Last week I took a trip that brought me out of my comfort zone, taught me a lot about technology, and gave me time to reflect and hear my own thoughts for once. I was invited to attend the Consumer Electronics Show CES in Las Vegas as part of their Key Online Influencer program, and I also reached out to Kia Motors, who generously provided me with a Kia Optima PHEV to get myself there. This post is not sponsored, but does include resources from brands I have a professional relationship with.
About sixteen or seventeen years ago, my parents bought a new (to them, at least) minivan. It was our first minivan if I remember correctly, and I was already in high school, with friends who could drive, so I didn’t spend a lot of time in it. I do remember that it took us on a couple of road trips up the East Coast to North Carolina from our home in the Florida Keys, and I do remember that it gave my parents a lot of grief mechanically. It looked like this:
(Photo credit: Flickr/96GExcess)
Yep that’s a 2001-ish Kia Sedona. White with some snazzy gray trim at the bottom. I remember thinking it was pretty ugly. I also remember that it constantly needed fixing. Luckily, our neighbor across the street from us was a mechanic, so we didn’t have to go very far with it. But, it was quite the lemon, and as an impressionable teenager I told myself I’d NEVER buy a Kia. And of course I’d surely NEVER get a minivan!
We weren’t the only folks who felt that way about Kia vehicles, though. In the early 2000’s, Kia vehicles were at the very bottom of the J.D. Power Initial Quality Study (IQS), which is a survey done on car owners around the 3-month mark of driving their new car. After 3 months, most (all?) Kia owners were unhappy with their vehicles, enough so that they consistently remained at or towards the bottom of this list for quite a few years. Like, almost a decade.
But much like my family’s favorite football team (Go Jaguars!!!) you can’t stay at the bottom forever, right? Right. So Kia poached a big name in cars, a very well-known Audi designer, Peter Schreyer. Soon, Kia’s line of vehicles was looking much more attractive. A few years later in 2009, The Soul, whose boxy design and futuristic vibe was a really new and exciting concept for vehicles, became a huge hit. Since then, Kia’s popularity has continued to climb, and their signature “Tiger Nose” grill, a Peter Schreyer contribution, is everywhere you look.
(That NOSE, though!)
Then in 2016, another big moment in Kia’s history happened. I went against two things I swore not to do as a teenager. (SHOCKING, right?!)
Coincidentally (or not, I guess) Kia just happened to place number one on J.D. Power’s IQS report in 2016, and then again in 2017! And I’m going to go out on a limb here and say that they probably already have 2018 in the bag too. Besides the Kia Sedona being a good-looking, affordable, reliable, safe, and family-friendly vehicle, they are pushing all kinds of boundaries in the car industry.
They added hybrid/electric vehicles, like the Niro Hybrid and the Optima PHEV. When I drove the Optima PHEV to Las Vegas, I got a chance to take a peek at their Niro EV, a crossover model that has a 238-mile range, according to Kia representatives at CES, and can charge up to 115 miles worth of battery power in just 30 minutes. Ain’t it gorgeous?
And then there’s the Kia Stinger, designed to pull Kia in the direction of performance-meets-luxury, which just won the Roadshow By CNET Shift Award For 2018 Vehicle Of The Year. The Stinger was lauded by the Roadshow by CNET editorial staff as being not just a class benchmark, but also a vehicle that is driving the industry toward a smarter, more sustainable and entertaining future.
And Kia has more up their sleeve for 2018 and beyond including more crossovers, redesigns, and more electrification plans.
So now, when I sit in the turn lane behind another Kia Sedona, while a Kia Optima pulls up next to me, and then I get to the parking lot and park between a Kia Sorento and a Kia Soul (Yes this is a real thing that happened to me!!); I can’t help but think…
We started from the bottom, now we here. The Future is Kia.