LOS ANGELES -- Kia says it will crank up ad spending in advance of the launch of the redesigned Sorento SUV next month.
A company source said Kia will spend about $80 million to bring out the Sorento -- nearly twice what it spent on other major vehicle launches this year.
For the first time, Kia will take a billboard in New York's Times Square.
The giant Sorento advertisement will be visible to TV viewers watching the famous ball drop on New Year's Eve.
"We expect millions of people all over to see the new Sorento," said Michael Sprague, vice president of marketing at Kia Motors America.
The billboard will remain in place through March.
Through mid-January, 60-second commercials will play in 16,000 movie theaters. The commercials will focus on Kia's new plant in West Point, Ga., where the Sorento is produced.
"This is to let customers know that we're investing $1 billion here and providing 2,500 jobs," Sprague said. "We want to instill confidence and trust -- that we're here to stay."
Kia has been one of the success stories in the United States this year, with sales up 8 percent through November to 279,015.
The Sorento comes with a new 172-hp, 2.4-liter four-cylinder engine and a 273-hp, 3.5-liter V-6. Both are teamed with a new six-speed automatic transmission.
The seven-seat Sorento is longer and roomier than its predecessor, with five additional cubic feet of cargo space. It includes a first for any Kia vehicle: an optional panoramic sunroof.
"We're trying to get away from the cheap-brand image," Sprague said.
He would not divulge Sorento ad spending but said it is 60 to 70 percent more than Kia's most expensive launches to date -- for the Soul small crossover and the Forte sedan, which both were introduced this year.
Kia spent an estimated $40 million to $50 million on advertising for each on those launches.