Kia Forte, Telluride CUV Concept Break Cover

The refreshed Forte sedan gets more fuel-efficient 2.0L, while the Telluride is fitted with passenger health sensors and a plug-in hybrid powertrain.

January 11, 2016

3 Min Read
Refreshed Kia Forte to built in Mexico
Refreshed Kia Forte to built in Mexico.

DETROIT – Kia uses its 2016 North American International Auto Show stage here to debut new versions of its compact sedan and 5-door, as well as show a large CUV concept that hints at a future production model.

The Forte and Forte5, last redesigned in ’14, are refreshed for ’17, wearing a wider version of Kia’s signature tiger nose grille.

Kia says sedan buyers will have the choice of two front-fascia designs: sophisticated or sporty.

Under its hood, the sedan will get a new Atkinson-cycle 2.0L 4-cyl., already seen on its Hyundai Elantra cousin that is paired to a 6-speed manual or 6-speed automatic transmission.

The Forte 4-door’s high-end EX trim level continues with its 2.0L direct-injected 4-cyl. paired to a 6-speed automatic transmission. This is the same powertrain that is standard on the Forte5 hatchback.

The Forte5 SX sport grade also keeps the same engine, a 1.6L turbocharged 4-cyl., but it now can be matched to Hyundai/Kia’s 7-speed dual-clutch transmission instead of the 6-speed automatic.

The sedan’s lineup grows with a new S sport trim level, slotting between LX and EX. LED daytime running lights and a sport-tuned suspension are features of the S grade.

The LX’s interior gets upgraded cloth seating surfaces, while Forte S sedans have exclusive black cloth with white stitching, Kia says.

The EX grade of the sedan and hatchback now get standard leather seats and heated front seats.

The big interior design news on the Forte 5-door is an orange color pack for the SX grade, which comes with orange-leather seat inserts.

Android Auto and Apple Car Play will have late availability on the Forte and Forte5.

Kia says more detailed specifications, as well as details of the 2-door Forte Koup, will be announced closer to the cars’ on-sale dates in the first half of this year in the U.S.

The Forte sedan will be the first Kia sold in the U.S. to be assembled at the automaker’s new Monterrey, Mexico, plant, opening in May.

Kia Forte sales reached their pinnacle last year, with best-ever annual volume of 78,919, WardsAuto data shows. However, that’s still a fraction of the volume done by the No.1-selling compact in the U.S., Toyota’s Corolla, which tallied 363,332 deliveries.

Telluride Hints at Large CUV

The Telluride concept shown here is a glimpse at what Kia says is potentially a new large CUV.

Riding on a very stretched (9.5-ins. [241-mm] longer) version of the midsize Sorento’s CUV’s chassis, the 3-row concept has rear-hinged back doors, which along with front-hinged front doors swing 90 degrees open for easy ingress and egress by passengers.

Design features include an oversized tiger nose grille, quad LED headlamps and 3D-printed materials on the dash, door panel and steering wheel.

Kia designers paid particular attention to the comfort of second-row passengers, exemplified by middle seats that recline almost flat and have fold-away footrests.

Four black captain’s chairs are used for the front and middle seats, while the third-row seat is a folding bench.

The Telluride is chock-full of advanced technology, including sensors in the captain’s chairs that capture a passenger’s health information. That information is shown on screens on interior door panels and is synchronized with a Light Emitted Rejuvenation system.

“The LER system utilizes a massive, wing-shaped LED panel mounted beneath the oversized sunroof that displays a pattern of therapeutic light to treat desynchronosis (jetlag) and improve the passengers’ energy levels,” Kia says.

Another tech-y feature is a thin, touch-sensitive band on the second-row center console called Swipe Command, allowing passengers to select their desired media. Audio will play either through the Harman/Kardon 7-speaker audio system or wireless H/K headphones.

The Telluride is a 400-hp plug-in hybrid, fitted with a 270-hp 3.5L DI V-6 and 130-hp electric motor. Highway fuel economy of 30 mpg (7.8 L/100 km) is projected.

Kia says it has no current plans to produce the Telluride, but notes its history of displaying concepts that hint at future production models.

“Kia’s large SUV is anything but a utopian fantasy,” the brand says in pre-show materials.

Kia previously retailed in the U.S. a large, body-on-frame SUV called the Borrego. During its brief run (2008-2011), it at best sold 10,530 units in a calendar year (2010), WardsAuto data shows.

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