Kia keeps pushing its boundaries
Stinger sports sedan pulls brand in a new direction
After a move upmarket that has added premium sedans (the K900, Cadenza and forthcoming Stinger), Kia continues to expand its horizons with more electrified powertrains, new crossover nameplates and a legitimate sports sedan that will seek to challenge the German stalwarts.
Rio: Kia's tidy subcompact is redesigned for the 2018 model year, and unlike its cousin, the Hyundai Accent, it's expected to continue as a hatchback and a sedan. It adds features such as Apple CarPlay and Android Auto as well as auto emergency braking. Power will come from a 1.6-liter four-cylinder engine and a six-speed automatic gearbox. Look for a freshening in 2021.
Forte: Kia's compact sedan and hatchback tandem were freshened for the 2017 model year. The base 1.8-liter four-cylinder was dropped in favor of a new 2.0-liter four, and the two-door Koup was axed. The effort was well-received, as the Forte has become Kia's best-selling model in 2017. A redesign is expected in 2019.
Optima: Kia's popular midsize sedan got a hybrid and a plug-in option for the 2017 model year. A freshening is due in 2019.
Cadenza: Despite shrinking demand for full-size, front-wheel-drive sedans and the discontinuation of its cousin, the Hyundai Azera, Kia re-engineered its Cadenza for 2017. This second-gen model (in the U.S.) comes with a 3.3-liter V-6 and an eight-speed automatic transmission. A freshened model is expected in 2020.
Soul: Kia's popular hamster box was freshened for 2017, so a redesign is likely in 2018 as a 2019 model. Expect the funky practicality to carry over, though the future of the Soul EV likely is challenged by the arrival of the Stonic EV.
Stinger: The new Stinger, designed to pull Kia in a new performance-meets-luxury direction, goes on sale this year as a 2018 model. Available in rear-wheel drive and all-wheel drive and with either a 2.0-liter turbo-four engine or a twin-turbo V-6, the Stinger is an unapologetic missile aimed at the German sport sedans. With so much riding on the Stinger, variants are likely. Its platform can accommodate batteries for either an electric vehicle or plug-in hybrid model, and a high-performance iteration could squeeze significantly more power out of the turbo V-6. These additions aren't likely until 2020.
K900: Slow sales of the midsize premium sedan aren't necessarily enough to get it booted out of the U.S. Look for a redesign in 2019, when Hyundai-Kia's 3.3-liter turbo V-6 likely joins the mix.
Stonic: Kia hasn't officially confirmed this new subcompact crossover for the U.S., but it would be foolish not to given the demand in the segment. Look for it to arrive in 2018 as a 2019 model and share many parts — though not styling — with the Hyundai Kona. That means a 2.0-liter four-cylinder base engine and a 1.6-liter turbo-four as an option. An all-electric version also is expected, with range around 250 miles.
Sportage: Kia's compact crossover was redesigned for the 2017 model year. A freshening likely will happen in 2019 or 2020. By then, a plug-in hybrid could join the mix.
Sorento: Kia's two- and three-row crossover got a freshening in Korea for 2018; look for it to land stateside as a 2019 model. The updates include sleeker styling, particularly in the headlights and taillights, and an eight-speed automatic transmission. A redesign should land in 2020.
Large crossover: Look for Kia to follow the paradigm-shifting Stinger sedan with a large crossover based on the handsome Telluride concept from the 2016 Detroit auto show. This new model could land in 2019 and reaffirm Kia's upmarket intentions. It will share a platform with the Genesis GV70 and GV80. Power will come from Hyundai-Kia's 3.3-liter twin-turbo V-6, and electrification plans likely would echo those for similar Genesis models.
Niro: This hybrid crossover hit the market in 2017 and has done well for Kia's sales volume. A plug-in hybrid model arrives in late 2017 as a 2018 model and uses a 1.6-liter gas engine and an electric motor for about 34 miles of pure EV driving. A freshening should land in 2020.
Sedona: Kia's minivan is due for a freshening in 2018 that will see light cosmetic updates as well as the inclusion of an eight-speed automatic transmission to be paired with the current 3.3-liter V-6. A redesign won't happen until around 2021.
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