2025 K4: Kia’s Forte Replacement Is a Snazzy Fastback with Bougie Options


We don’t yet have all the information on Kia’s Forte replacement—the automaker isn’t sharing pricing or fuel economy, for instance—but we have enough detail about powertrains and trim structure to maintain our initial optimism about the 2025 K4.

Kia debuted the 2025 K4 at the New York International Auto Show this morning, a location that announces its importance within the brand’s North American portfolio. Longer (by 2.7 inches) and wider (by 1.9) than the Forte it replaces, the K4 drapes a sleek, fastback exterior over a mature interior, with a few changes to the availability of powertrains that should make this sedan more appealing to … well, everyone.

2025 Kia K4

The K4 is available in five trims, rather than four: The newcomer is the mid-level EX, third in the lineup. We expect the EX to be a Goldilocks spec designed to sell in high volume, probably pairing the less-powerful engine with a high number of interior niceties. As before, there are two powertrain choices, both internal-combustion: The standard one remains the 2.0-liter, naturally aspirated four-cylinder, and makes the same power as in the Forte: 147 hp and 132 lb-ft of torque. It’s paired with an “Intelligent variable transmission,” Kia-speak for torque-converter automatic. The spicier of the two engines is a four-pot blessed with a turbocharger, as in the Forte, but the K4’s displaces 1.6 liters rather than the Forte’s 1.5. Horsepower drops from 201 to 190, and the transmission is an eight-speed, rather than a seven-speed, automatic. The manual is no more.

2025 K4 taillight gt line

That turbocharged engine is still only available on one trim: The GT-Line Turbo. However, both the GT-Line with the 2.0 and the GT-Line Turbo with the, er, turbo, benefit from a redesigned rear suspension: Rather than a torsion beam setup, each gets a multi-link rear.

Now, for the flashy, comfy, colorful, and digital goodies. No matter which trim you get, your K4 will have LED headlights. (Previously, the lowest trims missed out.) All K4s come standard with a digital instrument cluster—analog gauges have been entirely banished. The software animating the “nearly 30-inch” digital display accepts over-the-air updates, which helps future-proof it. Wireless CarPlay and Android Auto are also standard. Airbag count increases from six to eight with the addition of two rear side bags.

The list of available options is rather swanky: Digital Key 2.0, which allows you to unlock your car with your (compatible) smartphone; voice assistance, which will eventually be enhanced with generative AI so it can read you parts of the owner’s manual and tell you the scores from last night’s game; and a windshield made of acoustically treated glass. GT-Line models also benefit from 18-inch tires filled with foam to minimize road noise.

2025 Kia K4

Other prominent reasons listed by Kia to buy the more expensive, GT-Line variants: a black-and-white two-tone interior, a special three-spoke steering wheel, and standard heated front seats. (Pay extra, and those seats can cool you, too!)

A few downsides, from reading the stat sheet: Headroom appears to decrease by 1.5 inches, though without knowing if a sunroof is standard, we’re not sure. Thanks to the fastback design, rear leg and headroom increase at the expense of cargo capacity, which dips from 15.3 cubic feet to 14.6.

Without driving the 2025 K4, or knowing its price, we must reserve most of our judgment about Kia’s new compact sedan. But we stick by what we said last week: We like what we see.


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    “It’s paired with an ‘Intelligent variable transmission,’ Kia-speak for torque-converter automatic.”

    Actually, it’s Kia-speak for CVT, which doesn’t have a torque converter.

    And please refrain from using words like “bougie”. This isn’t Jalopnik.

    I just was helping on a replaceable cam drive on a Kia. Not only was it bad the pin broke off in the cam. The car is not that old. Sad people buy these to save money and still spend it on repairs.

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