Lockport, Illinois, United States
A couple weeks ago, J.D. Power released its latest Initial Quality Study, which gave high marks to Porsche, Hyundai and General Motors, with the latter earning more individual IQS awards than any other manufacturer. Now, it's Strategic Vision's turn, and it's doling out its praise not to Porsche, but to Tesla, which wasn't even included in the JD Power IQS.
The Model S was named the best vehicle overall in total quality, while Porsche's corporate brother and endurance-racing rival, Audi, was named the best premium brand, alongside Jaguar. Strategic Vision cited the Q5 and the ancient Q7 for individual segment awards, as well as the A5, which was a mere point off the top of its segment. SV also handed out compliments for the Audi's interior work. The win for the German brand is a nice improvement over its IQS score, with which it landed above the industry average, but solidly mid-pack.
Jaguar was without a segment winner, although SV did say that the Indian-owned English brand had a number of vehicles very near the top of their segments. This is the second significant win for Jag in two weeks, after it finished second overall on the JD Power IQS a few weeks ago.
Reuters is reporting that large-scale insider trading may be at the heart of some particularly fishy stock-selling behavior, just prior to the original announcement about the Hyundai-Kia fuel economy ratings debacle.
On November 1st, Hyundai-Kia shares traded roughly 2.2 million times (the single highest-volume day of the year), and the stock price fell by about four percent. For reference, a standard daily trading volume for the stock in 2012 saw about 600k shares trading hands. On November 2nd, the company made public the bad news about the dropping fuel economy ratings for many of its models. In other words: No one outside of the company (and only a smallish group inside the company, we'd imagine) should have known anything about the impending bad news as of the first day of November. After the announcement, the stock price tanked, as you'd expect, and trading volume was way down as well.
Experts seem fully aware that the whole thing reeks of leaked information and subsequent insider trading. If chicanery on this sort of scale seems wacky to you, you'd be inline with the experts who report to Reuters that the level of trading is absolutely suspicious.
Teenage passengers are often among the first people I turn to for second opinions about a test vehicle. While they understandably aren't allowed behind the wheel - most aren't even old enough to drive - their honest and generally unbiased observations, coupled with a complete lack of understanding about what a particular vehicle costs, can provide a wealth of insight.
An open-minded approach is especially important when taking a closer look at the 2014 Kia Cadenza, a premium sedan from an automaker best known for providing affordable transportation for entry-level buyers. But unlike the Rio and Forte, low-priced compacts designed to cater to consumers looking for fuel economy and value, this more substantial four-door sedan asks for twice the out-of-pocket investment in exchange for promises of luxury and technology.
With an impartial mindset and a genuine curiosity, I recently spent a week with the more substantial Cadenza to see if it could live up to its aspirations.