South Korean automaker Kia made its mark here in the States
with a formula comprised of value, combined with affordability and sprinkled in
with a pinch of hearty fuel economy; a fitting description of its compact Forte
sedan, all-new for 2019 and boasting a third-generation makeover.
first generation Forte (2010-2013) made its world debut at the 2009 Chicago
Auto Show. Overall length grows 3.2 inches, reaching 187.7-inchs in
total. It's long, sculpted hood and narrower center grille design are cues
found in the recently launched Stinger, Kia's sporty, rear-drive flagship sedan
introduced with great fanfare in the 2018 model year.
Kia's sedan lineup, the front-wheel drive Forte fits snuggly between the
subcompact four-door Rio and stylish mid-size Optima. All offer at no
extra cost Kia's 10-year/100,000-mile powertrain warranty delivering
incalculable peace of mind.
Forte makes a great case for
younger buyers seeking an attainable, non-used selection and drivers of all
ages seeking a comfortable interior featuring easily interpreted visuals and
better-than-average fuel economy. A relatively low cost of ownership
remains another competent return on investment.
A good around-town
option, don't expect the same zero-to-60 thrills found in luxury sedans costing
in excess of $40,000 or nimble sports-car handling. Steering feel at highway
speeds remains effortless while lower speeds (such as parking lots) requires a
bit more human effort (or oomph) when turning the steering wheel.
compact Forte trim line includes FE, LXS, S and EX. Kia simplifies and eases
the dealership purchasing process by offering each trim packed with varying
levels of standard equipment with a scant few factory option packages and just
a smattering of stand-alone options (limited largely to interior and exterior
color choices). The mid-level S includes a $1,200 premium package (power sun
roof, self-monitoring high-beam headlights) while EX includes a specific for
2019, $3,210 launch edition (17-inch alloy wheels, premium 8-speaker sound
system, rear deck-lid spoiler and wireless phone charger for newer edition
Speaking of Smartphones, Android Auto and
Apple CarPlay come standard. These two systems allow seamless
interaction with downloaded phone apps and other stored information to play and
interact within Forte's eight-inch center touch screen. Just wish Kia
would also include the popular Sirius-XM satellite radio standard across all
trims. Currently, only 2019 S and EX include it as standard fare with
FE and LXS left out in the satellite cold, relying upon terrestrial radio and
The lowest-priced Forte, an FE with
six-speed manual transmission (the only trim offering a manual-shift tranny)
starts at tempting $17,790. Add $900 for an upgraded all-new
transmission. Our top-line EX tester snuck in at still competitive
$21,990 starting base. Adding the first-year 'Launch Edition' package
($3,210), snow white pearl paint ($295) and carpeted floor mats ($125) the
bottom line tally ended at $26,515 after $865 destination fee, reflecting the
most opulent Forte available in 2019.
Another perk for this
entry sedan, an impressive array of standard safety nuances including forward
collision warning with automatic braking, lane departure warning, highway speed
lane centering, side curtain air bags, electronic stability control and
A revamped four-cylinder engine powers
every trim, a naturally aspirated (non-turbo) 2.0-four cylinder cranking out
147 horsepower and married to an all-new Kia-designed transmission.
coins its new technology 'Intelligent Variable Transmission,' (IVT)
which translates basically in common speak to a nuanced continuously variable
transmission or CVT. In essence, Kia borrowed all that's
good in a conventional CVT and refined the technology to exorcise the bad. This
replaces a conventional six-speed automatic donning the second-generation
A quintessential CVT, popularized in gas-electric
hybrids, helps extend fuel economy numbers; representing the good.
The 2019 Forte combining IVT and 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine reaches the
much coveted 40 mile per gallon highway plateau, while city estimates hit 30
mpg. That's about three points better in each category from its 2018
base four cylinder. The six-speed manual coupled with the new 2.0-liter engine
registers 27 miles per gallon city and 37 mpg highway.
knock against CVTs (the bad) centers on sometimes sluggish acceleration,
producing uneven pedal feel. Excessive noise is another common
Kia's IVT includes a sound-insulating cover to
help muffle excessive audible output while a 'step-shift' mimics a conventional
automatic transmission's shift points when pushing the pedal to the metal.
interior's overall design remains simple, yet above that of a traditional entry
level. The straight forward, straight ahead instrument panel includes two
circular quick-glance analog orbs flanking a multi-panel digital window
controlled via a push button on the manually tilt-and-telescoping three-spoke
steering wheel's 3 o'clock face. The HVAC controls also boast a bit of old-school
common sense, with medium-sized dials monitoring dual front temperature zones
flanking a row of medium-sized, well identified push buttons activating fan
speed and direction, front defroster and rear defroster.
ventilation controls resides an eight-inch multi-function, touch-sensitive
color display screen not built into the dash, but extending above a-la a
flat-screen TV. Common sense volume and station preset twist dials flank
well-marked push buttons plus secondary sound/station select button adorn the
Forte includes three driving
zones: comfort, sport and smart summoned via a button near the floor-mounted
The trunk's cargo capacity grows a
bit from 14.9 cubic feet in 2018 to 15.5 this season. A temporary
spare tire is an EX staple while other lower trims get by with inflator kits.
If long items need transporting, second-row seatbacks fold in a 60/40 split
save for entry FE, which includes a one-unit bench format. Heated and
ventilated front seats come standard only with EX as does an upgraded
radar-sensitive cruise control, automatically accelerating and slowing Forte
depending upon distance and speed of the vehicle ahead. All other trims include
conventional single-set-speed cruise. Enjoy adequate headroom in
front and average noggin space in row two, which handles two adults in optimal
comfort. Longer Gen-three dimensions increases row-two legroom.
U.S. sales in the 2018 calendar surpassed the 100,000 mark finishing at
101,890, about 13 percent lower than the preceding year. With
traditional U.S. automakers having recently announced the production end, or
already jettisoned, a number of compact sedans from their portfolio (Chevrolet
Cruze, Ford Focus, Dodge Dart), Forte's future potential customer base could
grow. 2019 Kia Forte
Engine: 2.0-liter four cylinder
Wheelbase: 106.3 inches
Length: 182.7 inches
Overall Width: 70.9 inches
Economy: 30 mpg city, 40 mpg highway
Assembly: South Korea