Why The Kia K4 Is A Worthy Successor To The Kia Forte - SUV VEHICLE

Why The Kia K4 Is A Worthy Successor To The Kia Forte



  • Kia’s brand transformation continues in 2024 with the stylish K4 replacing the forgettable Forte, showcasing a complete design overhaul.
  • The interior and exterior of the K4 stand out with a striking design and modern features, making it a competitive option in the compact sedan segment.
  • While maintaining traditional engines, the K4 offers improved handling, tech-focused features, and a refreshing alternative to SUVs in the passenger car segment.

Kia will continue its brand transformation in 2024. As Kia’s cars got sleeker and more modern to look at. Its simple and forgettable logo which was born out of its value-for-money image, wasn’t any longer matching with its cars that have gotten sleeker and easier on the eyes over the past few decades.

Finally donning a new logo in 2022, the South Korean automaker’s brand transformation is one of the most successful in the automotive industry. It’s not every time that an automaker, especially one that already has a solid identity, does a complete 180 and completely transforms how the brand operates and is perceived today. But that’s something worth discussing later. What matters right now is the new 2025 Kia K4, a stylish sedan that replaces the good, but not exactly memorable Forte.

2025 Kia K4 Replaces The Forte With Radical New Design, Same Old Engines

The new K4 improves in the areas that matter, but a hybrid drivetrain could have helped it stay competitive in this hot segment.

In order to give you the most up-to-date and accurate information possible, the data used to compile this article was sourced from Kia and other authoritative sources, including iF, and Car And Driver.

Design Is Now The K4’s Forte

While Kia’s compact sedan was called the Forte, the current generation model’s design wasn’t exactly its Forte. There’s nothing inherently wrong with how it looks, mind you, but the current Forte doesn’t stand out either. This new K4, however, aims to completely rectify that, as it is bringing new life to economy cars.

Striking And Distinct

Let’s first talk about its exterior, because this is what immediately stands out. Let’s start with its front end, where you’re greeted by Kia’s signature Tiger Face design that’s composed of striking “Start Map” L-shaped LED daytime running lights and a thin grille that’s refreshing to see amidst an array of large grilles these days.

This front fascia theme makes up the brand’s Opposites United design language, which is what you’ve seen in a lot of recent Kia vehicles. There’s also a vertical rear pillar that connects to the window line of the rear windshield, which then flows into the trunk lid, creating a fastback profile. The C-pillar in the initial photos looks disconnected from the rest of the body, but seeing it through more photos of a US-spec GT Line model, it all works so well, in my opinion.

Perhaps the biggest surprise here is that Kia also showed a hatchback version of the K4, and hot dang, isn’t this body styling a looker? The elongated roof and vertical C-pillar treatment work perfectly in the hatch, as if the K4 was designed first as a hatch with the sedan coming out last. Nevertheless, the K4 hatch is coming out after the sedan, which is due in the second half of 2024.

Also, That Interior Looks Swanky

That striking exterior has also been matched with an interior that looks striking and very modern. Taking a page out of the aesthetic playbook of the EV9, the Kia K4’s interior marries modern styling cues with ergonomic functionality. Kia says that they aimed to create a driver-centric interior without isolating the rest of the occupants.

To achieve this, Kia’s designers avoided the usual move where automakers angle the vehicle controls and screens towards the driver. Instead, through the use of colors and textures, the driver’s area is “technical and machine in character” through the predominantly gray and colorway, while the passengers’ area is “comfortable and human” with their section of the cabin having more colors.

What also makes the interior of the Kia K4 as stylish as it could get is the color choices. Though it is not confirmed if all color options will be sold in the United States, the K4’s interior color choices will be Slate Green (as shown in the global-spec non-GT Line models), Medium Gray, Canyon Brown, and Onyx Black (as shown in the US-spec GT Line photos).

The interior makes itself even more inviting through the use of ambient LED lighting, which comes in a combination of direct and indirect LED lighting as a way to make the K4’s interior an extension of your living room. Finally, the K4 has 38 inches of legroom and 37.3 inches of legroom, both of which are class-leading figures, according to Kia.

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Everything Else That Makes The K4 Worth It

Side profile of a 2025 Kia K4 Hatchback

Apart from the completely re-imagined styling that basically throws away everything we’ve always known about the Forte, there’s more to the new K4 than just looks. While Kia hasn’t revealed any of the technical or mechanical specifications of the K4, we can already see a plethora of tech features that will make the K4 one of the most tech-focused vehicles in the compact sedan segment.

Award-Winning Infotainment

What’s a nice and stylish interior in 2024 if it isn’t matched with tech that’s useful yet intuitive? The aforementioned Kia infotainment system recently won an iF Design Award due to the beauty and usability of the operating system, and this is what dominates the dash of the K4. One of the reasons why it’s been praised is, despite the deliberate reduction of physical controls, Kia has preserved buttons for functions such as ‘Home,’ ‘Map’ and ‘Search’.

Furthermore, there’s also a rotary controller (albeit smaller than a BMW iDrive-style controller) that enables quick, intuitive interaction with the car’s functions. Oh, and let’s also celebrate the fact that Kia has kept four physical controls for the air conditioning.

Apart from the nicer infotainment, we can also see buttons on the driver’s side door handles, which contain buttons for the heated and cooled front seats, two-person memory, as well as steering wheel heating. On the passenger’s side are also buttons for the heated and cooled front seats. Finally, we can also see a provision for a windshield-projected head-up display. So yes, the interior of the new Kia K4 isn’t just nicer to look and touch, but also packed with more tech than most of its competitors.

It Makes The Forte A Forgettable Car

Completely new from the ground up, we expect numerous improvements in the driving experience. Engines, however, remain largely the same. The 2.0-liter four-cylinder is inherited from the previous Forte, still producing 147 horsepower and 132 pound-feet of torque, and is mated to a CVT (branded as Intelligent Variable Transmission or IVT).

Splurging for the top-spec GT Line Turbo (there’s a mid-spec GT Line with the 2.0-liter non-turbo engine) uses the same 1.6-liter turbo as the previous Forte GT, but is slightly less powerful at 190 horses (-15 horsepower) whilst producing the same 195 pound-feet of torque. This model also ditches the seven-speed dry dual-clutch transmission in favor of a smoother, more conventional eight-speed automatic.

It’s also worth noting that splurging on the GT Line and GT Line Turbo models (as shown with the US-spec models with the amber LED daytime running lights) not only do you get a sportier set of 18-inch wheels, gloss black exterior accents, satin silver window trim, and more aggressive front and rear bumpers, but also a multilink rear suspension which will undoubtedly offer a tangible improvement in handling. Furthermore, all models get an acoustic windshield for less wind noise, while models with 18-inch wheels get acoustic tires.

Kia Forte

Kia K4



1.6-liter turbo


1.6-liter turbo


Front engine, front-wheel drive


147 hp

190 hp

147 hp

205 hp


132 lb-ft

195 lb-ft

132 lb-ft

195 lb-ft



7-speed DCT


8-speed automatic

Rear legroom

35.7 in.

38 in.

Read headroom

37.5 in.

37.3 in.

Why We Can’t Wait For The Kia EV3 To Arrive

The Kia EV3 boasts an urban appeal, advanced tech, and eco-friendliness, and it’s set to lead the subcompact EV revolution.

How The K4 Sets Itself Apart From The Competition

Rear 3/4 view of the 2025 Kia K4

As the world continues to shift towards SUVs and crossovers, it’s still refreshing for an automaker to release a compact sedan these days. The Forte that the K4 is replacing is one of the most affordable new cars you could buy today, and unlike the Nissan Versa and Mitsubishi Mirage, the Forte feels like you’re getting a substantial car for the money as opposed to feeling miserable due to your budget constraints.

It Keeps The Passenger Car Segment Alive

Speaking of sedans, it’s rare these days for an automaker to take the compact sedan–let alone the compact hatch segment seriously, but Kia isn’t backing out of the segment anytime soon with the new K4. While crossover SUVs are ever more common, even at the price point that the K4 is set to compete at, there’s still a solid business case for Kia to invest in the segment.

Full-year 2023 sales of the Forte were at 123,953 units, a 14 percent increase from 2022. This puts it comfortably in third in the segment, with the Civic selling 200,381 units, while the segment’s bestseller, the Corolla, sold 232,370 units.

But We Hope That It Will Be Offered As A Hybrid

Unfortunately, there hasn’t been any confirmation yet about whether the K4 will be receiving an electrified drivetrain. This would be a great addition as it would’ve rivaled the upcoming Honda Civic Hybrid and the already popular Toyota Corolla Hybrid. It’s also probably a missed opportunity since its corporate cousin, the Hyundai Elantra, is already sold as a hybrid, and adding that drivetrain to the K4’s platform would be a no-brainer. Finally, you’ve probably heard the news that hybrids are gaining in popularity these days, growing faster even than EV sales.


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