2016 Chicago Show Highlights: Hyundai & Kia Love Heart of America


Besides to be a place for trucks debut, Chicago Auto Show is known a house of Hyundai and Kia to do world debuts. Last year, the South Korea car company debuted Hyundai Elantra GT and Kia Trail’ster Concept. And at 2014, there were Hyundai Veloster RE:FLEX and Kia Optima Hybrid. And for this year’s event, they have 2017 Hyundai Santa Fe facelift, the first-dedicated hybrid 2017 Kia Niro, and greener 2017 Kia Optimas.


Hyundai unveiled the refreshment of Santa Fe and Santa Fe Sport. For your information, Santa Fe is a 7-seater SUV, meanwhile Santa Fe Sport is a 5-seater SUV. Both of them bring updated exterior such as, redesigned headlights clusters, updated grille, new fog lights and LED Daytime Running Lights (vertically placed for Santa Fe and horizontally for Santa Fe Sport). And at the rear, Santa Fe and Santa Fe Sport gets new LED taillights where the 5-seater version is dominated by red. The rear fog lights is updated and placed vertically for Santa Fe and horizontally for Santa Fe Sport.

Now Hyundai offers Blue Link system as an option for both models. It is a connected safety and diagnostic system which features Remote Start with Climate Control, Stolen Vehicle Recovery and Remote Door Lock/Unlock. Moreover, the carmaker also added more technology package such as, Smart Cruise Control, Lane Departure Warning, Automatic Emergency Braking with Pedestrian Detection and a set of adaptive lights with High Beam Assist. Interestingly, now Santa Fe and Santa Fe Sport has Drive Mode selection: Sport, Eco, and Normal.

Under the hood, Santa Fe Sport comes with 2.0 liter turbocharged producing 245 hp and 2.4 liter with 185 hp. And for Santa Fe, there is only V6 3.3 liter produces 290 hp. All the engine are mated to 6-speed automatic transmission.


2016 Chicago Auto Show is becoming a witness of born the first dedicated hybrid car from Kia. Named Niro, the hybrid car comes up with 5-seater crossover form. And FYI, the 2017 Kia Niro doesn’t have any relation to Kia Niro Concept that made its debut at 2013 Frankfurt Motor Show. Kia tells us that Niro is a Hybrid Utility Vehicle (HUV) which shares platform with upcoming and the first dedicated hybrid Hyundai Ioniq.


For the exterior design, you won’t see any weirdness like latest Toyota Prius or Mirai. At the front, you will notice the car as a Kia quickly, thanks to Tiger Nose grille with chrome accent. Kia’s designers put oval headlights that features LED Daytime Running Lights. Meanwhile at the rear, you can see the C-shaped LED taillights and rear spoiler. Honestly, the rear part is ugly. I don’t like it. I hope Kia make it much better than this.

The HUV is powered by gasoline direct-injection unit 4-cylinder 1.6 liter producing 103 hp. In addition, there’s a electric motor that has 43 hp. So, the car has 146 hp total power. The engine is mated to the second-gen 6-speed Dual Clutch Transmission (DCT). Kia Niro has a lightweight 1.56-kWh Lithium Ion Polymer battery located underneath the rear seat. For the fuel economy, the South Korea carmaker said that Niro has 21 km/liter. It means that it’s close to Toyota Prius’ fuel economy.


To help the driver achieve better fuel economy numbers, the Korean maker has fitted the Niro with what it calls Eco-DAS(Driver Assistance System) incorporating the brand’s first application of Coasting Guide and Predictive Energy Control that utilize the navigation system and cruise control to anticipate topographical changes on the road ahead and actively manage energy flow. 2017 Kia Niro will go on sale in fourth quarter of this year.


Other green cars from Kia are Optima PHEV and Optima HEV. What’s the different? Both of them are hybrid cars, but the PHEV has a charging port. Furthermore, the PHEV (plug-in hybrid) is more powerful thanks to a 50 kW electric motor that is combined with GDI 2.0 liter gasoline that produces 154 hp. The driving range for the plug-in hybrid is about 965 km depending modes that you choose. There are Electric Mode for city driving, Hybrid Mode for highway, and Charging Mode which increases energy direction to the battery while the car is at high speeds.Speaking of charging, Kia said that 2017 Kia Optima PHEV takes less than three hours via a 240V (Level 2) charger, and less than nine hours if you’re using a 120V (Level 1) charger.

Meanwhile for HEV (Hybrid) model, Kia offers a 38 kW electric motor which is combined with a GDI 2.0 liter producing 154 hp mated to a hybrid starter generator and a 6-speed transmission. The total output is around 193 hp at 6,000 rpm. The electric motor makes use of a more lightweight high-density lithium-polymer battery pack, featuring a 13% increase in capacity, now reaching 1.62 kWh.


Both PHEV and HEV have drag of coefficient 0.24 Cd that Kia claims is the slowest in the segment. Moreover, the green sedans has an active element (grille in this case) which can open and close automatically at low and high speeds. And there are model-specific front air curtain, beveled rear bumper, a new rear diffuser designed to streamline airflow and a more aerodynamic wheel design.


Just like in 2017 Kia Niro, both of them features the all-new Eco-DAS (Driver Assistance System) which features Kia’s first application of Coasting Guide – meant to maximize fuel economy by informing the driver on when it’s best to coast and brake, via an icon in the Instrument Panel which offers visual and audible alerts. Other interesting gadgets are Autonomous Emergency Braking, Blind Spot Detection, Advanced Smart Cruise Control, Lane Departure Warning System, and Front Collision Warning System.

Text: Andhika Pradityo

Photos: Hyundai, Kia, & Car and Driver



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