Why Kia Isn’t Ditching Sedans in the Age of Crossovers


Crossovers outsold traditional cars in North America last year. It’s no secret that people love crossovers, so why is Kia showing off a new generation of its Forte compact sedan rather than debuting some sort of jacked-up off-roader?

“While the rest of the industry is seeing more crossover sales, we’re actually seeing sedans still having an impact,” Orth Hedrick, VP of Product Planning at Kia America, told at the Detroit Auto Show. “Forte sales last year actually increased.”

In 2017, the Forte nameplate enjoyed its best year of sales with more than 117,000 units finding a new home in the U.S. Kia still sells a ton of crossovers, but there’s a number of reasons why sedans still matter.

“While car buyers may prefer a crossover with a more commanding view of the road, we found that many crossovers have a price premium over sedans,” Hedrick said. “As a result, buyers were being forced to graduate into an overall smaller vehicle.”

2019 Kia Forte

That doesn’t suit everybody, so sedans with more passenger and cargo room than a subcompact crossover clearly still have a place in the market today. With 15.1 cubic feet of storage and more passenger space than before, the new Forte is poised to show off that sedans still matter.

In Canada, it’s a similar story. “The Forte is still selling well,” says Ted Lancaster, VP and COO of Kia Canada. “Small cars in Canada are actually quite popular,” he added. It helps that Kia Canada has equipped cars like the Rio with such value-packed features like heated seats and steering wheels.

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“We do a lot of studying with car buyers to find out what people like about their cars,” said Lancaster. “We don’t discuss brands, we just want to know what features people like, and we take that feedback and put them right into our cars.”

Equipment on the Forte hasn’t been finalized, but Lancaster thinks that those heated seats and steering wheel will likely make it to the entry-level car, following in the brand’s reputation of delivering a value-packed sedan at a low price.

Taking a look at what other automakers have done in the past few years, it’s clear that crossovers are a priority over sedans. Nissan introduced two new crossovers last year (the Kicks and Rogue Sport) but didn’t refresh or come out with any sedans, Ford brought three updated or new crossovers and SUVs (the EcoSport, Edge, and Expedition) but is also rumored to be delaying its next Fusion redesign and might even shelve it entirely, and Chrysler has stopped selling the Dart and 200C sedans in North America. 

Kia is among a few remaining mass-market automakers still making and updating sedans and it doesn’t seem to be slowing down.

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1 Comment

bd says:

Forte sales increased last year mainly b/c supply increased (being built at Kia’s new plant in Mexico).

Price isn’t really an issue as buyers move down a size-segment when switching to crossovers and not really losing much space, but increasing utility.

While it seems that Kia will be bringing the Telluride crossover to production, they still need to either bring the Stonic over or give the next Soul AWD (even an e-AWD option would suffice).

Hardly think Kia is the one of the few making and updating sedans.

The Accord and Camry are new (the Civic isn’t that old either) with both a new Avalon and Corolla coming for Toyota and a new Altima and Sentra in the pipeline for Nissan.