The model likely shares a platform with the Rio.

Kia is preparing a new entry into the highly competitive compact crossover segment, and this batch of spy photos provides a glimpse of the little CUV. The model needs to be competitive right from the beginning because its challengers include the popular Honda HR-V, Mazda CX-3, Buick Encore, and its less-expensive twin the Chevrolet Trax. Look for the vehicle to go on sale in 2017, according to a recent rumor.

This camouflaged model's front end features high-mounted turn signals and headlights underneath, which is a styling touch reminiscent of the Nissan Juke and Jeep Cherokee. In profile, you can see the short overhangs and stubby nose. The rear features high mounted lights, which suggests narrow glass at the back.

We believe the compact crossover shares a platform with the next-gen Rio. Spy shots show the model has a significantly larger footprint, which allows for more passenger volume. In Europe, the model would get a range of diesel- and petrol-fueled engines, but the United States would likely only have gasoline-drinking powerplants. An earlier rumor hinted at a plug-in hybrid in the CUV's drivetrain range, too.

Kia needs to be careful with how it positions the new compact CUV because the model could cannibalize volume from two existing vehicles. The Soul is currently the brand’s overall bestseller in the U.S but seems to occupy a similar niche as the new crossover. The Rio is less popular, and some buyers might pay a little more to get a higher-riding version instead.

Gallery: 2018 KIA XSUV Spy Photos