NAIAS 2018: Refreshed Kia Forte brings Stinger-inspired looks to Detroit

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2019 Kia Forte debuts stylish looks, updated powertrain

A few days ago, Kia teased the motoring public by releasing several design renders of the 2019 Forte. Based on the images, Kia's C-segment fighter gains styling cues from its bigger brother, the Stinger sports sedan.

Now, the company has officially took the covers off the refreshed Forte at this year's North American Interionational Auto Show. Bearing a sportier design than the pre-facelift version, the third-generation Forte now offers better riding comfort, a more fuel efficient powertrain and added technologies.

“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 of product planning at Kia Motors America.

Beginning with its exterior, the redesigned Forte now has a sleek, sweptback design. Taking inspiration from the Stinger, the 2019 Forte features a bolder front fascia dominated by tapered headlights and larger tiger-nose grill. There is even a black painted lower valence which gives it a more striking appearance.

As for the rear, the sedan now features a revised bumper and a new set of taillights with separate reverse and turn signal indicators. Like the Sportage, the Forte also comes with a sleek horizontal trim piece that connects the taillights.

Inside, the 2019 Forte gets a moderate nip and tuck while retaining its sporty design. While not noticeable, Kia said that the cabin is now more spacious length-wise and width-wise. The new profile also allowed Kia to improve the Forte's cabin space.

Beside incorporating styling cues of the Stinger on the outside, Kia also applied it on the dashboard which made for an open, clutter-free design with clean lines and minimal buttons. Aeronautically-designed aircon vents on the far corners, along with th free-standing 8-inch touchscreen infotainment system gives the Forte a purposeful and modern look.

Under the hood is a second-generation 2.0-liter Nu inline-four engine that benefits from Atkinson Cycle technology and a cooled exhaust gas recirculation (EGR) system. These features boosts fuel efficiency as well as lessen carbon emissions. The engine produces 148 PS along with nearly 180 Nm of torque. Transmission options include a six-speed manual and an in-house built continuously variable transmission (CVT) called Intelligent Variable Transmission (IVT).

Compared to most CVTs, Kia claimed that the IVT is smoother in operation and feels like a traditional automatic gearbox. This was made possible after Kia used an adaptive step shift logic that runs on a chain-type belt instead of a push belt. In addition, Kia reduced transmission noise by wrapping the IVT in a sound-insulating cover to keep 'droning' noise to a minimum.

The engine and in-house built CVT is part of Kia's 'Smart Stream' family of powertrains that will soon be available on all Kia models.

Other features available in the 2019 Forte include: Apple CarPlay, Android Auto, Bluetooth connectivity, wireless smartphone charging, and a 320-watt Harman Kardon audio system. In terms of safety, the 2019 Forte can be specified with these additional smart safety kit; blind-spot collision warning, lane-keeping assist, forward-collision avoidance and smart cruise control.

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