Kia Motors might be the official number two brand in the Hyundai Motor Group empire yet it doesn’t always behave that way, outselling Hyundai in many countries and gaining on the H-logo brand in others. 

The KIA model range is vast and being added to, almost constantly. Having faced criticism that both of its brands didn’t have enough crossovers and SUVs for the US and Chinese markets, both Hyundai and Kia have begun to roll out ever more of these, and there are further ones still to come. Cars are not being neglected though, as this report shows.


The Morning (Picanto) is Kia’s smallest model, with the current shape car having been around since early 2017. It is due for a facelift in 2020 and should be replaced in the first quarter of 2023.

In the B segment, the main model is the Pride, which in some countries is the K2 or Rio. This car is a year older than the Morning and therefore should be facelifted in the coming months. Its successor is due in 2022.

There are two main models in the C segment, one of them being the ceed, a range of cars which is manufactured in Slovakia and sold mostly in Europe. LHD markets received the Ceed five-door from May 2018, followed by the SW (station wagon). Cars for RHD European markets went on sale in August 2018 with the estate available two months later.

The KED-12, a preview of the pro_cee’d replacement, had its debut at the Frankfurt IAA in September 2017. This was a five-door low-roof hatchback/shooting brake. The ProCeed production model premiered at the Paris motor show in October 2018.

All bodies should be facelifted in 2021 and replaced in 2024. Before then though, there will be extra derivatives, such as a PHEV powertrain and the addition of a crossover (see below).

The other Compact or C segment range is the K3/Forte/Cerato which is available mainly in North America, the Pacific Rim and Asia. This sedan and five-door hatchback series shares a platform and some powertrains with the Ceed but the cars have unique body panels.

The Forte’s life cycle will be closely aligned to that of the Ceed, the sedan having been a world debut at last year’s Detroit auto show with the Forte5 also a global debut in January 2018 at the Montreal auto show. The five-door car is available in Canada but not the USA. There should be facelifts for both in 2021 and replacements in 2024.

Series production of JL3, the next K5, is due to commence in August, although production of the existing model should continue for a time, possibly even into 2020. Build of the Optima for and in overseas markets will follow by year-end/early 2020.

The engine line-up should consist of:

  • 2.0-litre CVVL and 2.0 LPi (used in Korea for taxis)
  • 180hp Smart Stream 1.6 Turbo GDi
  • 2.5-litre Theta3 (for North America and for the GT in higher power form)
  • 136hp U3 1.6-litre diesel
  • 150hp R-Series 2.0-litre diesel
  • 184hp R-Series 2.0-litre diesel

Although some had speculated that the shrinkage of the European segment in which the Optima competes would mean that JL3 will not be exported to that region, this is not true. Especially as Kia is going to the trouble of engineering the car to have a larger capacity diesel engine. The rumours were partly true though: the sedan will not be available in KME‘s markets, just a wagon. This could also mean that the four-door and five-door Optimas will have different styling, with Kia Motors Europe’s Design department in theory being in control of the estate’s appearance and Kia Motors America/China’s DYK joint venture having the main say over how the sedan ends up looking.

Kia is experiencing mixed results with the Stinger, a high-priced 4.8m long RWD/AWD hatchback. It has had only modest success in Europe and China but has fared better in North America and South Korea. Production commenced in April 2017 so the car’s scheduled facelift will likely happen towards the end of next year. The successor is due in 2023.

In the domestic market, the Stinger has stylised E badges rather than Kia ones. This suggests that the company is doing something similar to Hyundai in the early days of Genesis. The E is said to stand for Excellence and Exclusivity. An eventual premium brand might be created with the Stinger becoming that division’s first model and possibly the theoretical brand’s name too.

Some sources had believed that a coupe version of this car was planned. That was due to the appearance of the GT4 Stinger concept at January 2014’s Detroit auto show. There might instead be an extended wheelbase Stinger, which would be a logical step given how tight rear-seat room is in the car.

The K7, a large sedan, went on sale in South Korea in January 2016. The Cadenza-badged car for the US, Canada and certain other countries had its public debut at the New York auto show three months later. The K7/Cadenza is closely based on the smaller K5/Optima, both cars using a FWD/AWD architecture whereas the Stinger (and K9) are RWD/AWD. Its successor is scheduled to be launched in early 2023.

Kia’s biggest sedan is the K9. The current generation is just over a year old (South Korean market). Kia Motors America held the motor show debut of its version, the K900, in New York City in March 2018. It was new for the USA’s 2019 model year, going on sale there in late 2018. There is a third model name: Quoris, which is used for Russia.

Although the body and interior are unique, the big Kia is more or less the same car as the Genesis G90/EQ900. Production takes place on the same line within Ulsan Plant 5. As with the first generation model, there should be some SKD assembly in Kazakhstan too. Build in South Korea commenced in March 2018 and sales commenced during the following month.

This was also the second model to be sold in the South Korean market with a stylised E badge that is ringed by a circle and which also features on the Stinger. This logo replaces the Kia badge.

Powertrain choices include 3.3-litre turbo and 3.8-litre V6 engines as well as a 5.0-litre V8, each linked to HMG‘s own ten-speed automatic. There should be a facelift in 2021 and a successor in 2024.


The latest Soul was revealed at the Los Angeles motor show last November. Production commenced two months later and should last for five years with a facelift in 2022.

In the USA, which will again be the Soul’s largest market, the third generation is new for the 2020 model year. In that market, buyers may choose from a 2.0-litre engine or a turbocharged 1.6. Their respective outputs are 147 horsepower and 200 horsepower in US-spec. The model for South Korea is sold there as the Soul Booster.

For a brand which once had few crossovers and SUVs, Kia now has more than most. Some are specific to certain regions though. The 4,140mm long Stonic is a similar size to China’s existing Kia KX3 and it is a challenger for the Nissan Juke, Renault Captur, Opel-Vauxhall Mokka, Toyota C-HR and others in that class of SUVs and crossovers. 

The car, announced to the media in June 2017, had its global motor show premiere at the Frankfurt IAA three months later. Production commenced in November 2017 and the life cycle should be six years. Surprisingly, the Stonic for European markets is manufactured at Sohari, rather than in Slovakia. It is believed that the decision to expand the number of body styles for the cee’d replacement series is the reason behind this: Zilina does not have enough capacity.

The Dongfeng Yueda Kia (DYK) joint venture also manufactures the Stonic. The model for China was going to be sold as the KX1 or Yipao but the name was changed at the last minute to Stonic. Its local debut was as the Kia Yi Pao at the Beijing motor show in April 2018. Sales commenced four months later.

An electric Stonic is expected later this year. This derivative should share an 88kW motor with the Hyundai Ioniq but have a bigger (44+kWh) battery to give it a range of around 300km (186 miles).

For the moment, there appear to be no plans for any AWD Stonics, nor is any Stonic available in North America. Expect a facelift in 2021 and a successor in 2024.

Kia will soon release another SUV roughly the same size as the Stonic. The model name is not confirmed but some suggest it could be either Trazor or Tusker. This model will be the first vehicle for Kia’s Indian plant. This was erected in Anantapur District in the state of Andhra Pradesh at a cost equivalent to US$1.1bn. Construction commenced in the final quarter of 2017 and was completed in early 2019.

The manufacturing facility has a capacity of 300,000 units each year but will start at just one third of that number. As well as the SUV, the Penukonda plant in Anantapur District will also make a small sedan.

KMI (Kia Motors India) revealed an SUV concept at the New Delhi auto expo in February 2018. This was the SP. It is understood that the low-cost version of the series production model is codenamed SP2i (for India) whereas the vehicle for higher income markets is SP2. The Signature concept revealed at the Seoul motor show in March was another preview. We should see the production model soon.

The Sportage (KX-5 in China) has had its mid-life facelift and is now roughly eighteen months away from being replaced. The current model is built in South Korea, China and Slovakia. The next generation will be based on an evolution of Hyundai Motor Group‘s KP architecture. Production should commence in the fourth quarter of 2020 and last until the end of 2025.

There will be an addition to the Ceed line-up later in the year after the Xceed is revealed at the Frankfurt IAA. The ‘CrossCeed’ will mainly be for European markets. It will supplement the Sportage, being slightly larger even though it will share much with the Ceed.

MQ4 is the development code of the next KX7/Sorento. The styling is expected to follow the design theme set by the Telluride by being far more angular than the existing Sorento. It should be revealed by the end of 2020. There should also be hybrid and PHEV derivatives. The model name in China will likely again be KX7.

Kia sells two large SUVs. One is on a front-wheel drive/all-wheel drive architecture, while the other is RWD/4WD and has a frame platform. The newer of the two is the Telluride, a model which is built in the USA and mainly aimed at that country and Canada. The life cycle should be seven years, which means a facelift in the second half of 2022.

After a world debut at the Detroit show in January, production commenced in February. In North America, the sole engine for this eight-seat Honda Pilot and Toyota Highlander rival is HMG’s 3.8-litre Lambda II V6 with outputs of 291 horsepower and 262 lb.-ft. of torque. Exports from the Georgia factory (West Point) to markets in the Middle East got underway in March. This was the first time that Kia had exported a US-made model to that region.

Some presumed that the front- and all-wheel drive monocoque platform Telluride was the effective successor for the Mohave, a big body-on-frame 4×4. It wasn’t. Kia will directly replace this model, which should retain the Borrego name in certain countries, later this year. Prototypes were captured by spy photographers and the images published in February. The Telluride is mainly for North America and the Mohave/Borrego should again be mostly for South Korea as well as markets in the Middle East.

The new model should be based on a fresh platform but this would still be a ladder frame chassis. Its general look was previewed by the Mohave Masterpiece, a concept which premiered at the Seoul motor show in March.


The next generation of the Carnival/Sedona, due in 2022, is expected to be based on an evolution of HMC‘s UM architecture. The existing Sedona/Carnival introduced UM. However, it could instead use HMG’s Third-generation platform as introduced by the eighth generation Hyundai Sonata. The project code is ZR, there should be a facelift in 2025 and the life cycle seems likely to be seven years. Following the imminent phasing out of the smaller Venga and the end of Carens production last year, this large minivan/MPV will remain Kia’s sole model in this vehicle category.


Hard as it seems to believe, a 5m long pick-up is said to be in development as a project that is unrelated to one for Hyundai. The main reason is that one will be RWD/4WD and use a traditional ladder frame chassis while the other will be a monocoque like the Honda Ridgeline and Fiat Toro. The platform might be shared with the next Mohave/Borrego.

There is as yet no name for the Kia pick-up, which will be the same size and similarly priced to the Nissan Frontier/Navara, Toyota Hilux, Chevy Colorado-GMC Canyon and future Ford Ranger-VW Amarok twins. The truck for Hyundai, which may retain the Santa Cruz name of a concept from 2015, will be front-/all-wheel drive. The Kia is due for release in 2022, delayed from 2021. Expect a facelift in 2026 and a successor in 2030.


The Niro is Kia’s main electric model, although there are also hybrid and plug-in versions of this crossover too. Hyundai has a related model, the Ioniq.

Sales of the Niro EV commenced in South Korea, the first market, in July 2018. The electric variant was then rolled out across European markets during the fourth quarter of 2018 and to North American markets during the first quarter of this year. Facelifts for the HUV and PHEV premiered at the Geneva motor show in March. As the EV is less than a year old, it has not received any adjustments to its appearance. All three variants are due to be replaced in the third quarter of 2021.

A 4.7m long EV is on the way, with a general preview – the KED13 Imagine By Kia concept – revealed a few weeks ago at the Geneva motor show. The provisional development code is CV but this will change as the project progresses, although those two letters may remain and just be joined by a number.

At the moment, it isn’t clear what Kia’s strategy is, but some believe that the Stinger name is to be evolved into a small family of vehicles, the idea being to link future EVs to the idea of premium pricing, distinctive looks and high performance. The Imagine By Kia was about the same size as the Skoda Octavia. On the other hand, as noted above, Kia may instead intend to make Stinger a premium brand for all manner of models, including some with combustion engines.

Kia stated in November 2015 that it would be launch a fuel cell vehicle within five years: “Kia is targeting a 2020 launch for mass production of an all-new hydrogen fuel cell vehicle, featuring next-generation hydrogen fuel stack technology. Kia is working alongside 300 partner companies to develop the next-generation FCEV technology for global markets. Production of the new Kia FCEV is aimed to be around 1,000 units per year, a figure expected to rise as demand for fuel cell vehicles increases”.

In January 2018, the company reiterated 2020 as the release date for its fuel cell model. The announcement was made at CES in Las Vegas. Five months later, Hyundai Motor Group and Audi announced the broad outline of a fuel cell partnership. Kia Motors was also mentioned in the press release.

Reports for many other manufacturers’ future models are grouped in the OEM product strategy summaries section of

Future product program intelligence

More detail on past, current and forthcoming models can be found in PLDB, the future vehicles database which is part of QUBE. That includes various other models not mentioned above, including the K2 Cross, Venga, RAY, KX3 EV, Soul EV, Pegas, Ceed PHEV, KX4, K5 Hybrid/Optima Hybrid, K5 PHEV/Optima PHEV, and K7 Hybrid.

The next OEM to be featured in the future vehicles series will be FAW, including its Bestune and Hongqi brands.