In years past, Kia would often find itself toward the bottom half of the ‘best of’ vehicle lists. It’s not for lack of trying; the Korean automaker built quality vehicles but couldn’t seem to get the edge on the aggressive designs of competitors within the various spaces. Kia cars continued to be popular for economy buyers. But the complaints and dissatisfaction mounted. And then, Kia began to find its groove.
The company’s contenders for compact, subcompact, and midsize cars are now taking their places toward the top of the review lists. And the company now has strong introductions on the SUV stage as well. Consumer perception has changed. So much so, you might not regret buying one.
The reputation of Kia models
In its early years, Kia found itself a routine fixture at the bottom of the J.D. Power and Consumer Reports lists. And for many, it was the rental car you hoped you didn’t get stuck with at the rental car retailer. During the early 2000s, Kia ranked 27th and 30th based on vehicle owners’ complaints.
But they were affordable to buy, and people kept giving the cars a chance. The Korean automaker solidified its reputation for being cheap and not much else.
Kia learned its lesson and made improvements
With its corporate cousins, Hyundai and Genesis, Kia is making its way to the top of the review lists and into the garages of American car buyers. In a 2018 review, Popular Mechanics shared insight from then CEO of Valient Market Research, Scott Upham.
Upham spent decades following the Korean automotive movement and said that despite the dismal performance of the first wave of Kia vehicles, Kia began making a comeback. With significant investment, like more than a billion dollars in researching vehicle quality, Kia’s image began shifting with the increased reliability of its cars.
Taking to the Reddit threads, commenters say they agree their impressions of Kia have improved and are generally positive. One points out that the vehicles are becoming more interesting and still budget-friendly. Another suggests Kia has surpassed even Hyundai in the hierarchy of brands.
The 2020 lineup of vehicles for Kia is getting some recognition. In fact, many of the car models alone are landing in the top five recommendations for U.S. News reviews. The No. 1 ranked Optima, No. 4 ranked Forte, and No. 2 ranked Rio are each representing the badge on the various best of class lists. These cars are competitive in terms of safety, reliability, fuel economy, and cost of ownership.
The SUVs are impressive now too
The Sportage of the early 2000s may not have been entirely reliable, but with enhanced design and performance, today’s Sportage is a fun and comparable option for its class. If you want a third row, Kia can accommodate with its wildly popular Telluride.
Consumers love their spunky Kia Soul models, and the family-favorite Sorento is gaining ground, too. Changing it up, the automaker also now offers the well-received Seltos and Niro models should you need a different variation from the already successful lineup.
You won’t regret buying one today
Kia is proving to be a true contender in the car and SUV segments today. The powertrains are reliable. The safety equipment is robust. The designs are stylish and modern. The Korean automaker continues to expand and refresh its family of vehicles, based on the preferences of today’s car buyers. Owner satisfaction continues to improve as well. That’s an indication that anyone buying a new Kia in 2020 probably won’t regret it.
Whether you want the sporty Stinger or need more of a more fuel-efficient Optima, Kia is worth a look. You’ll still enjoy the hefty warranty coverages and competitive MSRPs, but you might even find yourself liking the Kia brand better than you expected.