All-new Kia EV expected to be revealed in 2021.
Kia K5 and Sorento are the newest models in the brand’s lineup.
Redesigned Sportage and Sedona on the way.
With an exhaustive lineup of cars and crossovers, Korean brand Kia faced the COVID-19 pandemic just like every other automaker, but given the circumstances, it didn’t do too badly during the 2020 calendar year.
In fact, year over year, sales in the United States were down by only 4.8%, and were down by 11.9% in Canada, which is above the industry average. And with more new and redesigned models scheduled to appear in the coming year, the company is bound to continue on its current pace, if not improve on that. Heck, it even revealed an all-new logo and marketing slogan. Here’s what to expect from the Kia brand in 2021.
First and foremost, the brand’s first dedicated EV—developed from the ground up as a full EV—will be built on parent company Hyundai Motor’s new E-GMP platform. It could be revealed sometime in 2021, but no details have cropped up yet. It should be a crossover, though, and according to Kia’s Plan S electrification strategy, it has been named (or code-named) the CV.
The newest model in the lineup is the Kia K5 midsize sedan, which replaces the Optima and now adopts the car’s international nameplate. The K5 boasts all-new styling on a longer, lower and wider body that rides a new platform, and it’s built in Georgia, USA. A turbocharged 1.6L inline-four that develops 180 horsepower matched to an eight-speed automatic transmission equips LX, LXS, GT-Line and EX trims in the U.S., and LX, EX and GT-Line trims in Canada. Also, a turbo 2.5L inline four with 290 horsepower and a dual-clutch eight-speed automatic is found in the performance-minded K5 GT. Front-wheel drive is standard while AWD is optional with the smaller engine, although the Canadian-spec K5 features AWD as standard in every trim but the GT.
Meanwhile, the Kia Forte compact sedan ended up being the brand’s best-selling model in both countries, which is not a small feat considering the number of crossovers the brand offers. For 2021, the Forte mostly gets equipment changes on the top-rung GT trim, which features a turbocharged 1.6L four developing 201 horsepower. All other variants get a naturally aspirated 2.0L engine with 147 horsepower, paired with either a six-speed manual transmission or a continuously variable automatic.
The Kia Forte5 hatchback is available in Canada, but not in the United States. While it doesn’t offer the sedan’s base trim level and manual gearbox, it’s available as the EX with the 147-horsepower engine, while the GT and GT Limited variants get the 201-horsepower, turbo 1.6L mill. No changes have been announced so far for the 2021 Forte5.
The Kia Rio sedan and five-door hatchback get styling changes for 2021, which include new front and rear bumpers for what the company calls a “sportier look.” An eight-inch infotainment touchscreen is now standard across all trim levels, as is wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto integration. The Rio features a 1.6L inline-four with 120 horsepower, matched to either a six-speed manual transmission or a continuously variable automatic in Canada, and to the CVT exclusively in the U.S.
Sailing into 2021 with virtually no changes, the Kia Stinger performance fastback is available in GT-Line, GT, GT1 and GT2 trim levels in the U.S., all with either a rear-wheel drivetrain or optional AWD. The GT-Line relies on a turbo 2.0L inline-four engine that develops 255 horsepower and 260 pound-feet of torque, while all others get a twin-turbo 3.3L V6 good for 365 horses and 376 pound-feet. In Canada, the Stinger is offered in GT, GT Limited and GT Limited Neon Orange variants, all with the V6 engine and AWD. A mid-cycle refresh is expected for the 2022 model-year Stinger.
After getting a mid-cycle refresh for the 2020 model year, which includes exterior design tweaks, a reworked interior, a new 12.3-inch infotainment touchscreen and more, the Kia Cadenza will retire from the U.S. market 2021. The front-wheel drive midsize luxury sedan was equipped with a 290-horsepower, 3.3L V6 paired with an eight-speed automatic transmission. The Cadenza was no longer available in Canada for a couple of years now.
Also denied for the Canadian market is the full-size Kia K900 luxury sedan, available in one trim level and featuring a twin-turbo 3.3L V6 with 365 horsepower along with standard AWD. As is the case with the Cadenza, the K900 will be scratched from the U.S. lineup after the 2020 model year.
The brand’s entry-level crossover is the Kia Soul, which returns for 2021 with minor changes, such as a standard rear-seat occupant reminder system, shock absorber retuning for a couple of trim levels and a remote engine starter in some uplevel variants. The Soul is available in LX, S, X-Line, GT-Line, EX and Turbo variants in the U.S., and all but the Turbo get a 147-horsepower 2.0L four matched to either a six-speed manual or a continuously variable automatic, while the Turbo relies on a turbocharged 1.6 four and dual-clutch seven-speed automatic, good for 201 horsepower. Canada gets LX, EX, EX+, EX Premium, GT-Line Limited trims, all featuring the 147-hp engine and the CVT.
Meanwhile, the Kia Soul EV carries on largely unchanged as well, but it’s only offered in Canada for the time being. The fully electric crossover’s EV Premium trim gets a 134-horsepower motor and a 39.2-kWh battery, while the EV Limited boasts 201 horsepower and a 64-kWh battery pack, good for an estimated driving range of 383 kilometres (239 miles).
An all-new model for 2021, the Kia Seltos quickly picked up a good portion of subcompact crossover market share. In the United States, its LX, S and EX trim levels feature a 2.0L engine with 146 horsepower and a continuously variable automatic, while the S 1.6T and SX variants get a turbocharged 1.6L four with 201 horsepower and a dual-clutch seven-speed automatic. In Canada, the LX, EX and EX Premium are equipped with the 2.0L engine, while the SX Turbo obviously receives the turbo 1.6L mill. AWD is optional.
The Kia Niro is a compact crossover that exclusively offers electrified powertrains. The Niro combines a 1.6L four with an electric motor and a six-speed automatic transmission for a total output of 139 horsepower and 195 pound-feet of torque. Meanwhile, the Niro PHEV gets a bigger battery and an EV-only driving range of 26 miles (42 km), and the fully electric Niro boasts 201 horsepower and a driving range of 239 miles or 385 km. No changes are expected so far for the 2021 model year.
The Kia Sportage returns in 2021 as a carryover model, as the 2020 model received a few changes and some design tweaks. The compact crossover relies on its sporty character to stand out in its segment, with a standard 2.4L engine developing 181 horsepower, while a turbocharged 2.0L four with 240 horsepower is found the range-topping variant. Introduced for the 2016 model year, the Sportage will soon get a redesign.
The Kia Sorento has been completely redesigned for 2021. It bears a sportier look, while the X-Line package gets higher ground clearance and a more advanced AWD system to go with its more rugged appearance. Three rows of seats come standard for a capacity of seven passengers, while uplevel trims get second-row captain’s chairs, carrying a maximum of six occupants. A 191-horsepower 2.5L four is standard, while a 281-hp turbo 2.5L four is optional, but a turbo hybrid powertrain with 227 horsepower is on the way, as is a PHEV system with 261 combined horses and an estimated EV-only driving range of 30 miles (48 km). Front-wheel drive is standard in the U.S., while AWD is optional, but included on all trim levels in Canada.
Introduced to rave reviews for the 2020 model year, the U.S.-spec Kia Telluride gets a 7-pin trailer harness, a remote engine starter button on the keyfob, new Black Copper and Sangria paint colours as well as a Nightfall Edition appearance package. In Canada, the three-row midsize crossover is now available in a range-topping SX Limited Nightsky Edition, which wears black alloy wheels, logos, roof rails and skid plates. Every Telluride is equipped with a 3.8L V6 and an eight-speed automatic, good for 291 horsepower and 262 pound-feet of torque. AWD is available in the U.S., standard in Canada.
Last but not least, the Kia Sedona rolls into 2021 with no changes, but an all-new generation with styling reminiscent of the Sorento’s has been recently unveiled, and will arrive on our shores for the 2022 model year. Meanwhile, the current Sedona loses its base trim level in the U.S., and all variants are equipped with a 3.3L V6 that develops 276 horsepower, matched to an eight-speed automatic transmission.