The Chicago Auto Show started this weekend and we were there for the press preview day before it began. This is the first major U.S. auto show in over a year, the last one being, you guessed it, the Chicago show in February of 2020.

Moving to a one-time summer format means that some of the show is outdoors and there is a lot to see and do. Here’s our quick rundown of what to see there.

For tickets and other information, see http://www.chicagoautoshow.com

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In this special episode, we talk about the annual Texas Truck Rodeo put on by the Texas Auto Writers Association. Kristin walks us through what she saw, what she learned, and the types of capabilities and comparisons that are tested at this event.

Kristin’s review of the Durango SRT: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AYpMpVco370

Jeep Wrangler Rubicon 392: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8t1C2ldyafo

Interview with Nicole and Alice pre-Rebelle: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bIbFlG7G4a4

Interview with Alice and Nicole, Rebelles: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Szw3oonSd-Y

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A choice of four affordable trims

The 2021 Kia Seltos is the latest vehicle to join the Kia lineup. This new crossover slots between the smaller Kia Soul and larger Kia Sportage with an affordable price point and sizing that’s ideal for city dwellers.

Available in four trims, the base LX starts at $21,990 with standard all-wheel drive and a 2.0-liter 4-cylinder engine. It has 146 horsepower and 132 lb-ft of torque and is paired to a continuously variable automatic transmission. If you don’t want all-wheel drive, the Seltos does offer front-wheel drive, but only on the S trim, which is one step up from the base LX.

Those who want a more responsive ride will appreciate the 1.6-liter turbocharged 4-cylinder that’s available on the S at $25,490 and standard on the top SX with pricing of $27,890. It jumps to 195 horsepower and 175 lb-ft of torque and is paired to a 7-speed automatic transmission.

A small car doesn’t need a big engine, even for merging into high-speed highway traffic, but having one does make things a lot more fun. We spent a week with the SX and its peppy turbocharged engine and found it a happy little ride to sling through the corners.

Enjoy the quiet

It’s also worth noting that the Seltos is quiet. The thing with many of the vehicles in this class and at these price points is that they’re loud. They’re not intended to be luxury cars with supremely quiet interiors, which is fine, but no one wants to feel like they’re riding with the windows down when they’re quite firmly closed.

The Seltos offers an impressively quiet ride, even at high speeds. There’s minimal road and wind noise and an unexpected thunderstorm that drenched the roads in rain and surprise puddles still wasn’t enough to make the interior loud. It’s something you’ll appreciate during long commutes or that multi-state road trip.

Along with being quiet, the Seltos has a comfortable interior with room for five passengers. Those up front will find plenty of space even if they’re on the tall side, but the back seat isn’t exactly spacious. It’s great for two adults, although it will seat three. We’d only do three passengers for quick trips. On longer trips, even two will want to be swapping with those up front to stretch out a bit.

Fully-featured at every trim

Adding to the appeal of the Seltos are its standard features. There’s an 8-inch infotainment touchscreen with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, 6-speaker audio, and automatic cruise control as standard features. The SX sees the addition of a 10.25-inch touchscreen, navigation, and Bose premium audio.

All but the base trim also gets a suite of safety features that includes forward collision avoidance assist with car and pedestrian detection, lane departure warning, lane following assist, and lane keep assist. That’s a wide range of features for a vehicle that tops out at $27,890.

It’s also easy on the budget with good fuel economy. It gets an EPA-estimated fuel economy of 29 mpg in the city, 34 mpg on the highway, and 31 mpg combined with front-wheel drive and up to 27 mpg in the city, 31 mpg on the highway, and 29 mpg combined with all-wheel drive.

Room for your stuff

Finally, the Seltos blends passenger comfort with cargo versatility. There’s 26.6 cubic feet behind the second row with 62.8 cubic feet behind the first row. It’s not as roomy as a large SUV, but it easily manages the family’s luggage or supplies for the latest home improvement project.

The 2021 Kia Seltos is a strong offering in a crowded segment. An attractive and comfortable interior, affordable pricing, and a choice of responsive engines make it a top pick for crossover shoppers.

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Kia Soul

Got what I got the hard way

And i’ll make it better each and every day

So honey don’t you fret

‘Cause you ain’t seen nothing yet.

I’m a Soul man.

  • Sam and Dave

The hamsters are gone but the Soul remains

Remember the commercials featuring hamsters driving a Kia Soul a decade ago (ten years already?!)? Kia found measurable results with that monster campaign; buyers loved the hamsters. In an article on Fortune.com, one Kia dealer manager said that people often entered his dealership and wanted to drive the “hamster car.” This subcompact SUV and its quirky identity made an impression.

In the last ten years, the versatile and zippy Soul has continued to improve and evolve. The 2020 Kia Soul kicked off a new generation with a redesign of the exterior and more options inside. Some outlets call it an SUV and Kia calls it a hatchback on its site, and one thing is clear: it’s not easy to put this unique vehicle into any one category.

Six trim levels and an impressive bargain

A few summers ago, I had a red Kia Soul for a few weeks while I was staying in Indiana for the summer and my mom fell in love with that car. And aside from one torrid long-term affair with a Honda Accord, she and my dad are no-nonsense GM buyers. To this day, however, Mom remembers that Soul fondly.

For model year 2020, the Soul is available in six trim levels. It’s slightly unusual in its hierarchy because the X-Line, GT-Line, and EX build on the S line and not each other, as most brands do. Look carefully at the comparison of all the trims if you have your eye on one of these hatchbacks.

  • LX: Highlights include rear privacy glass, 60/40-split-folding rear seat, six-speaker sound system, seven-inch touchscreen display, a rearview camera, hill-start assist, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto
  • S: Forward collision warning with automatic emergency braking, lane-keeping assist, blind-spot monitoring with rear cross-traffic alert
  • X-Line: 18-inch wheels, leather-wrapped steering wheel, fog lights, roof rails
  • GT-Line: GT-Line Sunroof package with keyless entry and ignition, unique grille, and drowsy driver warning system
  • EX: LED running lights, dual-zone automatic climate control, heated front seats, 10.3-inch touchscreen display, navigation system
  • GT-Line Turbo: Adaptive cruise control, heads-up display, upgraded 10-speaker Harman Kardon audio, chrome exhaust, and sunroof

The Soul starts at $17,490 at the base level and ratchets up $10K and more to the GT-Line Turbo.

Kia Soul

Who is a good match for a Soul?

The Soul is a great match for teen drivers. In fact, U.S. News and World Report called the 2020 Kia Soul the best SUV for teens in the $25K to $30K price range. I’ll see that rating and give you one better: this is the perfect car for your college student. It has plenty of room for cargo (including a 60/40 split seating arrangement), fits into any parking space they need to squeeze into, and is sporty enough to be cool. This is also a great little vehicle for a small family. In its comprehensive car seat check, Cars.com gives it a B rating for every kind of seat except a booster, which gets an A.

Kia Soul

Drive Mode loves

  • The LX comes with a six-speed manual transmission as standard
  • Lots of head room
  • Fun, sporty drive experience
  • The interior styling of the Soul has texture and personality, and the number of exterior paint options is dizzying. We’re big fans of the two-tone options, especially the Cherry Black/ Inferno Red combo.
  • Kia’s warranty: 100,000 miles of powertrain protection

Drive Mode suggestions for improvement

  • With the automatic transmission on the GT-Line trum, we had a few issues with the shift points
  • Noisy cabin

Music pairing

In a song, the 2020 Kia Soul has to match up with “Soul Man” by Sam and Dave. In a genre, well, maybe it’s the hamsters or something but Skrillex and Diplo seem like a brilliant choice for this fun little car.


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There are a lot of good things happening during the coronavirus social distancing. Even as automotive plants shut down the production of vehicles for the health and safety of their workers, automakers are jumping in to help communities and the country during this time. Here, we talk about the current happenings and give highlights of what vehicle brands and companies are doing to give back to communities. From building ventilators to making safety gear and feeding the hungry, the automotive industry continues its long tradition of caring for the people and nations it serves.

Stay safe and happy. We’re getting through this together.

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Hyundai Motor Company and Kia Motors Corporation have developed what they say is the world’s first predictive Information and Communication Technology (ICT) Connected Shift System, enabling the vehicle to automatically shift to the optimal gear after identifying the road and traffic conditions ahead. Hyundai and Kia plan to apply the technology on future vehicles. During system development, the companies filed about 40 major patents in South Korea and abroad.

While the technologies used to automatically shift depend on drivers’ preferences, such as smart drive mode – available on most current Hyundai and Kia models – ICT Connected Shift System is the first ICT to automatically shift the gear according to road and traffic conditions.

Intelligent software to read the road

ICT Connected Shift System uses intelligent software in the transmission control unit (TCU) that collects and interprets real-time input from underlying technologies, including 3D navigation equipped with a precise map of the road as well as cameras and radar for smart cruise control. The 3D navigation input includes elevation, gradient, curvature and a variety of road events as well as current traffic conditions. Radar detects the speed and distance between the vehicle and others, and a forward-looking camera provides lane information.

Using all of these inputs, the TCU predicts the optimal shift scenario for real-time driving situations through an artificial intelligence algorithm and shifts the gears accordingly. For example, when a relatively long slow down is expected and radar detects no speed irregularities with the car ahead, the transmission clutch temporarily switches to neutral mode to improve fuel efficiency.

ICT Connected Shift System helps Hyundai and Kia corner like a dream

When Hyundai and Kia tested a vehicle with an ICT Connected Shift System on a heavily curved road, the frequency of shifts in cornering was reduced by approximately 43 percent compared to vehicles without the system. Accordingly, the system also reduced the frequency of brake operation by approximately 11 percent, thereby minimizing driving fatigue and brake wear.

When rapid acceleration was required to enter a highway, the driving mode automatically switched to Sport Mode at the merge, making it easier to join the traffic flow. After merging with traffic, the vehicle automatically returned to its original driving mode, enabling safe and efficient driving.

In addition, the engine brakes were automatically applied upon release of the accelerator pedal by determining speed bumps, downhill slopes and location of the speed limit change on the road. The changes in distance from the front car were detected by the front radar to adjust appropriate transmission gear automatically, which improved driving quality.

Ties to an autonomous future? 

The system is also in line with autonomous technology, which is developing day by day. The ICT Connected Shift System will deliver both improved fuel efficiency and a stable driving experience in the era of autonomous vehicles by providing improved performance in response to real-time road and traffic conditions.

Hyundai and Kia are planning to further develop the ICT Connected Shift System into an even more intelligent transmission technology that can communicate with traffic signals based on LTE or 5G communication and identify drivers’ tendencies, resulting in further refinement of gear-shift control.

“Vehicles are evolving beyond simple mobility devices into smart mobility solutions,” said Byeong Wook Jeon, Head of Intelligent Drivetrain Control Research Lab. “Even a traditional area of the automobile, such as the powertrain, is becoming a high-tech technology optimized for smart mobility through efforts to integrate ICT and artificial intelligence technologies.”

Original story appeared here: Newspress

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Touring the Chicago Auto Show with Fadra Nally of All Things Fadra, Aaron finds out that orange and red clash, that Elvis had good taste, and that sometimes bling isn’t everything. Maybe there’s more to life than horsepower and torque?

Find Fadra at https://allthingsfadra.com/

And the Chicago Auto Show at https://www.chicagoautoshow.com/default.html

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Kia Seltos ad

Do you watch the NFL for the games or the commercials? Every year, companies spend millions and millions of dollars on advertising during the season, culminating with the Big Game. It’s easily $5M+ just to place the ad, not to mention the cost to create it, the agency fees, and so on. But considering that about 100 million people watch the game that determines the championship, even a fraction of that viewership will bring the numbers the manufacturers want in terms of exposure.

Our favorite commercials are about vehicles, of course. Remember the one about

Let’s start with that GMC Hummer and the one… the only… LeBron James.

Next, the Kia commercial for the new Seltos AWD SUV is hauntingly touching, and Kia is putting their money where their mouth is with a new campaign to help the homeless.  In this ad, rookie running back Josh Jacobs returns to the streets of his hometown (Tulsa, Oklahoma) to offer his younger self words of inspiration. Josh’s journey took him from homeless youth to first-round draft pick. Kia is donating $1,000 a yard in the Big Game, and proceeds will benefit Covenant House, StandUp for Kids, and Positive Tomorrows.

“Groundhog Day” is one of my favorite movies ever. Personally, I love the part in which he orders a huge breakfast with tons of pancakes and eats it all because it won’t matter… the next day he’ll start over. If you have not seen the movie yet, what are you waiting for? GO! Go now. Jeep nailed it with this spoof with the Gladiator and Punxsutawney Phil (who predicted an early spring today, btw).

We got to see this one at the Genesis GV80 SUV launch last week in Miami, and hope it’s the boost Genesis needs to give the brand the recognition it deserves. This handsome three-row SUV is gorgeous.

We had the opportunity to test the 2020 Hyundai Sonata with “Smaht Pahk” in Arizona in December, and it’s really cool. In this commercial, Chris Evans, John Krasinski, Rachel Dratch, and David “Big Papi” Ortiz drive the point home with a cheeky and clever skit about this feature. It’s impressive, and in cities where they actually say “Wicked smaht”, quite practical.

At the Fully Charged Live USA event in Austin this weekend, we drove the new Audi e-Tron at the Circuit of the Americas, and we can attest to the effortless ride of this EV. The navigation is unique and the audio is a kicking B&O system. The EV enthusiast crowd is all over this message, and it’s contagious.

The other cool car we got to see at Fully Charged Live USA was the Porsche Taycan, so this fun commercial with a twist will have you smiling and wishing for a chance to drive it. And 616 hp (750 with Overpower)! This extended cut is even better than the one you saw during the game.

Lastly, while this isn’t a car commercial, it includes James Bond and Aston Martin. You can’t get much better than that.

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