Savvy Trucks & Toys

At first, Kia was known for value-priced sedans and quirky crossovers. But then there was the Stinger, that even the most jaded of auto reviewers are calling a “great sports sedan that turns heads,” or the K900  that U.S News & World Report says it comfortably ranks in the top half of its luxury car rankings, and the off-road capable 8 passenger Telluride cross-over that is raking in awards.  Yes, in spite of all the nay-sayers saying they could never do it, Kia is taking on established premium brands

2020 Kia Soul X-Line

Kia Soul

The Soul upholds Kia’s quirky reputation, establishing what you might call a cult following and remaining as the only survivor in the compact multi-purpose vehicle segment. In spite of our early resistance to it, we have to admit that Kia’s best-selling model is growing on us. It’s a nimble size with a responsive engine and a comfortable ride, roomy cabin, useful cargo space, competitive pricing, and surprising quality and features inside its cabin. Our tester was the Soul X-line with the standard 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine, considered the more rugged-looking of the various trim levels with unique 18-inch wheels, special exterior body cladding.  For right around $22K, the Soul is a bargain that you won’t feel slighted in.

Kia Niro EV

Motortrend says the Kia Niro EV makes it easier than ever to switch to an electric car because it is surprisingly fun to drive, unlike a lot of slow, lethargic hybrids backed by continuously variable transmissions. The Niro EV that we test drove was good for 201 hp and 291 lb-ft of torque. It nets an EPA-estimated range of 239 miles, among the best in its class.   Pricing starts at under $39K, but our tester with Premium package adding xenon headlights, a sunroof, leather upholstery, ventilated front seats, heated steering wheel, and eight-speaker premium Harman Kardon sound system, wireless charging, and a 110-volt power outlet had a price tag just topping $47K.

Lessons we can learn from and implement from Kia:  Kia assembled the right tribe of employees and trained them well. They quickly diversified their offerings and enlisted automotive industry legends in design and engineering to be “on trend” with buyers.

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