Hyundai vs Kia

Hyundai vs Kia

When you're looking for value coupled with beautiful design, two automakers will immediately come to mind: Hyundai and Kia. These two South Korean automakers are at the top of their game, offering some seriously impressive vehicles that compete with the best and most popular models out there. But what's the difference between them?

What Hyundai and Kia Have In Common

First things first: Hyundai and Kia have a shared ownership. When Kia suffered bankruptcy more than a decade ago, Hyundai took partial ownership of Kia in order to help them survive a financial crisis. What that means for the cars that you see on a Hyundai or a Kia dealership lot is that they share the same body structure in many of their models. If you ask Kia and Hyundai leaders, though, they'll acknowledge that they share ownership and structures but will quickly say that they are still very competitive.

Where Hyundai and Kia Are Different

To put it more simply, assuming that Hyundai and Kia are the same because their basic structures and mechanics are the same is like assuming that one house is the same as another simply because they have the same floor plan. Anyone who's bought a house knows that's absolutely not true.


In terms of design, Hyundai and Kia are different despite their basic structure being the same. Hyundai's designs tend to focus on curves and luxury, while Kia focuses on sportier, cutting-edge designs. Case in point: the 2018 Hyundai Santa Fe Sport and the 2018 Kia Sportage. If you put them side-by-side, you'll see massive differences in the front-end design, one conservative and sedate and the other angular and youthful. The danger in the youthful approach is that it doesn't always work. Some critics don't love the bug-eyed look of the Kia Sportage, a risky move that may alienate some buyers. The more conservative, curvy approach of the Santa Fe Sport doesn't take that same risk and, as a result, stays timeless.


If Hyundai is focusing on curves, luxury, and conservative design, you can bet they're focusing on capturing the attention of established buyers. The Hyundai buyer is looking for luxury and quality combined with value, not necessarily the most innovative design or cutting edge technology package. Kia, on the other hand, is focusing on younger buyers who want a vehicle that stands out from the crowd but that can also fit their smaller budget.


Hyundai's Blue Link system is driver-focused, integrating with smartphones and wearable tech to create a more convenient driving experience. Kia's UVO system is vehicle- and performance-focused, helping drivers maximize how well their vehicle performs and keeping up-to-date on maintenance issues. While the Kia also allows for integration and driver convenience features, the focus on performance rather than driver experience is distinct from Hyundai's.

2018 Santa Fe Sport vs Kia Sorento

The Bottom Line

Cars by both Hyundai and Kia are smart, reliable, and economical options for drivers who are looking for value and performance. Kia is one of the fastest growing automakers out there, quickly establishing themselves as an automotive force to be reckoned with, while Hyundai continues to build on its reputation as an established, higher-end brand. If you're smart enough to want luxury without paying a premium for it, Hyundai is your best bet.