2019 Kia Forte Review by Larry Nutson - It's E15 Approved
Learn More: 2019 Kia Forte Complete IIHS Safety Report
2019 Kia Forte
By Larry Nutson
Senior Editor and Bureau Chief
The Auto Channel
For a solo road trip across Michigan’s lower peninsula from my Chicago home to Detroit I didn’t need anything more than room for myself and a small piece of luggage. Low fuel consumption would be nice to have along with some creature comforts and, in case winter raised its nasty head, a vehicle with decent bad weather behavior.
I was on my way to the media previews at the 2019 North American International Auto Show and the 2019 Kia Forte would be getting me there.
The Forte is Kia’s entry in the compact sedan market and it has been updated for 2019. Yes, people do still buy sedans and there is a business case for keeping them in an auto maker’s portfolio. The highly competitive compact car segment requires that you keep a product current or it will fall by the wayside.
For 2019 the Forte is entirely new. This next-gen Forte is longer and wider while at the same time a bit taller. Styling cues from Kia’s Stinger fastback sport sedan have found there way onto the Forte. There’s a longer hood and shorter rear deck. It gets its own version of the tiger nose grille from the Stinger along with a similar headlight design. In the rear, new taillights and a new bumper facia incorporates turn signal and reverse lights.
The 5-passenger interior layout is clean and very user friendly. In the redesign Kia pulled the cowl back by five inches. On the inside the dash sits low. The center-stack of controls is topped by an 8-inch touchscreen display with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. We still like tactile controls, and the Forte has audio volume and tuning knobs as well as HVAC controls. Steering wheel mounted audio and phone buttons help to keep you from being distracted.
Ingress and egress is quite good and there’s good outward visibility. The driver’s seat provided good, comfortable support on my road trip. The increased length of the Forte makes for more rear legroom and additional cargo in the trunk. With 15.3 cu.ft., cargo room is among the largest in the segment.
Four trim levels are available — FE, LXS, S and EX. All are powered by a 2.0-liter four-cylinder rated at 147 horsepower. There is a new IVT - Intelligent Vehicle Transmission, a continuously variable automatic transmission (CVT) for improved performance and reduced fuel consumption. A six-speed manual is standard on the FE.
EPA test-cycle fuel economy ratings for the top three trims with the IVT are 34 mpg combined, that’s 2.9 gallons per 100 miles, with 30 city mpg and 40 highway mpg. On my road trip I managed in the range of 35 to 36 mpg at highway speeds in the 70+ mph range. This respectable fuel economy along with the 14 gallon fuel tank made for no refueling stops along the way.
The 2.0-L engine delivers modest performance with adequate, acceleration, highway merging as well as passing, although heavy acceleration yields a bit of engine growl. Ride and handling is what I would call mainstream; it’s fine for this vehicle, not objectionable, and handles typical urban driving nicely. Pavement road joints are soaked up fairly well. Brakes do the job, being smooth and linear. Steering effort is well suited for all the turning and maneuvering in big city traffic.
Specifically, I drove the top-line EX trim that has a base price of $21,990. This car was a special Launch Edition model, adding $3,210. Features in this special package included Navigation, 320-watt Harman Kardon 8-speaker premium audio, power sunroof, and some ADAS-equipment including forward collision avoidance with pedestrian protection, reverse park distance warning, smart cruise control, LED headlights with high beam assist, plus a rear spoiler as well as some interior features.
All Forte trims are equipped with forward collision-avoidance with assist, lane keeping assist, driver attention warning, forward collision warning and lane departure warning.
Forte pricing start at $17,790 for the FE trim with manual. With all the ADAS equipment that’s standard, as well as the additional optional ADAS, the new Forte makes for a very excellent choice for the daily commuter as well as the new, young driver in the family.
On my drive, all this equipment worked very satisfactorily, as it should. I remarked that the lane keep assist did a very good job of holding the driving lane along the highway and not drifting back and forth between the lane markings.
More information and specifications can be found at www.kia.com. Noteworthy is Kia’s basic warranty that provides 5 years/60,000 miles of coverage.
Kia has been ranked by JD Power as the highest ranked mass market brand in initial quality for four years in a row, helping to point out that a Kia is very desirable car to own. The Forte has a lot of standard features and delivers on high value in the compact sedan segment. It’s a great choice for a first-time car buyer and especially for that new teen driver.
© 2019 Larry Nutson, the Chicago Car Guy
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