Drivers looking for luxury in the US automotive market have lots of options to choose from. Luxury automakers have a straightforward vision of who they are catering to, and many have become so entrenched in regards to overall price and audience that they are untouchable by other companies. In the world of luxury autos, not much has changed dramatically in the last few decades. Excluding the extremely high-end offerings from Bentley and Rolls Royce, the most successful manufacturers have been the German giants of BMW and Mercedes Benz. These companies have been challenged in individual market segments, but in overall sales, they are miles ahead of the nearest competition. But another option does exist for the auto buyer seeking a luxury option, one that may not have appeared on your radar at all. Have you been asking yourself “what kind of luxury vehicles can I find at a more affordable price at a car dealership near me?” Kia is certainly a brand worth considering.
Can Kia Compete With Other Luxury Brands?
When most people think of luxury, they think of something that’s pleasing to the senses. When it comes to cars, this can equate to stylish, head-turning looks, comfort, all the technical amenities, and a quiet ride. Branding plays a role in this for sure, but true luxury is something only the driver can feel when they get behind the steering wheel.
In the case of luxury cars, the typical brands that come to mind are names like Acura, BMW, Audi, Infiniti, and Mercedes-Benz. Can a company like Kia, with a long-established reputation for economy cars, build a luxury model to compete with the brands mentioned above? If you’re going by the definition of luxury as being that of high quality, attractive and pleasing to the senses, then the answer is yes. An example is the Kia Cadenza, which combines strong performance and handling with a smooth and quiet ride, no matter the road conditions, all wrapped up in a stylish and attractive package.
In comparison with the similarly-equipped BMW 7 Series, the Cadenza offers the same trappings as far as exterior styling, performance, safety, and technology, but at a much lower price tag – around $33,000 for the Kia vs. $86,000 for the BMW. The choice here is simple.
Can Kia Really Be Thought of as a Serious Luxury Brand?
The traditional public perception of Kia has been that of a manufacturer which makes vehicles that are low-priced and maybe not all that dependable. Sure, the brand has had its issues over the years, but today’s Kias are some of the most cost-effective and reliable vehicles on the road today. Their traditional offerings serve customers looking for value in a vehicle, as well as those looking for the luxurious trappings of much higher-priced brands.
Hyundai, which owns Kia, has a luxury division called Genesis, which is responsible for placing the automakers luxury models on more even footing with their competitors. Let’s take a look at a few of the Kia models that are being targeted toward luxury car buyers.
Kia took the bold step with the newest K900 as positioning it as a contender to the Mercedes E and S-Class. They wanted a change in direction over the previous K900, which was largely overlooked as a luxury offering. Kia learned from their earlier mistakes, and this second generation is miles ahead of its former self. There is still some work to do to get the latest K900 more widely recognized, but it’s on track to become one of Kia’s highest quality offerings. Kia also keeps things simple with the K900, offering it in only one trim level called the V6 Luxury, with just one option package known as the VIP Package, which adds on more room for rear-seat passengers.
The Cadenza, while somewhat still overlooked, is now being compared to models being offered by Lexus, Lincoln, Infiniti, and Acura. The Cadenza comes pre-packaged right from the start with tons of great features, but particular buyers might want to put up the extra cash for the Technology trim level. This model adds a host of desirable upgrades, including a premium audio system and a selection of aids to assist drivers. The Cadenza also prioritizes comfort above everything, and its interior shines with premium quality materials, including partially quilted leather. When you drive a Cadenza, you’ll not only look good, you’ll feel great.
The Stinger has blindsided the competition as being an upstart option in the crowded sports sedan market segment, offering the right combination of luxury and comfort coupled with the sporty performance you’d expect from a vehicle in this class. The Stinger features up to a 365 horsepower engine, putting it ahead of the BMW 440i Gran Coupe and the Porsche Panamera V6 as far as speed. The interior is inspired by aircraft upholstery, and the exterior offers up sleek, curving lines, while innovative safety and tech features like blind spot warning systems and Android Auto connectivity are standard.
Kia’s premium SUV offering is sure to turn heads with both the looks and presence of the higher priced competitors. It’s an attention grabber and could be considered serious competition for BMW’s X5. The Telluride is Kia’s largest vehicle, with room for up to eight passengers and a maximum of 87 cubic feet of storage. The interior design is upscale, as is the exterior styling, and it offers advanced family-friendly features like an intercom system. Along with all this, the Telluride offers a top-Notch ride and offers plentiful standard features for a vehicle in this class. The higher trim levels offer an even more luxurious experience.
Kia’s established lineup of vehicles already has a strong reputation backed up by millions of satisfied customers. Their luxury vehicles are off to a good start but will require continued fine-tuning and smart marketing to put them on a level playing field with the larger manufacturers.
Lebron James helped change Kia’s reputation in 2015 when they decided to partner with him to release a revamped K900 chock full of technology and design enhancements. In recent years, the company has been adding on celebrity endorsements, including a TV commercial for the Cadenza starring Mad Men’s Christina Hendricks, and actresses Eva Longoria and Rosario Dawson showcased the Stinger during the 2018 New York Fashion Week.
Along with the lineup of current Kia luxury vehicles, more are planned for the future, which are sure to be even more stylish and appealing toward high-end buyers looking for a top of the line ride at a more affordable price. Consumers are also going to have to try and change their longstanding perception of the Kia brand. While they still offer excellent budget-friendly vehicles for the majority of buyers, it seems they have a clear intention to go deeper into the luxury car market in order to attract a more specialized audience.
Experience the Kia Luxury for Yourself
If you are part of that specialized audience and can’t decide what your next luxury vehicle should be, try giving Kia’s upscale models a look. Kia’s budget-conscious image is firmly embedded in the public’s memory, but if you take a closer look under the surface at the higher-end offerings, you’ll find vehicles that are on par with some of the bigger names. But the only way to fully determine that for yourself is to visit your local Kia dealer and give the K900, Cadenza, Stinger or Telluride a test drive. Kia’s future as a luxury automaker is looking bright and who knows what they will come up with next.