2021 Kia Seltos SX Turbo AWD: Small Ball

Experienced by Kimatni D. Rawlins

The Houston Rockets are showing the basketball world that a big man in the middle is not required to compete. As long as the guards and forwards continue to drain threes and score off the dribble, then “small ball” will work in their favor. In another significant Texas town, Kia adopted the same game plan for the national press introduction of the 2021 adventure-ready Seltos, which is the polar opposite of the larger, distinguished Telluride. Being that the Korean automaker is the transportation face of the NBA, the meshing of the two philosophies works well.

Kia welcomed Fit Fathers and Automotive Rhythms to the second most populated city in the “Lone Star State” for a few days of testing, colonial culture experiences, and a bit of chilly, outdoorsy weather. San Antonio, located in south-central, was ideal for driving as it presented open and flat roads, highways, a mix of switchbacks, and rugged gravel trails to help me truly understand the dynamics of the entry-level SUV. I even performed some light off-roading in the Seltos so we now know it’s not just a pretty face. Christened after the Greek god Celtus, Kia positioned the Seltos between the energetic Soul and Sportage models. Marketing is targeting Generation Y consumers who range anywhere from 22 to 37 years old and demand connected technology as a lifestyle precept. The celestial name is pretty cool too. [Read more…]

2020 Hyundai Palisade: Family Focused Premium SUV

Experienced by Kimatni D Rawlins

Dubbed after “a line of high straight cliffs, especially near water,” it made perfect sense for Hyundai to invite us to Coeur d’Alene, Idaho for the launch of their family focused 2020 Palisade premium SUV. Cascading mountainous terrain, idyllic landscapes and the inviting Lake Coeur d’Alene instantly turned on my adventurer mode. In addition, the town was buzzing with moms, fit fathers and their active kids which is the target market for this newfangled Korean SUV. [Read more…]

2020 Kia Telluride: Fun Family Adventures

Experienced by Kimatni D. Rawlins

The all-new 2020 Kia Telluride 8-passenger SUV is pretty fly, so fly people are aligning the design language with that of a Range Rover. Ha, I guess it’s never a bad thing when your brand is compared to the styling of British luxury elites. Anyhow, the Telluride, aptly named after a former Colorado mining town in the Rocky Mountains, is perfect for those who enjoy the lifestyle of adventure sports such as the enterprising crew at Fit Fathers. [Read more…]

2019 Hyundai Santa Fe: Fit Family Focused

Experienced by Kimatni D. Rawlins

As I traversed the steep, rocky trail — which seemed to continue perpetually — while gazing upward into the sky I realized that this Korean SUV was manhandling the obligatory task of reaching the top of the hill like it were a Wrangler or Rover. Has Hyundai’s best-selling SUV, now its 4th generation, truly inherited that much bravado from the prior generation? Is the automaker’s HTRAC AWD system with an electronic, variable-torque-split clutch and torque vectoring for front to rear and left to right traction really that substantive in various driving scenarios such as high-speed cornering? Well, it surely felt so as the 2019 Hyundai Santa Fe anticipated wheel slippage and reacted immediately for an engaging experience which is a necessity for fit families heading toward the heart of the wilderness.

With that in mind Hyundai chose an ideal city to host the national media event for the newfangled utility. So welcome to Park City, Utah, home of the renowned Sundance Film Festival, impeccable ski resorts, active lifestyles and lovers of everything serene and beautiful. The fresh air, mountain views and scores of adventure sports such as mountain biking created the perfect env [Read more…]

2019 Hyundai Veloster: Compact, Sporty Anomaly

Welcome to Austin for the press launch and test drive of the all-new Hyundai Veloster compact sports car and hot hatch. It was a beautiful and heat filled day in the Texas Capitol as we zipped around town in 2019 models enhanced with sticky Michelin tires to mirror the unexpected small car excitement behind the wheel. Now in the 2nd generation, the three-door, Korean performance vehicle is an industry anomaly and will certainly continue attracting young, urban dwellers towards its ingenuity. [Read more…]

2018 Hyundai Kona: Soul Adventurer

Experienced by Kimatni D. Rawlins

The small crossover utility market continues to be a hot topic as sales increase from active lifestyle consumers seeking solutions that appease their diverse needs. With character traits based on athletic styling, inventive storage, fuel efficiency and both advanced connectivity and telematics, automakers have set the bar high with vehicles such as the all-new 2018 Hyundai Kona. It drives smarter, works harder and plays longer.   [Read more…]

Off the Field with Baltimore Ravens’ Kyle Arrington


ARtv poignantly captured the family essence of Baltimore Ravens’ Kyle Arrington “Off the Field” alongside the Kia Sorento with Fit Fathers and Automotive Rhythms. Enjoy this “Day in the Life” feature with one of the proudest dads in the NFL.

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2016 Kia Optima: Next Generation

2016 Optima SXL 2.0 turbo

Experience by Kimatni D. Rawlins

It’s autumn in Aspen, Colorado and the landscape is as idyllic as a Rembrandt painting of the inquisitive sea. Singing trees have shown their true colors as peaceful winds bring rhythm to the nature of Colorado’s energetic flow. A special place indeed with its colorful history, incredible roads and magnetic scenery, Kia was left with minimal location choices for the launch of their all-new 2016 Optima sports sedan. Already a highlight reel of itself, the old Optima has been invigorated with bigger proportions, stronger and more efficient engines and one of the better premium audio systems in the business thanks to harman / kardon by HAMAN.

If you haven’t noticed by now Kia is riding a title wave of success since 2001 when they were at the bottom of the J.D. Power Study in Initial Quality. After 14 hard-earned years Kia is now ranked second behind German sports car brand Porsche in the J.D. Power 2015 U.S. Initial Quality Study. Both the 2015 Kia Soul and the 2015 Sorento have received top awards in overall quality. Pretty impressive don’t you think?

As you can see the Korean automaker is continually challenging automotive convention with their innovations, styles and knack for technological breakthroughs while doing so with value pricing. As the 8th largest auto brand in the U.S. by volume, sales are currently up with 40% of the lion’s share emanating from Optima and Sorento. We can probably thank the LA Clipper’s superstar Blake Griffin for his commercial scripts, alter egos and death-defying dunks for the increased awareness of the Optima moniker over the last several years. Keep your eyes peeled for his hilarious “In the Zone” ad campaign!

2016 Optima

“The Optima changed the way people felt about the Kia brand, and Kia owes much of its growth and success in this country to the car’s head-turning design and sporty performance. The all-new Optima encompasses everything the outgoing model did so well but does it even better. It has matured in all the right ways, from the European sport-sedan design to the premium materials to its improved ride and handling,” said Orth Hedrick, vice president, product planning KMA.

Introduced at the NY Auto Show in 2010 the Optima is Kia’s best seller for last three years and has enjoyed increased sales ever since. It’s anything but ordinary in the eyes of the Koreans. A three-day trip and stay at the Viceroy Snowmass Hotel and Resort in Aspen, Colorado would soon reveal all of the vehicle’s latest attributes. In fact, the persona of the fully loaded White Optima conveniently displayed at the cornerstone of the Viceroy was primly correlated with the luxuriant mountain theme and needs of vacationing guests.

With three engines and five trim levels starting at $21,840 (same price as outgoing model) to decide between, the Optima becomes a situational vehicle for the various driver types in the market place. They consist of the LX, LX 1.6T, EX, SX and SXL, with the LX representing the most popular Optima. Power and performance resonates from carryover engines including the 2.4-liter GDI 4-cylinder (185 horsepower / 178 lb.-ft of torque) found on the LX and EX or the 2-liter GDI turbo engine (245 horsepower / 260 lb.-ft. of torque) that gives life to the SXL and SX models. Both are paired with Kia’s shifty 6-speed automatic transmission with Sportmatic. A new and third engine is the 1.6-liter turbocharged 4-cylinder with 178-horsepower and 195 lb.-ft. of torque. It gets down with a progressive 7-speed Dual Clutch Transmission (DCT). Not bad for a non-German auto! Trekking up to 12,000 feet of elevation on mountain roads the 2-liter turbo felt comfortable without any lag from the thinning of air. In addition steering was positive and on center. Not to mention the leather-wrapped, heated steering wheel itself was thick, bold and multi-functional. With thumb indentions, race-inspired flat bottom and paddle shifters, steering on my SXL model was prepared for the curvature of the snaky Aspen roads. Depending on your mood or road conditions the Driver Mode Select (DMS) lets you customize the type of ride you wish to enjoy between Normal, Sport and Eco modes. Overall, the Optima has been massively improved in every area of dynamics.

2016 Optima SXL 2.0 turbo

Aesthetically, the Optima was already a beautifully chiseled vehicle. It looked dynamic even when sitting still. Yet, Kia endeavored for more to clamor such as increased dimensions and intriguing touches like the Satin metal finishes on the grille. Attractive features include alloy rims (16” to 18”), dual exhaust tips embedded in the lower body rear diffuser, menacing front fascia and chin spoiler, a panoramic sunroof and new, wrap-around Bi-Xenon HID headlights and LED taillights. Around town during typical errand runs the Optima was fine maneuvering, parking and getting through simple traffic. For safety and added performance the rigidity of the Optima’s high-tensile strength steel frame and chassis have been increased considerably.

Step inside and the mass appeal continues. Redesigned front seats, precision stitching, Nappa leathers (rich Merlot and Dark Aubergine) and UVO with either Android Auto and Apple CarPlay raise the stakes. The seats in particular are comfortable, dynamic and offer the option of heating and cooling. UVO, Kia’s infotainment center, is upgraded with new capabilities including Geo-fencing, Speed Alert, Curfew Alert and Driving Score. The 8” touchscreen is simple to operate whether its navigation or music selections. And with Apple CarPlay UVO basically turns itself into an iPhone as it replicates your top featured apps. For the extended drive Bob Marley never sounded better as I rocked station 42 The Joint from the aforementioned harman / kardon premium audio system. With 10 speakers and 630 watts, it uses Clari-Fi to restore audio signals from music compression and QuantumLogic Surround to replace original recording inputs.

Welcome to a brave new world for Kia. They take on positions that most brands are afraid of, and do so with consistency and excitement. Yet, they still keep you safe and sound with advanced technologies such as Blind Spot Detection System, Front Collision Warning System, Rear Cross Traffic Alert, Lane Departure Warning System, Surround View Monitor and Autonomous Emergency Braking which can bring the Optima to a halt if need be. With all this, I must be In the Zone!

2015 Hyundai Sonata: Fluidic Evolution

MY15 Hyundai SonataFit Fathers visited historic Montgomery, Alabama recently and it wasn’t for a history lesson. Instead, it was due to the release of the 2015 Hyundai Sonata.

I can remember vividly the first Hyundai Excels to hit the shores of the United States and have seen the Korean automaker take that established foothold and carve out a stake in the highly competitive US market. Hyundai has continued to evolve and provide higher quality vehicles while still remaining affordable. Specifically, they differentiated themselves in the mid-size sedan class with the Sonata. Now, with the introduction of the 2015 Sonata, we are exposed to what is described by the design team as “refined basics.” [Read more…]

2014 Kia Soul: Fun, Fascinating and Trendy

2014_Kia_SoulAs many cities are going through revitalization processes with buildings, homes, parks and even demographics, so is Kia with their all-new 2014 Soul. Keeping pace with the changing urban market and its needs, the Korean automaker is doing just that with its mini crossover.  To explore the updated DNA and experience the attributes of the little guy we recently ventured to Minneapolis, Minnesota for the national press introduction. Fun, fascinating and trendy are the impressions we were left with. [Read more…]