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January 28, 2014

Kia Cadenza Wins 2014 International Car of the Year

2014 International Car of the Year - 2014 Kia Cadenza

Celebrating its 25th Anniversary
Road & Travel Magazine Names

2014 KIA Cadenza

2014 International Car of the Year

Range Rover Evoque Named 2012 International Truck of the Year - Road & Travel Magazine

sponsored by

Bridgestone Tire Sponsors 2013 International Car of the Year Awards - Presented by Road & Travel Magazine

Review by Martha Hindes | Press Release

The Cadenza is Kia's new, full-sized flagship sedan meant to carry the mantel of emerging luxury for the brand. And somehow the company has learned in a short time what on occasion has taken some contenders decades to understand, whether solely U.S.-based or from faraway places: Consumers want upscale, but they aren't necessarily willing to hock the house to get it. The Cadenza gives orchestra seating style and quality at second balcony pricing.

The Cadenza, for Kia, could be considered a watershed model designed to put a crowning touch on the widely diversified offering of vehicles from the energetic South Korean company. With deliberation and determination those have evolved in a short time from barely noticeable bargain hunters' entries on the auto scene when it first hit American shores to a full-fledged stable of prime specimens.

The appearance of the Cadenza on 2014 shopping lists of luxury-conscious consumers confirms its claim it finally has filled the lineup's vacant "want it all" entry upmarket slot with notable success. And the car that has done it is appealing to a wide spectrum of style and quality-conscious drivers, rather than being limited to a narrow band of gear-head or specialty-car enthusiasts. This is an auto a discerning vehicle owner can embrace with pride.

And those are just some of the reasons the Kia Cadenza has earned top honors as RTM’s 2014 International Car of the Year.

Michael Sprague, EVP Communications, Kia Motors America, accepts award for 2014 International Car of the Year for the Kia Cadenza"The Kia Cadenza wins in this category for a variety of reasons, including Kia's remarkable effort to emerge in the entry-lux category," said RTM editor, Courtney Caldwell. "Overall, the car is beautiful and affordable, making upscale style and performance attainable by mid-America. We applaud Kia's rapid rise from underdog to unbelievable!"

On its 25th anniversary, Road & Travel Magazine editors were proud to announce that the Kia Cadenza won its 2014 International Car of the Year Award. “Kia, now celebrating its 20th anniversary in the U.S. market, is among the first to clearly market their products across gender lines in a way that is appealing to both sexes with marketing campaigns that reflect consumer lifestyles of today, not as they were in the 50s,” said Caldwell. [Full story]



August 26, 2013

2014 Subaru Forester Road Test Review

2014 Subaru Forester Road Test Review by Bob Plunkett

2014 Subaru Forester Road Test Review

By Bob Plunkett

Sandstone slabs stepping up a rutted trail in the Rincon Mountains east of Tucson cannot retard the forward progress of a 2014 rendition of Forester, the go-anywhere crossover utility vehicle by Subaru of Japan.

Subaru recasts the all-wheel-drive Forester with 2014 issues and the result is a bigger and stronger wagon with enhanced engine performance, improved fuel economy, better cabin comforts and more personal space.

The 2014 models represent a fourth generation for Forester built on a new unit-body platform with 0.9-inch longer wheelbase length and a wider wheel track. Overall vehicle length increases by 1.4 inches and the body width grows by 0.6-inch, adding 5.5 cubic feet of room to the cabin. The additional cabin space is particularly notable in the rear seat, where legroom expands to 41.7 inches, and in the aft cargo bay now with 34.4 cubic feet of stow space with the 60/40 split rear seatbacks raised and 74.7 cubic feet with rear seatbacks lowered. [Click here for full review]

August 23, 2013

2014 Mazda Mazda6 Road Test Review

2014 Mazda Mazda6 Sedan Road Test Review by Bob Plunkett

2014 Mazda Mazda6 Road Test Review

By Bob Plunkett

The Pig Trail Scenic Byway -- twisty Arkansas 23 running through the Ozark Mountains with steep mountain grades and scary hairpin corners -- becomes our serpentine road track to sample the road-hugging agility and athletic manners of the 2014 Mazda6, Mazda's all-new mid-size sedan.

This next-generation iteration of the Mazda6 does not protest our aggressive treatment in the driver's seat. Actually, it seems to invite more action as we draw quick lines across apexes of so many curves and cruise neatly over whoop-de-do pavement heaves.

The redesigned Mazda6 of 2014 looks lean and aggressive, with swoopy exterior lines spread across a broad structure and bulbous arched fenders that protrude laterally beyond a curt roll of the front hood to articulate low-profile tires mounted on aluminum alloy wheels. [Click here for full review]

August 21, 2013

2014 GMC Sierra 1500 Road Test Review

2014 GMC Sierra 1500 Road Test Review by Bob Plunkett

2014 GMC Sierra 1500 Road Test Review

By Bob Plunkett

We're heading westward on the Pacific Coast Highway out of Santa Barbara, blue waters of the Santa Barbara Channel spreading off the California Coast to the left and brown ramparts of the Santa Inez Range stacked high on the right, while steering a new generational design of the 2014 GMC Sierra 1500 half-ton truck.

This is the ultimate pickup, stoked with power from a big V8 engine, stuffed with comforts inside the 4-door and Crew Cab compartment, and then outfitted with sophisticated electronic controls that make the rig easy to maneuver on a multi-lane freeway, around town on crowded streets or even around a ranch on gravel trails.

The full-size Sierra 1500 for 2014 offers four trim grades:  Sierra, Sierra SLE, Sierra SLT and ultimate Sierra Denali, plus Sierra All-Terrain special edition. [Click here for full review]

August 20, 2013

2014 Kia Forte Sedan Road Test Review

2014 Kia Forte Sedan Road Test Review by Bob Plunkett

2014 Kia Forte Sedan Road Test Review

By Bob Plunkett

Forte, the curvaceous compact-class 4-door sedan from Kia of South Korea shows a stunning new shape for next-generation issues of 2014.

Theme for the exterior design is a fluidity of lines drawn in rectangular format but with a radically raked windshield and low-sloping hood, an arching canopy over the cabin and flank windows plus roof pillars muted to forge the profile of a swift and racy 2-door coupe.

Forte's brash face sports exaggerated narrow-eye headlamp clusters streaking up front fenders and a gaping-mouth grille fitted with shiny mesh chrome.

Side panels undulate with ripples and bulges for wheelwells plus a high-mount character line which rises toward the tail. [Click here for full review]

August 16, 2013

2014 Jeep Grand Cherokee Limited Road Test Review

2014 Jeep Grand Cherokee Road Test Review by Courtney Caldwell

2014 Jeep Grand Cherokee Limited Road Test Review

By Courtney Caldwell

I remember the days in the last century (1990s) when SUV's first came out for the everyday consumer and I was one of the first women to take one for a test drive. Many men commented, ‘that’s too big for a woman to drive.’ My standard reply was, ‘Well, I don’t have to carry the damn thing, I just have to drive it,’ which always left a perplexed and dumbfounded look on their faces, as if to say, 'duh, I suppose that’s true.'

No comments were bandied about this week when the new 2014 Jeep Grand Cherokee showed up for a test drive… and it’s pretty big and buff. If you’re a diehard Jeep fan you’re gonna love the facelift Jeep has applied to its 2014 Cherokee Limited 4x2. Grander than ever, our deep cherry red crystal pearl Jeep handled beautifully; easy turning radius in tight spots, great back up navigation screen for precision parking (and watching out for wee ones), excellent braking control especially for such a large SUV, and loaded with tons of safety features including front and side airbags. It sounds like Jeep has been listening to their loyalist’s want and needs. Well done. [Click here for full review]

August 15, 2013

2014 Chevrolet Impala Road Test Review

2014 Chevrolet Impala Test Drive by Bob Plunkett

2014 Chevrolet Impala Road Test Review

By Bob Plunkett

Traffic flows freely on East Shea Boulevard in the posh Phoenix suburb of Scottsdale as we head toward Arizona 88 the Beeline Highway driving the latest iteration of 2014 Chevrolet Impala.

With the big-car cabin space and seats for all in the family, Impala ranks among the best-selling passenger cars in America and it's also the best-seller at Chevrolet in a nameplate tracing through six decades and accounting for 15 million units.

Impala scores a substantial make-over for 2014 models.

The changes include keen new body styling, a revamped passenger compartment with premium options and innovative electronic technologies, and new powertrain choices. [Click here for full review]

August 14, 2013

2014 Buick Encore SUV Road Test Review

2014 Buick Encore Road Test Review by Bob Plunkett

2014 Buick Encore SUV Road Test Review

By Bob Plunkett

Near Milford Proving Ground, the vehicle research facility for General Motors in the suburbs of Detroit, we're scooting along Slobart Road for some driver-seat tests in the 2014 Encore, Buick's luxurious 5-passenger crossover utility vehicle for the eensy-weensy class.

Unveiled at the 2012 North American International Auto Show in Detroit and reaching Buick showrooms in 2013, the Encore has a 100.6-inch wheelbase and a 168.4-inch tip-to-tailpipe length, segmenting it to the compact class.

It pulls power from an itsy-bitsy turbocharged 4-cylinder engine with 1.4-liter displacement -- the smallest for any model in the 110-year history of Buick.

Despite the wee-scale statistics for this Baby Buick, Encore steers and handles quite nicely, exhibiting quick-response agility and the smooth and quiet ride quality of a luxury car. [Click here for full review]

2014 Acura RLX Road Test Review

2014 Acura RLX Road Test Review by Bob Plunkett

2014 Acura RLX Road Test Review

By Bob Plunkett

We log time in the plush driver's seat of a 2014 RLX -- Acura's re-imagined flagship sedan -- driving across the jagged Laguna Mountains of southern California and through low sandy deserts skirting the Salton Sea before reaching the golfing oasis of La Quinta near Palm Springs.

What this road test reveals is a large and luxurious touring sedan with a new powertrain aboard plus PAWS (precision all-wheel steer), a 4-wheel electric steering system which enables the vehicle to romp up mountain grades and dance around wiggly curves as easily as it powers down a multi-lane interstate highway like the I-8 or maneuvers deftly through traffic in an urban sprawl like Palm Springs.

The ride quality feels firm but definitely smooth, thanks to a rigid unit-body structure which supports a suspension system with independent components including a double-wishbone design in front that precisely controls wheel motion and a rear multi-link layout that settles the rear and delivers an exceptionally smooth ride. [Click here for full review]

August 13, 2013

2014 Jaguar F-Type Sport Road Test Review

2014 Jaguar F-Type Sport Road Test Review by Bob Plunkett

2014 Jaguar F-Type Sport Road Test Review

By Bob Plunkett

With 15 turns wrapping over 3.9 miles of grade-changing asphalt convolutions, the F1-class Circuito de Navarra race track in northern Spain fills the raked windshield of a sensuous 2-seat Jaguar roadster convertible as we cinch a seatbelt even tighter while awaiting a signal to unleash the boost of a twin-vortex Eaton supercharger and allow this rear-wheel-drive sportster to zip around the circuit at triple-digit speeds.

Our performance-tuned roadster on the track in Spain is the 2014 F-Type S by Jaguar of Great Britain in a new aluminum chassis iteration marking the first bona fide sports car for Jaguar in half a century following the automaker's iconic E-Type -- a.k.a. XK-E -- of 1961. [Click here for full review]