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2025 Kia K4 Looks a Lot Sharper Than the Forte It Replaces

Civic and Corolla are officially on notice

2025 Kia K4 front
  • The new 2025 Kia K4 compact sedan replaces the Forte in the brand's lineup, and it has a dramatic new design inside and out.
  • The same two powertrain choices are available from the Forte: a 2.0-liter four-cylinder or a more powerful turbocharged 1.6-liter.
  • Pricing should start at around $22,000, and the K4 will arrive at dealerships later this year.
  • A hatchback was teased during the reveal but may come a year or two after the sedan.

When Kia redesigns a model, it doesn't just tweak the body panels and grille and call it a day. The automaker typically goes all-out. That’s especially true for the stylish Kia K4 that debuted at this year's New York Auto Show. The name might be new, but the K4 will serve as the next-generation Forte. (The automaker took a similar strategy in 2021 when it switched the name of its Accord- and Camry-fighting midsize sedan from Optima to K5.) Kia’s littlest sedan will feature new driving aids and 30 inches of screen space, along with a distinctive design that clearly sets it apart from the crowd of Honda Civics and Toyota Corollas. A hatchback version will come in the future, but Kia hasn't disclosed when.

2025 Kia K4 rear three quarter

What's under the K4's hood?

The K4 is a redesigned model, but elements of the outgoing Forte carry over, starting with the engine options. A 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine (147 horsepower and 132 lb-ft of torque) is standard and paired to a continuously variable automatic transmission (CVT) that drives the front wheels. In Edmunds' previous testing of a Forte with this powertrain, we noted a 0-60 mph time of 8.7 seconds — not exactly record-setting, but typical for a compact sedan with a base engine.

Thankfully, buyers looking for something spicier can still opt for the GT-Line Turbo, powered by a turbocharged 1.6-liter four-cylinder. It's less potent than before (190 horsepower and 195 lb-ft, compared to 201 hp in last year's Forte), but is matched with an eight-speed traditional automatic rather than the old seven-speed dual-clutch. We expect the normal auto to be a bit smoother in everyday driving. Unfortunately, there is no more manual transmission option; those who wish to row their own economy-car gears can choose certain versions of the Honda Civic or Toyota Corolla.

2025 Kia K4 front interior

How's the K4's interior?

Against those long-running rivals, the K4’s cabin is uniquely modern. Kia’s interior designers snagged a few themes from the brand’s EV9 electric flagship SUV and trickled them down to the K4. The centerpiece is the expansive infotainment display consisting of a 5-inch climate display and twin 12.3-inch displays for the instrument panel and central touchscreen. The latter features standard wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto on all models for seamless smartphone integration. And, thankfully, there are buttons for basic high-level audio and climate control functions, so you're not entirely reliant on the screen. We also like the playful interior color palettes of black, white, gray or green(!).

How's the K4's tech?

The Forte came with a fairly basic set of standard advanced driving aids, but the K4 needs to be fully competitive. As with the Civic and Corolla, every K4 will come with adaptive cruise control and speed limit recognition. On the options list are front cross-traffic collision detection and a 360-degree parking camera. The available Highway Driving Assist 2 function adds lane centering assistance, requiring little driver input while driving on the highway.

2025 Kia K4 rear detail

Competitors to consider

Compact sedans like the Honda Civic and Toyota Corolla are stalwarts in the segment and offer more configurations like hybrids, manual transmissions, hatchbacks, and track-ready weapons like the Civic Type R and GR Corolla. Still, the K4 is a great entry point to Kia and now offers more tech and a great new look that evokes Kia’s flagships.

Edmunds says

With a completely new look, the K4 should help Kia tap into the compact sedan market more, but with only two engine choices and not many additional configurations, it loses a bit of shopping appeal.