2019 Kia Forte

2019 Kia Forte

Kia has been introducing some compelling new vehicles lately. They range from all-new models, such as the Telluride three-row mid-sized SUV to long-awaited refreshes, such as the upcoming 2020 Soul.

Part of this new product surge is the all-new 2019 Kia Forte. This compact sedan has been one of the brand’s mainstays and best-sellers since its introduction during the 2009 model year. You can trace its lineage back to the first car ever sold in the U.S. under its own name – the 1994 Kia Sephia.

In a class that seems to be shrinking with fewer competitors, the new Forte appears to be giving the segment life. However, it is good enough to become one of the leaders of the compact car class? We received the top-of-the-line 2019 Kia Forte EX to find out.


From first glance, the 2019 Forte underwent a serious transformation to become bolder than before. You can thank the Stinger for influencing its overall design, with its lower, blunter front end, narrow headlamps, and a more rakish look overall. The addition of a glass on the C-pillar helps to add more visual style to its fastback-like profile.

Out back is a shorter rear deck that is three-dimensional and full of light. The addition of a lens that bridges both taillights help to create a more upmarket feel to one of Kia’s most popular vehicles. The bumper skin includes turn signals and backup lamps on the corners – a controversial move that had been one of the issues some reviewers had with the Sportage SUV. If a motorist can see it within a reasonable distance, it should be fine, right? We believe that both lamps should be integrated with the main taillight assemblies.


Interior quality is up with softer touch materials on the dashboard. You even feel better materials on the door panels. There is some gloss piano black along with some brushed metal finishes to augment the cabin trim. The infotainment screen is attached to the baseline as a tablet-like eight-inch touchscreen. The instrument cluster is easy to read with plenty of information to view from the center screen. The steering wheel offers a thick rim for a sporting feel in our EX tester. Every control is logical and easy to use.

The EX model offers a solid grade of SOFINO leatherette for the seats. The front heated and cooled seats are comfortable and supportive. Space is great for four average-sized adults to be comfortable inside. Cargo space is large for its class – 15.3 cubic feet before the rear seatbacks fold down.


Powering the Forte is a 147-horsepower 2.0-liter Atkinson-Cycle four-cylinder engine. This engine offers plenty of power that defies its specifications. Helping this engine’s performance is a new Continuously Variable Transmission, which shifts accordingly under normal acceleration. Hard acceleration pushes the engine to 4,000 RPM until the passing maneuver is done. However, the Forte is pretty efficient, with an observed average of 34.4 MPG.

The ride quality is very good. Through potholes and ruts in the road, the suspension system does a good job absorbing them from any impact through the cabin. You will also find that the Forte actually corners very well, taking curves precisely. The compact sedan also reacts quite well in evasive maneuvers. You can attribute that to a very good steering system that is quick and precise. Stopping power in the Forte is very good, with solid stops and great pedal response.


Our EX tester came with some driver assistance features that work extremely well. These features include Lane Departure Warning, Lane Keeping Assist-Line, Driver Attention Warning, Forward Collision-Avoidance Assist with Pedestrian Detection, Forward Collision Warning, Smart Cruise Control, Blind Spot Collision Warning, Lane Change Assist, Rear Cross Traffic Collision Warning, and Parking Distance Warning-Reverse.

Pricing for the 2019 Kia Forte starts at $17,790 for a FE model with a manual transmission. Our EX tester came with a sticker price of $26,515. You have a choice of four Forte sedans, including the LXS and S models which sit in-between the FE and EX models.


The compact car market may have taken a few players away from the game, but the elevated and improved Kia Forte still competes with the usual suspects. Those suspects include the Hyundai Elantra, Toyota Corolla, Honda Civic, Volkswagen Jetta, Chevrolet Cruze, Subaru Impreza, and Mazda3.

If you are considering something that stands out in a crowd and delivers on higher quality and a solid drive, the 2019 Kia Forte is a good choice in its class. It is worth the drive to truly see the difference between it and the rest of the segment.

Story Credits: CarSoup Editors

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