Kia unveiled a redesigned 2019 Forte compact sedan at the Detroit auto show Monday. The outgoing Forte is already one of CR's top-rated compact cars, and the new version promises many improvements, including a more spacious interior, better fuel economy, and improved interior technology.

Kia says the new car's improved fuel efficiency comes thanks to a continuously variable transmission (CVT), which replaces the previous six-speed automatic that we thought worked quite nicely. The new Forte keeps its predecessor's 2.0-liter, four-cylinder engine, which makes the same 147 horsepower as before. But Kia estimates the CVT will help the new car manage an EPA-rated 35 mpg overall—a three-mpg improvement. A six-speed manual transmission will also be available.

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The Forte’s new body is about three inches longer, with small increases in height and width. Kia says the car’s additional size gives more space—specifically head- and legroom—to an interior that was already one of the most generous in its class.

The front seats have denser foam, which hopefully will help the cushions hold their support better over longer drives, something we found lacking in the old version.

Although the last Forte’s ride was one of the more comfortable in the class, the soft suspension compromised its handling agility. The new car has a reworked suspension and improved steering feel, Kia says, which should give the car a more nimble character.

All three Forte trims—LX, S, and EX—come standard with an eight-inch color touch-screen infotainment system, compatible with both Android Auto and Apple CarPlay. A wireless phone-charging tray will be optional, enabling Android, Apple iPhone 8-series, and iPhone X devices to charge without plugging them in. Adaptive cruise control will also be available—a new option for 2019.

2019 Kia Forte interior

Check out CR's complete
coverage of the 2018 Detroit Auto Show.

Automatic emergency braking and forward-collision warning are available on the 2019 Forte, but they do not come standard. CR thinks these two important safety systems should be standard on all cars. Other available advanced safety features include blind-spot warning and lane-keeping assist.

The 2019 Forte is scheduled to go on sale late this summer.

Read the latest Kia Forte road test.

2019 Kia Forte