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Kia and Chevy seem like pretty different automakers on paper. Kia Motors is a South Korean automaker which began 73 years ago in 1944. Chevrolet is an American automaker that’s 106 year old. Also, Chevrolet is known for their legendary trucks and performance vehicles, like the Silverado, Camaro and Corvette, and Kia doesn’t really even have a “legendary” model in the U.S. and that’s because Kia wasn’t even incorporated in the U.S. until 1992.
But over the years, both automakers have started going in similar directions and in 2018 that couldn’t be more apparent. Kia and Chevy have strong 2018 model year lineups that consist of a lot of models in different car classes, and most of their models are actually similarly ranked and those rankings are above average in a number of studies, including J.D. Power studies and U.S. News and World Report segment lists.
In fact this year, Chevy and Kia were only separated by 2 points in overall scores in the 2018 J.D. Power Vehicle Dependability Study (VDS) and in the 2017 J.D. Power Initial Quality Study (IQS) Kia had five models that earned top spots in their class and Chevy had three models. Furthermore, Kia was named Highest in Initial Quality in the 2017 J.D. Power IQS, and Chevy had the third best score (not including luxury brands).
There are a lot of similarities between both brands in the small car category. In the U.S. News and World Report’s list of Best Small Cars, there are 3 Kia models and 3 Chevy models ranked in the top 10. The list ranks more than 35 models, but the Kia Soul, Kia Rio, Kia Forte, Chevy Sonic, Chevy Cruze and Chevy Bolt EV are all ranked in the top ten.
Additionally, the Kia Rio had the best score in the 2018 J.D. Power VDS in the small car segment and the Chevy Sonic ranked second, and the Sonic actually ranked highest in the 2017 J.D. Power IQS. Also, the Kia Forte ranked highest in the compact car segment in the 2017 J.D. Power IQS, and the Chevy Cruze was ranked second.
Similarities in model quality are just as apparent in U.S. News and World Report’s list of midsize cars. The Chevy Malibu has a score of 8.7 out of ten, and the Kia Optima’s score is just slightly lower with its rating of 8.6. Additionally, both the Chevy Malibu and Kia Optima are available as hybrid models (the Chevy Malibu Hybrid and the Kia Optima Hybrid) and both of those models were also ranked in the top 10.
Things are just as similar between Chevy and Kia when it comes to SUVs as well. In the compact SUV class, the 2018 Kia Sportage is rated with a score of 8.3 out of ten, and the 2018 Chevy Equinox is just a hair below it with a score of 8.2 out of ten. In the subcompact SUV class the Kia Niro has a score of 7.8 and the Chevy Trax has a score of 7.5.
While Kia and Chevy aren’t competitors when it comes to trucks, and we don’t see that being a segment of any interest to Kia, there is definitely a lot of room for competition in other car classes in the next few years. For instance, Kia recently introduced the all-new 2018 Kia Stinger, and it is an already an award-winning performance vehicle, so it could be just a matter of time before it is seen as a competitor with the Chevy Camaro or Corvette. Furthermore, Kia and Chevy have been focusing on vehicles powered by alternative fuels, so we wouldn’t be surprised to see either manufacturer create new models for those classes either.
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