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2021 Kia Sonet debuts but its arrival in North America is uncertain

Up front, the Kia Sonet has Seltos-like looks.

Photo courtesy of Kia Motors

The Kia Sonet is the company's answer to the Hyundai Venue. It's a subcompact crossover that would slot below the Kia Seltos in Kia's North American lineup. That is, if it ever makes it here.

The Sonet is made in India and will be sold globally - the same as the Ford EcoSport. It's a completely new model for Kia, having been jointly designed in partnership by Kia Motors India and Kia's global R&D headquarters in South Korea.

The urban crossover incorporates Kia's signature tiger nose grille along with design lines reminiscent of its Seltos stablemate. Its LED daytime running lights and taillights are shaped like the electric pulse of a heart. At the back, the Sonet is rounder than the Seltos and there's a diffuser and skid plate.

2021 Kia Sonet The back of the Sonet features wraparound rear glass.Photo courtesy of Kia Motors

Buyers can get the Sonet in their choice of up to eight monotone and three dual-tone exterior colors.

Like with other models in the company's lineup, Kia intends to offer the Sonet in a sportier GT-Line trim level. These models have red accents in the cabin and a D-shaped steering wheel.

Kia is selling the Sonet with they buyer's choice of three engines: a 1.2-liter four-cylinder, turbocharged 1.0-liter three-cylinder, and a 1.5-liter. The first two are gasoline engines and the other is a diesel power plant. Five manual and automatic transmission options are available. Kia offers a variety of drive and traction modes in automatic versions of the model. Remote start/stop technology is available no matter the powertrain or transmission.

One of the first clues that this model might not be destined for America lies here. The strongest of the three engines appears to be the turbo 1.0-liter. That's a similar size to what is in the Ford EcoSport base model. There, it's generally derided as being extremely underwhelming. But, the EcoSport is a size bigger than the Sonet. In the U.S., the similarly-sized Venue has a competent 1.6-liter four-cylinder - the same engine that's in the subcompact Kia Rio car.

2021 Kia Sonet The model features an interior that that youthful design.Photo courtesy of Kia Motors

The cabin of the model features a 10.25-inch infotainment touch screen with navigation on the center of the dashboard. It has a smart air purifier that offers virus protection, a seven-speaker Bose premium audio system, ventilated driver and front-passenger seats, LED sound mood lighting (the Kia Soul also has this), remote start, voice commands, a 4.2-inch driver information screen, over-the-air updates, and a wireless charger with cooling functionality.

Automatic headlamps, fog lamps, and parking sensors are also available. There is no mention of a rearview camera. If the Sonet were to be sold in the U.S., a rearview camera would need to be installed as per a regulation that went into effect in 2018.

It also has "plenty" of leg-, head-, and shoulder room according to Kia, as well as a large trunk. Ventilated front seats are available - a first in the segment. There is no provision for heated seats - something that's generally a staple of North American model offerings.

Pricing for the model will vary by market. It is rolling out in India soon and will be available in global markets following that launch.

There is room below the Soul and Seltos at the bottom of the Kia lineup, but the competition is getting stiffer by the day as the market retracts. Even the Venue, which is heralded for its spaciousness, comfort, and grocery getting capability only moves around 1,600 models per month. That's about as many as the Hyundai Accent, more than the Kia Niro, but less than the Rio. Kia sold over 41,000 Soul and 18,000 Seltos models from January to July this year.

Will the Sonet come to the U.S.? Only Kia knows for sure and only time will tell.

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The 2022 Lexus ES will debut next week.

Photo courtesy of Lexus

The meat and potatoes of the Lexus sedan lineup, the ES, is due for a refresh, and it will get one. The 2022 Lexus ES will be shown publicly for the first time this Sunday as part of the festivities of the Shanghai auto show.

While the photo doesn't tell a lot, there's some things you can bet on in the 2022 ES. For starters, look for all the improvements that the auto has gotten over the last two years to carry over into the new model. That includes the addition of all-wheel drive to the lineup and standard blind spot monitor and rear cross traffic alert.

The ES Black Line may not make its way to the 2022 version of the midsize sedan. Generally, blacked out editions are available only at the tail end of a model run ahead of a refresh or generational redesign. However, the blacked out elements could become available as part of a package.

The headlight photo that Lexus has offered as a teaser shows a housing that is not dissimilar to the one that the Lexus IS wears. However, the daytime running light is on the bottom here, instead off the top. Like the IS, there are strong hood lines.

At the back, the preview video shows a vehicle that is very similar to the current model. It's taillights, a strong chrome line that runs the width of the year, and rear lip spoiler all look mostly same as before.

As for what to expect underneath the body of the car, there's not a lot of indication from the teasers, which leads one to believe that's where the biggest changes are coming. There's a good chance that we'll finally say goodbye to the Lexus touch pad in favor of a touch screen display that's within a comfortable distance.

It's also likely that Lexus will fine tune the dynamics of the ES in a similar fashion to how the Lexus IS got more performance-focused driving dynamics in its latest redo.

Stay tuned for more specifics are the curtain is pulled back on April 19 in China (April 18 in the U.S.).

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A new Texas-themed version of the Jeep Gladiator is on the way.

Photo courtesy of Stellantis

Jeep has brought the Gladiator's off-road chops to the trails of the Lone Star State. The 2021 Jeep Gladiator Texas Trail is another of the the traditional of special edition vehicles for Texans who occupy the nation's largest truck market. It's the first time Jeep has offered a unique-to-Texas truck.

The new model builds on the Gladiator Sport S trim adding 17-inch Mid-Gloss Back Aluminum wheels wrapped in 32-inch mud-terrain tires, four-wheel drive, standard side steps, and the Trailer Tow Group. The Gladiator Texas Trail has a unique hood and decals that feature the year 1836 in the graphic as a nod to the year of the Texas Declaration of Independence. It also wears a black hardtop, black leather seats embossed with the Texas Trail graphic and comes equipped with the Technology Group and Convenience Group packages.

2021 Jeep Gl The vehicle is ready to be fully accessorized to the buyer's wishes.Photo courtesy of Stellantis

2021 Jeep Gl

The Texas-themed model features the buyer's choice of Jeep's new 3.0-liter EcoDiesel V6 engine that's rated at 260 horsepower and 442 pound-feet of torque or the tried and true 3.6-liter Pentastar V6 power plant, which achieves 285 horsepower and 260 pound-feet of torque.

Jeep has badged each of the models with Trail Rated status. To achieve this status, Jeep vehicles must pass extreme off-road capability challenges.

The Gladiator Texas Trail is available in 10 colors: black, white, Snazzberry, Granite Crystal, Sarge, Nacho, Hydro Blue, Firecracker Red, Billet Silver, and Sting-Gray. Jeep recently introduced a Snazzberry-colored Wrangler.

Each Gladiator comes with the Jeep Wave customer service program, which includes three years of maintenance, 24/7 phone/online support, trip interruption/first-day loaner coverage, and VIP access to Jeep events.

The 2021 Jeep Gladiator Texas Trail has a starting MSRP of $40,435 (plus $1,495 destination) and is currently available at Texas dealers.

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