Does Kia Do Anything Better Than Honda?

Honda blows past many of its competitors with its emphasis on performance and efficiency. While Honda excels in many ways, rivals like Kia are starting to catch up. Kia has made considerable progress in boosting its reputation over the last few years. You might even wonder: does Kia do anything better than Honda now?

Comparing Honda and Kia when it comes to performance

A red 2021 Honda Accord Hybrid parked in front of a house with trees in the background
The 2021 Honda Accord on display | Honda

Honda and Kia present two distinct flavors regarding performance offerings. Respected critics rave about Honda because of its lineup of forceful and fuel-efficient models. On the other hand, Kia vehicles earn praise for their style and gentle ride quality. 

A 2020 Honda Civic Si sedan
2020 Honda Civic Si sedan | Honda

As far as standout models go, Honda has a few. Honda’s midsize Accord sedan is an all-around performer thanks to potent engine options and upscale interior. The Accord outranks its Kia rival, the K5 (formerly known as the Optima), on a few different lists. For example, U.S. News had the 2020 Accord at the top of its best midsize cars list, and the 2020 Optima was a few spaces lower. 

Comparatively, the Honda Civic outpaces the Kia Forte with its reviews and sales figures in the compact car realm. Many also consider the Honda Odyssey as the better option over the Kia Sedona in the minivan class. There’s a similar story with the Honda CR-V and the Kia Sportage. Additionally, Honda has a winner in the midsize truck group with the Ridgeline; Kia doesn’t currently have a pickup. 

A chrome 2021 Kia Telluride navigating in water.
2021 Kia Telluride | Kia

Where Kia is giving Honda a run for its money is in the midsize SUV class. Kia’s Telluride SUV has wowed reviewers and buyers alike with its luxurious amenities at an affordable price point. The Telluride’s Honda competition here is the Pilot and Passport SUVs.  

Furthermore, Honda is more reliable than Kia

A blue 2021 Honda HR-V Sport parked
2021 Honda HR-V Sport | Honda

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Honda has the edge over Kia performance-wise, and the brand also has an advantage with predicted reliability. Honda currently sits at #5 on Consumer Reports’ list of most reliable car brands. Honda’s HR-V, Insight, Clarity, CR-V, and Ridgeline all have above-average ratings for dependability.

2020 Kia Soul GT-Line in inferno red driving on a track with a blue sky
2020 Kia Soul GT-Line | Kia

Conversely, Kia dropped significantly in the reliability ratings this year. CR has Kia as the 15th most reliable brand; that’s six points lower than the year before. Problems with Kia’s Soul, Forte, and Niro EV is what brought the company down for the 2021 model year. According to CR’s data, Kia’s SUVs are more reliable than its cars, so that’s something to keep in mind as you shop. 

So, what does Kia do better?

Front seats of the 2020 Kia Sorento with black cloth upholstery.
2020 Kia Sorento interior | Kia

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Honda is a brand that does many things well, but Kia has the clear advantage regarding modern tech. As CR highlighted, new Kias come with lots of in-car electronics at a lower cost than its competitors. Each new vehicle in the current Kia lineup comes with a user-friendly infotainment system that has Apple CarPlay and Android Auto smartphone integration.

Honda is behind in the infotainment department. The 2021 Civic and the 2021 CR-V still don’t come with the smartphone apps we’ve come to expect today. Instead, Honda offers them as upgrades, which is nice, but the optional infotainment systems aren’t the most intuitive on the market. However, Honda and Kia are more evenly matched with the active safety features they provide.