2019 Kia Forte EX front red.jpg

Entry Price: $17,990; as tested: $23,430

This week, we’re driving the 2019 Kia Forte, now in its second-generation and along the way growing into near midsize dimensions. Forte also grew in popularity from its compact class debut in 2008 as back then it rode on a smaller 104.3-inch wheelbase. Today, these Kia compacts travel on a near two-inch longer wheelbase, come with lots of standard equipment and offer several price entry points for consumers of all ages.

Many of Kia’s standard features, especially the enhanced safety items, are extra cost options on competing entry level models. This makes Kia Forte a popular choice based on affordability, safety, reliability and return on investment (ROI), be it a college student or retired baby boomer.

Further, now that Forte is a “near midsize but not quite” class vehicle at a compact car price, its excellent factory warranty also comes into play. Specifically, there are just a few manufacturers left that still offer 10-year/100,000 mile limited powertrain warranties.

And yes, it does matter.

Forte for 2019 starts at just $17,990 for a six-speed manual FE and then rises up to our tester’s top class EX at $21,990. Two “middle of the road” yet well-equipped Forte models join the family as an LXS starts at $19,100 while a sporty S begins at $20,290.

All 2019 Forte models utilize the 2.0-liter Atkinson cycle engine popular in numerous hybrid applications. This Atkinson engine produces 147 horses and 132 lb. ft. of torque, and although they are not big numbers when it comes to pure power, it moves Forte forward with surprising low end pep. Fuel mileage is very good as 30 city and 40 highway are the EPA fuel mileage estimates.

All Forte trims come with an Intelligent Variable automatic transmission except the entry FE, which comes with a six-speed manual that delivers 27 city and 37 highway. If you order the FE with the optional CVT style automatic for another $900, fuel mileage climbs to 31 city and 41 highway which is four MPG better than shifting yourself. (The entry level FE model weighs less than the others, thus the better fuel automatic mileage).    

After undergoing a complete re-design in 2017 with the aforementioned longer wheelbase, this new generation Forte features an impressive fascia facelift, rear design upgrade and improved LED headlight and taillight assemblies. The result is a smooth, more aerodynamic look that is pleasing to the eye. 

Add the above mentioned safety items and amenity loaded interior, and you’ve got a car that is capable of attracting many new consumers at surprisingly low pricing. Most onlookers and enthusiasts I spoke with during our weeklong test thought the Forte EX was a $30K vehicle.  

All Forte models feature advanced stability and traction controls, hill start assist, forward collision avoidance, rear view safety camera, lane departure warning, lane keep assist, driver attention warning, four wheel ABS disc brakes, Android/Apple compatibility, all the expected modern day airbags and more. (That’s correct: ALL Kia Forte models).

Our EX features a bevy of standard creature comforts and even more safety notables. Included are UVO Voice Command Infotainment with Sirius/XM, blind spot detection, rear cross traffic alert, heated/ventilated front seats, power driver seat with lumbar, tilt and telescopic steering, lane change assist, forward collision warning, smart cruise, rear cross traffic collision warning, parking distance warning, power trunk, smart key push button start, and more. 

Because of these outstanding safety/comfort features, you’ll get the most bang for your buck with the EX model at just $21,990 even if you don’t add even one option. Your dealer will explain everything when you visit.

Speaking of options, our tester featured a beautiful pearl paint for $295 extra that also adds a beautiful two-tone red SOFINO leatherette seating. Other options include a $95 cargo mat and $125 for carpet floor mats. With $925 destination, this brought the final tally to just $23,430 retail.

On the highway, all Fortes except the entry FE manual feature a standard “Drive Mode Select.” The Normal, Eco or Sport Drive modes all impact throttle response, shift points and steering input all at the touch of a button. I personally enjoy Sport mode for a performance oriented ride although if you choose Eco, you just might better the EPA mileage ratings. Overall, and regardless of drive mode, every Forte offers a decent, firmer ride.

As for the cabin, Kia has worked hard to present an inviting driver and passenger experience, and they’ve accomplished this feat with its second generation Kia. The longer wheelbase makes everything inside “all the better,” from rear seat legroom to better cargo accommodations.  

Underneath, Forte relies on a coil over MacPherson front strut and rear torsion beam setup. The Forte EX delivers excellent grip and good handling when merged with 17-inch Kumho tires on lightweight machined alloy wheels.

Important numbers include an extended wheelbase to 106.3 inches, 2,903 lb. curb weight, 34.8 ft. turn circle, 15.3 cu. ft. of cargo space, 5.3-inch ground clearance, and a 14.0 gallon fuel tank.

In summary, the second generation 2019 Forte is on sale now at your area Kia dealer. Few competitors can match the ROI, so when it comes to spending your hard earned cash, Kia Forte is a better value now than ever before.

 

Likes: 

Great safety features, low price, new generation design, standard equipment.

 

Dislikes: 

Engine a little noisy, not a big fan of CVT style transmissions, needs more ponies.   

 

 Greg Zyla is a syndicated automotive writer.