Which Is Better: Kia or Hyundai?


Jul 16th, 2021

Which Is Better: Kia or Hyundai?

Hyundai and Kia are two different automobile brands from South Korea, but both are currently performing well in the Australian market. 

Many models in the Hyundai lineup share the same engines with their counterpart in the Kia range – so, are they equals? If not, which brand is better? Let’s put it this way: The two brands target different market segments. Hyundai models have a more mature and tranquil design, while their Kia siblings project a more exciting and youthful image. 

However, the devil is in the details as they say, so let’s dive more deeply into the issue of Kia vs Hyundai

The First Hyundai and Kia Models in Australia

Hyundai Excel was the first to arrive in the country in 1986 at a sticker price of $9,990. A decade later, Kia came up with its line of passenger cars, starting with the Mentor hatchback and Sportage SUVs. We are strictly speaking about cars here, but if we consider light commercial vehicles, the Kia Ceres light truck came a few years before the Mentor. The Ceres hit Aussie soil in 1992 with its 2.2-litre diesel engine. 

When Kia, the second-largest car company in South Korea, faced bankruptcy in 1998, Hyundai Motor Group secured a 51 per cent stake in the company. Kia is now an affiliate brand or a subsidiary of the Hyundai Motor Group.

If they are the same company, why ask Kia vs Hyundai?

Hyundai owns only part of Kia, so it is not entirely correct to refer both to be one and the same. Still, both brands share some under-the-skin mechanical components, including chassis, powertrain and infotainment technologies, except Kia’s UVO system. 

A closer look at the Australian automotive market shows that Kia sales in Australia have increased by up to 28,000 units, while Hyundai sales took a dip by about 16,000 in the past five years. This explains why Kia became Australia's third most popular brand in May 2021, while Hyundai settled with sixth place. 

The range of models they produce shows the difference between their target consumers. Kia specialises in minivans, sedans, electric vehicles, and hybrid vehicles. Hyundai has a larger selection of vehicles than Kia, and its range consists of sedans, hatchbacks, minivans, SUVs, electric, hybrid and fuel cells variants. 

Do Kia and Hyundai Share the Same Engines?

Kia uses its own engines in most of its models, like Kia Soul and the 2019 Kia Optima trims, but many of its models share the same engines with Hyundai models. Here is a list of engines shared by Kia and Hyundai cars.

  • The Gamma G4FA engines are used in the Kia Rio, Kia Ceed, and Hyundai i20.
  • The Gamma MPI/GDI/T-GDI engines are used in the Hyundai Accent, Kia Ceed, and Kia Rio.
  • The Theta MFI/GDI Turbo engines are used in the Kia Sorento, Hyundai Sonata, and Kia Stinger.
  • The Lambda MPI/DGI/T-GDI engines are used by Hyundai Santa Fe and Kia Stinger alike.
  • The Kappa G3LA/G3LC engines are used in Hyundai’s Kona and i20, Kia’s Ceed and Stonic.
  • The Kappa G4LD engines are used in the Hyundai i30, Kia Ceed, and Hyundai Elantra.
  • The D4HB engines are used by Hyundai Santa Fe and Kia Sorento.

How do Kia and Hyundai cars differ?

Though a sister concern of Hyundai Motors, Kia stands out due to its innovative design language and striking features that specifically targets a larger audience in the Australian automotive market. 

Some major differences can be found in the interior and exterior design and the final mechanical tuning done by both brands, which separates the two. Hyundai models are optimised to feel more mature and tranquil. On the other hand, Kia likes to give a youthful and sportier image to their models. Yes, the best father-son duo in the automobile industry.

Kia’s constantly innovating tech

Kia does a lot of homework on its Sportage line, like constantly innovating on tech, new turbo engines and more space for its MY 2022. The GT-Line also had witnessed some major changes. The more evident features are side sills, unique bumpers, and a distinctive curved roof rack for the adventure-loving without conceding urban luxury. 

There are even some rumours about an ‘electronic-control suspension’, the first of its kind to be used in one of its upcoming models. The UVO system featured in Kia cars allows you to connect your mobile device via Bluetooth. Hyundai also offers a similar option called Blue Link on the interior console.

Kia vs Hyundai Quality

Kia was ranked first by the industry by JD Power in the 2020 US Initial Quality Study (IQS), with a reported 136 problems per 100 vehicles (136PP100). According to a report, Kia also became the number one mass-market automotive brand for the sixth consecutive year. 

Also, Kia has secured the third position in JD Power 2021 US Vehicle Dependability Study with only 97 Problems Per 100 (97PP100), while Hyundai settles for a seventh position with 101 Problems Per 100 (101PP100). 

Although the life expectancy of both Kia and Hyundai models can vary based on the model and year of production, a general estimate is about 200,000 miles. Most of that expected lifespan is determined by the build quality and maintenance of the car.

Reliability is another important aspect to consider before making such an important decision. Both Kia and Hyundai are known to deliver the best safety features. Kia has a slight upper hand in this range of passive and active safety features when compared with Hyundai. Let’s see where Kia cars outperform Hyundai cars in terms of safety.

  • Electronic stability control and traction control system
  • Rollover mitigation and vehicle stability management system
  • Cornering brake control and electronic brake-force distribution
  • Brake assist system and hill start assist control
  • Lower anchors and tethers for kids
  • Tyre pressure monitoring system
  • Front and rear crumple zones

Kia vs Hyundai Warranty

Hyundai was the first mainstream car brand to launch a 5-year warranty/unlimited KM in Australia in 1999. Later in 2014, Kia came first among the list of Top 10 brands to adopt a 7-year warranty/unlimited KM. This was a game-changer in the Australian automobile market. 

Although Kia and Hyundai cars have identical parts and features, they offer different prices and warranties. 

Hyundai’s EV Li-ion batteries are covered with an 8-year/160,000-km warranty, while Kia EV batteries have a 2-year warranty/unlimited-km in them.

Both Kia and Hyundai offer long-lasting basic warranties, but Kia has something more to offer, including towing and 8 years of roadside assistance (subject to servicing requirements). 

Which Car Brand Has a Higher Resale Value – Kia or Hyundai?

Throughout this article, Kia had overtaken Hyundai, whether it be in its design, quality and reliability. But this time, Hyundai has the upper hand in terms of resale value - the difference between the purchase price and the resale value at a given time.

Observing and comparing the resale value of some popular Hyundai and Kia models in the Australian market, we see that Hyundai cars have a slightly better resale value than Kia cars. 

Of course, aside from make and model, many other factors affect the resale value of cars. Hyundai vehicles generally have a 78%-79% resale value, 5 years upon original purchase, compared to Kia models, which fetch a slightly lower resale tag 70%-72% of their original sticker price.   


Kia has become one of Australia's most valuable mainstream brands, and it won’t stop innovating. So, you can expect new models with more sporty looks and appeal. 

Meanwhile, its parent company Hyundai Motors Group continues to be a trustworthy brand and is known for the high resale value of most its models.

Whichever of the two brands you choose will make you a winner for the different value-offerings they bring. The thing is to decide which qualities are more important to you, and choose the brand that corresponds to what you value most.

By Sooraj Sj