Kia’s Quality Up, But Buyers Haven’t Noticed

2014-kia-cadenza

Remember the Sephia?

The oddly named Kia was one of the first cars the company sold in the United States. Its low cost and low quality quickly became synonymous with the Kia name. In the overview on CarGurus, there are “complaints of numerous repair problems, particularly with the brakes and transmission, along with a cheap plastic interior, an easily dented body, small backseat, and labored acceleration when the A/C is on.”

While the vehicles produced by Kia in recent years have increased in quality to rival some luxury automakers, the perception of Kia is still stuck on the early impressions of cars like the Sephia.

That’s a terrible problem to have, especially for Kia’s head of marketing. To combat its perception problem, Kia has released an onslaught of cars designed to compete in nearly every category along with marketing campaigns to back them up.

Industry experts have taken notice of the improvement, as Ward’s Auto says,

Kia also has won numerous awards in recent years, including Ward’s 10 Best Interiors trophies for the ’14 Soul compact car and ’13 Cadenza large sedan, and Kia was sixth among brands on this year’s J.D. Power & Associates’ closely watched Initial Quality Study.

The buying public, though, has a much different view. Kia placed third-to-last on ALG’s Brand Perception of Quality study for 2014, just above the discontinued Suzuki brand and the struggling smart brand.

Part of the problem, I think, is that Kia is still the youngest automaker in the U.S. No other foreign car company has started to sell cars here since Kia entered the market, which could be keeping the perception low.

The head of marketing at Kia is doing everything right to increase perception, but it probably wouldn’t hurt to put some effort into helping a new company break into the U.S. market. Nothing increases perception like having a new low man on the totem pole.

Would you consider buying a Kia, either new or used?

-tgriffith

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