The 2019 Kia Forte spiced things up at this year’s (typically frigid) Detroit Auto Show with a hot new look and some fancy new tech under the hood that will help the car achieve 35 mpg combined.
The Forte is now in its third generation and over those years, the Korean automaker has learned a lot about what compact car buyers want. This new model seems to incorporate all of those lessons and the result is this sleek new sedan that looks ready to do battle with the Honda Civic and Toyota Corolla.
The biggest news is that this car takes a few styling cues from the well-received Kia Stinger sport sedan. The automaker moved the cowl point, essentially where the hood is, backward about five inches to give the car a more sporty appearance, mimicking the long hood, short deck profile of the Stinger. An aggressive front end is made possible with the sharp creases in the hood and the lower valence, which is blacked out. The design of the lights are also inspired by the Stinger, and so is the new “tiger nose” grille. Around back, the LED tail lights are connected by a thin horizontal piece, like the Sportage (and also the Stinger … who would’ve guessed!?).
ALSO SEE: 2018 Detroit Auto Show Coverage
The car is 3.2 inches longer than before and that growth translates into a more spacious cabin in terms of legroom. There’s also more cargo space with 15.1 cubic feet of storage in the trunk, which Kia says is best in class. There’s an improved layout design that looks more upscale and stylish, with circular vents and soft-touch points. Kia has also minimized the number of buttons under that standard eight-inch touchscreen. That infotainment system comes with standard Android Auto and Apple CarPlay, and there’s also an available wireless charging system. To make things even more interesting, Kia is now offering a 320-watt Harmon/Kardon sound system with a stylish speaker grille.
In terms of driver assistance features, the Forte has everything you can think of: blind spot collision warning, lane keeping assist, forward collision-avoidance assist, and adaptive cruise control are all available.
Under the hood is one of the Forte’s biggest change: a new continuously variable transmission that’s been built from the ground up by Kia. The automaker says that by waiting to make its own CVT, it was able to address certain criticisms and concerns that consumers have about the transmissions, like the dreaded rubber-band feeling of acceleration.
Kia says that by using a chain-type belt with a unique “adaptive” shift logic, the transmission won’t have this issue. They have also wrapped the transmission case with a sound-insulating cover to cut down on the annoying CVT drone that most of these transmissions are known for. If you’re not sold on the CVT, a six-speed manual will still be available.
While the 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine will retain its output ratings of 147 hp and 132 lb-ft of torque, the engine does have a few new tricks that will improve its efficiency. The engine can use an Atkinson Cycle now, and it also features a cooled EGR technology that is expected to help the car deliver 35 mpg combined, an improvement of 3 mpg.
ALSO SEE: 2018 Kia Stinger Review | Kia Stinger GT Review
The bones of the Forte have also been revised to ensure it is safer, more responsive, and less noisy than before. That’s a tall order considering the current Forte has a Top Safety Pick Plus rating by the IIHS. High-strength steel makes up 54 percent of the frame, and the car is 16 percent stiffer as well. Kia also says it has improved the steering feel of the car so that it will feel less numb and artificial, two common complaints with the current model.
The compact car segment isn’t as hot as it once was, thanks to the rise in popularity of crossovers, but Kia has designed a great new Forte that’s full of enhancements. While pricing is not yet known, we’d wager that it’d be pretty competitive with the current crop of compact sedans.