Kia invests in new compact car even though the segment is shrinking as Americans buy SUVs and trucks

NEW YORK (AP) — Kia is rolling out a revamped compact car in the U.S. even though sales of small cars are dropping as the nation continues to favor SUVs and pickup trucks.

The South Korean automaker rolled out the new K4, which replaces the Forte, at the New York International Auto Show on Wednesday. It was one of only a few new vehicle debuts at the show, continuing a trend of automakers unveiling new models largely with their own events.

The 2025 K4 is making its global debut at the show, with the company saying it's loaded with new technology and has class-leading rear head and leg room. The car has a fastback roofline and a wide stance, splitting the difference between midsize and compact segments, Kia said.

The K4 comes with 11 standard advanced driving features including automatic emergency braking, lane-keeping assist and smart cruise control. There are two powertrain choices, the standard 2-liter, 147 horsepower four cylinder with a continuously variable transmission, or a 1.6-liter turbocharged four with 190 horsepower and an eight-speed automatic transmission.

Stephanie Brinley, an analyst with S&P Global Mobility, said U.S. compact car sales have been declining for years, but they still accounted for about 1 million in vehicle sales last year. Kia sold more than 120,000 Fortes in 2023, she said.

“It generally provides affordable, accessible transportation and contributes positively to Kia’s showroom today,” Brinley said.

Pricing and fuel economy weren't announced. The K4 is scheduled to hit showrooms in the second half of this year.