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 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…]

2017 Kia Sportage: Innovation and Reinvention

2017 Kia Sportage SX SX Turbo 2WD

Experienced by Kimatni D. Rawlins

Since my lifestyle is as active as a herd of wildebeest traversing African lands I’ve evolved to a penchant for SUVs and CUVs that replicate the exact or similar pillars in my world. I run, hike, bike, kick and shoot balls and train others seeking to take control of their health. That means storage, utility, AWD, music based technology and a bit of power are essential attributes in the vehicles I choose to drive. Well, Kia is no stranger to this recipe and just recently strengthened their position with the launch of the 4th generation 2017 Sportage, which is also their longest running model in the lineup.

To get a taste of the new bells and whistles of the edgy, little CUV the Fit Fathers team headed to the Gas Lamp District of San Diego where we would spend a few days touring the region’s wandering roads, mountainous panoramas and county landmarks. Offered in three models — LX, EX and SX Turbo – the all-new Sportage sets the tone with a $22,900 price point for a FWD LX loaded with a litany of standard functionality such as a rear spoiler, 5” touchscreen with Rear Camera Display, a Drive Mode Select with Normal, Eco and Sport modes and LED daytime running lights. It’s powered by a 2.4-liter Gas Direct Injection (GDI) 4-cylinder with 181-horsepower (also on the EX) and paired with Kia’s 6-speed automatic transmission.

2017 Kia Sportage SX  SX Turbo 2WD

“In 2015, the final year of production for the outgoing Sportage model, sales were up 25 percent, which speaks to the appeal and staying power of that vehicle, and with our aggressive pricing strategy for the all-new 2017 model, we’re looking to continue that momentum,” said Michael Sprague, chief operating officer and EVP, KMA.

For the road experience my drive partner Holly Reich and I chose a Pacific Blue Sportage SX AWD with a black, stylish interior trim (one of five interior hues), which was far from inferior in comparison to some of its competitors. From the knobs to the technologically laden center stack to the wide sunroof, everything felt superior. It was boosted with sharp 19” alloy spins, dual exhausts and the latest AWD system. All vehicles on this press trip were blessed with the 2-liter Turbo GDI 4-cylinder with 240-horsepower and 260 lb.-ft. of torque between 1,450-3,500 rpm and the aforementioned 6-speed automatic. I must say, during a skilled highway maneuver I had to cross four lanes before existing which required acceleration before slowing down. Aptly, the Sportage provided the juice and the visibility for the move. Bigger brakes and a sports tuned suspension on the SX Turbo also added to the skillfulness of the smaller CUV.

2017 Kia Sportage EX EX

The Sportage SX Turbo comes in at $32,500 and features the Technology package, skid plates on the front and rear, Dynamic Bending Lights as part of the bug-eyed HID headlamps, LED tail lights, metal pedals hard like heavy metal, a hands-free Smart Power Liftgate and paddle shifters situated on the thick, thumb-imprinted steering wheel. To go along with the stiffer and safer chassis, a Magna Dynamax AWD is available on all models for $1,500 and is a must-have on the east coast where I reside in Maryland. After the harsh winter we had there is no way I’m rolling without AWD and snow/ice tires. Amazingly the Magna Dynamax system is enhanced with torque vectoring which allows the locking center differential to also provide torque to each individual wheel. More importantly, it’s intuitive and predictive and uses software to determine your driving habits over time.

Introduced in 1994, the Sportage of today is far nobler than its ancestor in every category. Designed in Germany and Korea and tuned at Kia’s California Proving Grounds, the newfangled Sportage has a chiseled physique with a triangular stance that is now longer and wider. Alloy wheels sizing in 17s, 18s and 19s are pushed to the corner for optimal maneuvering while the lower, wider grille is highlighted by “Ice Cube” LED fog lights. I’m wondering if O’Shea Jackson is digging them, especially since Kia is so musically oriented. It helps them reach their consumer base and diverse markets.

2017 Sportage EX EX

Just like Kia I have an adoration for music — Roots, Rock, Reggae to be exact — so Bob Marley, Peter Tosh, Junior Gong, Burning Spear, Wailing Souls, Junior Murvin and Raging Fyah were spinning for the entirety of our drive. Holly was also delighted by my selections. Our ride was embedded with the Technology package (a $2,700 stand alone option) which comes with a smorgasbord of amenities such as the 8″ touchscreen with onboard navigation, Android Auto (Apple CarPlay also available), UVO eServices telematics and a Harman Kardon audio unit with game-changing Clari-Fi technology (cleans up sound distortion from compressed audio files from satellite radio, MP3s, etc). That’s 320 watts, 8-speakers and the 3rd Gen UVO 3 software in a Sportage!

2017 Sportage EX EX

From behind the wheel and in the passenger chair I felt comfortable and not squashed as I do in many petite utilities. Kia increased the front and rear legroom, amplified the cargo space by 18% and inserted a dual luggage floor which is perfect for separating sports gear from groceries. Standard safety measures are plentiful in the form of Electric Stability Control, side curtain airbags, Downhill Brake/Hill-start Assist Control, Rear­Camera Display and much more. The SX receives even more with a Blind Spot Detection System, Autonomous Emergency Braking with Pedestrian Detection System and Front and Rear Parking Assist Sensors. Also, towing capacity for both the AWD and FWD Sportage is 2,000 pounds with trailer brakes and 1,650 without. Perfect for hauling motorcycles or the Fit Fathers fleet of mountain bikes. Of course the best fuel combination is 23 city MPG and 30 highway MPG in a FWD LX. Our SX AWD achieves 20 city MPG and 23 highway MPG.

Together the Sportage and I kept one another active and full of energetic vibes. Before and after my drives with the CUV I hit San Diego’s Embarcadero Park for an 8-mile training run on day one then a 4-mile cool down on day two since I was preparing for the Rock ‘n’ Roll Half Marathon back home in D.C. I refueled with a quinoa, bean and veggie bowl. Hey, if my ride feels good then I also want those positive vibrations. Remember, stay active, have fun and continue to invigorate your life!

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2016 Hyundai Tucson Limited AWD: Sporty, Nimble Utility

Blue_2016_Hyundai_Tucson_Fit_Fathers...03Experienced by Leon Brittain

From its engaging facade complimented by a chrome grille and sporty LED wrap-around headlamps with seamlessly integrated turn signals to the curvy, sculpted rear tailgate, the 2016 Hyundai Tucson proves that compact doesn’t necessarily equate to minuscule and boring. In fact, our time with the Caribbean Blue 1.6-liter turbocharged 4-cylinder powered Korean SUV was anything but boring.

With a family of five I’m always challenged with deciphering between vehicles that can comfortably accommodate everyone while also handling the extracurricular school gear and cadre of equipment for the four sporting activities the kids participate in. Not a problem with “Baby Blue,” the nickname my household affectionately coined for the Fit Fathers evaluation unit. Although rear legroom leaves room to be desired when all three kids were in transport we found plenty of space for packages, groceries and gear with kids in tote (61.9 cu. ft. of cargo when seats are folded down and 31 cu. ft. when seats are up). With the fold-flat rear seating laid down a whole new world of cargo opens up for additional functionality. Along with the door-mounted cup holders, passengers in the back were treated to the toasty comfort of heated seats, an unexpected luxury typically found in vehicles of higher value. Needless to say this was an instant favorite for the kids on those chilly, O’Dark-30 winter mornings in route to school.

MY16 Hyundai Tucson

Other noteworthy Tucson interior amenities included the standard, user-friendly 8” touchscreen display which houses the navigation, audio, rear camera and Blue Link Telematics. Collectively the system is intuitive and simple to operate, even for my 7-year-old daughter Nia who easily shifted between the Disney Channel and Nav like clockworks. For gadget happy families you can stay connected and charged to your devices by way of two 12V 180W outlets, an auxiliary outlet and the convenience of a USB port found nestled within reach of both the driver and the passenger. To bring the outside within, a larger than life panoramic sunroof hovers overhead to the ambiance of the black leather laced interior in my vehicle. Suffice to say, our journeys to and from games, practices and classes where always comfortable and engaging.

As previously mentioned, powering Baby Blue is a 1.6 liter turbocharged 4-cylinder which cranks out a respectable 175-horsepower and produces 195 lb.-ft. of torque. This engine is matted to a 7-speed EcoShift Dual Clutch Transmission (DCT) for a smooth ride and optimal fuel savings. Admittedly, there were occasions where I felt supplemental power was needed at lower RPMs for better acceleration, but such performance would of course come at the cost of reduced fuel efficiency. Though the prices for gasoline are finally reasonable, I’d opt for the Tucson Limited’s 30 HWY MPG fuel economy (33 HWY MPG for Eco model) any day over an incremental performance increase which becomes a moot point once rolling and dashing through the concrete jungles and beltways of the nation’s capital where I reside. However, AWD and 19” sport alloy rims were perfect for the cold, snow-filled conditions here on the East Coast.


Safety wise, Hyundai equips the Tucson with an abundance of tech features including Lane Change Assist, Blind Spot Detection and Lane Departure Warning, active front head restraints to help reduce whiplash injuries, Automatic Emergency Braking with Pedestrian Detection and Hillstart Assist Control and Downhill Brake Control which made my heart beam with joy when Noelle, my 12-year-old son, asked about the related icon and proceeded to explain its meaning rather successfully.

2016 Hyundai Tucson

With a MSRP of $22,700 for a 2016 Tucson SE, my Limited model equipped with AWD tipped the scale at $32,510 ($29,900 MSRP for FWD model) which is reasonable considering the bevy of standard features. Consumers can choose between SE, Eco, Sport or Limited variants of the new Tucson. I enjoyed my winter week with the 2016 Tucson Limited AWD since it provided all the essentials necessary for an active Fit Fathers lifestyle and wish it was around going into the spring sport season!