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Kia has seemingly always gotten a bum rap when it comes to the build quality and reliability of its vehicles. If you remember some of the Kia vehicles from the 90s and early 2000s – like the Sephia, Rondo, and the Spectra – then you’ll remember why. If not, then just know that some of the cars in Kia’s not-too-distant history weren’t really that good. However, the brand has made massive changes in the past decade, but does that mean that Kia now builds reliable cars?

Kia reliability has come a long way

A dark green 2022 Kia Sorento splashing across a river.
2022 Kia Sorento | Kia

Kia’s entry into the market 30 years ago wasn’t exactly welcomed with warm hearts and open arms by the public. It wasn’t so much that the South Korean brand wasn’t welcomed, it was mainly due to the fact that it built cheap cars “that were poorly manufactured,” according to The Drive. Sadly, compared to competitors like Honda and Toyota, Kia’s cars were also subpar, until recently.

Nowadays, Kia’s vehicles are very reliable According to Repair Pal, Kia scored a reliability rating of 4 out of 5 it ranks third out of the 32 car brands they surveyed. Motor1 also reports that Kia has won a number of JD Power awards in the recent past. In fact, for 2020, four Kia models – the Soul, Forte, Sorento, and Sedona – each won the Highest Quality award.

Kia vehicles are also backed by a stellar warranty

2022 Kia Telluride Interior
2022 Kia Telluride Interior | Kia

In addition to the accolades that Kia’s vehicles have received, they are also backed by an excellent warranty. Every new Kia vehicle is covered by:

  • 5-year/60,000-mile bumper-to-bumper warranty
  • 10-year/100,000-mile powertrain warranty
  • 5-year/100,000-mile anti-perforation warranty
  • 5-year/60,000-mile roadside assistance

That’s a lot of coverage, so any prospective Kia buyers can rest assured that they’re getting a good product that the manufacturer will cover during the time of ownership. In the case that the warranty doesn’t cover any of the needed repairs, then every vehicle in Kia’s lineup will cost an average of $500 or less per year in repairs.

Kia Model Average Annual Repair Cost
Kia Rio $434
Kia Soul$437
Kia Forte$451
Kia Sportage $462
Kia Optima$471
Kia Sedona$495
Kia Sorento$533
Kia K9$697
The average annual repair cost for each Kia model | Repair Pal

Which Kia car is the most reliable?

2022 Kia Rio in blue
2022 Kia Rio | Kia

According to Repair Pal’s average annual cost of repairs, the Kia Rio, Soul, and Forte are the cheapest to repair, but that doesn’t necessarily denote reliability. On that note, The Drive listed the Kia Optima, Kia Telluride, and Kia Sportage as the most reliable models to own. However, the publication does recommend staying away from the first and second generations of the Optima as the newer models had fewer owner complaints.

It’s OK to buy a Kia

While the thought of buying a Kia vehicle might seem foreign to some shoppers, it would behoove them to give the South Korean brand a look. Many of the models that are in Kia’s current lineup, like the Sorento and Telluride, have proven that they can go toe-to-toe with their Japanese rivals and win customers over. While other cars, like the K5 and the Niro, are up and comers that deserve to be on shopper’s radars.

Considering Kia’s leaps in reliability and build quality – not to mention its fantastic warranty – we would tell anyone in the market for a new vehicle that it’s OK to buy a Kia. Its vehicles aren’t built like they used to be.


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