Kia of South Korea cannot be called a luxury carmaker by any stretch of imagination but is preparing to take on the bigger players in the American market including its own parent Hyundai which now has manufacturing facilities in the US. Kia Optima, 2011 has been positioned directly against Hyundai’s Sonata. By doing so it is posing a challenge to the entire field of midsize sedans including the Honda Accord, Toyota Camry, Ford Fusion, Nissan Altima and Chevrolet Malibu. What is more, Optima seems to show great improvement in quality and reliability on Kia’s previous models.
Kia as a strategy operates on lower price points and their stress is not on features but on providing a utility product on minimum price levels. But they have made Optima as a luxury car and they seem to have reoriented their strategy by incorporating a whole lot of features that even the competitors don’t have and have retained the lower pricing strategy as a major tool for penetration in a new market. The upscale Optima EX comes with a 6-speed automatic transmission, a 2.4-liter 4-cylinder engine producing 200 horsepower and a long list of standard equipment including leather upholstery. The prices start at $23,190.
For an additional $2,250 you are entitled for a Premium Package that offers not only heated front seats, but rear seat heaters as well. You also get heated steering wheel and a two-section panoramic sunroof. You get practically everything you get in a luxury car including features to cool the front seats for a price of just $27,440. It doesn’t seem feasible for any of the major players in the US market to deliver a product like this at this price. And this is just the beginning for Kia. Other versions of Optima are in the pipeline. A sporty model with a turbocharged 2-liter 4-cylinder rated at 274 horsepower which will be priced at $26,690. It will be followed by a hybrid model. The pricing detail is not available at the moment but is sure to be attractive. In an environment when the disposable incomes are under pressure Optima is sure to attract a lot of consumers.