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.