The Stanly News and Press (Albemarle, NC)

Community News Network

March 4, 2013

Kia Optima has become a luxurious brand

The fact that the latest Kia Optima is spectacularly nice is no surprise.

Kia has been running circles around Honda and Toyota for a couple of years, and the Optima shows why: excellent quality, a luxurious driving feel and gorgeous looks.

But I'm still having trouble wrapping my head around one thing. The Optima I drove this week cost more than $35,000, a number that seems stratospheric given Kia's budget-car roots. 

A mid-size Kia has never come with that kind of price before — for one reference point, you can get a Lexus IS for about the same cost — but then again, a mid-size Kia has never been a serious competitor with Lexus, either.

This one is.

If you could muster the courage to ignore the badges on the hood, the fully loaded Optima would match up nicely with the Lexus. Not only does it have the kind of solid, stitched-leather interior and grainy wood trim that makes it look like a luxury car on the inside, but it drives with the smoothness and silence of a more expensive car.

That's unusual for mid-size sedans. Today's vehicles are usually tuned to feel crisp and responsive, more like Honda and BMW have built their vehicles for years.

The Optima drives more like a full-size luxury car with a squishy, supple ride, something that sharply contrasts with the pseudo-sporty sedans that are so popular these days.

But there's still that elephant in Kia's living room. At what price does the Kia badge become a liability?

At the Optima's base price of $21,350, nobody would ask that question. But after you add a good 60 percent onto the price by getting the turbocharged engine, leather, electronics, giant chrome wheels and dual sunroofs — all the things that contribute to its upscale impression — that's when buyers have to ask themselves if they want a Kia that's priced like a BMW.

Text Only
Community News Network
  • 072214 Diamond Llama 1.jpg Llama on the loose corralled in Missouri town

    A llama on the lam cruised Main Street Tuesday before it mistook a resident’s fenced backyard for a place to grab a meal and freshen up.

    July 22, 2014 2 Photos

  • 20110929_bowling.jpg Why fewer people go bowling

    Like other industries facing tough economic times, America's bowling centers are trying to reinvent themselves.

    July 15, 2014 1 Photo

  • President Barack Obama mug Best president? Worst president? Don't read too much into those polls

    The questions about who are the best and worst post-WWII presidents are useless. What they mainly show is that Republicans are far more unified around a single story than are Democrats.

    July 2, 2014 1 Photo

  • lawgrad.jpg Things looking up for law school grads

    This might sound weird, but here goes: Now might be a pretty good time to think about law school. For the sixth year running, the employment rate fell, as schools produced a record number of graduates for an industry without the room for them. There was, however, a nugget of good news buried in the data.

    June 25, 2014 1 Photo

  • 20140625-AMX-HEALTH-EXERCISE252.jpg Fitness program caters to people with developmental disabilities

    Spirit - which stands for "Social Physical Interactive Respectful Inclusive Teamwork" - offers classes that help clients with developmental disabilities build muscle, increase flexibility and improve their diets. As a population, they have limited opportunities when it comes to health, Smith says. "And a lot need more social interaction," he adds.

    June 25, 2014 1 Photo

  • twitter.jpg Mobile web siphoning revenue from U.S. cities as landlines fade

    Tweeting, Facebooking, Skyping smartphone users are costing U.S. states and cities revenue as taxes rooted in old-fashioned telephone service fail to keep up with the Internet era.

    June 25, 2014 1 Photo

  • Screen Shot 2014-06-25 at 10.42.53 AM.png VIDEO: Police say thief forgets to log off Facebook while robbing home

    A Minnesota man was jailed after he logged on to Facebook from a home he broke into, then forgot to log out.

    June 25, 2014 1 Photo

  • breaking-up.jpg Thinking about breaking up? Flip a coin

    In their latest book, 'Think Like a Freak," Steven Levitt and Stephen Dubner suggest that, contrary to what many people have told you in life, you should quit. That is, when things get tough, you shouldn't always tough them out and stick with it. Instead, you should quit and do so sooner rather than later.

    June 25, 2014 1 Photo

  • Starbucks tests Greek yogurt smoothies in California, Missouri

    Starbucks Corp., which started selling handmade sodas in the southern United States Tuesday, is now testing three flavors of Greek-yogurt smoothies as it continues trying to broaden its appeal beyond coffee.

    June 24, 2014

  • Bq6uCTrCQAAlzeo.jpg Tornado touches down near Indianapolis

    A band of storms containing heavy rains, lightning and gusting winds spawned at least one tornado near Indianapolis Tuesday afternoon, authorities said.

    June 24, 2014 1 Photo 1 Slideshow

Graduation Salutes
Seasonal Content