JUNE 2012
Khaas Baat : A Publication for Indian Americans in Florida


Test-drive stories by NITISH S. RELE, [email protected]

2012 Kia Optima SXTHE RIDE: 2012 Kia Optima SX sedan.

DOWN THE ROAD: Don’t be misled by the small-engine size since this turbo’s got loads of punch. Indeed, the car gets up to speed in hurry and brakes just as rapidly with poise.

TECH & PERFORMANCE: The sporty SX is equipped with a 2.0-liter inline-4 cylinder engine putting out a healthy 274 hp @ 6000 rpm and 269 pounds-feet of torque @ 4500 rpm. Power is put to the front wheels via a slick 6-speed automatic transmission. Suspension is handled via an independent MacPherson front and a multilink rear, which soaks up potholes and other road irregularities remarkably well. The hydraulic power-assist steering is perfectly weighted and provides decent feedback.

LOOK & FEEL: The steel-unibody based Optima is among the boldest-appearing sedans in the market, thanks to a sweeping chrome arc from front to rear, projector headlights flanked by Kia’s traditional tabbed grille, chrome/body color door handles and body-color side molding. Peek inside and you will be greeted by such wonderful amenities as a cooled glove box, tilt/telescopic steering column, power door locks and windows, 60/40 split fold rear seat and remote keyless entry.

SAFETY FIRST: Dual front and side airbags, side curtain airbag, four-wheel antilock brakes, stability and traction control systems, hill assist control, front and rear crumple zones, side-impact door beams, three-point front seatbelts with pretensioners, daytime running lights and tire pressure monitoring system are standard.

OUT THE DOOR: $28,500, plus taxes, tag, delivery and destination charges.

BY THE NUMBERS: Tires, P215/55R17 front, 255/45R18 rear; wheelbase, 110 inches; length, 190.7 inches; weight, 3,385 pounds; fuel capacity, 18.5 gallons; city, 22 mpg, highway 34 mpg; Web site, www.kiausa.com

WHY DIG IT: A tremendous performer, the aggressively-styled Optima is spacious, comfy and an enjoyable car for all occasions. It is a smart choice for the prospective sedan buyer who wants vim and vigor in a daily ride.


SUZUKI KIZASHIIntroduced in 2010, the Suzuki Kizashi is one of the most underestimated midsize sedans on the market. Despite registering highest in total overall satisfaction for two consecutive years in AutoPacific’s Vehicle Satisfaction Awards, as well as rated tops in J.D. Power and Associates’ 2011 Automotive Performance Execution and Layout Study, the car has struggled to make impact sales wise. This is unfair to the Japanese carmaker.

Under the hood of our SE model resides a 2.4-liter inline-4 cylinder engine developing 180 horsepower @ 6000 rpm and 170 pounds-feet of torque @ 4000 rpm. And that is plenty for the car to deliver smooth and linear acceleration with well-balanced handling and good body control. It is mated to a quiet Continuous Variable Transmission. Thanks to a front MacPherson strut and coil springs and a rear multilink suspension, the Kizashi tackles corners effectively to result in a nimble ride. The Electric Power rack-and-pinion steering is quick, precise and communicative.

Ensconced on the steel unibody structure is a mesh grille surrounded by projector-beam headlights, body-color mirrors and door handles, and chrome dual exhaust to give the car an aggressive overall look. The driver information center, between the speedometer and tachometer gauges, is set amid glowing backlit illumination. Also standard are a 10-way power driver seat, push-button ignition and keyless entry, dual-zone automatic climate control, power windows, door locks and mirrors, and a 60/40 rear seat.

Dual front and side airbags, side curtain airbag, four-wheel antilock brakes with Electronic Brake Distribution and Brake Assist, stability and traction control, antiskid system, side-impact door beams, front seatbelt pretensioners, tire pressure monitoring system and daytime running lights are standard.

The reasonably priced Kizashi offers a sporty ride, accommodating cabin and decent fuel economy (we averaged about 27.5 mpg). It’s definitely worth taking the underrated sedan for a test drive. You won’t be disappointed.

Tires: P235/45R18
Wheelbase: 106.3 inches
: 183.1 inches
: 3,329 pounds
Fuel capacity
: 16.6 gallons
: 23 mpg Highway: 30 mpg
Base price
: $23,899
Web site
: www.suzukiauto.com


2012 Kia SorentoAmong the changes for the 2012 Kia Sorento is an all-new powertrain, which was our test-drive vehicle for a week. The 2.4-liter 4-cylinder gasoline-direct engine cranks out 191 horsepower @ 6300 rpm and 181 pounds-feet of torque @ 4250 rpm. Seating five or seven, the midsize SUV is mated to a smooth and precise 6-speed auto transmission.

Sharing a basic design with the Santa Fe, its sibling from Hyundai, the front-wheel-drive Sorento gets an independent MacPherson front strut and multilink real suspension with stabilizer bars to isolate occupants from road noise and rough surfaces. Also contributing to cabin quietness are Dual Flow Damper shock absorbers. Guiding the SUV toward its destination is a sharp hydraulic power rack-and-pinion steering with a firm on-center feel.

The steel unibody structure-based Sorento displays the traditional Kia mesh grille with chrome surround surrounded by flared-back headlights and fog lamps. Space is plentiful in the seven-passenger CUV with a recline-and-fold second-row 60/40 seat and optional third-row 50/50 seat, which folds flat into the floor. All in all, you get 72.5 cubic feet of space with all seats down. Second-row passengers are treated to ample head, knee and leg room. Also standard is dual-zone auto climate control, push-button start, tilt/telescopic steering column, driver information center, black wood trim and rearview camera.

Standard safety features include dual front and side airbags, side curtain airbag for both rows, Electronic Stability and traction control, Downhill Brake Control, Hill Assist Control, four-wheel antilock brakes with Brake Assist, front active headrests, side impact door beams, front/rear crumple zones, rollover sensor and tire pressure monitoring system.

A new powertrain makes the Sorento a pretty solid value with a satisfying mix of laudable fuel economy, and remarkable people- and cargo-hauling practicality. And who can forget the Korean carmaker’s basic 5-year, 60,000-mile and 10-year, 100,000-mile limited power train warranties?

Tires: P235/60R18
: 106.3 inches
: 183.9 inches
: 3,737 pounds
Fuel capacity
: 18 gallons
: 22 mpg
: 32 mpg
Base price
: $25,950
Web site
: www.kiausa.com


CIVIC HYBRID43.5 mpg. That was our average during a week’s test drive of the 2012 Honda Civic hybrid on city streets and highway. Now, that’s pretty impressive. And we didn’t have to sacrifice ride quality, safety or comfort in the redesigned gas/electric hybrid.

Available in four trims, the front-wheel-drive sedan is equipped with a 1.5-liter (up from the previous 1.3) engine (with Integrated Motor Assist) that develops 110 horsepower at 5500 rpm and 127 pounds-feet (increase of 4) of torque at 1000 rpm. The inline-4 cylinder engine is mated to an electric motor, which is powered by a lighter 20-kw lithium-ion battery (out goes the nickel-metal hydride. A seamless Continuously Variable Transmission is standard.

The hybrid offers a regenerative braking system for additional fuel savings. When brakes are applied, the electric power functions as a generator, converts the captured kinetic energy into useable electricity for recharging the battery. Want to eke out further fuel efficiency? Just press the ECON button. Also part of the Eco Assist system is the plant leaf graphics, which tracks driving habits.

Indeed, Honda has boosted gas mileage on this 2012 version over its predecessor by 4 in city and 1 on the highway. And compared to the conventional Civic sedan, the hybrid sees a 16 mpg and 5 mpg increase in city and highway respectively.

Base-priced at $24,200, the Civic is priced up to $26,900 if you would like leather seats and a navigation system.

With its cheeky styling in and out, smooth but solid ride and frugal fuel consumption, the Civic hybrid is a no-brainer. Honda’s reputation for durability and reliability only adds to the compact car’s value.

P195/65 R15 all season
105.1 inches Length: 177.3 inches
Suspension: MacPherson strut front; multilink rear
electric-power assist
2,875 pounds
Fuel capacity:
13.2 gallons
Web site: www.honda.com


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