EDITOR'S NOTE: An earlier version overstated the projected annual sales of the redesigned Forte.
MONT TREMBLANT, Que. — With its redesigned -- and more advanced -- Forte compact sedan, Kia sees a growth opportunity in the segment even as other automakers scale back the number of traditional car offerings.
The Korean automaker is looking to sell 14,000 Fortes annually in Canada in a segment dominated by the Honda Civic and Toyota Corolla.
Kia's presence in the compact category "is very important, even if the market is shrinking," Kia Canada CEO Kyle Lee said at a news event here.
With the new, third-generation Forte, Kia is courting buyers with a host of standard equipment, including heated seats and steering wheel and an eight-inch display screen with Android Auto and Apple Carplay even on the $18,319 base model, including shipping.
But the sales focus is on the $22,819 Forte EX with standard LED headlamps, polished alloy wheels and safety systems, including rear and forward collision avoidance assist.
Marketing director Michael Kopke said KIA expects 49 per cent of buyers will opt for the EX. The automaker is promoting a "total value" strategy to woo buyers rather than surprising them at the showroom with added fees for options.
While the Forte has grown in most dimensions, the biggest change could be a new steel-belt variable transmission Kia says is quieter and crisper than competing rubber-belt variable transmissions.
Kia promises fuel savings of up to 17 per cent with the new automatic. At the press event, the dash display on one EX reported a remarkable 4.9 L/100 km at brisk highway speeds.
Already at dealerships, the Forte is built in Mexico.
Lee said the company is still assessing the new United States-Mexico-Canada trade agreement. Pending that "deep dive" review of the complicated pact, he doesn't foresee a big impact on Kia's Canadian operations.