Design cues from Kia's Stinger sport sedan have made their way to the third-generation Kia Forte sedan and the compact car is receiving an engineering overhaul that improves fuel economy and powertrain refinement.
Kia unwrapped the latest, 2019 Forte Monday the Detroit auto show. The brand provided a peek at the redesigned sedan last week with several renderings.
The Forte, Kia's top-selling nameplate in the U.S. last year, will keep its sporty and youthful look. There are new creases on the hood, a fresh approach to Kia's signature tiger nose grille and a lower valance.
Kia says the changes are designed to transform one of its best-selling vehicles "into something more than a compact car meant for getting people from one point to another."
Overall length has been increased by 3.2 inches to 182.7 inches, creating more legroom and additional cargo space in the trunk. With 15.1 cubic feet, Kia says the Forte's cargo capacity is among the largest in the segment. Additional headroom results from increasing the overall height nearly a half inch to 56.7 inches, while the Forte's overall width has grown to 70.8 inches.
U.S. sales of the Forte, which is also available as a hatchback, totaled 117,596 in 2017, a 14 percent increase, in a segment that declined 5.8 percent and an overall car market that shrank for the fourth straight year.
"With all the improvements the new Forte brings to market for the 2019 model year, it is more than prepared to take on the toughest the segment has to offer," said Orth Hedrick, vice president for product planning at Kia Motors America.
It is powered by Kia's second-generation 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine and a continuously variable transmission.
Kia says horsepower and torque are expected to remain unchanged from the 2018 Forte, with an estimated 147 hp and 132 pound-feet of torque. Engineers made fuel efficiency a top priority and the IVT -- Kia's name for intelligent variable transmission -- together with the 2.0-liter engine, is estimated to generate up to 35 mpg combined city and highway, or about a 3 mpg improvement over the current vehicle.
To minimize noise -- a common complaint of CVTs -- engineers wrapped the transmission case in a sound-insulating cover to help dim the typical "drone," reducing overall noise, vibration and harshness levels by 5 decibels, Kia says.
The interior, Kia says, is "more comfortable and class above" with a "horizontal theme" that "creates a sense of openness." There are fewer buttons, and the circular heating and air conditioning vents in the dash are similar to those in the Stinger.
The 2019 Forte comes standard with an 8-inch color touch screen with Android Auto 3 and Apple CarPlay.