The 2019 Kia Forte sedan makes its debut with a sleeker, more coupe-like exterior at the 2018 Detroit Auto Show. Kia says that its compact sedan takes design cues from the Stinger to give it a more aggressive appearance. With its updated powertrain and an all-new CVT option, the 2019 Forte aims to be stylish and fuel efficient.
Unlike most compact sedans, the 2019 Kia Forte adopts a cab rearward exterior, giving it a fastback silhouette and a short trunklid. Designers moved the cowl back 5 inches to achieve this look while giving the car a more planted appearance on the road.
Out back, the 2019 Forte has a trim piece connecting both of its taillights, similar to the Sportage crossover. The car has also been stretched by 3.2 inches, making it 182.7 inches long and allowing for more legroom and a larger trunk that now measures 15.1 cubic feet. It also grows slightly in width by 0.7 inch to 70.8 inches and is a half-inch taller at 56.7 inches, improving headroom.
Compared to the outgoing model, the 2019 Kia Forte features a stronger body made of 54 percent advanced high-strength steel and expects the car to receive top crash test scores from the IIHS. The seat frames are also stronger yet lighter, and the body-in-white is 16 percent stiffer.
According to Kia, the 2019 model’s new motor-driven power steering system should minimize the artificial feel and friction while the revised suspension geometry improves handling. Throttle and braking feel have also been reworked to smooth out tip-in response and achieve better stopping performance.
Under the hood is a carryover 2.0-liter I-4 running on the Atkinson cycle and is estimated to make 147 hp and 132 lb-ft of torque. It can be couple to either a standard six-speed manual or Kia’s first CVT, dubbed Intelligent Variable Transmission (IVT).
The automaker worked to ensure its first gearless transmission didn’t have a rubber band feel, which resulted in the addition of a “shifting” logic to make it feel like a conventional automatic. It also features a chain-type belt to help reduce the rubber band effect. Kia wrapped the transmission case in a sound-insulating cover to improve NVH and to ensure that the CVT doesn’t get noisy. The Korean automaker is expecting the new powertrain combination to get 35 mpg in the combined cycle.
Inside, the 2019 Forte comes standard with an 8.0-inch touchscreen, which is the centerpiece of its minimalistic cabin. The updated infotainment system comes standard with Android Auto and Apple CarPlay on all models and can now read text messages on phones linked via Bluetooth.
Additional features include full LED headlights, a 320-watt Harman Kardon premium audio system, and a wireless phone charger. A full suite of active safety tech will be offered on the 2019 Kia Forte including blind-spot monitoring, lane keeping assist, adaptive cruise control, and Forward Collision-Avoidance Assist, which bundles together automatic emergency braking and forward collision braking.
Look for the 2019 Kia Forte to go on sale later this year. A hatchback variant should follow sometime after the sedan, possibly with a 201-hp turbo-four engine option.