The Kia Forte launches as an all-new vehicle for the 2019 model year. Its new styling takes on some of the design cues and persona inherent in the Kia Stinger GT. Kia believes this GT inspiration makes the Forte a sportier vehicle with enhanced premium appeal.
The similarities end there, as the Forte doesn't even come close in terms of the Stinger's performance and handling attributes. But some of the noteworthy exterior changes include the horizontal light trim strip between the taillights, the sweeping rear end treatment, detached rear turn signal indicators, and the gloss black front and rear splitters.
-- EYE APPEAL
Visually, the new Kia Forte displays a fastback coupe look despite its four-door sedan configuration, thanks to the chrome trim cabin glass surround with the blacked-out "B" and "C" pillars. In profile, the Forte sits low over the wheels and tires, emphasizing the high beltline, long hood, and short rear deck with its modest overhang. The all-new Forte is 3.2 inches longer, increasing rear legroom; its 15.3 cubic-feet of cargo space ranks as one of the roomiest in this segment.
Power for the new Kia Forte is provided by a 2.0-liter 16-valve four-cylinder engine that delivers 147 horsepower at 6,200 rpm while also developing 132 lb.-ft. of torque at 4,500 rpm. The transversely mounted engine's energy reaches the front driving wheels via an intelligent continuously variable transmission (i-CVT). A six-speed manual gearbox is available on only the base FE trim model.
-- COMFORT AND CONVENIENCE
The interior exhibits a simple and tasteful horizontal dash layout with easy-to-use, intuitive old-fashioned knob controls. Kudos for that simplification.
Forte is available in the base FE, LXS, S, and EX (and a special limited-availability Launch Edition). Standard fare across the lineup includes an 8.0-inch touchscreen, projector low-beam headlights, solar control glass, rear window defroster, dual-zone automatic temperature control, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto connectivity, Bluetooth wireless technology, six-way adjustable front passenger seat, and steering-wheel-mounted audio controls.
Safety features for all trim levels include hill start assist control, tire pressure monitoring system, impact sensing auto door unlock, rear child safety door locks, forward collision warning, forward collision avoidance, and lane departure warning lane keeping assist.
My test 2019 Kia Forte came in EX trim with the Launch Edition package wearing a Gravity Gray metallic exterior finish and a Black interior. Its base sticker read $21,990, while the as-tested price totaled $26,095, after factoring in the Launch Edition Package and destination and handling charge.
Driving the Kia Forte EX sedan provided a most pleasant experience. The 2.0-liter engine was readily responsive despite its natural aspiration, delivering 147 horses and 132 lb.-ft. of torque on demand. The i-CVT transmission shifted smoothly in automatic mode, feeling more like a normal transmission, however wheel-mounted paddle shifters would have raised the fun-to-drive quotient, especially on challenging, twisting back roads.
The ride quality was firm, yet comfortable and stable, and the handling characteristics offered an improvement over the prior model Fortes, bordering on sporty. The selectable three drive modes (Smart, Normal, and Sport) change transmission shift patterns to better match one's driving style. I preferred the Sport Mode, which provided the most responsive qualities.
In the final analysis, the 2019 Kia Forte is an attractive, efficient, practical, and fun-to-drive sedan that also provides a heightened versatility in virtually all of its trim levels.
Copyright © 2019 Motor Matters
|Base price||$21,990 (as tested: $26,220)|
|Curb weight||2,903 lbs.|
|Engine type||16-valve 4-cyl. w/MPFI|
|Epa mileage rating||30 mpg city, 40 mpg highway|
|Fuel capacity||14.0 gal.|
|Horsepower (net)||147 at 6200 rpm|
|Overall length||182.7 in.|
|Torque (lb.-ft.)||132 at 4500 rpm|
|Vehicle type||5-passenger FWD compact sedan|
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