ATLANTA -- Kia's first U.S.-built vehicle, the 2011 Sorento, will debut in January as the next model in the brand's product blitz.
The compact crossover goes into production in November at Kia's new plant in West Point, Ga.
Other than Subaru, Kia is the only brand to increase sales this year -- up 3 percent through August. Kia also has been on an aggressive product push.
The Soul crossover, introduced in February, was followed by the Forte sedan, which replaced the Spectra in June. The Forte Koup, Kia's first coupe, went on sale this month.
"This car is very important to us," Steven Hirashiki, senior project strategy manager for the Sorento, said at a press event here. "This plant is a billion-dollar investment. We need to keep the line going. There will be a lot of pressure on the sales organization."
Hirashiki said the main Sorento competitors are the Toyota RAV4, Ford Edge, Honda CR-V, Chevrolet Equinox and Mazda CX-7.
But he said Kia won't lose sight of its price-conscious core audience. Hirashiki said the goal is to keep the base price below the price of the base 2009 model: $22,340, including shipping.
"As a brand, we know we still attract people who shop for price," he said. "We don't want to lose them. But with the new Sorento, we will be able to attract a wider range of customers than we do with the current one."
At 184.4 inches, the 2011 model is 3.7 inches longer than the current model, and most of the extra space is inside.
The redesigned Sorento has two new engines. A new V-6 produces 273 hp; the two V-6s in the 2009 model produced 242 and 262 hp. Fuel economy for the new V-6 is 20 mpg in the city and 28 mpg on the highway, up from 16/22 on the current base V-6 model.
The 2011 model gets the Sorento's first four-cylinder, which delivers 172 hp and gets 21 mpg in the city and 29 on the highway. Other firsts include 18-inch wheels, a third row of seating, a navigation system and a push-button start system.