The all-new 2019 Forte sedan enters its third generation with a more sophisticated design and desirable features, transforming one of Kia Motors America’s (KMA) best-selling vehicles into something more than just a commuter car. Thanks to a number of improvements, Forte now offers drivers a higher level of comfort and Kia Drive Wise technologies that are aimed to make the journey – whether a short commute or long haul – a more rewarding and decidedly upscale experience. Sporting an overall bolder appearance, the newly designed compact sedan also boasts improved EPA-estimated combined MPG ratings.
“The compact sedan segment is highly competitive, but 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, product planning, KMA. “As one of our top-selling models, the all-new Forte follows some large footsteps, but enhancements in styling, packaging and content make it even more attractive to drivers seeking a compact sedan that can accommodate their versatile lifestyle.”
Standard features and desirable amenities in the Forte continue to be available across four trims – FE, LXS, S and EX – with the model line continuing to expand throughout its lifecycle. Available later this fall, a limited Forte Launch Edition commemorates the all-new model with unique visual enhancements and standard technology upgrades.
Sophisticated Yet Sporty Design
While the third-generation Forte retains its sporty and youthful image, it has graduated to a more sophisticated appearance thanks to a number of sleek and dynamic styling cues inspired by the Stinger fastback sport sedan. Lauded in the auto industry for its excellence in design, the Stinger is a product fueled by Kia’s bold and adventurous spirit, and Peter Schreyer’s global team of designers translated elements of the Stinger’s design language onto the compact to give it a commanding road presence. Enthusiasts know that the right proportions are key, and like the Stinger, Forte’s long hood and short deck lend it an overall fastback-like shape. The cowl point was moved back five inches, creating a more athletic stance that makes the Forte appear well-planted to the ground.
Creases in the hood contribute to the Forte’s muscular appearance while the combination of a newly designed signature tiger nose grille and aggressive black lower valance enhances its individual character. Standard projection or available full LEDs can be had on the Stinger-inspired headlamps, while separate turn signal indicators are mounted near newly designed air curtains that help improve aerodynamic performance. Around back, the rear bumper gets the same treatment with separate reverse and turn signal indicators located beneath available LED taillights. Similar to the Sportage compact crossover, a sleek horizontal trim piece connects the taillights.
Creating the fastback shape strengthened the Forte’s exterior appearance, but it also gave engineers an opportunity to expand the occupant compartment in several key areas so passengers are treated to a comfortable space no matter how long the journey. Overall length has increased by 3.2 inches to 182.7 inches, allowing for more rear legroom and additional cargo in the trunk. With 15.3 cu.-ft., cargo room is among the largest in the segment and generous enough to accommodate gear for a group of friends on a road trip or a growing family managing a busy schedule. Additional rear headroom results from increasing the overall height to 56.5 inches, while the overall width has grown to 70.9 inches.
While the extra 0.8 inches of width may not be noticeable to the naked eye, the newly designed layout of the dashboard paints a picture of a wider interior space. Again drawing inspiration from the Stinger, a horizontal theme creates a sense of openness and avoids clutter with clean lines and minimal buttons that are intuitively placed below an 8-inch color touchscreen3. Aeronautically inspired spoked circular vents adorn the dash and increased soft-touch points create a visually appealing cabin. Drivers and passengers alike will appreciate easier ingress and egress, plus improved outward visibility and stronger and more lightweight seat frames that provide a more comfortable seating position with increased lumbar support and denser seat foam for more pleasurable long-distance drives.
Building upon an already solid structure that helped the 2018 Forte sedan achieve an Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) Top Safety Pick Plus rating4, the all-new 2019 Forte strengthens its bones with additional hot-stamped components and 54 percent Advanced High-Strength Steel5. The all-new Forte offers standard projection or available full LED headlights and is targeted to receive the highest ratings from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) and IIHS.
Because body stiffness plays a major role in NVH performance, engineers worked to increase rigidity for a quieter cabin and better handling tuned to match the Forte’s sporty and dynamic exterior appearance, resulting in a 16 percent stiffer body in white. New subframe designs help to improve lateral responsiveness, while steering feel is upgraded compared to its predecessor’s thanks to enhancements within the Motor Driven Power Steering (MDPS) system that reduce artificial steering feel and friction. Reworked suspension geometry provides a quick and nimble behind-the-wheel feel and evolutionary improvements were made to throttle and brake feel performance, yielding a smoother initial response at tip-in.
A More Efficient Powertrain
Housed underneath the Forte’s longer hood is a second-generation 2.0-liter Nu four-cylinder engine that benefits from Atkinson Cycle technology and a cooled EGR system. Typically applied to hybrid and electric vehicles, the Atkinson Cycle and cooled EGR technologies are designed to help boost fuel efficiency in a variety of situations. The new powerplant can be paired with a standard six-speed manual or an all-new available Intelligent Variable Transmission (IVT). The engine and in-house-built IVT are the first of a new line of highly efficient “Smart Stream” powertrains that will make their way into the Kia lineup in the future.
Waiting before developing Kia’s own continuously variable transmission (CVT) allowed engineers to research issues often associated with CVTs and apply their findings in the application used in the Forte. One of the main criticisms is that they can create a rubber-band-like feel, and in an effort to address this issue, engineers built the IVT with adaptive style shift logic with a chain-type belt instead of push belt, a first in the compact class. This results in smooth and linear acceleration, and for a more enjoyable and sporty driving experience, a step-shift-like feel mimics a conventional automatic at wide-open throttle or when more acceleration is needed.
Noise is another issue CVTs can sometimes face and engineers worked hard to reduce this in the Forte by wrapping the transmission case in a sound-insulating cover to help quiet the typical “drone” associated with this tech from other manufacturers. In doing so, NVH levels in the Forte are reduced by 5dB from the outgoing model.
Horsepower and torque remain unchanged from the 2018 Forte, putting out 147 HP and 132 lb.-ft. of torque. Without sacrificing engine performance, the Forte delivers improved EPA estimated combined MPG ratings all around. The FE trim equipped with the six-speed manual returns 27/37/31 mpg city/highway/combined1, but when outfitted with the IVT, the ratings improve to 31/41/35 mpg city/highway/combined. The LXS, S, and EX trims are rated at 30/40/34 mpg city/highway/combined.1
Brimming with Technology
Staying connected with advanced technology and infotainment features allows the driver to dedicate their attention to the road ahead. In that regard, the Forte comes standard with an 8-inch color touchscreen with support for Android Auto™6 and Apple CarPlay®7 that’s integrated neatly on the dash and within the driver’s line of sight. With select smartphone devices, the system also has the capability to read SMS texts aloud through Bluetooth®8. Eliminating the need for a charging cord is an available wireless charging9 tray perched up on the center stack for compatible smartphones.
Another welcome and surprising feature in this segment is an available 320-watt premium sound system developed with Harman/Kardon®10 that pumps out music through an eight speaker sound system with Clari-FiTM11, a patented music restoration technology that rebuilds audio signals that are lost during digital compression.
A number of Kia’s Drive Wise technology features are now standard on all Forte trims, positioning it as an even more value-laden option for shoppers looking for some of the latest convenience technologies. In addition to Forward Collision-Avoidance Assist (FCA)12 and Lane Keeping Assist (LKA)12, the all-new Forte comes equipped with Driver Attention Warning (DAW)13, Forward Collision Warning (FCW)12 and Lane Departure Warning (LDW)12. More Advanced Driver Assistance Systems (ADAS)12 are available including Smart Cruise Control (SCC)12 and Blind-Spot Collision Warning (BCW).12 Smart Cruise Control is designed to maintain a pre-set distance between the Forte and the vehicle detected in front and can slow the vehicle slows with traffic in certain circumstances, while Blind Spot Collision Warning, which includes Rear Cross-Traffic Collision Warning (RCCW)12, scans the area behind the vehicle when backing from a parking space and can alert the driver with an audible warning if it detects cross traffic.
Forte Launch Edition
Commemorating the arrival of the all-new Forte is the Launch Edition14, which sets itself apart with unique exterior elements starting with LED headlights, 17-inch graphite finished alloy wheels and rear spoiler that ramps up its sporty appearance. An exclusive Fire Orange exterior paint color completes the look. In terms of creature comforts and technology, the Launch Edition adds a power sunroof, LED interior lighting, wireless charging9 for smartphones, UVO15 eServices with Voice Command Premium Navigation, and Harman/Kardon®10 premium audio system with Clari-FiTM11 to the list of standard equipment. Smart Cruise Control (SCC)12 and Forward Collision-Avoidance Assist with Pedestrian Detection (FCA-Ped)12 round out the Launch Edition’s tech roster