Kia Is Leaving Subaru Behind in the Dust This Year
Kia’s popularity in America is surging in 2023. The brand ranks fourth in year-to-date car sales. Meanwhile, Subaru continues to grow its sales, but the Japanese automaker doesn’t hold the market share it used to, especially compared with trendier brands like Kia. Here’s how Kia sales are leaving Subaru in the dust this year.
2023 Kia sales are looking up
Step aside, Outback, Forester, and Crosstrek — now is the time for Sportage, Forte, Telluride, and Sorento. Kia’s latest lineup is the brand’s strongest. In January-through-July year-to-date (YTD) metrics, 2023 U.S. Kia sales have shown an 18% increase over last year.
This growth has led the South Korean automaker to be ranked fourth in U.S. car sales behind Ford, Toyota, and Honda. Popular brands like Hyundai and Subaru have a competitor in Kia, and it’s thanks primarily to its impressive lineup of cars.
This year through July, Kia sold 465,263 vehicles versus 395,789 last year in the same period. The breakdown of those 2023 sales numbers is 83,742 for the Sportage, 73,065 for the Forte, 65,043 for the Telluride, and 51,376 for the Sorento.
The Kia models that have seen the most significant sales growth compared to 2022 are the Carnival minivan, with an 85% gain; the Seltos subcompact SUV, with a 60% gain; and the Sportage compact SUV, with a 30% gain.
How do Subaru sales compare to Kia sales?
Meanwhile, Subaru also grew its sales by 18%. However, the Japanese automaker didn’t deliver as many cars as Kia. Subaru sold 354,481 units from January through July 2023, as opposed to 305,331 last year in the same timeframe. For comparison, Kia sold 110,782 more cars.
As for numbers by model, the Subaru Outback midsize SUV leads at 93,833 units sold through July 2023. The Crosstrek subcompact crossover is close behind with 87,371. And the Forester compact SUV stands at 75,814.
It’s worth noting that Subaru sold more of each of its best-sellers than Kia. However, the South Korean car company has more depth in its vehicle lineup.
2023 Kia lineup: Depth in sedans
The Telluride, Sportage, and Sorento SUVs are top sellers in Kia’s lineup. But the brand’s depth comes into play with its sedans and minivan models.
Edmunds ranks the affordable Forte second among small sedans, setting buyers back only $20,815 for the base model. The K5 midsize sedan also earned high marks, with a score of 8.3/10, from Edmunds.
Then there’s the Kia Carnival. It isn’t the highest-rated minivan, sitting fourth out of five models in Edmunds’ rankings. But it still sells well, with the brand selling 23,107 units from January through July 2023.
On the other hand, Subaru has a loyal fan base. However, it fails to offer depth in the sedan and minivan markets. The Impreza is its best-selling Subaru car at 22,091 units sold through July 2023, with the WRX and Legacy following behind with 17,267 and 14,130, respectively.
Subaru doesn’t offer a minivan. But the relatively new Ascent three-row midsize SUV, which debuted in 2018, is the brand’s largest passenger vehicle. It’s a decent seller, with 37,422 units moved YTD, Subaru reports. But it can’t compete with the beloved Kia Telluride.
Looking forward: Kia’s commanding sales lead
Kia introduced the Telluride in 2019. Since its debut, this three-row midsize SUV has swept the nation as a stylish, versatile family hauler. The Subaru Ascent can’t compete, selling about half as many units as the Kia SUV.
The award-winning Telluride gets high remarks across the board from automotive reviewers. Car and Driver gives it a perfect 10 out of 10, and Edmunds ranks it No. 1 out of 13 models in the segment. Starting at only $37,355, this SUV packs impressive driving capability and technology into an upscale package.
Until Subaru refreshes its lineup and offers a more competitive three-row midsize and sedans, catching up to Kia will be challenging.