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Kia vs. Chrysler; need opinions on reliability

I’m weighing buying an '04 Optima (V4) against an ‘04 Sebring (sedan, V6), and I’m hoping somebody can give me a sense of which one would be more reliable long-term. Consumer Reports gives the Kia an edge,’s compiled pro ratings say the Chrysler, and drivers’ reviews are decidedly more positive than the professional ones for both. Any major maintenance issues or bad reputation with either one that I’m missing?

Buy the Kia. It’s better. Why? It just is.

Why not go with a car that is known for reliability? The Kia is rated better than average for reliability and the V-6 Sebring for 04 is rated average. There is much more to buying a car than ratings can tell you. If anything odd happens during the test drive; find another car.

The question is my mind is how much better is better. If you sell a million cars and one manufacturer has three cars with problems and another has one, how much better is the second manufacturer?

Here and most places will have people who have had problems with their cars, but all those people who have not had problems will not be here.

Unless you have some reason to believe there is a great difference in the reliability of two cars, I would not worry about the difference. Luck and your personal care are far greater than the reported numbers.

In your case, Which do you think would attract more drivers who tend to take care of their cars. I suspect that Kia drivers might be more likely to get their oil changes and service their cars more regularly than Chrysler owners so Kia might show up with a better record than it deserves. At least enough of a difference to tilt the reported difference. The other half is what group of drivers would be more likely to report problems to CR or other organizations?

KIA and Hyundai have a serious sore spot. They require timing belts every 60k which is unheard in the 2000’s and even the late 90’s.

The majority of timing belt equipped vehicles use a 105k intevral.

If I were you, I would buy the Kia. In addition to its superior reliability, the Kia also has better driving dynamics. The Chrysler Sebring does poorly in the factors that you would notice on an everyday basis, namely its ride quality, its handling, and the interior noise level. Overall, the Sebring is rated poorly in virtually every category.

I would think it would be just the opposite. Kia’s are cheap, almost disposable cars. The folks who buy Kias generally aren’t the type who go out of their way to make sure that maintence is done strictly according to the book. I’m not saying that Chrysler owners are fanatical about maintence either. But all other things being equal my money would be on the Chrysler for having had timely maintence.

Where are you getting your information from???

Kia’s ARE cheap…but that doesn’t mean they’re disposable. Many people don’t have that kind of money to waste. A good portion of the people who are buying them are first time buyers or people who need a cheap second car. It makes no sense NOT to keep up on the maintenance. Maybe if you’re a millionaire and buy one…then sure just let it go…but THAT’ not the people buying them.

The question is my mind is how much better is better. If you sell a million cars and one manufacturer has three cars with problems and another has one, how much better is the second manufacturer?

If the difference was that close I’d buy one…But from my observation and others…it’s no where near that close…especially when the cars get over the 200k mile mark.

Prior maintenance is a point in the Chrysler’s favor; I know the only previous owner and he takes care of his cars. The Kia’s also a one-previous-owner deal, which I’d generally assume means better care, but I don’t have any way to get in touch with the individual there.

There is no data unfortunately above 150k. My expectation on any make is to expect more major repairs/maintenance above 150k miles/8years no matter what you own.

My parents have owned the range, not bashing Toyota but they have had more issues with their Toyota trucks(4x4 pickup and Tundra) in upper mileage/age range than their GMC truck, Subaru, and Volvo. My 95 Civic Honda was trouble free till 225k miles/9 years except for two radiators over its life. My wife’s 96 Civic had many naggy problems with her vehicle above 140k miles. Nothing seriously expensive but we were spending about $200-$400 every three - six months till 185k repairing the vehicle. (clutch master then slave cylinder, brake master cylinder, heat that did not really work correctly at idle, loss of fan speeds, idle control valve, electric radiator fan, alternator…).

I still am not convinced Toyota or Honda buys you much more in the long term.

Well your personal experience is a LONG way from mine…Wifes 87 Accord we put less then $1000 in maintenance beyond normal maintenance when we sold it at OVER 300k miles…I put a total of $4 in her 96 Accord when we sold it at about 230k miles. Put less then $1500 in my 90 Pathfinder when I sold it at over 300k miles…I have less then $1000 into my/daughters 98 Pathfinder which has almost 340k miles.

My 84 S-15…I had over $1000 in UNDER 100K miles and going…sold it at 110k miles and am glad I did.

I get my info from past experience in auto sales. Alot of the time people who buy Kias are of limited means. Hence they will put off or ignore regular maintence to save some cash, and put too much faith in the 100k mile powertrain warranty. Of course when the engine fails because it’s never had its oil changed in two years and they bring the car in for what they assume will be warranty work, it gets pretty heated when the claim is denied because they didn’t keep up with required maintence. This is one of the reasons Kias and Hyundais have such poor resale values and reputations.

So one vehicle sets the precedent? I concur GM(domestics) were something different over 25 years ago. A quarter century has passed.

Your high mileage sounds good but I believe you have posted you are high mile driver which typically means vehicles are leading a very easy life. My dad a trouble free late 80’s Buick Century 4 cylinder. One minor issue (some cable that tells tranny to shift) and drove it over 220k over 7 years as New England based sales person driving a lot. The owner (himself) killed it in the end neglecting to change the engine oil for 15k miles !!! His company changed the motor with a used one for under 1000 miles and it was driven on for an additional 5 years.

It also reminds me of that 1987 Beretta a coworker(Senior engineer) had. He always though that conventional wisdom said a domestic would die at 100k miles. He said I see how far it can go. He commuted over 100+ miles/day(NH->MA) to work + many work miles below Boston.

He hit 200k and said well it owes me nothing. He hit 300k and still nothing totaling over $500. It finally let the tranny go somewhere in the mid 300’s. He went for that (98?) Honda and it dumped a automatic transmission twice in under 50k miles and a few CEL’s doing his same easy highway drive. Not bashing Honda but they are not infallible.

Car for car comparison, I would give the Kia a slight edge, as per other posters. However, Kia is the fastest growing car company in the US, while Chyrsler may cease to exist in a few months. Think about that when considering future repairs and body parts.

Kia’s are sold all over the world, while the Sebring has a relatively small market. We lived overseas in Asia for 5 years and saw Kia’s long before these models came to the US. Owners were generally happy with the.

So, I’d go for the Kia provided you know it has been maintained well.

You’re right I do put a lot of miles on each year…So does sisters husband…And he’s had MAJOR problems with his Fords/Chryco’s…spent well over 10 times what I’ve spent on mine.

My other bother-in-law (wifes sizter husband) now he puts only 10k miles on his vehicle a year…and after 5 years he’s ended up pouring money into his Fords. My wife and her sister each bought new cars within months of each other…wifes Accord was great for the 10+ years she owned it…still running string after 240k miles…Her sisters Taurus was JUNK after 5 years when she sold it…I can’t tell you how much they put into that POS.

Personally, I Would Never Buy A Kia!

The only foreign car that you can buy within a 100 mile radius of my house is a Toyota. The problem with them is that the dealer 25 miles from here, stinks and all of the mechanics and I notice that they “melt” in our adverse “rust belt” climate. The rust on them and in them scares me (it’s unbelievable!). I wonder if the other makes like Kia, Nissan, Honda, etcetera, are as bad? Anyway, without dealer support, they’re no good here. I run with Dodge and GM and get superior service (couldn’t be any better) from these vehicles.

America, what a country!

Perpetuating The Myth, I See!
Excellent logic!

In our rusty area(NH/MA/VT) due to exorbitant amount of salt applied to the roads and the air in my locale I cannot say domestic or foreign vehicles are better or worse than any other. My mum’s 1988 GMC Suburban rotted just as terribly as their 1989 Toyota 4x4 Pickup after 13 years.

The only thing I can say is that rust inhibition only gets better with newer models vs older.

Incidentally, don’t use the term “V-4” around the seller of the car unless you want to be labeled as a complete rube ripe for fleecing. The Kia, like all other modern 4-cylinder cars sold in the US, has an “inline” 4 cylinder engine, NOT a V-4. If I recall correctly, the last V-4 cars sold in the US were some SAABS from the late '60s.

Just call it a 4-cylinder engine, and you will sound like someone who is much better informed on automotive matters. Sounding well-informed is preferable when you are buying a car.