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Kia K4 Set to Debut at NY Auto Show as Forte Replacement

by | March 21, 2024

Kia has an all-new compact sedan coming and it will make it’s debut at the New York International Auto Show next week. There are some big changes coming – and they start with the badge, the Kia K4 replacing the old Forte nameplate.

Kia K4 - rear 3-4

The K4 advances Kia’s “Opposites United” design language.

While the Korean carmaker isn’t revealing all its cards, it’s finally giving us a first clear look at its next-generation compact sedan after rolling out a series of teaser images.

The design is bolder and more distinctive than the outgoing Forte – and it gets a very different take on the familiar Kia “tiger-nose” grille. K9 blends a number of strong design elements the automaker has adopted over the last several years, lifting the broad fenders of the EV6 battery-electric vehicle and the sharp, vertical lines of the Telluride SUV. The fastback roof, meanwhile, is likely to bring to mind the Kia Stinger.

It follows the lead set by Kia’s midsize sedan, meanwhile, which abandoned the familiar Optima name used in the U.S. market in favor of sharing the global K5 badge. In this case, the Forte nameplate becomes the Kia K4.

A bolder look

Kia K4 - side

Kia fans will recognize design cues resembling several other recent entries from the Korean carmaker.

The Kia brand was long known for its bargain-basement entries. That “cheap-and-cheerful” image vanished with the arrival of Peter Schreyer, the European designer best known for the Audi TT. Starting out as Kia’s design chief in 2006, he eventually was elevated to global vice chairman for the entire Hyundai Motor Group. Schreyer introduced distinctive design details like the ubiquitous tiger-nose grille. But the new K4 suggests the current Kia styling team is looking to move on.

The iconic front end detail won’t vanish entirely, at least not if the K4 is any indication, but it’s smaller, the new sedan’s snout now distinguished by a large air intake under the bumper, as well as more vertical headlights largely lifted from Telluride. The lighting theme is larger mirrored in the rear.

The overall design language, now dubbed “Opposites United,” first was used on the Kia Carnival minivan, as well as the Sorrento SUV. A variation on the theme was adopted by the EV6 battery-electric vehicle and the newer EV9 3-row SUV.

Overall, the K4 gets a more dynamic, sporty appearance, underscored by the Stinger-like fastback roofline.

New interior

Twin digital displays dominate the Kia K4 instrument panel.

The new K4 adopts a markedly different interior, as well. There are subtle revisions, such as the flat-bottomed steering wheel. It rises out of a new, horizontally oriented instrument panel meant to emphasize the sedan’s width.

Twin digital displays – fitted under a single pane of glass, dominate the IP, the touchscreen atop the center stack handling most vehicle functions. Unlike Korean sibling Hyundai, Kia has foregone the idea of adding separate controls for the climate system. But there are hard buttons below the touchscreen to make it easy to move between functions or return to the home page.

More Kia News


2023 Kia Forte

It’s unclear whether the new Kia K4 will carry over any of the engines currently offered on the Forte. But a hybrid could be added.

We’ll have to wait until next week to learn more about what will motivate the new Kia K5. The automaker saving some news for its New York news conference.

The outgoing Kia Forte offers a choice of a 147-horsepower 2.0-liter inline-four, though motorists looking for more muscle could upgrade to a turbocharged package making 201 horsepower.

Whether either of those engines will be carried over is uncertain. There’s wide speculation, meanwhile, that Kia could add a new hybrid option with the K4. That would help it stand up against the likes of the Toyota Corolla Hybrid and Honda the hybrid version of the Civic Honda will soon bring to the U.S.


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