Kia had a pretty poor reputation in the late 1990’s and early 2000’s. However in the last 10 years they have really turned around the quality and customer satisfaction associated with their vehicles. So are Kias good cars?
The answer is relative to the person purchasing the vehicle and their needs. Kia’s are good cars when it comes to fuel efficiency and acceleration. They are a great option for someone who is looking to spend on the lower end of the price point. They have one of the best warranties in the market when buying a new vehicle, however many individuals tend to lease over buying new because the resale value is poor when compared to other similar vehicles from manufacturers like Toyota and Honda.
Kias are not great cars for someone looking for a vehicle with more plush features. In all the suspensions of many Kia models tend to be stiff resulting in a less comfortable drive. The interiors of the cars are also sub par. The seating is less comfortable than some of their competitors and the navigation systems and entertainment features are riddled with problems. Kias are also not so great as a purchase option when you consider their resale value.
Overall the answer to whether or not Kias are good cars is that the older models may not be a wise investment barring the Optima. We advise not buying a Soul in any model year and to avoid Kia hybrids and electric vehicles like the plague.
Kias are cheaper made vehicles and they aren’t being sold for that much cheaper in 2020. Now ten years ago, these cars were dirt cheap compared to their competitors, but their vehicles were riddled with electrical issues and the overall quality of the cars was substantially lower than their competitors as well.
Kia’s sales are up and this is likely because they spend a small fortune on advertising but they have made significant improvements to their cars which have caused the upswing in sales as well.
The Pros and Cons Of Kia Vehicles
- Gas mileage is excellent
- An awesome warranty
- Easy to work on and cheap to repair
- Poor resale value
- Electrical issues
- Cheap and in some cases uncomfortable interiors
- Stiff suspensions lead to an uncomfortable drive
Kia competes directly with Honda, Toyota, Nissan, Chevy and Ford. Comparatively speaking, Kia has traditionally been at the lowest end of the price point amongst their competitors and historically the cost cutting did cut into the overall value of the vehicles. Now, Kia is not priced that far below some of their competitors, but I’m unwilling to say that they have brought the value of their vehicles up enough to compensate.
Kia is unbeaten when it comes to its competitors in the warranty department. Once reviewed as unreliable vehicles, in the last ten years Kia has rewritten the rhetoric on their cars starting by backing their vehicles for an impressive amount of miles and years.
As a manufacturer, Kia offers between 5 and 10 years of coverage on their vehicles amongst the different components that may break. The most impressive is their powertrain warranty which Kia offers 10 years or 100,000 miles whichever comes first. Remember the car must be properly maintained to keep this warranty valid so make a scheduled maintenance plan!
The basic warranty for Kia vehicles is also longer than most at 5 years or 60,000 miles. The basic warranty is essentially a bumper to bumper policy where it will cover any part of the vehicle that breaks at no fault of the vehicle’s owner and that is unrelated to impact (car accident) damage. So for example if the paint on the car randomly begins chipping, or the air compressor breaks, the manufacturer will cover the cost of replacing or fixing these parts if you can provide proof that they were maintained properly.
Anti Perforation Warranty: this warranty offered by Kia is to ensure the body panels on the vehicle stay free of corrosion and perforation. The warranty is for 100,000 miles or 5 years whatever comes first. It is important to note that this is damage making its way from the interior to the exterior. Corrosion from salt or sand on the exterior of the vehicle will not be covered as this is a care item the owner should be maintaining.
Roadside Assistance: Kia is so confident in the reliability of their cars that they provide roadside assistance for up to 100,000 miles or five years whichever comes first. If your car breaks down in this time period, you will get free towing to a local repair shop, assistance with dead batteries, flat tires or mishaps like running out of gas.
Another component of this roadside assistance package is trip interruption. If you are taking a road trip and you are more than 150 miles from your home and your car breaks down, Kia will take care of you. Assuming a repair that will take more than 24 hours to complete, Kia will cover the cost of lodging, food, or a rental car expense if you really need to be on your way. This is an incredible customer service experience unmatched by most car manufacturers.
Kia Vehicle Advice From A Kia Mechanic
One very friendly Kia mechanic offered some advice to those looking to purchase a Kia vehicle. The first of which was to purchase a vehicle with a 2.4L engine. Kia offers the 2.4L engine in a wide variety of their cars and the company provides a LIFETIME WARRANTY on these engines.
Yep you read that right. Lifetime warranty. Unlimited miles. If any component of the engine breaks (at no fault of the owner or negligent maintenance) Kia will pay to fix it. If the entire engine craps out, they will put a brand new engine into your vehicle. Considering the engine is one of the most costly repairs that a vehicle owner will undertake this is an incredible deal!
This warranty is for the life of the vehicle, not the original purchaser’s length of ownership, so even if you buy a used Kia vehicle with a 2.4 liter engine the engine will have a lifetime warranty. Be sure to get complete maintenance records from the previous owner before you buy to ensure the vehicle’s warranty is still valid and store the records in a safe place!
The next piece of advice he offered was to avoid buying Kia Hybrids at all cost.
“Whatever you do, DO NOT BUY A HYBRID. They are trash. They only last about 80,000 -100,000 miles and then it is problem after problem with them. They are not cheap to repair either.”
Next we inquired what car he would recommend buying from Kia or from other manufacturers.
“I would look into a Kia Optima or a Hyundai Sonata. They’re good cars and they run forever. Optimas are basically the Kia branded Hyundai Sonata. Kia and Hyundai are owned by the same people. The vehicles have the same motor and drivetrain. Just different interiors and designs. I prefer the Optima because I like the interior better. It seems a bit on the fancier side I guess you could say.”
He also mentioned that some models the car brand manufactures are significantly better than others. Like the Optima and Telluride.
Kia Vehicles That Break The Most Frequently
Our Kia mechanic noted that for the most part, all vehicles that the manufacturer makes are quite reliable. He said that the majority of the reasons they see cars back at the dealership mechanic are for standard maintenance however there are a few vehicles that are notoriously prone to more serious issues. These are going to be vehicles you’ll want to steer clear of, pun intended.
“When it comes to serious repairs, we see more hybrids and Kia Souls more than anything else. Some Kia Sportages here and there but not as much.”
Kia Model Reviews
The Kia Cadenza is a roomy passenger sedan. It’s handling is top rated and the general smoothness of the ride is good but not great. The Cadenza doesn’t get a ton of attention, next to the award winning Kia Optima in the sedan category, but it does compete well with it’s sister vehicle. The Cadenza is the largest sedan that the car manufacturer produces which competes directly with the Toyota Avalon.
The specs on the vehicle boast 290 horsepower with a 3.3 liter engine and gets around 24 miles to the gallon. The last redesign for this model was in 2017. Optional features include a plush luxurious interior. All standard and luxury models come equipped with an array of safety features from emergency braking, front end collision warnings, blind spot warnings and pedestrian detection.
On average, consumers will pay around $33,912 for a Kia Cadenza brand new from the dealership which is about $4,000 below MSRP. Overall the Kia Cadenza is a great vehicle for anyone looking for a spacious sedan with decent safety ratings who wants to pay on the low end for a brand new vehicle. Keep in mind the resale value for these cars will be much lower than that of their competitors.
Next on the list of Kia vehicles is the Forte which is overall unimpressive. The Forte is a small sedan offered by the car manufacturer. Some criticisms include that you will feel every bump and every minor pothole with the Kia Forte’s stiff suspension. The interior of the vehicle is pretty dull and the seats are not ultra comfortable.
The car is also noisy which in combination doesn’t bode well if you’re looking for a relaxing ride. The vehicle does have some positive qualities from the fuel mileage which sits around 34 miles to the gallon and the vehicle controls which are very user friendly. Among these controls include the infotainment system which is sleek and easy to use, and an automatic thermostat which keeps the cab at your desired temperature setting. Safety features of automatic emergency braking and forward collision warning are included in all models of the 2020 Forte.
Overall the vehicle is not a standout, but can be positive for the right person. The average consumer is paying a mere $17,900 for a standard version of the Kia Forte which is quite inexpensive for a new car, however with the interior, suspension and overall noisiness of the car it’s easy to understand why.
If you haven’t heard of the Kia K5 yet, it’s because this is a brand new model for the car manufacturer. The K5 is essentially the latest and greatest Kia Optima, so we are expecting big things considering the Optima is the car you want to buy from Kia if any. Taking design elements from both the Kia Optima and the Hyundai Sonata, the K5 features dual turbocharged four cylinder engines which each connect to their own 8 speed transmission which glide spectacularly from gear to gear.
The cabin of the K5 is relatively traditional with customization options such as the size of the screen of the infotainment system as well as various interior upgrades like leather seats. The MSRP is $26,355 for this new model and they aren’t dropping the price much for those of you looking to haggle. On average for a new 2021 Kia K5 consumers are paying $25,974.
Overall the Kia K5 looks promising after early testing but only time will tell as these new vehicles hit the market.
The mechanic we quoted earlier in the article advised us to steer clear of any sort of Kia Hybrid and we fully plan on taking his advice! The Kia Niro is okay. That is the best way to describe the vehicle as a whole. It isn’t outstanding in any way shape or form though it does have a few positives. In terms of what is really important with a hybrid vehicle, fuel economy, the Niro just doesn’t measure up to its competitors the Toyota Prius or the Hyundai Ioniq. The Niro gets around 43 miles to the gallon which is good but not great.
The drive of the vehicle is not super smooth and like the Forte the suspension could use some improvement as you feel every bump in the road as a passenger. The handling on the vehicle also has opportunities for improvement and the car takes turns safely but not smoothly.
If you’re looking for upgrades to improve this model, the optional power driver’s seat is something you should invest in as the seat provides much more support than the standard seat. If you are someone with lower back issues or who takes long road trips frequently this is something I would consider non optional. Other upgraded features include a larger screen for the infotainment system which actually stacks up pretty well against competing cars.
The vehicle has a 1.6 liter 4 cylinder engine. When paired with the electric drive the vehicle has a combined 139 horsepower. The base price for the Kia Niro is around $24,590 but if you are looking for the upgraded safety features found to be standard in other Kia vehicles you will be paying more. To upgrade to safety features such as automatic emergency braking, pedestrian detection, blind spot warning, lane keeping assistance and rear cross traffic warning you will be paying above the $30,000 price point for one of these vehicles.
Kia also offers a fully electric version of the Niro which like it’s hybrid version, is also middle of the road. If you are trying to buy a spectacular performing electric vehicle, stick with Toyota or Tesla, because the Kia Niro isn’t the car for you. Though again, it does have it’s positives as well.
The range of the fully electric Niro is 239 miles which means that it does go further than a lot of electric vehicles priced well above what this one is. Keep in mind that the warranty that Kia offers on their electric and hybrid vehicles isn’t nearly as sparkly as those offered on their traditional gasoline powered cars. They are also not cheap to fix.
The electric Niro shares the same electric drive as the Hyundai Kona and the soon to be released Kia Soul Ev. The vehicles take 10 hours to fully charge and from there have a 64 KW-hr battery which will take you about 239 miles. The vehicle uses a 240 watt connector to charge so be sure to plan for long pitstops somewhere with a charging station if you intend on road tripping in this vehicle.
Speaking of road tripping, the Niro does have the same cargo space as it’s hybrid counterpart which will hold five passengers comfortably and room in the back for tons of luggage or pets. The vehicle has cargo space comparable to many small SUVs on the market.
According to our research, and experiences the Optima is one of the best cars to buy from Kia. They tend to break less frequently and have stellar safety ratings. According to our Kia mechanic insider buying a Kia Optima is a wise choice to make. Among other luxurious features like a heated steering wheel and leather heated seats, the Optima has a more plush interior than some of the other vehicle lines in Kia’s arsenal.
The Optima features a 2.4 liter 4 cylinder engine which gives the vehicle a fuel economy of 28 miles to the gallon. The Optima from 2011-2015 has a full engine recall, so bear this in mind if you are considering purchasing a used Optima in this model year that the engine will come with a lifetime warranty. This is quite valuable.
The Seltos is the smaller version of the Kia Sorento. This is Kia’s version of a small SUV which is surprisingly still quite roomy for how good the gas mileage is. The 2.0 liter engine has a variable transmission which provides uninterrupted acceleration for the driver. You have another engine option on the Seltos which is a 1.6 liter turbocharged option with an option for all wheel drive though front wheel drive does come standard.
Among issues with the Seltos is poor handling, noisy drive and a stiff suspension which all lead to a less than ideal ride. On top of these drawbacks the base model doesn’t come with any of the advanced safety features that you’d find in competitor vehicles or even other vehicles made by Kia
The Kia Seltos starts at $21,990 for the base model, but can push upwards of $27,890 for the upgraded features such as leather seats and a larger entertainment system screen.
Kia redesigned it’s 2021 Sorrento improving its fuel economy, adding in more high tech features and upping the overall safety of the vehicle. The new Sorrento has three different engine packages which is an interesting strategy. The options are 191 horsepower 4 cylinder, 281 horsepower 4 cylinder turbo, or a 227 horsepower hybrid 4 cylinder.
We have been constantly deterred from buying hybrid and electric vehicles from Kia, but their 2020 models have limited testing so only time will tell on how these eco friendly models will hold up over the years. It is important to note that there are a ton of incredible safety features that come standard on the 2021 Sorrento. In the safety department, Kia has undisputedly stepped up their game with this SUV .
The 2021 Kia Sorrento will start at a base model price of $26,990 but can hit upwards of $41,890 with full upgrades.
The Sportage is another vehicle on Kia’s lineup which is prone to premature breaks. Personally I’ve had a Kia sportage as a rental car and it did have issues in the week that it was under my possession. While the interiors on these cars is adequate they have electrical issues and a glitchy infotainment system. The Kia mechanic also warned would-be buyers away from this model.
The car comes standard with a 2.4 liter engine and a six speed automatic transmission both of which work well. The Sportage also comes with a ton of standard safety features which is one of the vehicles saving graces. When it works, the infotainment system is also quite user friendly.
The sportage starts out at $29,990 and with premium features can get up to $35,090
The Telluride is the largest SUV that Kia offers. With it’s 3 rows of seating the Telluride can hold up to an impressive 8 passengers. It’s gas mileage is less extraordinary at 23 miles to the gallon but it can tow up to 5,000 pounds. By comparison the Ford F150 has a starting tow capacity of 6,000 pounds.
Front wheel drive comes standard with availability to upgrade to all wheel drive for an added cost. The powerful engine that gives the Telluride its tow capacity is a 291 horsepower v6. The ride is smooth thanks to a well built suspension. Unlike some of the other vehicles Kia makes the ride inside the cab of the vehicle is quiet thanks to better soundproofing. Advanced safety features come standard.
The Telluride has a starting price of $31,890 but can cost as much as $43,790 for upgraded features.
Resale Value of Kia By Year
Resale value is going to be pretty low and the cars are riddled with problems which is why no one wants them. This is the era that gave Kia a poor reputation.
Resale value is lower when compared to Toyota and Honda and the Kia vehicles are not that much cheaper when purchased new. Poor value retention, but the vehicles are much better quality than they were in the previous decade. 2016 Ranked by J.D. Power as #1 in the reliability category. This is impressive as they were the first non luxury brand to achieve this in about 30 years.
The Worst Used Car Brands To Buy 2010-2016 Model Year
- Fiat/Chrystler- garbage. Bad transmissions, engines may blow up
- GM/ Cadillac – these cars aren’t what they used to be. 2010-2020 especially the smaller cars are junk
- Nissan- 2006 or later are total junk. Horrible transmissions and CBT
- Kia- okay cars under 100k miles or 6-8 years of life.
- Mitsubishi- cheaper made cars. They burn a ton of oil. Most people don’t know how to work on them. Better off buying a used toyota or honda/
Best used cars brands to buy 2010-2016 Model Year
- Toyota- Not as great as they used to be but still the best. Insanely high resale value because people know they last.
- Honda- makes the best engines. Less engine related failures than any other brand. These are very well built cars. Do your research before you buy.
- Ford- their quality has gone way up over the last few years.
- Mazda- Reasonably happy with these cars
- Subaru- One of the best cars for snow weather. Get a standard transmission if you plan on buying one.
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