Ten years and 100,000 miles. That’s the powertrain warranty that Kia has proudly advertised for years. It is a fully transferable warranty, which says a lot about what Kia thinks about the reliability of its cars, crossovers, and minivans. It also means a pre-owned Kia could be a smart choice.
Though Kia may have started out as a purely economy brand in the American market, it has slowly elevated its game in build quality and style. Combine those two elements with the ability to offer lots of standard and available features at a competitive price, and any corner of the Kia lineup becomes a wise investment.
Let’s quickly talk about that warranty. It’s 10 years and 100,000 miles, which means any vehicle we mention today could still be well under its limits. If you buy a used Kia you’ll have at least several years and several thousand miles to go while you’re still covered under the warranty.
What you should know about the warranty for these Kia models is that it is transferable only once. If you are the second owner, you can take advantage of the warranty. If you are buying a used Kia off a lease, you can take advantage of it as well. But if you are the second owner after the lease, you won’t be able to enjoy any remaining years or miles on the warranty. That said, many certified pre-owned models are available with an extended powertrain warranty. These vary in years and models depending on the condition of the vehicle.
Once a seller of basic economy cars, Kia has since evolved to include large sedans, minivans, and crossovers of exceptional quality. One of the most groundbreaking Kia models was the Soul. The arrival of this boxy-yet-useful hatch suggested that Kia was to be taken seriously as an automaker. In fact, the Soul was our 2016 Best Compact Car for Families and our Best Hatchback for Families.
Introduced for the 2010 model year, the Soul shares a platform with the Hyundai Accent. Despite that compact DNA, the Soul makes the most of its space with an upright, boxy layout, and bold, instantly recognizable features.
The first generation of the Soul spans from 2010 to 2013, but it is the 2011 model that scores the highest of its first generation, and places fourth out of almost 30 different hatches sold in 2011 in U.S. News rankings.
The upright shape of the Soul results in ample head and legroom, plenty of cargo space, and solid sight lines that make it easy to park. With the rear seats folded, the Soul has 53.4 cubic feet of cargo space.
If you move up to 2013, you get the last model before the redesign, and it adds Bluetooth connectivity and steering wheel mounted audio controls as standard features. This model is lauded for lots of standard and available features, and despite falling in hatchback rankings, it scores very well in cost-to-own, likely on the back of Kia’s reliability.
In 2014, the Soul was redesigned, with a roomy, well-built interior with supportive seats. There is ample cargo space, and a long list of standard and available features. On the ’14 and up models, passenger volume grows to 61.3 cubic feet, making the Soul as practical as it is wildly styled.
If you are looking for a more conventional compact car, but one that still has head-turning looks, the third-generation Kia Rio is another smart buy. Solid cabin and trunk space helped the Rio place fifth out of 36 compact hatches in 2014, its highest-scoring model year.
It is also one of the top-placing used cars from 2014 in U.S. News and World Report’s used car rankings, and part of the credit can go to easy-to-use controls, and long list of standard features. Even the base Rio comes with satellite radio, USB and auxiliary audio outlets, and steering wheel mounted audio controls. Optional features include push-button start, navigation, backup camera, and UVO, Kia’s proprietary infotainment system. In addition to easy navigation, UVO features helpful voice-activated controls.
If you want something with a more conventional look, the Kia Forte lineup offers handsome styling, and delivers small-car practicality. The Forte arrived in 2010 and immediately earned high scores. This five-passenger small car provides solid rear seat room and cargo space, a host of standard features, and excellent safety ratings.
The well-made interior is outfitted with standard items such as Bluetooth, USB port, and satellite radio. This vehicle scored its highest in 2010 and 2013 (the last year before the Forte was redesigned).
The same year the Forte was introduced, the third generation of the Kia Sportage arrived. Aside from the discontinued Sephia, the Sportage is the oldest member of the Kia lineup, going on sale in 1993. Since then, the Sportage has grown into a sophisticated crossover, with sharp styling and a well-equipped stylish cabin.
The strongest scoring Sportage is the 2012. This model year received a revised suspension and improved insulation to reduce cabin noise. These models also deliver a combination of fun and practicality, with an energetic optional turbocharged engine and really strong safety scores. About the only complaint is with rearward visibility, obstructed by large C-pillars and three rear headrests blocking a small rear window.
While the Sportage is plenty spacious, many growing families cannot do without a minivan. And the affordability of used car prices make a vehicle like a certified pre owned Kia Sedona a smart choice for sure. In fact, the 2010, Sedona is the highest scoring vehicle on this list, with an overall score of 8.9, and placing second out of all minivans in 2010.
Though it has dull exterior styling and interior materials could be nicer, the Sedona has substance where it counts. In addition to having truly great safety ratings, the Sedona has a long list of standard safety features (seeing a trend here?). So while the Sedona might not be terribly exciting inside or out, practicality abounds.
If you want the style on the same level as the substance, you’ll have to look to one of Kia’s newer lineup additions. The 2014 Kia Cadenza was a whole new step for the Korean automaker, entering the large, near-luxury sedan market. The Cadenza is a handsome sedan, with spacious seating, top-notch interior quality, and easy-to-use controls, something that’s not always a given among luxury vehicles.
What’s more, the Cadenza has composed handling that will make this big sedan as fun to drive on the open road, as it will be relaxing to be stuck in traffic with.