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Though Kia, Hyundai's sister brand, made its U.S. debut in 1992, for nearly 20 years the Korean manufacturer was merely a budget option for customers looking for something even more affordable than the well-established Japanese companies like Honda and Toyota. Since the late 2000s, Kia (along with Hyundai)
has been rapidly increasing design quality and adding luxury amenities to their car. It's evolving at frightening speed, while also maintaining extremely competitive pricing. Suddenly, Kia is more than just a budget brand. It's a genuine player.
The brand's entry-level subcompact Rio is available as a sedan or five-door hatch with available navigation and Bluetooth phone connectivity, two features not even available on top trim Kia's a few years back. The compact Forte has been a particularly successful model for Kia and the Forte Koup serves as the sole sporty offering in the range.
The Optima and Optima Hybrid have been a particular showcase for the brand's ability to feature design and packaging comparable to its Japanese counterparts. Nearly $10,000 more expensive than the Optima Hybrid is the new Cadenza, Kia's first foray into mid-sized luxury sedans along the lines of Hyundai's Genesis and Equus. It's too early to call the Cadenza a success, but early reviews have been positive.
Bridging the gap between the sedans and SUVs of the lineup is Kia's quirky Soul, a bo- shaped crossover that's been a huge success due in no small part to a viral ad campaign featuring dancing hamsters. For those seeking a little more function in their form, the compact Sportage rides higher for better ground clearance, the Sorento tops the short SUV range with more space and available AWD.
Kia also makes the Sedona minivan, the lone model to have not been graced with the refreshing changes every other car in the lineup has received. See more... See Less