This year, Kia also happens to have won more residual value awards than any other mass-market brand in the U.S. The following Kia vehicles won awards in their respective segments: The Telluride (Midsize SUVs with 3-row seating), Sportage (Compact SUVs), K5 (Midsize Cars), Soul (Micro SUVs), Rio (Small Cars). This means that Kia is the most improved brand, year over year, of any mass-market brand. Even though Kia won the most awards, they didn’t win the overall “best mass-market brand”. That award went to Honda, which also won residual value awards for their Civic (Compact), HR-V (Small SUV), Passport (Midsize SUV 2-row), and Odyssey (Minivan) models.
Kia’s performance garnered praise from J.D. Power’s leadership too. The VP of J.D. Power’s ALG division, Eric Lyman, shared that: This year’s achievement by Kia speaks volumes about how far the brand has come. The marketplace is acknowledging that Kia has a very strong product lineup in terms of design, quality and residual values. Kia has become a force to be reckoned with. That’s certainly high praise, and I think it bodes well for Kia’s growth in the U.S. market. However, it may be worth pointing out that of the 5 models Kia won awards for, only 2 (The Sportage and Telluride) are actually selling better this year than they did the year before. That may mean very little other than perhaps the accolades trail the market’s interest in the vehicles. Or it may mean that various externalities like the lingering impacts of the pandemic are still impacting production (i.e. Kia may be steering more production to higher profit, more expensive vehicles to address limited component supply issues, which in turn may lower overall sales). Regardless, Kia’s total sales in the U.S. are down 5% year over year through the end of October but that doesn’t diminish the significance of their awards.
I don’t know about you, but the stipulation that these awards are about value retention (i.e. resale) in the first 3 years of ownership makes me feel less enthusiastic about their merit. Kia even calls out that this value retention is a key variable in the lease cost of a vehicle, which I’ll point out doesn’t benefit the one driving the vehicle as much as it does the one leasing it to the driver. Although Kia goes on to say that the awards are underscoring an automaker’s success in the areas of long-term quality and design, as well as the overall desirability of automotive brands and their models, I would counter that 3 years isn’t really “long term” as much as it is an extended courtship in which one is just beginning to learn whether their vehicle is going to be reliable or not. It does seem to be enough time to discern “desirability” though; if you are still in love with your Kia after 3 years, you might want to start thinking about putting a ring on it. But seriously, since the average length of time Americans own vehicles they buy new is about 8 years, a 3 year window on design, quality and desirability as the source of overall value seems misaligned, to me.
What do you think? Are the J.D. Power awards particularly inspiring to you, or are they more of just a nod to quality? Do you look to other industry or journalistic sources for purchasing guidance, and if so which sources and why? Please leave any questions, comments or other feedback below.
Images courtesy of Kia.
Justin Hart has owned and driven electric vehicles for over 14 years, including a first generation Nissan LEAF, second generation Chevy Volt, Tesla Model 3, an electric bicycle and most recently a Kia Sorento PHEV. He is also an avid SUP rider, poet, photographer and wine lover. He enjoys taking long EV and PHEV road trips to beautiful and serene places with the people he loves. Follow Justin on Twitter for daily KIA EV news coverage.