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Kia Access App Review: Please Try Harder Kia

I am the happy owner of a 2022 Kia Sorento Plug-In Hybrid (PHEV). I truly appreciate the features and capability of this vehicle and considering the pricing of other plug-in, 3 row SUVs that may compete with it, I am completely satisfied with the whole package this vehicle represents, well, except for one thing.


I really don’t like the Kia Access app. In fact, I might go so far as to say I loathe it. I know that Kia is a car company, not a software company. As someone who also works in software development, I also know that making great software requires vision, a deep talent pool and an investment in the people tasked with creating and maintaining it.

I’ve owned 4 vehicles that included smartphone apps that supplement and support the user experience. In fact the whole reason I bought my first smartphone (back in 2010) and paid for a data plan, was so that I could fully utilize all the features of the 2011 Nissan Leaf that I was waiting for, at the time. I am a technologist. I live, breathe, and procrastinate via the apps and devices that are almost always at my fingertips. Kia’s Access app is no more compelling, or useful, or well designed, than the app I had for my Nissan Leaf though. The My Chevrolet app I used for my 2017 Chevy Volt was definitely better; it was always accurate in terms of displaying my remaining range and generally faster/more responsive than Kia’s app. Technically it had a few less features, but those generally did what they were supposed to do and the app was relatively well laid out and had an appealing design.

Here’s a list of all the things I dislike about the Kia Access app:

  • The information it displays when I open it is almost always wrong. I have to refresh the app to get current information about battery charge or range remaining. Even when I do refresh it, it is still usually wrong, telling me I have no charge in my battery when I know that it is fully charged, for example.
  • It is slow, sometimes painfully.
  • It’s not designed or laid out well; it’s basically just a scrollable page with a bunch of buttons spread around on it. It lacks a cohesive, intentional user interface.
  • It doesn’t really do much, or at least it doesn’t do much very well. Ostensibly there are lots of different features, but every time I have tried to use most of them, the app hangs or crashes. Other than the basic functionality of remote start, locking/unlocking my vehicle and a few other things like setting the climate controls, it seems useless.
  • It’s not free.

That last point might be somewhat controversial. I mean it takes significant work to make a good piece of software, why should it be free? I also own a 2018 Tesla Model 3 and the Tesla app is outstanding, brilliant, and especially useful in comparison. It has a futuristic look and feel, it is well crafted, user centric, and comparatively fast. It should be the yardstick all other car companies measure their apps against, in my opinion. There is no extra cost for me to use Tesla’s app and it does more or less all the same things the Kia Access app does. One might say Tesla rolls the cost of their app into the price of their vehicles. OK, that may be true, but since my Kia cost about $12,000 more than my Tesla I’d say Kia should do the same. In 2022, I’m not willing to pay for something that looks and feels like it's someone’s school project from 2007. Kia needs to invest in its software if it wants customers to pay for it.

Have you used the Kia Access app? Have you used other manufacturer’s apps besides those I referenced above? What do you think of Kia’s app compared to others? Would you pay for it? Please leave your comments or questions below.

Screenshot via Kia Access app.

Justin Hart has owned and driven electric vehicles for over 14 years, including a first generation Nissan LEAF, second generation Chevy Volt, Tesla Model 3, an electric bicycle and most recently a Kia Sorento PHEV. He is also an avid SUP rider, poet, photographer and wine lover. He enjoys taking long EV and PHEV road trips to beautiful and serene places with the people he loves. Follow Justin on Twitter for daily KIA EV news coverage.


David (not verified)    September 21, 2022 - 12:55AM

I have a Niro PHEV, and it uses the same app. Like you, I hate hate hate the Kia Access app. I gave it a poor review on the app store about a year ago and they responded that a new and improved version was soon to be released. It's basically the same app with different colors. Just as slow. Just as inaccurate. Just as disconnected from their data about my service history. Just as useless for requesting a service appointment. For a company regularly lauded for their high tech automobiles, it's shockingly bad.

Justin Hart    September 26, 2022 - 1:51PM

In reply to by David (not verified)

Couldn’t agree more! But to be fair, I think most “legacy” automakers have trouble with software… they are car companies after all and may only recently have begun investing in software development teams. Let’s hope all our negative press helps Kia realize, they really need to up their game if they want to attract customers via their software and especially if they want any of us to actually pay for the privilege to use their software.