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Business

May 11, 2014

New Cadenza puts Kia on a higher road

The 2014 Kia Cadenza is not only a totally new model. It is also a totally new concept.

The Cadenza is a full-size premium sedan, arriving last summer as a 2014 model. With a starting list price of $35,900, the four-door, five-passenger Cadenza is powerful and capable. It is technologically advanced, smoothly refined, pleasingly comfortable, distinctively appointed and abundantly equipped. It brings a fresh look to the auto scene, with a glossy, stand-out style that struts and saunters but stops short of showing off. Cadenza is a classy car, as befits the premium category in which it fits very well.

That standing as an upper-echelon automobile is the new concept that arrived with the Cadenza. Before now, no one expected to see a formula that says, Kia equals luxurious auto.

“The perception that people have of Kia has done a complete 180 from what it was 10 years ago,” said Charles Daher Jr., sales manager at Commonwealth Kia. The business is part of Commonwealth Motors, which sells Chevrolet, Honda, Kia, Nissan and Volkswagen vehicles from a campus of dealerships in Lawrence.

“The rate at which Kia is growing in consumer confidence is like nothing that we’ve ever seen before,” Daher continued. “Any stigma it once had is completely, completely gone.”

That “stigma” was the perception that Kia makes low-cost economy cars. The company still strives to maintain affordable, high-value pricing, with a more-for-your-money approach that loads its models with equipment and features that other car brands typically charge extra for. But popular Kia models like the Optima mid-size sedan, the Soul “urban passenger vehicle” (according to Kia’s own description), and the Sorento crossover wagon are mainstay vehicles that people buy because they’re desirable, not because they’re cheap.

The brand’s bounding popularity shows in its sales performance. Based in Korea, with U.S. operations headquartered in California and an auto factory operating in Georgia, Kia marks its 20th anniversary as an American auto brand this year. Its sales have grown for 18 of those 20 years – which include some sizable slack periods for the rest of the U.S. car industry. Last month Kia sold its 5 millionth vehicle in the United States, while its sales of new models jumped 13 percent over the level achieved in April 2013. Kia is one of just three car brands in America that have increased in popularity for each of the last four years.

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