Home » Kia’s Chief Designer Explains Why Kias Look So Good Now – The Autopian Podcast

Kia’s Chief Designer Explains Why Kias Look So Good Now – The Autopian Podcast

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Kia is killing it. The cars drive great. The cars feel great. They’re a great value. And the cars even look great. It’s almost not fair. Case-in-point, check out the new Kia EV9. Why do they look so good? We got to talk to Tom Kearns, Chief Kia Design Center America. who talks about the “opposites united” philosophy.

This podcast, presented by our friends at Marble, was shot at the Los Angeles Auto Show a few weeks ago and features our own Beau Boeckmann, David Tracy, and Jason Torchinsky before his heart threw a CEL.

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This is an extremely Torch episode because there’s a lot here about taillights, marker lights, and even headlights. Tom is awesome and plays along and even seems willing to come to accept an award for marker light design.

Here’s Tom’s best example on the EV9 of the “opposites united” design idea:

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I totally get that! Sometimes when designers talk about “extreme dynamism” or whatever it feels like they’re making it all up. This makes perfect sense and once you see it you can spot it across the Kia range.

Tom goes on to talk about his paintings, which are most excellent, and he seems to enjoy our suggestion for the Kia logo. Tom is cool. We need to do more stuff with Tom.

Also, as a reminder, we have a sponsor! If you want to support the podcast please sign up for Marble, which is a useful tool that allows you to track your insurance policies and rewards you for doing so. It’s free and helps us keep doing this. You can read more about Marble here.

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David Puckett
David Puckett
2 months ago

But…they don’t look good now.

Fuzzyweis
Fuzzyweis
2 months ago

“Kia is killing it…”, checks recall list…yes, yes they are.

I’d say Hyundai is doing much better than Kia as far as design, like the Ioniq 5 is more palatable than the EV6 to me, something about the back end of the EV6 is just unfinished.

Kia does have the Soul though which is an older style but like it’s boxiness, not sure on how they redid the tail lights at the back though.

Freelivin1327
Freelivin1327
2 months ago

Ha ha ha! Kia’s look good?! NOT! That was a good joke of the day! Kia sucks

Stef Schrader
Stef Schrader
2 months ago

{ spit-take }

…then what does David listen to when everything sucks and life is enraging?!

Stef Schrader
Stef Schrader
2 months ago

Suggestion: Autopian Project Ford Aspire.

(Also, YESSSS PORSCHES. PORSCHES ARE GOOOOOOD.)

(Also also, ^5, I love the Catera/Omega. I need a Caddy that zigs.)

Last edited 2 months ago by Stef Schrader
Mr. Canoehead
Mr. Canoehead
2 months ago

No hardball questions about Kia’s horrific dealer network? They make Mazda dealers look good…

Leighzbohns
Leighzbohns
2 months ago
Reply to  Mr. Canoehead

Know a guy who works in the industry, not for Kia or Hoondai, and they’re aware, but only have limited control over independent businesses that are protected by legislation.

Tony D
Tony D
2 months ago
Reply to  Mr. Canoehead

Maybe not the design guy’s area of expertise.

Thi
Thi
2 months ago

When did Kia’s start looking good? I mean they are better than they were in the past, but every single one of them takes something a bit to far and has some random detail that detracts from the design.

Kia more than anyone else needs to follow the advice of assemble your look, then look in the mirror and take off at least one accessory.

Tarragon
Tarragon
2 months ago

I don’t quite get the “trick question” answer about the wheels. I get that it was a question he probably couldn’t answer but calling it a trick question makes it seem as a bigger deal than, “you know I can’t answer that”.

Last Pants
Last Pants
2 months ago

The tiger face thing got me thinking. So you know how new cars all look angry? Maybe they aren’t angry. Maybe they are just tigers. See, tigers aren’t angry all the time, they’re just aggressive. When they snack on you, it’s nothing personal. They just wanted to eat. This doesn’t answer why we need to drive aggressive animals around but I think it’s better than driving angry people around.

Ranwhenparked
Ranwhenparked
2 months ago

I thought the answer was “we decided to start caring”, but it’s apparently way more detailed than that

Taco Shackleford
Taco Shackleford
2 months ago

Just listened on Spotify. It was a very visual episode so then I watched along with the YouTube. Somehow I got them sync’d.

Zack Oliver
Zack Oliver
2 months ago

“Opposites United” aka “Contrast”

Iwannadrive637
Iwannadrive637
2 months ago

Great video. Kia should make a sports coupe and call it Tiger. Then call the hotter version the TigerFace. The Kia logo is fine but I actually like the crossbar in the A.

Brian Ash
Brian Ash
2 months ago

The short answer is they hired a lot of people from the German brands.

Nsane In The MembraNe
Nsane In The MembraNe
2 months ago
Reply to  Brian Ash

BMW needs to hire them back ASAP

Brian Ash
Brian Ash
2 months ago

LOL, there were a few from BMW, but most of them came from VW, Audi, Skoda.

Nsane In The MembraNe
Nsane In The MembraNe
2 months ago

A lot of Hyundai, Kia, and Genesis vehicles do look pretty interesting but their incredibly aggressive approach to refreshes and redesigns plays a huge role in why they suffer from such horrific depreciation. As soon as a newer, radically different looking version comes out no one wants the old one anymore. Ask me how I know….

Icouldntfindaclevername
Icouldntfindaclevername
2 months ago

How do you know?

Nsane In The MembraNe
Nsane In The MembraNe
2 months ago

Im assuming this is sarcasm, but if now I own one.

PL71 Enthusiast
PL71 Enthusiast
2 months ago

Haha “interesting” is a much better word than “good.”

No offense to your specific Kona but they look like someone dropped a car on top of another one. Seriously. Go find a picture of either the front or rear and hold your hand over everything above the lower set of lights.

Nsane In The MembraNe
Nsane In The MembraNe
2 months ago

“No offense but your car is ugly, have you looked at it in detail?!?!”

…thanks, I guess? The looks don’t bother me at all and I’d rather have something a little unique than be in one of the 5 million Golf/Civic/etc variants. I also like the sleeper aspect of it. No one has any idea what it is.

PL71 Enthusiast
PL71 Enthusiast
2 months ago

I apologize, I should have made it 2 separate comments. Wanted to agree with your use of the word “interesting” and should have made the comment on the Kona design separately. Wasn’t trying to be a dick, definitely was a dick.

Nsane In The MembraNe
Nsane In The MembraNe
2 months ago

You’re good amigo! I’ve had a rough week and have been taking literally everything too personally. It’s on me too. Still love your comments!

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