Kia has been burning the midnight oil with the number of refreshes and redesigns they have brought to their lineup in the last several months. Sedans are not the star of the sales floor like they used to be, but Kia sold more Fortes in 2017 than any of their other models. To keep pace with its continued popularity, Kia went ahead and redesigned the Forte for 2019 in a bid to keep themselves one step ahead of the competition and maintain their popularity with first time car buyers.
The Forte has received several cues from it’s newest big brother, the Stinger. Although it’s definitely not a Stinger, it has more defined lines and a cleaner appearance than last year’s model. Some of the styling cues from the Stinger include the long hood and short deck, which give it a similar fastback-like look. It has distinctive qualities without being too in your face or overstyled. It’s new design changes have also made the compact sedan 3.2 inches longer overall. The Forte comes standard with projection headlights, but full LEDs are available. LEDs are also available for the taillights. One design you don’t see often, but it is becoming a growing trend, are reverse and turn signals separate from the taillights. They’re located in the bumper beneath the taillights.
With the Forte’s added inches, it has added extra space on the inside, specifically for rear passenger legroom and additional cargo room in the trunk. Like the Stinger, the Forte’s interior design is based on a horizontal theme to provide a look of openness. Overall, the interior has a good feel with plenty of soft touch materials blended well to disguise as much of the hard plastics as possible. One quirk our thumbs quickly noticed was the lack of symmetry with the buttons on the steering wheel. Perhaps it goes unnoticed by most, but to me it just seemed plain odd. The infotainment system as always is a pleasure to use – one of the best in the business. It’s very functional, intuitive and the home screen is convenient to be able to view multiple items at once.
Probably the biggest news for Kia’s new Forte is the introduction of their first continuously variable transmission (CVT). It’s paired with a revised 2.0-liter four cylinder engine which has the same output as the outgoing 2018 model, making 147 hp and 132 lb-ft of torque. The engine received some changes to improve fuel efficiency as well. This includes a cooled EGR system, piston cooling jets and high-voltage ignition. I’m not the biggest fan of CVTs but I must say, Kia has built a good one. It had me fooled for a while due to its quietness and smooth acceleration. A 16% stiffer body and reworked suspension has improved the driving experience made lateral responsiveness a lot better. The upgraded steering feel with Kia’s new Motor Driven Power Steering system (MDPS) also adds confidence.
If you were expecting a hum drum compact sedan, the Kia Forte will certainly surprise. Kia continues to elevate this daily driver not with just the driving improvements, but with the creature comforts we crave – Apple CarPlay, Android Auto, a standard 8-inch touchscreen, and heated and cooled seats. Kia provides you with a lot of value for the price. It’s desirable and less cookie cutter than some of the other compact sedans currently on the market. It’ll be interesting to see what Kia will do next with their best selling model.
|2019 Kia Forte EX
|Currant Red w/ Black Leatherette||$195|
|As Tested MSRP||$23,080|