Kia vs. Toyota: Which Is More Reliable?

Kia vs Toyota Reliability

When pitting Kia against Toyota in the reliability arena, we're exploring more than just brand prestige; we're diving into what longevity and dependability mean for everyday drivers.

This post will dissect the reliability records of Kia and Toyota, moving beyond surface-level perceptions to understand the real-world performance and durability of their vehicles.

We'll scrutinize data on longevity, common repair issues, and consumer satisfaction to offer a fresh and comprehensive viewpoint.

By the end of this exploration, you'll have a clearer picture of whether Kia or Toyota holds the crown for reliability, aiding your decision in choosing a vehicle that's not just a mode of transport but a trusted companion on the road.

Kia Vs. Toyota Reliability

Modern, luxury
Plain, and Boring
Repair and Maintenance Cost
Kia cars last up to 200,000-250,000 miles with an average lifespan of 13-17 years.
Toyota cars can last between 150,000 to 200,000 miles, with an average lifespan of 13-17 years.
Engine and Performance
Gas Mileage

Which is Better: Kia or Toyota?

According to Repairpal, Kia has a reliability rating of 4.0/5.0, ranking 3rd out of 32 cars. Although Toyota also has a reliability rating of 4.0/5.0, it is ranked 8th out of 32 car brands. The reliability of Kia vs. Toyota cars boils down to which year of production you are buying.

Toyota maintained an unbeatable level of reliability in the early years. This makes most of its older cars some of the most reliable cars in the industry.

On the other hand, it is not advisable to buy a Kia model from old years. You will either be battling with the engine, transmission, brake problems, or even software glitches. Kia just got better with reliability, while Toyota has always ridden on the waves of reputation; the car with the amazing build quality.

For Toyota, there is no need to prove a point. They have some of the best cars in all categories, they only need to maintain the standard. For Kia, there is a need to improve and produce better cars that wouldn’t just last long but would compete and beat “the big boys” in the car industry.

This motivation has led Kia to redefine its designs, producing cars that are beautiful and not boring to drive. The fuel efficiency of Kia cars is better than Toyota, and you will get better power delivery and drive performance. However, Kia is still battling to match Toyota’s standards in safety. This is seen in the fewer Kia safety awards compared to Toyota.

Kia Vs. Toyota Reliability: Design

We can’t deny that Toyota has amazing build quality and impressive strength, but when it comes to design quality, there is nothing interesting about Toyota cars.

Many things are wrong with Toyota’s designs, and it all looks like the company is not on the move to end its boring designs anytime soon.

Toyota tends to focus more on engineering features and technology, paying less attention to the style and designs of its cars. In 2017, Toyota adopted a new motto, “A Raku Tan,” which means safe, reliable, simple, fun, exciting, and comfortable.

While we expect massive changes in new Toyota cars, as seen in new Toyota Camrys, we must mention that Kia cars have better designs. The grilles, ergonomics, layouts, interface, and cargo space are reasons to love a Kia car at first sight. Their cars are designed with comfort in mind and the need to make a statement.

Kia is gradually becoming a widely accepted luxury brand, so we didn’t expect less from their designs. With the Kia designs, you are not only getting beauty but also strength and durability.

For instance: who would imagine that the 2021 Kia Seltos has a build strength of up to 61% advanced high-strength steel? This is considering how cheap Kia cars are.

Although Kia has seen many recalls and failures in their designs, lately, they’ve optimized torsional rigidity, reduced body weight, strength against impacts, and powertrain and drivetrain built to last.

Toyota does it well with engineering designs, the integration of the TQM system, Jidoka, and Kaizen. However, there is a need to release cars that can make a statement on the road.

Winner: Kia

Kia Vs. Toyota Reliability: Repair and Maintenance Cost

It is cheaper to maintain a Toyota car than a Kia. You will need an average annual cost of $474 to repair and maintain your Kia car for a year. This is compared to Toyota, where you need only $441 to repair and maintain.

You must understand that both car brands have a cost of ownership that is cheaper than the $652 attainable across all models. You must also understand that even though Toyota has a cheaper cost of repairs and maintenance than Kia, with a Kia car, you will visit the mechanic less.

Kia has a 10% chance of major repairs and a 0.2 chance of visiting a serviceman for minor repairs. This is better than Toyota, which has a 12% chance of major repairs and a 0.3 chance of minor repairs.

On JD Power’s 2020 US Initial quality, Kia ranked no. 1 for six consecutive years with only 136 problems per 100 cars.

Winner: Toyota

Kia Vs. Toyota Reliability: Durability

Durability goes beyond just telling you that Kia cars can last up to 200,000-250,000 miles with an average lifespan of 13-17 years, and Toyota cars last between 150,000 to 200,000 miles, with an average lifespan of 13-17 years.

We must consider the warranty periods, engineering philosophies, and overall strength of the car.

The Toyota brand has amazing engineering principles; Kaizen, TQM, and Jidoka. These principles optimize quality over quantity, engineering, and through testing. Unlike other brands, Toyota will never release a car with unverified systems.

While it is true that Kia doesn’t have similar engineering structures as Toyota, they make up for what they have with an extended warranty, more steel-tensile strength, and an improved engine. With Kia cars, you have less chance of worrying about frequent major or minor repairs.

Winner: Kia

Kia Vs. Toyota Reliability: Engine and Performance

Although Kia still has a long way to go with providing stable engines that cover all car categories, it is important to note that Kia’s engines deliver more horsepower and speed/torque than Toyota cars.

The Kia Forte is cheaper than the Toyota Corolla, yet the Forte achieves more speed, better fuel economy, and an improved driving experience.

Toyota beats the industry in engine manufacturing by producing underpowered cars. This reduces the level of stress on the car. While Toyota aims for dependability, Kia engines are tuned to achieve fast speed and power.

So, if you need an engine with fewer worries, you should choose Toyota engines, but if your concern is hitting the road with so much speed, you should choose a Kia.

Winner: Both

Kia Vs. Toyota Reliability: Safety and Technology

Unlike other car brands, Toyota doesn’t take pleasure in frequently releasing technology packages. The Toyota safety sense, which is Toyota’s safety package, was launched in March 2015.

There was an upgrade to the safety sense 2.0 in 2018, with expectations that the third generation of Toyota’s technology package will be rolled out in 2023; Toyota safety sense 3.0.

This is compared to Kia, which is always updating its technology package and even launching the new LX technology package. However, technology and its effects on safety are not always in harmony. Most times, in the bid to match the demands of the latest tech, most car manufacturers release systems that are not reliable.

Toyota understands this, so they take their time to design before execution. While it is obvious that you can get all the latest tech on Kia cars, Toyota has a higher safety rating.

Winner: Both

Kia Vs. Toyota Reliability: Gas Mileage

Kia offers a better fuel-efficient system than Toyota. When you put Kia and Toyota models on the same scale as Toyota, there are more Kia cars with better fuel economy.

Although there are Toyota cars with great fuel economy, like the Toyota Yaris, Toyota Prius, and the Toyota Corolla Hybrid, you can expect more fuel efficiency from Kia.

Some of the most fuel-efficient Kia cars include

  • Kia Sorento
  • Kia Forte
  • Kia Niro
  • Kia Soul
  • Kia Optima

Winner: Kia

Kia Vs. Toyota: Popular Models

Here are how a few of Kia and Toyota's most popular vehicles compare to their similar counterparts.

Kia Optima Vs. Toyota Camry

The two popular 4-door, midsize sedans are comparable in terms of cost, safety ratings, and features. Both vehicles come in traditional combustion engine and hybrid options.

The Camry's annual repair costs of $388 beat out the Optima's average of $471, but the Optima's slightly larger interior and trunk space make it a contender here.

Due to the lower repair cost and general recognition as one of the most reliable cars on the market of the Camry, the Camry wins this round.

Winner: Toyota Camry

Kia Sportage Vs. Toyota Rav4

Both the Kia Sportage and Toyota Rav4 are affordable SUVs that compare closely in cost, reliability, and safety ratings.

The comfort and slightly more luxurious interior stand out in the Sportage while the fuel efficiency and lower cost for repairs make the Rav4 appealing to many.

Winner: Kia Sportage

Kia Forte Vs. Toyota Corolla

Once again, the Forte and Corolla are nearly identical in terms of reliability and safety ratings.

In this battle, the Forte costs around $3,000 less and is available in a stick, while the Corolla offers a hatchback  that the Forte 9in the US market) does not as well as ever so slightly better gas mileage.

Nevertheless, the cost savings with the Forte are nothing to sneeze at, so it wins this round.

Winner: Kia Forte


The comparison between Kia and Toyota reliability can be tricky. Both cars are great and exceptional. There are just a few factors that differentiate the two.

Toyota is not the type of car that defines luxury, nor are they fast enough to compare with any major brand. They offer better safety features and low maintenance costs, but Kia has better fuel efficiency, performance, and design. Your choice between these cars should boil down to what you want in a car.

Frequently Asked Questions

Why are Kia cars so cheap?

There are many controversies surrounding the issue of how cheap Kia cars are. It is misleading to believe that Kia cars are cheap because they use inferior materials. Kia cuts costs and makes its cars cheap by using its foundry, tariff-free imports, and optimizing the use of cheaper materials to drive high-quality designs.

How long will a Toyota last?

Toyota cars can last between 150,000 to 200,000 miles, with an average lifespan of 13-17 years. With proper care, maintenance, and good driving conditions, your Toyota can hit well over 200,000 miles.