Why Can’t Kia Make a Worthy Rival to the Camry and Accord?
Kia has been on a roll for several years, creating outstanding cars and SUVs that are seriously competitive with their respective class leaders. Kia’s head-turning designs, modern tech features, and class-leading warranty have been the main reasons for its recent resurgence, but its overall sales growth hasn’t applied to every model, such as the brand’s sedans.
How are Kia sedan sales doing?
Sales growth for the Kia brand is up 16% so far in 2023 compared to the same period in 2022. A few models leading the charge for that growth are the Carnival minivan, the Seltos subcompact SUV, the Niro hybrid SUV, and the Sportage compact SUV, the brand’s best-selling model.
It’s hard not to notice the prevalence of SUVs in the Kia brand’s sales growth. Sedans, on the other hand, haven’t been performing as well for Kia. The midsize Kia K5 sales are down 10% so far in 2023, and Stinger sales are down 15%.
The decline in Stinger sales makes sense since it was recently discontinued, but why are sales of the Kia K5 lagging? According to data on GoodCarBadCar, the Toyota Camry and Honda Accord sales are up in 2023. Toyota has already sold almost 200,000 units of the Camry in the U.S. in 2023, while Kia has sold fewer than 50,000 K5 models.
Kia Optima sales weren’t much better. Before the current generation of the K5 came out in 2021, Kia’s midsize sedan in the U.S. was the Optima (it was already called the K5 in South Korea). Optima sales declined along with sedan sales in general starting in the early 2010s, but even in its prime, it never came close to beating the Camry or Accord. The last time the Kia Optima sold more than 100,000 units in the U.S. was 2018, when 101,603 Optima models were sold. The Toyota Camry sold 343,439 units the same year, and the Honda Accord sold 291,071 units.
Why can’t the K5 outsell the Toyota Camry or Honda Accord?
The reason for the Kia K5 lagging behind its big rivals from Honda and Toyota has more to do with reputation than the cars themselves. The Kia K5 is a highly competitive sedan with tons of modern tech, a unique design, a comfortable cabin, and a lower starting price than the Camry and Accord.
However, reputation and name recognition go a long way in the midsize sedan class. Many drivers who buy a new Honda Accord or Toyota Camry aren’t shopping around for other options. Those names have been around long enough, and the cars have been good enough to build excellent reputations. They live up to those reputations with rock-solid reliability, excellent safety ratings, and good fuel economy.
Even though the Kia K5 can match or beat the Camry and Accord in many ways, it’s hard to get drivers to trust a new name in this class when going up against two legends in practical cars. The slow sales of the K5 are unfortunate because the car itself is so good. We’re impressed with the car’s modern tech, standout design, and outstanding warranty, which is matched only by the Hyundai Sonata.
U.S. News even named the K5 the best midsize car for the money in 2023, and Edmunds awarded it the Top Rated Sedan of 2021, but apparently, these awards haven’t been enough to boost its sales.