Kia Forte

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Kia Forte


Introduced in 2008 as a brand-new nameplate, the Forte has already made a name for itself in the affordable compact car market. And while it might not be as popular as the Toyota Corolla and Honda Civic, the Forte was Kia’s best-selling vehicle in the U.S. in recent years and of only 15 cars to earn the IIHS’ Top Safety Pick+ rating for 2018. Not bad for an automobile that had nothing to brag about a decade ago. Almost six years old as of early 2018, the second-generation Forte is living its final months on the market, with a redesigned model set to break cover at the Detroit Auto Show. Details are still under wraps, but Kia released a bunch of design sketches to keep us busy until the event kicks off next week.

Based on these renderings, the Kia Forte will gain a massive makeover. As is always the case with design sketches, the sedan might not be aggressive in real life, but even if we ignore the exaggerated styling cues, the third-gen Forte is one sexy compact. The interior looks promising too thanks to its clean design and near-premium class features. There’s still a lot left to discover about the car that’s trying to give the all-popular Toyota Corolla and Honda Civic a run for their money, but until we can find out more at the Detroit Auto Show, let’s have a closer look at Kia’s design sketches below.

Continue reading to learn more about the Kia Forte Sedan.

Exterior

  • Sportier exterior design
  • Stinger-inspired cues
  • New "tigernose" grille
  • Clean side view
  • Diffuser-like element around back
  • LED lights
2019 Kia Forte - image 757883
"The renderings show a significantly sportier design up front"

The renderings show a significantly sportier design up front with every important design cue given a serious makeover. The new styling is clearly inspired by the hot Kia Stinger, but the Forte is by no means as aggressive as its bigger sibling. The "tigernose" grille is indeed based on the Stinger’s, having a narrower center section and more angular outer edges. The previous grille looks mild by comparison. The headlamps are also new. No longer connected to the grille, they also become slimmer toward the fenders, which gives the car a sportier look. The bumper boasts a larger center vent with integrated foglamps, while the side intakes bigger than the Stinger’s. Needless to say, the new Forte is gorgeous to look at based on these renderings.

The profile sports the same clean design as its predecessor, but there are quite a few changes to talk about. For starters, the beltline seems to be dead straight from front to rear, whereas on the outgoing model it ascends from the front fenders toward the trunk lid. The window trim is more symmetrical now and has a more pronounced Hofmeister Kink-like element on the quarter window. Like any rendering, there are a few features you should ignore for the production model, like the large wheels, the low-profile tires, and the missing door handles.

2018 Kia Stinger - image 745718
"Unlike the front fascia, the rear bears no resemblance to the Stinger"

Unlike the front fascia, the rear bears no resemblance to the Stinger. However, it’s significantly different than the outgoing Forte. The taillights are sleeker and have a unique LED layout, while the bumper has fake triangular vents on the each. There’s also a diffuser like element underneath, but it remains to be seen if this feature will go into production. The trunk lid is rounded off by a small spoiler and a horizontal strip between the taillights, which appears to be borrowed from the Sportage SUV.

In all, the Forte Sedan looks quite appealing in these renderings, but not everything you see here will make it on the production. Maybe Kia will use some of the sporty features on the range-topping model, but expect the entry-level trim to have a milder design. Still, it a welcomed upgrade over the current model.

Interior

  • Clean dashboard design
  • Uncluttered center stack
  • Big infotainment screen
  • Premium-like features
  • Two-tone upholstery
  • Contrast stitching
2019 Kia Forte - image 757613
"The bulbous center stack and the cheap-looking dashboard of the current model were ditched in favor of a cleaner, more modern layout"

Kia published only one rendering of the interior, and its more of a sketch rather than a detailed image, but it’s enough to get a good glimpse of the new cabin. And it’s entirely different from the outgoing model. And unlike the exterior, it doesn’t borrow too many features from other models.

The awkward-looking, bulbous center stack and the rather cheap-looking dashboard of the current model were ditched in favor of a cleaner, more modern layout. There are round A/C vents at the corners, a thin stripe stretching across the center stack and the passenger side, and a large infotainment screen on top.

The control layout is limited to just a few knobs, a massive improvement over the outgoing model, which had an ugly clutter of buttons below the display. The steering wheel looks cleaner too, while the door panels have a two-tone design with contrast stitching. Yup, it seems that the new Forte Sedan is moving up the premium ladder.

Drivetrain

  • Four-cylinder engines likely
  • More powerful turbo 2.0
  • At least two drivetrain options
2019 Kia Forte - image 757885
"The new Forte should get updated versions of the current 2.0-liter powerplants"

Kia had nothing to say about the engine lineup, but it’s possible that the new Forte gets updated versions of the current 2.0-liter powerplants. While the base models use a 2.0-liter, Atkinson-cycle four-cylinder rated at 147 horsepower, the more expensive trims come with a 2.0-liter four-pot rated at 164 horses. The sedan also gets a turbocharged, 1.6-liter Gamma GDI mill that generates 201 horsepower, but only in hatchback configuration. It would be cool for Kia to offer the twin-turbo, 2.0-liter four-banger from the Stinger in the Forte, but that’s not very likely to happen. At least not with the Stinger’s 255 horsepower and 260 pound-feet of torque.

I will update this section with specs from the Detroit Auto Show so make sure you stick around for more info.

Prices

2019 Kia Forte - image 757884

The new Kia Forte should come with a mild price increase over the outgoing model, which retails from $16,800. The redesigned model will probably cost at least $17,500 in base LX trim, while the S will fetch a bit more than $20,000. The range-topping EX version should cost around $22,500 before options.

Competition

Toyota Corolla

2014 Toyota Corolla - image 509691

The new Forte Sedan will go against a few tough competitors, starting with the Toyota Corolla, the world’s best selling car since the 1990s. Redesigned most recently in 2013, the Corolla may be a little old compared to the upcoming Forte, but it remains a popular choice in the United States and Europe. But while it may be reliable and efficient, the Corolla feels a bit dated inside the cabin and the fact that it’s limited to just one engine in the U.S. makes things easier for Kia. The 1.8-liter four-cylinder is rated at either 132 horsepower and 128 pound-feet of torque or 140 horses and 126 pound-feet, so the Forte should win the horsepower battle with the range-topping model. Mileage varies between 27 to 28 mpg city and 35 to 36 mpg highway depending on drivetrain, but Kia should be able to top that given that the outgoing Forte is already good for up to 37 mpg on the highway. Pricing for the Corolla starts from $18,550 for the base model and goes up to $22,730 for the range-topping trim.

Read our full review of the 2017 Toyota Corolla.

Honda Civic

2016 Honda Civic - image 651097

The Honda Civic is the second-most popular car in this niche and, unlike the Corolla, it’s brand-new for 2018 and boasts a sportier, more modern appearance. It’s also slightly larger than the competition and comes with a solid convenience and tech package. Motivation comes from three different engines, starting with a 2.0-liter four-cylinder rated at 158 horsepower and 138 pound-feet of torque. More oomph comes from the more expensive trims, which get juice from the turbocharged, 1.5-liter four-pot with 174 horses and 162 pound-feet. The tiny powerplant is found in the Si model too, rated at 205 horsepower and 192 pound-feet. The Si also enables Honda to rise above the competition as neither Toyota, Kia, Hyundai or Chevrolet offer similar power ratings. Pricing starts at $18,840 for the base model, while the Touring trim retails from $26,700. The higher performance Si variant fetches $24,100 before options.

Read our full story on the 2017 Honda Civic.

Volkswagen Jetta

2019 Volkswagen Jetta - image 755666

A new-generation Jetta will be unveiled at the 2018 Detroit Auto Show and based on Volkswagen’s renderings, it will be aimed at a more premium market and it will have a decidedly sporty design. Which makes it the perfect competitor for the new Forte. Unfortunately, there isn’t much information beyond the design sketches, but it appears it will have a fancy-looking interior and a couple of turbocharged engines, with the range-topping model likely to arrive with more than 200 horsepower. Pricing will start from close to $19,000, which will make it the most expensive of the bunch. The performance-oriented GLI model will probably fetch close to $30,000.

Read our speculative review of the 2019 Volkswagen Jetta.

Conclusion

2019 Kia Forte - image 757615

It’s too early to jump into conclusions with nothing more than a few design sketches to run by, but it’s pretty obvious that the new Forte is a significant departure from its predecessor inside and out. And judging by the Stinger-inspired exterior design and the fancier interior layout, Kia could also be looking to move the Forte higher in the market, probably next to the Volkswagen Jetta. We will find out more at the Detroit Auto Show.

  • Leave it
    • * Production model might not be this aggressive
    • * Tough competition

References

Kia Forte

2017 Kia Forte - image 661737

Read our full review on the 2017 Kia Forte.

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Read more Detroit Auto Show news.

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Read more Kia news.


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