Kia is reportedly making moves to offer the subcompact crossover market yet another fresh entry. Spy photographers recently caught a glimpse of the new model undergoing hot-weather testing, and despite being obscured by layers of camouflage, we can glean a bit of insight into what’s in store. 

Based on pictures of the heavily disguised test mules, styling will put the headlights high on the fenders, while the rear should offer a good deal of space for the car’s diminutive dimensions. Overhang is kept to a minimum. In terms of the Kia’s catalog, the car looks as though it’s destined to slot below the compact Sportage.

It’s all quite similar to the 2014 Kia KX3 Concept unveiled at last year’s Guangzhou Motor Show in China, and continues themes first seen in the 2013 Kia Niro concept. 

It’s possible the new model will come bearing a 1.0-liter three-cylinder powerplant from Kia’s Kappa engine family, with output estimated at around 70 horsepower and 70 pound-feet of torque. However, it’s more likely the car will be equipped with a 1.6-liter turbocharged four-cylinder mated to a seven-speed dual-clutch transmission, just like the 2016 Hyundai Veloster and 2016 Kia Optima. Per tradition, AWD should be listed as an available option. 

Pricing is expected to be somewhere in the $17,000 to $18,000 range.

The subcompact crossover segment is one the hottest segments in the U.S., enjoying huge growth over the last few years. That means the new Kia won’t be without competition, with rivals including the 2015 Chevrolet Trax, 2016 Fiat 500X, and 2014-2016 Buick Encore. Kia’s parent company, Hyundai Motor Group, is also reportedly preparing its own subcompact crossover for the U.S.

Continue reading for the full story.

Why it matters

It’s true - we Americans surely do love our subcompact crossovers. A bevy of companies are taking advantage of the segment’s popularity, with new models seemingly springing up at an ever-increasing pace. Here’s a few examples: the 2015 Nissan Juke, the 2015 Subaru Crosstrek, the 2015 Mini Countryman, the 2016 Honda HR-V, the 2016 Mazda CX-3… the list goes on and on.

Americans want a vehicle they feel can take them through the inevitable zombie apocalypse, and a VW Golf just won’t hack it in dire circumstances like that.

But why? Well, the U.S. has always loved SUVs, but with increasing concerns over environmental impact, fluctuating oil prices, and limited space in crowded urban centers, the go-anywhere-do-anything sport utility vehicle looks a bit outdated.

Then why not go with a wagon or hatchback? Interestingly enough, most sub-compact SUVs don’t really offer any more space than a decently sized hatch, so it has nothing to do with actual utility. 

In the end, I’d venture it’s a matter of perception – the high stance proportions and pumped up body panels offer the feeling of that old tackle-it-all SUV attitude, while the smallish dimensions and downsized engines meet modern expectations. It’s about the idea that you could ford a river and still get over 35 mpg, regardless of whether or the scenario is actually possible in the real world. 

And besides, hatchbacks are just too… well, for lack of a better word, European. Americans want a vehicle they feel can take them through the inevitable zombie apocalypse, and a VW Golf just won’t hack it in dire circumstances like that.

But I’m curious – why do you think U.S. customers love the subcompact crossover? Do you own one yourself? Would you ever consider buying one? Why?

Let us know in the comments.

2016 Kia Sportage

2017 Kia Sportage High Resolution Exterior Spyshots
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Read our full review here.

Source: Automotive News

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