Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Car? What car? (Or, rather, which car?)

In a recent trip to my local Kia dealer, Team Gunther Kia (so they could repair a flat when I got a key stuck in my tire with 7k miles on it - which they did for free!), I decided, since I was going to be there anyway, to take a quick look at the Kia Rio. The new one, the 2012 model. Why? Well, I have been very interested in the new Chevy Sonic (particularly with the turbo motor), and in one article or another it was compared with the Hyundai Accent, and by extension the Rio. The Accent/Rio has a 138hp GDI motor (that's "Gasoline Direct Injection" - that is, instead of the fuel being mixed with air and then sucked into the motor, only air flows through the intake valves, and the fuel is directly injected into the cylinder; check out this article if you want to know more). That's the same output as the 1.4L direct injection turbo in the Sonic (actually, the Sonic's 1.8L naturally aspirated motor generates the same horsepower, but less torque, as does the Hyundai GDI motor). And both cars hit the 40 mpg mark (with a manual transmission, on the EPA highway test circuit). So, I thought I'd go ahead and take a look at the Rio while I was waiting on the tire to be repaired (again, at no cost - thanks, Team Gunther Kia!).

I did not drive the Rio, but I did sit in it, and the seats seemed comfortable enough (for the few moments I spent in the car). However, what did impress me, was the solid feeling/sound when I shut the door. Last summer we bought a 2010 Kia Forte for my daughter to take to school with her. She loves the car (my wife loves it, too - she enjoys the way it drives, and, I'll admit, it is a fairly sporty little thing despite its automatic transmission). One thing I do not love about the car is the tinny feeling of the doors. When shutting the door, it sounds, well, hollow, like slamming an aluminum can shut. Not at all like the solid feeling of my much-missed BMW. I figured the Rio, being a "cheaper" car, would follow suit and, if anything, be even less solid of a vehicle. Wrong. The sound of the door shutting was - surprise! - very solid. Maybe not quite as much as the BMW, but then again, the BMW was a 3400 pound car, while the Rio is about 800-900 pounds less. In fact, the Rio felt more substantial, in many ways, than the Forte does. And there's actually room in the back seat, too - although, I'll admit, I only looked there and never actually climbed in.

So, was I impressed? Considering the vehicle, yes. Granted, I don't think it'll be my choice for when I need to get something as a daily driver (I love the Mustang - but when I get a job working further than a walk up my stairs, I'll want to get something with a little better gas mileage and that I won't mind putting into the bustle - and mileage - of being an everyday driver; as I told the Kia salesman, while I'm working out of my home, it doesn't matter whether my car gets 15-16 mpg or 40 mpg - it's no different when I don't drive anywhere; and, no, I'm not trading in the Mustang!). More than likely I'll go with the Turbo Sonic (reminds me of the old Chevy Sprint Turbo - one of the great "little" cars of the late 80s that I really wanted while in high school). There's a really good comparison test in the latest Car and Driver - and the Sonic finished second to the Honda Fit, but only by two points. Interestingly enough, the Sonic tested was a top-of-the-line LTZ model; the LT model costs a bit less, and might have tied (or beaten!) the Honda in the final points tally (the "as tested price" gave a two-point edge to the Honda). Besides, I've always generally had a liking for Chevy... probably because that's what my grandparents (on my mom's side) drove.

1 comment:

Tony M said...

I'm thinking maybe Chevy Cruze Eco now. Boy do I change my mind a lot! I should just be a car salesman!