Playing to its Strengths: 2019 Kia Forte Debuts at NAIAS [Breaking News]

2019 Kia Forte
The 2019 Kia Forte cribs styling cues from its GT cousin, the Stinger. [Photo: Kia]

The 2019 Kia Forte hopes to play to its strengths in its latest generation

You know what they say – good things come in threes. Book and movie trilogies. Fire safety (stop, drop, and roll). Life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. In this instance, we’re talking about the 2019 Kia Forte, which is now in its third generation. After two successful iterations, it’s time for the third go-around. Kia claims the new Forte as its most sophisticated, sporty design yet. Just revealed at the North American International Auto Show, what all is new with Kia’s sedan compact offering? Does the “Forte” play to its strengths, thereby proving the rule of threes? Take a look at what’s new:

Visual updates

Kia rightly points out that the compact sedan market is – for the time being, at least – a highly competitive one. Nearly every U.S.-market manufacturer pitches its offering against its rivals. To shift units in this segment, you have to look the part to accommodate and entice buyers. The 2019 Kia Forte gest a fresh look inside and out for this new generation, taking styling cues from the recently-launched Stinger. The company bestowed its latest compact sedan with bolder, more dynamic interior styling, losing some of the rounded design of the previous generation.

This car is longer and lower than the outgoing Forte, which helps give it a sportier stance. Overall length has increased by 3.2 inches to 182.7 inches in total. It’s also 70.8 inches wide, 0.7 inches wider than before. To accommodate more headroom, however, the new Forte is 0.4 inches taller than the old model, at 56.7 inches. Kia has given their signature Tiger Nose grille an upright treatment in the new car, and its longer hood coupled with a short rear deck lend it a fastback-like shape.

More tech than ever

The 2019 Kia Forte, at launch, will come in three trim levels: LX, S, and EX. No real surprises there. However, a pleasant surprise comes in the form of a standard 8-inch touchscreen across the range. Wireless charging will also be an option on Forte models, with support for compatible Android devices as well as the latest generation Apple iPhones. You can also spec a 320-watt Harman Kardon sound system to get the best audio experience.

The technology train doesn’t stop there, either. Kia’s including its suite of driver assistance tech in the third-generation Forte, as well. The Forte will come available with Blind-Spot Collision Warning, Lane Keep Assist, Forward Collision-Avoidance Assist and Smart Cruise Control.

2019 Kia Forte
The 2019 Kia Forte has a longer hood and shorter rear deck to achieve a fastback-like aesthetic. [Photo: Kia]

You can still get a manual!

Cradled under the 2019 Kia Forte’s hood is a new generation of the company’s 2.0-liter Nu four-cylinder engine. While the 147 horsepower and 132 lb-ft torque output is perfectly adequate, efficiency was the name of the game here. To that end, Kia fitted the new Forte with what it’s calling an “IVT”, or an “Intelligent” Variable Transmission. Thanks to Kia’s engineering team, this unit is supposed to dial out the worst trait of an ordinary CVT by fitting a sound-insulating cover to stave off the dreaded “drone”. They’ve also incorporated adaptive shift logic with a chain-type belt to counteract the rubber-banding effect that hamstrings CVTs.

All that engineering comes together to achieve an estimated 35 MPG, or a 3 MPG improvement over the outgoing Forte. Even better, if you’re not sold on the IVT, you don’t have to have it. You can fit your Forte with a six-speed manual gearbox.

Coming to a dealership near you later this year

The 2019 Kia Forte will come to dealerships later this year. Pricing information isn’t available at the moment, nor are official EPA figures. We expect Kia to announce both closer to the car’s arrival.

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