Amidst the growing trend of swoopy design lines and excessive cladding that has gripped Japanese automotive manufacturers in recent years, Kia's cars seem simple in comparison. With clean lines, futuristic profiles, and little in the way of excess, Kia models like the Optima and Forte not only avoid poseur wings and air inlets, they just seem classy for their price point.
Part of the reason Kia has enjoyed success in recent years can be directly tied to the brand poaching many design and engineering specialists from German brands. Their warranty also stands out in advertising efforts. But all is not as it seems for Kia and, just like so many other large companies, their entire lineup includes plenty of questionable decisions alongside the few strong points.
Keep scrolling for 15 dumb things about Kias everyone just ignores.
15 Kia And Hyundai
Most drivers know that Kia and Hyundai both hail from South Korea. Few, however, realize how closely connected the two companies truly are. In fact, the Hyundai Motor Group is the largest automotive manufacturer in the world and purchased 51% of Kia Motors back in 1998, while Kia also owns shares of multiple other Hyundai subsidiaries.
14 Stinger GT
The escalating power wars in Detroit have dominated automotive headlines for the last few years, though the Kia Stinger GT was able to earn plenty of attention when it debuted as a sports sedan from the South Korean manufacturer. But despite all the external doodads and a twin-turbocharged V6 sending power to all four wheels, the Stinger GT isn't about sporty driving and doesn't quite live up to the Gran Turismo label, either.
13 Kia's Fake Jeep
Kia manufactures military vehicles under the guise of subsidiary Kia Defense. And they even released the Kia Retona, which was a military jeep converted to civilian use. But for a country with such strategic importance and a multitude of pressing defense concerns, including from China and North Korea, South Korea's investment in Kia's Kaiser jeep ripoff seems way out of date.
12 Needs A Little Sports Car
Kia has definitely stepped their game up in recent years, having steadily poached design and engineering genius from German manufacturers. The brand has moved towards clean, stark lines paired with a bit of luxury and an impressive warranty, plus the aggressive Stinger GT. But where they really fall short is in the small sports car department.
The Kia Sportage may be the first Kia that most Americans remember seeing on the streets. It was a tiny little SUV that could be had with four-wheel drive and a range of unimpressive engine options. Cheaper than cheap, the Sportage was an economy SUV before SUVs truly took off. But seeing one still driving today is rare, especially since the modern version is almost unrecognizable compared to its predecessor.
10 That Warranty
Speaking of Kia's warranty, which many owners love to tout as a great reason for making a purchase from the company, the fine print is a little disappointing. All the advertising makes the 10-year/100,000-mile figures sound great. In reality, those numbers only applied to very limited powertrain coverage, while the rest of the car is only covered to a more standard 5-year/60,000-mile limit.
9 So Cheap
In today's era of international automotive production, there are simply very few ways to cut corners and still earn the ability to sell cars in the United States. Sure, we don't get all the absurd knockoffs from China and India, but there's still a reason Kia is able to sell their cars so cheap. Namely, they're cheap to build, underpowered, and simple.
8 Peter Schreyer
Peter Schreyer will go down in automotive history as part of the team that designed the legendary Audi TT, one of the most enduring concept cars ever made. But he was then poached by Kia, which is a major reason why the brand's cars now lead the pack in terms of simple lines and clean design. Too bad Audi has gone the opposite route and started adding unnecessary swoops galore.
7 Luc Donckerwolke
Another design executive that Kia poached from VAG is Luc Donckerwolke, the man who designed the Lamborghini Gallardo and Murcielago, as well as a few Bentley and Audi models. Donckerwolke recently followed Schreyer up the chain of executives at Kia, but is he disappointed that his designs aren't met with the same kind of hardcore engineering as in his past?
6 Kia EV
Every automotive manufacturer needs to be on notice that electric vehicles are coming in a big way. With Tesla taking over the market, while everyone else is struggling to keep up, brands like Kia need to recognize their opportunity. Unfortunately, it makes no sense that Kia hasn't added a few EV models to their lineup, since their low price point would undoubtedly attract a significant market share.
5 Kia Rio
The Kia Rio is the manufacturer's entry-level model, coming both in a sedan and hatchback layout. At its low price point, the Rio's exterior design—which is, to be fair, not too bad—doesn't match the interior or the powertrain. Kia would do themselves a serious favor to up the Rio's output and turn it into a legit hot hatch to compete with the likes of Volkswagen.
Anyone who buys a Kia isn't doing so because they're looking to splurge; they're buying a Kia to save money on an economy car that can get them from here to there without fanfare. But anyone buying a Kia on the secondhand market is taking things one step further, hoping to spend as little money as humanly possible because these cars just don't hold their value at all.
Kia's latest venture into automotive realms that they haven't previously explored is the full-size Telluride SUV. But just giving an SUV a name like Telluride, the famous Colorado town that is home to an uber-exclusive film festival, doesn't make it rugged. And it's hard to find any info about the active center differential all the advertisements brag about, too.
2 LeBron and His K900
Every automotive manufacturer would love to have a spokesman like LeBron James on their team. LeBron is a rock-solid, scandal-free celebrity and, with his enormous frame, a great way to advertise that Kia's K900 luxury sedan can fit anyone in comfort. But at the same time, Kia isn't fooling anyone into thinking LeBron actually cruises around in one of their cars.
1 That Slogan
Kia's rise over the last decade or so has been impressive, without a doubt. But the company still has a chip on their shoulder that is perfectly summed up in the slogan, "The Power to Surprise." The phrase only serves to remind potential buyers that Kia's cars continue to be cheap, economical commuters, rather than the future-facing products Kia wants them to think about.
Sources: Jalopnik, Wikipedia, and Car and Driver.