Not to be outdone by its corporate cousins at Hyundai and Genesis, Kia is amid a five-year plan to launch more than 20 new or updated vehicles. The new Telluride three-row crossover went on sale this year, and the Seltos small crossover could be just around the corner. The Seltos, a new nameplate, is on sale in Korea.
From the modest Rio subcompact sedan to the redesigned K900 flagship, Kia also continues to give love to its car lineup, in addition to freshening its crossovers and adding electrified vehicles from hybrids to full electrics. There's even speculation that Kia could offer a pickup like Hyundai, which is moving forward with the Santa Cruz.
Because Kia doesn't have a luxury arm like Hyundai's Genesis brand, the smaller of the mainstream Korean brands can explore the near-premium segment. The new Stinger sport sedan is doing that, along with the Cadenza and K900. There's also room for vehicles such as the Telluride to move upmarket, given Kia's improving image for quality and design.
Rio: The entry car was redesigned for the 2018 model year, and its trims have been reduced to two value offerings in sedan and hatchback form. Sales are up through July but pale in comparison with those of the larger and boxier Kia Soul that leads the subcompact segment. If Hyundai discontinues the Accent as expected when the brand's Venue crossover arrives, the basic but likable Rio is likely to stay around as an entry into the Korean auto group. As such, a freshening for the 2021 model year is expected with a continuing focus on the value proposition.
Soul: Kia's segment-straddling boxy car has been redesigned for the 2020 model year and is in its third generation. Kia lists the Soul in the "SUVs/Crossovers" portion of its website. That and its down-for-anything attitude (with appearance trims and a turbocharged version) are probably why it leads the subcompact car segment. Coming next is an updated version of the Soul EV, which the brand says is "coming soon." While the last Soul EV was hampered with short range, the new one gets the Niro EV's 64-kilowatt-hour battery good for 243 miles of range, according to the EPA.
The current product cycle would put the Soul on course for a freshening for the 2023 model year and a redesign for the 2025 model year, more or less. Kia's commitment to electrification opens the door to hybrid or plug-in hybrid versions in the future. The Niro has both.
Forte: The compact car, in its third generation, received a redesign for the 2019 model year and looks more like the Stinger, which sits on a different platform. For 2020, the Forte gets a GT version with a turbocharged four-cylinder engine and available manual transmission. A freshening is likely for the 2022 model year.
Optima: The car was freshened for the 2019 model year. A redesigned version is likely to be shown next year and go on sale for the 2021 model year. Kia is aggressively updating its vehicles, and the Optima feels dated. Sales are up through July, however, bucking the overall trend in the midsize sedan segment. The Optima also comes in hybrid and plug-in hybrid versions.