Kia SUV Overview: 6 Models Compared (Past & Present)

Kia, which is from South Korea, has been a well-known car brand for many years for a number of reasons.

Not only have they been known to produce some pretty dependable and amazing vehicles, but their vehicles are sleek, attractive, and on the cutting edge when it comes to safety and features.

Here’s a rundown of their SUV models – past and present.

Remember, we also have a list of the most common problems across the Kia SUVs.

Current Kia SUV Models

The SUVs that Kia currently has on its lineup are:

  • the Kia Seltos,
  • the Kia Telluride,
  • the Kia Sorrento,
  • the Kia Soul,
  • and the Kia Sportage.

Here is an overview of four of the Kia SUVs from the past until the present, compared.

Kia’s Sub-Compact SUVs Over The Years

The Kia Soul is Kia’s smallest SUV, although it’s no less mighty than the others in the Kia line-up. Making its debut in 2010, the Kia Soul has been much-loved by many owners.

The first generation of Kia Souls were from 2010 -2013, and they were considered to be reliable. The Kia Soul model also lasts long.

The Soul’s reliability score was a 39 out of 42, which was quite impressive.

The first generation of Kia Soul’s received 122 complaints, and these complaints were based on annoying and even possibly dangerous mechanical problems.

These problems consisted of: engine failure, the hood unlatching while the vehicle was in motion, clunking noise when turning the steering wheel, and more.

One unique but frustrating and potentially dangerous issue with Kia Soul’s first generation models is that their wires were constructed of soy, which attracted rodents.

Rodents would frequently chew and eat the wires, resulting in numerous problems, even some that could result in the engine catching on fire.

2013 began the Kia Soul’s 2nd generation, and although it underwent numerous fixes and updates to improve safety, functionality, and more, this generation’s Soul’s continued to consist of soy-based wiring. The 2015 Kia Soul had a problem with this, which resulted in a class action lawsuit being filed against Kia.

The 2022 Kia Soul has a few complaints due to issues with:

  • the engine,
  • suspension,
  • and powertrain.

This has led to a number of owners having the ability to deem this Soul’s lemons, and they have been able to receive either compensation or a new car. We have a list here of common problems with the Kia Soul models.

The Kia Soul is often compared to the Honda HR-V, among others, and the Soul often faded a bit in comparison.

Not only did the Soul lack interior space, but it also lacked in comparison to its fiercest competitors because of safety issues as well as overall design.

Kia’s Compact SUVs Over The Years

The Kia Sportage is the compact SUV that has been quite popular throughout its four generations.

Its first generation began in 1997 and ended in 2002, although the Sportage was renewed in 1998, as it had some updates.

The second generation of sportage was from 2005 – 2010. This generation shared a Hyandai Elantra platform. This generation’s Kia Sportage was said to be attractive, and in 2009, the Sportage was named as being one of the most reliable compact SUVs by Consumer Reports.

The second generation Sportage earned a top rating of five stars in crash tests from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

Comparatively, the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety gave this vehicle an “acceptable” rating based on subpar roof strength, which would not provide adequate protection for the front and sides of the vehicle.

Out of all the Sportage models, it was found that the 2012 model received the most complaints. The 2012 Sportage received numerous complaints regarding engine problems.

One especially dangerous problem with this year’s model was that the engine would quit while the vehicle was being driven at high speeds.

Learn more about Kia Sportage problems here. 

If you’re on the market for a brand-new, 2023 Kia Sportage, then you can expect to pay $25,990 – $42,990, which depends on the package that you choose.

When compared to other vehicles in the same class, the Kia Sportage faired pretty well in some categories.

However, the Sportage lacked in other categories. All in all, the Kia Sportage is a sporty and attractive compact SUV that is a great alternative to a Chevy Equinox or Toyota Rav4, for people who prefer Kia vehicles. It’s one of the more serious competitors to the popular Toyota Rav4.

Kia’s Mid-Size SUVs Over The Years

The Kia Sorrento is this manufacturer’s mid-size SUV, and it has been quite popular over its four generations. The first generation was from 2003 – 2010.

This generation received 171 complaints as well as a reliability score of 34 out of 42, which was pretty good. These complaints consisted of issues with the turbo engine, oil leaks, and an unreliable handbrake.

The second generation was for 2011 – 2014, and it received a whopping 499 complaints. It also comes in last place when it comes to reliability.

The numerous complaints were from owners who experienced extreme engine breakdowns, including blown engines, and more.

Some even complained that the doors wouldn’t open from the outside, and that there was a problem with premature rusting of the exterior paint.

The third generation began in 2015 and continued until 2020. This generation received 146 complaints and was ranked 40th out of 42, which was very low.

A brand-new Kia Sorento will cost $36,595 to $40,595, depending on the trim that you opt for.

In comparison to other SUVs in the same category, like the Dodge Durango, Nissan Mirano, and more, the Sorento is a mighty contender that fails in some categories. Overall, the Sorento is a sleek SUV with many amenities that drivers would love.

We have a full list of how fast Kia SUVs depreciate here.

Kia’s Full-Size SUVs Over The Years

Kia’s largest SUV, the Telluride, hasn’t been around for as long as many other SUVs in the same category, as well as Kia SUVs. The Telluride is currently in its 2nd generation, and the 1st generation lasted from 2019 – 2021.

The first generation’s Telluride failed to do as expected due to chip shortages due to the pandemic.

This hurt sales significantly. The first generation Telluride came equipped with a 3.8L Lambda II gasoline V6 engine and an eight-speed automatic transmission.

Four trim levels were offered for this generation:

  • base LX, S,
  • mid-level EX,
  • and top-of-the-line SX
  • with the option of front-wheel or all-wheel.

There have been four complaints about the 1st generation Telluride, regarding the engine overheating as well as the inability to roll down windows while the vehicle is in motion. There have also been issues with the transmission malfunctioning. We have a list of known issues with the Kia Telluride here.

The second generation Telluride was redesigned with many upgrades and introduced in 2021.

The cost of a brand-new Telluride will cost as little as $35,690 and up, depending on the features you’re looking to have in your Telluride.

The Ford Explorer and Dodge Durango are just two competitive vehicles that the Telluride has been compared to. When compared to these and other vehicles in the same category, the Telluride performs quite impressively.

The Telluride has many advanced and high-tech features that make this ride very much sought-after. It has even beaten some of its competitors in certain categories. The Telluride is one of Kia’s best SUVs that is both formidable and dependable.

How Do Kia’s SUVs Compare to the Competition?

We have a full overview of the 0-60 MPH times for ALL Kia SUVs here.

Rav4 back logo

When compared to similar SUVs, such as the Chevy Equinox, the Toyota Rav4, among others, Kia’s SUVs fair quite impressively.

While Kia’s SUVs might fall short in certain categories, they usually make up for it in others.

For instance, when the Kia Sportage is compared to the Chevy Equinox, side-by-side, the Sportage has 181 HP, while the Equinox lags behind with only 170 HP.

Also, when you compare to depreciation in Ford SUVs, or even depreciation on Hyundai SUVs, we see that Kia SUVs last just as well.

However, the Equinox beats the Sportage when it comes to torque, with the Equinox boasting 203 lb ft torque, while the Sportage has only 175 lb ft.

All in all, Kia makes some high-quality SUVs that many owners are proud to own and drive. They’re unique, they have some features that make driving them fun and convenient, and they’re reliable.


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