The 2019 Kia Forte marks the third generation for the Korean compact sedan. It’s the brand’s latest entry in a hotly contested segment. A competitive car needs to offer lots of tech and creature comforts for an affordable price.
One of the biggest changes for 2019 is the styling. Kia completely redesigned the Forte for 2019, debuting the new look at the Detroit Auto Show in January. The front end features a more aggressive look, with new headlights that resemble a dragonfly’s wings.
There is a whiff of Kia Stinger going on in the exterior design, and that is undoubtedly a cool looking car.
Under the hood of every 2019 Kia Forte is a 2.0-liter naturally aspirated four-cylinder engine. It makes 147 horsepower and 132 lb-ft of torque – the same amount as the previous model. Power is sent to the front wheels, though this time it’s through a Continuously Variable Transmission (CVT). However, the base FE trim comes standard with a 6-speed manual transmission, and a CVT is optional.
This is where Kia made a compromise – on the car’s performance. We performed a real-world 0-60 test up here at a mile above sea level. With 3 passengers, the Forte hit 60 in a little over 12 seconds. Despite its more assertive styling, it is not designed to be a fast car.
That said, the 2019 Kia Forte does return excellent fuel economy. It’s 30 MPG in the city, 40 on the highway, for 34 MPG combined. The Forte sips fuel more gently than the queen of England sips her morning tea.
Ride & Handling
For 2019, Kia equipped the Forte with McPherson strut suspension in the front and a torsion beam axle in the rear. Despite the relatively simple suspension setup, the ride is actually quite comfortable. Large bumps do little to upset the Forte, and bumps in the road are well-dampened. Even when the road gets twisty, the Forte is still fun to drive. There is a noticeable amount of body roll, but overall the Forte remains well composed in a corner. It’s pretty quiet on the road too.
The 2019 Kia Forte fits into the compact car segment, so don’t expect a ton of space. However, despite its small stature, there is a reasonable amount of room inside the Kia. The Forte has a very spacious trunk, with 15.3 cubic feet for your luggage. The passenger compartment is roomy enough to fit four large adults comfortably, with room for a fifth if you need it.
My biggest complaint, being 6-foot-two was the lack of headroom in the front seat. With the seat lowered as far as possible, my head was quite close to the headliner. Perhaps this is due to the sunroof. By tilting the seat back slightly, I was able to get pretty comfortable.
Despite the lack of headroom, legroom was more than adequate. I was able to fit behind myself comfortably in the back seat.
The mainstream compact car segment is insanely competitive, so the Forte has to stand out in order to make a dent. It leaps into battle against the likes of the Mazda3, Subaru Impreza, Toyota Corolla, Honda Civic, Nissan Sentra, Chevy Cruze, Volkswagen Jetta and Hyundai Elantra.
Where does the 2019 Kia Forte fit in among those competitors? I would put it near the top of the list for sure. The Honda Civic and the Volkswagen Jetta both offer a very compelling package. However, the Kia would certainly be worth a comparison to these two. The amount of features and tech you can get in the Forte make it a worthy foe to any of the top-sellers in the segment.
Tech & Features
Our tester for the week was the Launch Edition of the top-level EX trim. The launch edition adds some noteworthy features for $3,210 dollars on top of the EX base price. You get LED headlights, 17-inch graphite alloy rims, a power sunroof, LED interior lighting, wireless charging, Navigation, and a Harman/Kardon 8-speaker stereo.
It also features adaptive cruise control and forward collision-avoidance assist with pedestrian detection. The Launch Edition also allows you to have a rear decklid spoiler and a unique paint option called Fire Orange.
The EX trim comes packed with cool features regardless of whether you get the Launch Edition. The 8-inch touchscreen display, with Apple Car Play and Android Auto, kicks off the Forte’s top trim level. You also get heated and ventilated front seats. Additionally, the Forte brings a comprehensive driver assistance suite.
All those features are great, but how much does it cost? Fortunately, the 2019 Kia Forte won’t break the bank. The base FE trim starts at $17,690, the LXS starts at $19,090, the S starts at $20,190 and the top trim EX starts at $21,990. Ours came with the Launch Edition, bringing the final sticker price to $26,220.
I would call the Kia Forte an exceptional value. Our tester is loaded and the price still came out to just $26,220? The amount of tech features and creature comforts that you get for that price is nothing short of amazing. On top of that, the Forte comes with Kia’s 10-year/100,000 mile powertrain warranty.
With any of the cars in this segment, you have to make a compromise somewhere. In the case of this Kia Forte, that compromise is undoubtedly in the performance category. Apart from that, it looks good, handles well, and is sure to please the tech-conscious buyer.
Check out the video below to see Tommy and Roman take the 2019 Kia Forte for an unfiltered, real-world test drive: