and Pellegrino and a clear road.

We arrived at the Canadian Niagara Falls after dark.  I hit the roof when the hotel wanted to charge me $30 to park my Buddy.  So the desk said my other option was to self park at the Casino Hotel down the street for $5.  Seriously, how long did I need to weigh that decision? Niagara Falls.  January.  NYC parking rates.  No one there.  $30.  I had just had a amazing meal for $25 at Hillebrand Winery.  I got upgraded to a room with a great view of the Falls because of my wheel squeaking about the parking. Staring at the Falls at night with the fog and the light show is a great way to end the evening. I was rested and ready to roll to Detroit after visiting the Falls in person.

My Remington Red Kia is powered by a 3.3-liter V6 engine paired with a 6-speed automatic transmission with manual capability that produces 290 horsepower and 252 lb.-ft. of torque.  A four-cylinder engine is also available.  My Sorento had all-wheel drive, which I appreciated but ended up not needing.  There's ample power for passing and with cruise control I got on average 24.8 mph.  That's what Kia promises--18 city/24 highway/20 combined.  Most of my driving except for a night of roving in downtown Detroit, was highway.

I piled a lot into the cargo space--computer, suitcase, insulated bag, other bags, a little exercise equipment.
A couple of things made me sit up and take notice.  One:  I used the navigation system relentlessly and it was easy and it got me to the door of every event I was going to without a hassle.  The eight-inch navigation screen is home  navigation, traffic with real-time road information updates, a premium audio system, available subscription to Sirius XM radio, Bluetooth® hands-free connectivity, vehicle settings and UVO eServices, Kia's next generation of infotainment and services.  The screen has superb graphics and Kia's Uvo telematics seem to operate with a kind of simplicity that is hard to find.  I, who openly will admit that I dislike these systems and find them distracting, actually liked and appreciated this system.  (I can't tell you the number of places I went where I had no idea where I was going but it was right up there with the Amazing Race.)

I drove 1,500 miles solo.  I was completely comfortable throughout the trip.  And when I got back, yes, I was tired, but I didn't suffer back pain.   As a driver I didn't get to star gaze but the panoramic roof is fabulous.

It's always worth mentioning Kia's 10-year, 100,000 mile limited powertrain warranty because it is one of the best in the business.  The basic warranty and the roadside assistance is 5-years, 60,000 miles.

The cost with $1,000 for the split folding third row seat with A/C for this Buddy is $38,550 including destination charge.

Friday, January 17, 2014

Range Rover Sport-- Ridin' High

Amazing, isn't it?  What you can get for $104,000 and change?  I drove the Range Rover Sport V8 Autobiography, the top of the line.  The architecture is monocoque.  Think of an eggshell--the outer skin supports the whole of the egg. In a monocoque-framed vehicle the skin or exterior helps support the load.  That would be instead of a separate body and frame.  Monocoque construction first appeared on the Lancia Lamda in 1924.  The term is derived from Greek and means single shell.

I could have--but didn't have time to--rock crawl, ride the beach, go through some serious mud offroad.  I  have gleefully participated in Land Rover's off-road course at the Biltmore Hotel near Asheville, North Carolina.  But don't get any notions about the course being feather-bedded because of the location--it was a serious course that taught me a lot in a short time.

The Sport was powered by a 5.0-liter aluminum alloy super-charged V8 with 510 horsepower and 461 lb.-ft. of torque.  In other words, "step away from my ride."   And just because I didn't have time to rock crawl, that doesn't mean that Land Rover's permanent four-wheel drive, four-wheel electronic traction control, two-speed electronic transfer box with electronic center differential and active rear locking differential wouldn't skip-hop across the Rubicon in record time.  It does.  It has.  Brakes are 4-wheel, power-assisted disc brakes with an all-terrain ABS system.  It comes with stability control, hill descent assist, emergency brake assist, roll stability control, active speed limiter, electronic park brake and gradient release control.  Think of yourself driving your Range Rover at a 30-degree angle to the ground.  Got the picture?  You're good.  No problem.  Even if you feel nauseous.  The electronic air suspension with automatic load leveling can be adjusted to three different levels--access, standard off-road and extended height. Should you get stuck in the Amazon forest at night when there's no one around to help and your windows are up, engage the anti-trap feature on all windows and go find local assistance. 

Autobiography comes with a chose of 11 extra interior colors, leather, auto-dim side mirrors, contrasting colors, mood lighting, fabulous audio, superior climate control and other comfort adjustments and a panoramic roof.  Just because it's capable off-road doesn't mean you have to suffer.

This vehicle is not for everyone.  But for the individual who wants extreme capability on both ends of the spectrum it is worth considering.  It won't mean much to that person that fuel economy is low, 14 city/16 highway/19 combined, which is about what I got.  The point of owning a Land Rover is owning a Land Rover.  Go crawl.