I didn't know Kia tried to sell their vehicles as off road capable. I always thought Kia/Hyundai was moving upscale and placing their CUV's against the likes of Audi and BMW
They used to try to sell the old Sportages that way back when they have removable tops.
Hyundai has moved up in recent years big time but they're still more competition for Toyota, Honda, ect.
In the past 3-4 years they've dumped a lot more money into Kia and the quality has gone up big time, though once you're at the bottom you can really only go up. They're still a pain to work on yourself and they're still prone to issues due to shortcuts Hyundai takes in manufacturing them. I wouldn't suggest touching anything before 2011 on a Kia.
The Forte and Rio are still cheap throwaway cars.
The Soul is pretty popular and I've only seen two come in with major issues. One needed a motor and the other needed a transmission and both were due to unique manufacturing defects. We have one woman that comes in with a 2010 Soul that looks like it rolled off the lot that day and she's got 300k miles on it.
Sedonas are prone to small issues that are random and really difficult to diagnose. They stopped making them for 2013 and we just got in the first 2014s at work this week so I can't comment on those yet. We do get quite a few over 200k miles on them though.
I wouldn't touch a Sportage, they're better than what I've talked about so far, but they've got TONS of blind spots and you can't see anything out of them if you're over 6 foot.
The new Optima, Sorento and Cadenza are nice and come with tons of features. Air conditioned seats are cool as hell and not many manufacturers are doing them yet. As nice as they are, they're still prone to small issues like all Kias still are. In the end I'm not going to pay $35-40k for a nice Kia when I can buy from a better manufacturer.
Their warranties are really good though and they honor them in situations where I wouldn't expect any manufacturer to. We have a woman with a 2009 Sorento with 250k miles on it that comes in, she's never come in for anything but warranty work, goes forever between oil changes and doesn't do any maintenance otherwise. She had a crank bolt break on it about a year ago and they warrantied it out of warranty. It's broken 4 times since and they've still covered it and we just put a short block in it under warranty last week.
We had a 2012 Optima get towed in a couple weeks ago, front end all smashed up from hitting curbs and ****. Inside of the car was trashed. It had 30k miles on it, zero maintenance done, tons of sludge in the oil pan, no records of any work done to it, oil was low, wrong filter was rung into it. Pulled the top end apart and the whole motor was sludged up. We thought there was no way in hell they'd warranty it. Factory rep came out and I had to explain to him why the sludge was there.
They took a sample and decided it had trace amounts of coolant in it so they warrantied it and had us put a brand new motor in it.