Should I Buy the Hyundai ix35 or the Kia Sportage?


Hi John, I'm looking to upgrade from a 2004 Mazda3 Maxx Sport (in great condition, all servicing to go with it). My wife and I only, no kids, but would like a ride where I'm sitting a little higher in traffic and the small - medium AWD is looking great. 

I've done a bit of research and what I'm liking on the road, it comes down to the Kia Sportage SLi and the iX35 Elite, which I believe are in the same category. 

Hyundai ix35

(click to enlarge)

Kia Sportage

(click to enlarge)

Hyundai ix35

Hyundai ix35

Kia Sportage

Kia Sportage

First question is I live on the Northern Beaches and I have the likes of Col Crawford and Bill Buckle as the most competitive dealers here. Because they sell all brands now from bottom of the line to luxury (BMW/ Jeep etc) am I better hitting a Kia or Hyundai dealer direct that just sell those brands?

Second: I'm leaning towards the KIA but can't seem to get my head around the Kia badge (but I'm thinking Hyundai was in the same boat 5+ years ago and now have a great following). I'm thinking Kia is on the way there. Your thoughts?

Also have seen your comments regarding using a car broker, very interested sounds great may look at, heading down this path as well. Would like your comments on my questions, also I love your work here and in the media, and want your job... Regards, Mark.


Mark, sorry it’s taken a few days to get back to you. I work overnights across the weekend, and yours is not a straightforward question. I wanted to do it justice.

On the ix35 -Vs- Sportage

Hyundai and Kia are the same company (the Hyundai Kia Motor Group). So, while the brands are different, the vehicles are fundamentally the same. Hyundai Kia develops one set of engines/transmissions, etc. and then puts these into its various vehicles. In the case of ix35 and Sportage, the major body parts and platform are the same. The drivelines are the same. Underlying components are the same (software, parts you don’t see, etc). They’re not similar. They’re the same.

Styling and other detail tweaks (like exact suspension tune) are unique to each car. Kia hired Peter Schreyer to do its styling a few years ago (the guy who designed the Audi TT) and this is why their design leapt ahead recently.

(Sorento is Santa Fe, the former i45 was the Optima, Cerato Koup and Veloster share fundamentals, Cerato and i30 share fundamentals, Rio and i20 share fundamentals. There are more similarities than differences. Twins under the skin, kind of thing.)

On Kia as a brand

Kia is Hyundai, and vice-versa. Today, they are in exactly the same stage of development. They’re the fourth-largest car maker in the world (after GM, VW and Toyota - at least this was the case in 2011).

On dealerships

Dealers are generally multi-franchised. Col Crawford and Bill Buckle certainly are. I don’t think you’ll find a stand-alone Hyundai or Kia dealer anywhere. (Every time you see a string of ‘different’ dealerships in a row you can just about guarantee it’s the one business selling multiple brands (franchises) with an amalgamated back end (service, admin, HR, finance, etc.)

The best way - in my view the only way - to get the best price is to put a car broker on the case and let him worry about carving out the best deal. So let me get Ben Harris from the brokerage to call you ASAP. Ben Is an expert in this pricing area and he can help you achieve the best price on either SUV.

(And on wanting my job: you’re dwelling only on the positives. Try sitting in a radio studio pressing the buttons within the accuracy expectation of about two seconds, and also talking on-air the whole time from midnight to dawn twice a week for two years - every weekend. Then get back to me about whether you still want it.)