Is Kia Finally Better Than Toyota?

Kia is a Korean car brand that has recently seen massive popularity here in the states. Especially with new models like the Kia Telluride and the new redesign of the 2021 Sorento, Kia is really bringing its crossover SUV game lately. Toyota on the other hand is a globally trusted Japanese car brand that pumps out cars, trucks, and SUVs, that consistently rank high in practical areas like predicted reliability.

Both brands earn plenty of praise from critics like J.D. Power and Consumer Reports. But which one is better? Is Kia finally better than Toyota?

The 2016 Kia Sorento

In the above video, YouTube personality and mechanic Scotty Kilmer reviews a 2016 Kia Sorento. Considering that Kia just revealed the all-new 2021 Kia Sorento, it might be helpful for those considering one to see a review of one of these Kia crossovers after 4 years of ownership. How does a Kia SUV stand up to the tests of time?

2016 Kia Sorento at an event
2016 Kia Sorento at the Zhou B Art Center in Chicago, Illinois | Jeff Schear/Getty Images for Kia

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Throughout the review, Scotty compares the Sorento to the popular Toyota RAV4. It’s a decent comparison, too. He points out that the RAV4 base model and the Sorento base model forum 2016 were rough around the same ballpark price of $26,000. However, it’s worth noting the differences in fuel economy. He quotes a 17 city and 23 highway mpg rating for the 2016 Kia Sorento.

The Toyota RAV4 has a much better 23 city and 30 highway mpg rating. But these are for the 2016 model years of these crossovers offered by the Korean car brand and Japanese car brand. Keep in mind that on newer models these numbers are different.

A Toyota RAV4 Hybrid takes to the Toyota 'Blizzard to the Beach Test Track' at the 108th Annual Chicago Auto Show
The Toyota RAV4 | Raymond Boyd/Getty Images

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Power: which crossover packs more heat?

This title is handily won by the Kia Sorento. This model has far more horsepower. Scotty notes that the Sorento upgraded from 185 to 290 horsepower while the Toyota RAV4 went from 176 to 194. This is one of the reasons for the fuel economy discrepancy. If you pack more heat, you burn more fuel. That’s just the way it is.

Is Kia better?

So the real point here is not necessarily whether the Kia brand is better, but rather which brand is better for which person? If you really care about modern style, more power, and more luxurious features, then the Korean car brand may be your best bet. In the video we are told that the base models are quite similar in price. Yet, when you begin moving up the trim levels and adding options, features, and packages, the RAV4 is a Japanese car brand offering that does get a bit more pricey.

2021 Kia Sorento parked in gravel
2021 Kia Sorento | Kia

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So, if you’re the type that wants the base model the difference won’t matter as much. Additionally, the Kia brand has far and away the better warranty. Regardless of Toyota’s reliability rankings, it only offers a mediocre warranty for its new vehicles.

What about older Toyota models?

Scotty does say in the video that he wouldn’t recommend buying a Kia Sorento older than 2014 due to the fact that there were engine problems. Older Toyota models on the other hand are generally still good today. Longevity is one of the Toyota brand’s calling cards.

A Lunar Rock 2021 Toyota RAV4 in a field with a mountainous backdrop
2021 Toyota RAV4 | J.D. Power

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A new era

Overall, there have been times when Kias were looked down on. They were viewed by many as unreliable and cheap. However, that is no longer the case. We have now entered a new era in which Kia finally stands on its own four tires, ready to take on the industry competition. Still, it may not quite be fair to say that Kia is actually better than Toyota.

A Toyota RAV4 parked in a dealership lot
Toyota RAV4 | Justin Sullivan/Getty Images