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2019 Kia Forte Review

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The 2019 Kia Forte is one of the best compact cars that you can buy with great technology, plenty of leg room in the back seat and good fuel economy. The all new design for 2019 brings a fresh look that borrows heavily from the sporty Kia Stinger to offer an affordable and very well equipped car that starts at just $17,790.

If you’re shopping for a compact car, you need to take a closer look at this hidden gem that stands out as many manufacturers move away from cars and focus on SUVs. Apple CarPlay and Android Auto are standard, and you get many standard safety features.

Is the Kia Forte Worth Buying?

The Kia Forte is a great compact car.

The Kia Forte is a great compact car.

The 2019 Kia Forte is a great car, and it is one of the best compact cars that you can buy — especially at this price. In a crowded segment it stands out with a great infotainment system that supports Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, plus it includes a number of impressive standard features. The interior is spacious, made of quality materials and you get a lot of trunk space.

It’s not as sporty and fun to drive as the Mazda 3, but handling is good and it offers a good amount of power, though it isn’t especially quick. Kia offers a lot of safety features for the price and you can bet a smart cruise control upgrade on the EX trim level.

We tested the 2019 Forte EX, which starts at $21,990, well equipped with Blind Spot Monitoring, a smart key, upgraded interior with a 10 way power driving seat, heated and ventilated front seats and USB charging ports. The Forte also includes a 10 year/100,000 mile limited powertrain warranty and a 5 year/60,000 mile limited basic warranty with roadside assistance.

What You'll Love
Great design and build quality.
Smart tech and safety features.
Apple CarPlay & Android Auto.
Spacious interior and large trunk.
Great fuel economy and warranty.
What Needs Work
Blind spot monitoring and smart cruise control only available on EX.
Acceleration isn't quick.
4.7

Which 2019 Kia Forte Model to Buy?

Go with the LXS or the EX trim levels.

Go with the LXS or the EX trim levels.

The 2019 Kia Forte is available in four trim levels. All use the same 2.0L engine and are available with the Intelligent Variable Transmission, but the base model is standard with a six speed manual.

The best overall value is the 2019 Forte LXS, which adds in a number of upgrades over the base model and is only $500 more than the FE trim with the automatic transmission.

Personally I would go with the 2019 Kia EX as tested for the addition of blind spot monitoring, the upgraded driver’s seat and the heating and ventilated seats. You can also add a Launch Edition package to the top trim level with a collection of great features, but that adds an extra $3,210 to the price of the top trim level, taking the total cost up to $26,125.

2019 Kia Forte Tech & Safety

The standard system is easy to use, the touch screen is nice and it supports CarPlay and Android Auto.

The standard system is easy to use, the touch screen is nice and it supports CarPlay and Android Auto.

The 2019 Forte includes an excellent touch screen infotainment system on all trim levels. Apple CarPlay and Android Auto are standard, which makes taking calls, responding to messages, getting directions and listening to music on the go a super simple affair. This augments the standard Kia infotainment system nicely and it is my preferred way to use the technology in the new Forte.

The audio quality is good, but when you push the volume high the sounds isn’t great. Ultimately you should consider the Launch Edition upgrade or possibly an aftermarket upgrade if you like to listen to your music loud. Call quality in the Forte is very good, and it’s aided by the quiet cabin.

Kia includes a number of driver convenience and safety features including Forward Collision Assist, Forward Collision Warning, Lane Departure Warning and Lane Keeping Assist standard. On the EX trim level you get Blind Spot Warnings and optionally you can add in smart cruise control. I’d love to see Smart Cruise Control standard on the top trim level and blind spot monitoring as an option on at least the LXS trim.

2019 Kia Forte Design

The new Forte borrows good looks from the Stinger.

The new Forte borrows good looks from the Stinger.

The all new Kia Forte brings Kia Stinger good looks to the compact segment with a new grille and front end. It’s not an identical twin by any means, but it pulls off the carry over well. The exterior is modern and fits the Forte well with a look that’s batting above the starting price.

Inside there is a lot of room for the driver and he backseat offers a decent amount of legroom for a compact car. The seats are quite comfortable and the materials are very nice for the price on the EX trim level. The trunk is especially spacious, which is a pain point on many compact cars.

The two-tone interior is stylish and comfortable.

The two-tone interior is stylish and comfortable.

Controls are easy to reach and laid out well on a modern looking dash. The cabin is surprisingly quiet and the seats are comfortable even during longer driving sessions.

2019 Kia Forte Driving & Handing

The 2019 Kia Forte isn’t zippy and sporty like the Mazda 3, but it does deliver good handling and 40 mpg highway fuel economy. Kia offers a single engine option on the Forte in 2019, and most buyers will pick it with the Intelligent Variable Transmission. This is an automatic transmission known as a CVT or continuously variable transmission. These CVT systems are quickly becoming standard fare on compact cars like the Forte.

Unlike a traditional CVT, Kia’s Intelligent Variable Transmission shifts between pre-selected gear ratios, similar to how a normal automatic transmission works. You can even manually shift between these in sport mode with the shifter. This system performs well for a CVT and shouldn’t deter you from picking the Forte as your next car. Handling is good, the steering feels better than on the outgoing model and the overall ride quality is good.

Acceleration is OK, but it isn’t quick off the line. Once you’re moving there is a little more power when you need to pass, but if you’re looking for something that is more engaging to drive and sporty you should consider the Mazda 3 or the Veloster.

The fuel economy is very good with EPA estimates of 40 MPG on the highway 30 MPG on the city and 34 combined. This is in line with what I experienced while testing the 2019 Kia Forte.

You Need These 10 Must Have Car Features: Find Out Why

Smart Cruise Control

Smart Cruise Control

Do you hate constantly adjusting your cruise control, or giving up on cruise control because of traffic or due to a driver in front of you who keeps changing speed? You need a smart cruise control system.

Smart cruise control goes by many different names. You may see it listed as Radar Cruise, Adaptive Cruise or Intelligent Cruise control. Whatever it is called, it will allow you to set your cruise control and then stay with the flow of slower traffic.

Here's why we love it and why you need it. You get on the highway and set the cruise at 76 miles per hour. You also set the distance you want kept between you and the car in front of you. There are typically three or four settings so you can be close or keep a lot of space. Now you simply steer and your car will go 76 mile per hour when traffic allows it or there is no one in front of you. When someone is in front of you going 73 mph, the car automatically slows down to keep you the distance you choose from that car. This is indispensable in traffic and on long road trips. 

Not all smart cruise control systems are the same. Some of work at all speeds, while others only work above a specific limit. Some systems can bring you to a complete stop in traffic and then restart without you needing to touch a pedal. 

You can find adaptive cruise control on cars as cheap as $18,500 like the Toyota Corolla, and as an option on many cars below $30,000. Even on pricier cars you may need a higher trim level or special package to get this feature. 

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