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Kia Cadenza First test - A Closer Look

Motor Trend recently tested the Kia Cadenza, a full-size sedan that's new for 2013 in the North American market (full post: 2014 Kia Cadenza First Test). This new sedan will be Kia's flagship until the Quoris RWD sedan makes it to North American market. Buying one will set you back $35,100 before even ticking any options boxes. It seems that the folks at Motor Trend are struggling with this car - they're proposing that this could be a luxury car, if it hadn't been for the Kia name on the hood, because of the luxury car features and the "luxury car-like" starting price of $35,100.

The $35,100 starting price is certainly a lot of money for a base model family sedan. Looking at just the price doesn't tell the complete story, though. For that money, you don't get a stripped out model. You get an 8-inch touch screen with the UVO infotainment system and navigation, leather, dual-zone climate control, keyless entry and start, Bluetooth, backup camera and sensors, heated power seats, and Infinity stereo. If you add all these options to other large family sedans like the Ford Taurus, Dodge Charger, Toyota Avalon and the upcoming Chevrolet Impala (which all start several thousand dollars less) you will end up in within a few hundred dollars of the Cadenza's price. Then there's the size issue. Not only is the price comparable to other mainstream large family sedans (when similarly equipped) but the starting price is only "luxury car-like" if the only luxury cars you're considering are compacts like the Cadillac ATS, Mercedes C-class or BMW 3-series.

I'm not sure what Kia is trying to accomplish with this car's starting price. I disagree with Motor Trend - this car doesn't come across as a car that's trying to be a luxury car in any way. The car is not more expensive than others in its class when similarly equipped. It does not have exclusive features, more available options, a world class drivetrain or other distinct qualities that could make it a luxury car. The starting price is higher than others in the class simply due to the fact that buyers are forced to buy the car with certain options.

I think what Kia may be doing is gauge the market's willingness to accept a Kia at a higher starting price than usual and/or prepare it for the idea of future vehicles starting at a higher price than usual. According to Scoop Independent News (as quoted by Automobile magazine) Kia announced that they are aiming to move upscale to compete with luxury brands Mercedes-Benz and Audi by 2017. They probably realize that people aren't ready yet for an "upscale" Kia. How could they increase the price without taking away value? They added features. I personally will never be able to view Kia as a luxury car, not in 4 years or 40 years but maybe younger generations who didn't live through many models of less-than-mediocre products from Kia offering nothing over the competition but competitive pricing will be able to.