New Model News

Refreshed 2021 Kia Rio gets mild-hybrid engine, high-tech upgrades

Kia has given the Rio a solid mid-cycle refresh.

Photo courtesy of Kia Motors

The Rio is the smallest car in Kia's lineup, but that doesn't mean that it doesn't pack a heck of a punch. The refreshed version of the fourth-generation Rio broke cover today delivering a host of upgrades.

The new model retains Kia's signature tiger nose grille but updates it to fall into like with the new K5 and Cadenza sedans, among others. It pairs with a wider front bumper and new fog lamp housing. Full LED headlamps are standard. Kia has added Perennial Grey and Sporty Blue paint jobs to the roster as well as new 16-inch alloy wheels.

The car is now available with a Perennial Grey paint job.Photo courtesy of Kia Motors

Under the hood is a new turbocharged 1.0-liter mild-hybrid engine, replacing the current 1.0-liter powers-ant. It features the same 48-volt lithium-ion battery technology that is present in many mild-hybrid vehicles from the Ram 1500 to the 2021 Mercedes-Benz E-Class. The new engine produces 100 or 120 horsepower, depending on the buyer's choice, the same as the outgoing power plant.

European versions of the car will be available with additional engine options.

The car comes standard with Kia's new clutch-by-wire manual transmission. It works with other car systems to activate Kia's auto start-stop technology while maintaining traditional gearbox characteristics. The engine is automatically switched off when the brake and clutch pedals are simultaneously pressed as the car comes to a stop. When the pedals are released, the engine is turned back on.

Kia has equipped the Rio with a Drive Mode Select system, giving drivers the choice of Eco, Sport, and Normal drive modes.

At the front, the car has design cues in line with the new Cadenza and K5.Photo courtesy of Kia Motors

The new Rio is available with an 8.0-inch infotainment touch screen. It has Display Audio or navigation, depending on vehicle specification. The list of standard features includes Bluetooth while wireless Android Auto and Apple CarPlay are available when buyers opt for a model with the larger screen.

Buyers can also get "Phase II" of the UVO Connect telematics system, which includes live traffic information, weather forecasts, points of interest, fuel prices, and details of potential on- and off-street parking – including price, location and availability. It also features online voice recognition, supported by server technologies, which lets users give voice commands, hands-free, to search for nearby points of interest, addresses, weather updates, or send text messages.

The UVO App is compatible with Android and Apple smartphones, and allows owners to activate a range of functions and features remotely. Depending on country, users can remotely send route directions to their car before a journey, check the location of their vehicle, and access vehicle reports and diagnostic notifications.

More details about the system will be released closer to the car's on-sale date.

In front of the driver is a 4.2-inch digital display.

2021 Kia Rio The driver information screen displays information at a higher resolution than in the past.Photo courtesy of Kia Motors

Owners can choose from a number of interior customizations whose availability depends on the market. The color options add colored seat bolsters, dashboard, and door arm rests, as well as contrast stitching. GT-Line models are offered with a black single-tone interior with white contrast piping and stitching on the seats, and a faux carbon fiber dashboard.

Standard and GT Line Rio models are now equipped with driver and optional front passenger seat height adjustability.

The Rio is also available with a long list of safety and driver assistance features including forward collision avoidance assist with pedestrian, vehicle, and cyclist detection, intelligent speed limit warning, smart cruise control, rear cross traffic assist, rear occupant alert, lane departure alert, and lane following assist.

2021 Kia Rio New color options add contrast stitching to the Rio's seats.Photo courtesy of Kia Motors

Pricing and an on-sale date will be announced later this year.

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Nuts & Bolts

 
 

The Enclave Avenir is the top-of-the-line trim level of the SUV for the 2020 model year.

Photo courtesy of Buick

Some people are extremely adventurous eaters. I joke that the only food I won't eat is bugs that look like bugs. I'll do Indian, Thai, Korean and Ethiopian, sweetbreads, frog legs and endless servings of sushi. French Laundry. Cut. Alinea.

Others are into tamer fare: vanilla ice cream with rainbow sprinkles, grilled cheese (with Kraft American Singles) on Wonder bread, steak with ketchup. Cracker Barrel. Dairy Queen. Olive Garden, if you're feeling fancy.

Though the fancy food folks might look down on the Red Lobster-crowd, if you're a carmaker looking to sell big SUVs in Peoria, you best remember they exist — and what sorts of stuff they're into. Culinary adventures are all about trying new and exciting things, which not everyone likes.

2020 Buick Enclave Avenir The model is elegant, especially in the high-end Avenir grade.Photo courtesy of Buick

Some people — a lot of them, actually — are thrilled with unlimited soup, salad and breadsticks. And for them, GM has come up with the Buick Enclave Avenir, the Olive Garden of seven-passenger premium SUVs.

Though Buick might not carry the brand cachet of Volvo or Acura or it's up-market sibling Cadillac, the marque's SUVs (that's all it makes now, sadly) are remarkably popular. The Enclave is the three-rowed big boy, and the Avenir is the top-tier premium trim level. My test unit landed at $59,390 including the Avenir Technology Package which includes adaptive cruise control and improved automatic emergency braking. It's 2020. Both of those should be standard GM. Come on now.

It feels almost like a minivan but with the look of an SUV. Entry and exit is easy and the front and rear captain's chairs are supremely comfortable. The Technology Package adds an improved suspension which is gentle on aging backs and keeps things nicely stable. There are two sunroofs, one in the front that opens and one in the back that does not.

The 20-inch rims are sharp and, while the Enclave does not have the most exciting design in the world, it is inoffensive and soothing. It would look good in grandma's driveway on Thanksgiving Day.

2020 Buick Enclave Avenir The Enclave has a good amount of cargo space at the rear.Photo courtesy of Buick

The Buick infotainment system is excellent, with support for Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, as well as 4G LTE and Wi-Fi hotspot from AT&T and GM's unmatched OnStar service. The hotspot means that the litany of iPads and iPhones from the passengers in the back (and front) seats will always be able to connect and OnStar means if anything goes wrong, help is just a button press away — unless the air bags deploy, in which case help calls you instead. The Bose Premium audio system does its job well, with active noise cancellation and something called "Buick QuietTuning" to keep outside noise where it belongs.

The front seats are heated and ventilated, and both include a massage function which is a gift from the road trip gods. In my version, the second row seats were heated, but no cooling. The touch surfaces are all lovely and the cabin is light and airy thanks to large windows and those dual sunroofs. Visibility is excellent, and there's a 360-degree camera system to help you park in tight spaces.

The 3.6-liter V6 makes 310 horsepower but stays out of the way, as does the 9-speed automatic transmission. The Buick gearshift is mildly annoying to get used to, but after a week or two, you won't notice it anymore. There are a host of safety features, including rear cross traffic alert, lane-keep assist, and blind-spot warning with alert feature if you're going to move into another car on the interstate. EPA-estimated fuel economy is 17 mpg in the city, 25 mpg on the highway, and 20 mpg combined.

There's a remote start system, which is great for both hot and cold days, a power liftgate at the back, and a split power-folding 60/40 third row if you want to haul more stuff than people. It'll even tow up to 5,000 pounds if you want to haul a camper or small boat. But an off-roader this isn't. It's an unpretentious people and stuff hauler that won't draw too much attention to itself.

Unpretentious is probably a fair description for most Buick buyers. They don't need to show off. They just value comfort and roominess and want a car that will take care of them.

That's the Buick Enclave Avenir.

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McLaren has chosen an easy-to-pronounce name for its new hybrid supercar - Artura.

Photo courtesy of McLaren Automotive

McLaren is about to mark the beginning of a new era in hybrid powertrain engineering. In the first half of 2021, its high-performance hybrid series production supercar will go on sale and we now know what it will be named.

The McLaren Artura builds on the legacy of the McLaren P1TM hybrid hypercar, which was unveiled in 2012, and the Speedtail Hyper-GT, which entered production this year and the fastest McLaren ever with a top speed of 250 mph.

"Every element of the Artura is all-new – from the platform architecture and every part of the High-Performance Hybrid powertrain, to the exterior body, interior and cutting-edge driver interface – but it draws on decades of McLaren experience in pioneering super-lightweight race and road car technologies to bring all of our expertise in electrification to the supercar class," said Mike Flewitt, Chief Executive Officer, McLaren Automotive.

Mclaren Artura The Artura badging sits on what is likely the rear of the car.Photo courtesy of McLaren Automotive

It will be the first car to be built on the company's new platform architecture, which has been optimized for electrification. Design and engineering of the McLaren Carbon Lightweight Architecture took place in the U.K. at the McLaren Composites Technology Centre.

Two photos released by the company show what is likely the back of the Artura, with a honeycomb design beneath the car's badging between two exhaust outlets.

The Artura will get a twin-turbocharged V6 petrol engine that combines with an electric motor. This will be the engine's debut. McLaren says that the engine retains the performance benefits of the company's larger V8s but has improved torque response at low engine speeds. The Artura can also run on all-electric power.

The weight of the hybrid engine system has been offset by the application of weight-saving technologies throughout the chassis, body, and powertrain. Ahead of a full product reveal, McLaren is touting the car's class-leading weight advantage.

The McLaren Artura is expected to be revealed soon. Pricing will likely be announced at that time.

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