The popular magazine considers the cars on its Editor’s Choice list to be the top-ranked models in their respective segments, and Kia has more models on it this year than a number of automakers, including but not limited to: Toyota, Nissan, Chevrolet, and Volkswagen (if you don’t count two trims of the same model, the Golf, a regular favorite at C&D). BMW, Porsche, Ford and Hyundai, among others, earned more awards than Kia. Car and Driver emphasizes vehicle performance as a central part of their testing, but completes a rigorous testing regimen that includes various safety, utility, and efficiency testing among others. Of particular note, for those concerned, C&D’s efficiency testing includes higher speed, real world interstate testing that more honestly reflects the way many people drive (compared to how the EPA tests efficiency), so their figures may more accurately represent the results typical drivers will see.
The 6 models Kia received awards for are: Telluride (also on their 2022 10 Best List), Sorento, Soul, Rio, K5, and Carnival. All of the models received a score of 8.5 out of 10 or higher by the magazine (with the Telluride getting a perfect 10 out of 10). Last year Kia only had 5 models on this list, with the Carnival being the new add for 2022, scoring a 9.0 compared to a 6.5 for its 2021 equivalent, the discontinued Sedona minivan. The Carnival’s score is tied with the Honda Odyssey and is only bested by the Chrysler Pacifica which earned a 9.5. The Pacifica seems to have edged out the Carnival on account of having more cargo space and an AWD drive option, with the Carnival’s highlights including performance and handling along with the lowest pricing.
Let’s take a look at the scores and rankings of competitors vs. the other Kia models that made the list. C&D lists high points for the K5 as “snazzy interior and exterior, lots of popular features at an accessible price, 290-hp GT model is delightfully quick” and its low points as “overly tall driving position, largest wheels contribute to chunky ride quality, 290-hp engine is prone to overpowering the front tires”. Comparisons to its family sedan competitors also on the list (C&D’s perennial favorite and 10 Best title holder, the Honda Accord, and the Hyundai Sonata) basically break down to the Accord being the handling and driver engagement champ and the Sonata being the option with a more luxurious interior and highest fuel economy. High points for the Kia Rio are that it “drives like a more expensive car, pleasant and simple interior, standard wireless smartphone-mirroring features” and low points are “cramped rear seat compared to some rivals, lacks cargo space, dorky looks”. Compared to its only competitor on the subcompact car list, the Hyundai Accent, the Hyundai offers more “dignified” styling and perhaps better handling compared to the Rio, along with a potentially higher price, depending. The Kia Sorento high points are that it “looks classy and rugged inside and out, lots of powertrain options, pleasant to drive, and comfy to ride in” and low points are that “adults should avoid the third row, bigger touchscreen skips wireless smartphone mirroring, cargo space can be compromised”. There’s more mid-size SUVs on the Editor’s Choice list than Adidas got sneakers or a plumber's got pliers (thank you Beastie Boys). Obviously, mid-sized SUVs are a popular vehicle class. Compared to competitors from Ford, Mazda, Hyundai, Jeep, Honda and Kia itself, the Sorento stands out due to its looks, available drive trains (which include the only plug-in hybrid option in its class, and consequently makes it by far the most fuel efficient non-luxury, midsize SUV on the market), and ride comfort (which I can add from experience and other reviews is quieter than most competitors, particularly in the plug-in hybrid). The Kia Soul’s high points are that it has “iconic exterior styling, roomy cabin, good feature-per-dollar ratio” and low points are that it is “not as fuel efficient as similar SUVs, rear seats don't fold flat, driver assists not standard”. The competitors on the list are from Hyundai, Mazda and Volkswagen, and the Soul stands out from the others mainly on its styling and roominess, but is bested by the Mazda in handling and fit and finish, and the VW for its efficiency. The final vehicle to make the list is the Kia Telluride, also classed as a midsize SUV. Its high points are that it “hauls families in comfort and style, packed with desirable features, excellent value proposition” and low points are that it has “staid driving manners, V-6 isn't the most frugal with fuel, adaptive cruise control is intrusive”. Compared to the Sorento and other competitors, the Telluride’s main selling points are its feature set and value proposition. If you’re looking for a more efficient SUV, and can accept the slightly smaller form factor, the Sorento is the undisputed champ. If you’re looking for more off-road capability or dynamic driving experience, models from Ford, Jeep or Mazda might be better choices.
These accolades for Kia will certainly translate into some additional demand for the six models on this list. What do you think about these results? Did anything surprise you, or disappoint? Please leave your thoughts below.
Images provided by Kia.
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.