For this issue, we got four Korean cars to try out. First was the Kia Soul. It looks the same as last year’s model, but has minor changes like bigger bumpers and larger tail lights. Under the hood is a 1.6 liter 130 horsepower engine rated at 24/31 mpg. A 6-speed manual or 6-speed automatic is offered. I had the bigger 2.0 164 horse engine. It comes with automatic only, but mileage is rated at 23/31, about the same as the smaller engine. I got 24 in heavy city driving and 27 on a 600 mile highway trip.
This is a fun car to drive. Plenty of power, sporty handling, nice brakes, and comfortable ride. I didn't like the lack of a spare tire, and I suggest you get one. You can afford it, as the price of a Soul in only $15K to $25K.
Next up was the Kia Cadenza sedan. It starts at $35K, but loaded with crazy luxury goodies we don't need, the total tab is $42K. A lot of money, but this is a lot of car! Under the hood is a strong 3.3 liter V-6 rated at 19/28 mpg. I got 21/26. The ride is firm, yet comfortable. Handling is excellent, as was the brake performance. This vehicle begs to be driven fast and can handle it!
The interior has no cost cutting, and is first rate--on par with luxury Lexus and Infiniti vehicles. Great car for long trips. Very well done Kia!
The car has a 293 horse V-6 with plenty of pep, and hooked to a 6-speed automatic gearbox. Base cost starts at $32K, but loaded up we hit $37K.
The main selling feature here is luxury. The ride is super comfortable, and the cabin quiet. You lose some sporty handling capability, but that's okay. The interior is well done, with all controls easy to operate. Materials and workmanship quality was outstanding. Close your eyes and you would swear you were in a Lexus ES-350! But without the price tag that is!
This is the most expensive car here, with a $61,920 sticker! Another choice would be a Lexus LS-460 at $86,415. Both cars are very similar, and it is obvious that the Lexus is the target competitor. Under the hood is a powerful V-8 cranking 429 horsepower, and hooked to an 8-speed automatic. This baby is quick! It also drinks fuel at 15/23 mpg.
The interior is total luxury, with the usual leather, potent sound system, and all the bells and whistles. The ride is super soft, but press a button, and we get the "sport" mode that stiffens the ride, improves handling, and upgrades the tranny shift points.
I didn't like the body panels under the doors as they are too wide and collect outside dirt. This grime gets on your pants when entering and exiting. But otherwise this is a great car. I doubt Lexus has anything to worry about here, but I think many Lincoln and Cadillac owners who want to move up to a Lexus LS-460 but can't afford it, can afford an Equus.