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A dapper compact sedan.

2019 Kia Forte Review | CarMax

The perfect choice for tech-savvy urbanites and empty nesters, the 2019 Kia Forte is well-equipped offering things like optional full LED head and taillights and a 320-watt premium Harman Kardon® stereo. It's also fun to drive.A punchy 2.0L engine produces a healthy 147-hp and can be mated to either a six-speed manual gearbox or Kia's own Intelligent Variable Transmission (IVT).

Here's what you'll learn in this 2019 Kia Forte review:

Key Specs & Features

  • All 2019 trims are front-wheel drive and utilize a 2.0L four-cylinder engine rated at 147 horsepower and 132 lb.-ft. of torque.
  • The EPA-estimated fuel economy for the 2.0L engine is 34 mpg city and highway combined for IVT models and 31 mpg for models equipped with a manual transmission.1
  • All 2019 trims receive Kia Drive Wise driver-assistance features such as forward collision-avoidance assist, lane-keeping assist, driver attention warning, forward collision warning, and lane departure warning.
  • The 2019 Kia Forte has increased in size compared to the outgoing car, now measuring a total of 182.7 inches in length with an additional 0.8 inches of width.
  • Rear head and legroom are greater, both by an additional 37.5 inches over previous 2014–2018 models.

Rankings

5 Reasons to Buy

1. Smart, sporty appearance

You'll love this vehicle's elegant, performance-oriented looks. The signature Tiger Nose grille serves as the centerpiece, complemented by a long hood and sloping rear window providing a fastback silhouette. The higher S and EX grades receive 17-inch aluminum wheels, while the SS gets 16-inch alloys and the base FE dons 15-inch steel wheels with covers. Full LED head and taillamps are available on S and EX trims.

2. Sophisticated transmission

2019 Kia Forte Review: Engine | CarMax

Instead of a traditional continuously variable transmission (CVT), Kia introduced its first Intelligent Variable Transmission on the 2019 Forte. A couple of differences include adaptive shift style logic mimicking the feel of traditional gears and the use of a chain-type rather than a push belt, resulting in smoother acceleration. Also, special insulation is designed to reduce droning noise.

3. Purposeful interior

2019 Kia Forte Review: Backseats | CarMax

Again, drawing inspiration from the Stinger, the driver-focused cabin features a horizontal theme as evidenced by the single strip of aluminum running across the entire dashboard. Not just for aesthetics, the clean symmetrical nature of the inside space gets rid of any clutter. A bit of aeronautical styling is seen in the outer circular air vents, mimicking airplane turbines. And engineers have installed additional lumbar support and denser foam in the seats helping to provide more support than before.

2019 Kia Forte Review: Trunk Cargo | CarMax

4. Agile handling

2019 Kia Forte Review: Front Seats | CarMax

Whether you're a city dweller or from the suburbs, you will appreciate the nimbleness of the Forte. The excellent on-road manners are courtesy of a strengthened underlying platform. Built with 54-percent advanced high-strength steel and taking advantage of a new subframe design, lateral responsiveness has been greatly enhanced. Upgrades to the motor-driven power steering offer a more natural feel to turning the wheel.

5. Technology in spades

2019 Kia Forte Review: Tech Dash | CarMax

Several driver-assistance systems—part of the Drive Wise suite—are standard on all trim levels. The suite is made up of technologies that mitigate forward collisions and keep the Forte centered in the middle of the lane. It also features driver attention warning, which monitors operator inputs so that if anything amiss is detected with the driver, both visual and audible warnings are activated. The top-of-the-line S grade also bundles lane-change assist, blind-spot collision warning, and rear cross-traffic collision warning.


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What You Need to Know

2019 Kia Forte Trims

FE: Six-speed manual transmission, 15-inch steel wheels with covers, projector low-beam halogen headlights, automatic headlights, dual-zone automatic climate control, and more.

LXS: Intelligent Variable Transmission, 16-inch alloy wheels, chrome exhaust tip finisher, 60/40-split-folding rear seats, soft-touch interior panels, and more.

S: 17-inch alloy wheels, fog lights, LED daytime running lights and taillights, satin chrome inside door handles, leather-wrapped steering wheel and shift knob, and more.

EX: Heated side mirrors with integrated LED turn-signal indicators, puddle lamps, sliding armrest, Dual USB charging ports, 10-way power-adjustable driver seat, and more.

2019 Kia Forte Interior

The 2019 Kia Forte is a five-passenger compact sedan. In the back is either a fixed folding bench (base FE) or 60/40-split-folding seats (LXS, S, and EX). Woven fabric upholstery is standard on all trims except the grade-topping EX, which receives Sofino leatherette trim.

2019 Kia Forte Colors

  • Clear White (FE, LXS, S)
  • Gravity Grey (FE, LXS, S)
  • Aurora Black Pearl (FE, LXS, S)
  • Currant Red (LXS, S, EX)
  • Deep Sea Blue (LXS, S, EX)
  • Silky Silver (LXS, S, EX)
  • Snow White Pearl (EX)
  • Fire Orange (EX)

Similar Vehicles

Honda Civic

The 2019 Honda Civic is another option for buyers seeking versatility. The 10th generation (2015 to present) variant is sold in coupe, sedan, and hatchback form. You can choose from several new vibrant, youthful colors such as Molten Lava Pearl (sedan only) and Tonic Yellow Pearl (coupe only). EX, EX-L, and Touring trims are powered by a 1.5L turbocharged four-cylinder motor mated to a continuously variable transmission, while LX and Sport boast a 2.0L four-cylinder paired to either the CVT or a six-speed manual gearbox. Honda Sensing equipment is standard across all models comprised of adaptive cruise control, collision mitigation braking system, forward collision warning, and more.

Toyota Corolla

After a brief disappearance from the lineup, a reimagined five-door Toyota Corolla (2018 to present) is back and better than ever. Sleek and sporty, the hatch is offered in only two grades: SE and XSE. Both benefit from features like LED headlamps, Amazon Alexa™, Android Auto and Apple CarPlay® smart-device integration, and a 2.0L Dynamic Force four-cylinder engine making 168 horsepower and 151 lb.-ft. of torque. Managing the healthy output is either a six-speed manual transmission or a CVT with simulated 10-speed step shift. Fuel consumption for the SE CVT paired with the 2.0L engine is an EPA-estimated 36 mpg city and highway combined.1

Nissan Sentra

Aimed at young professionals, the 2019 Nissan Sentra exudes class. The 2019 Sentra sports the latest design language, evidenced by the attractive black and chrome V-Motion grille, boomerang-shaped head and taillights, and chrome door handles and window accents. A long, 106.3-inch wheelbase affords the sedan one of the largest interiors in its class at 110 cubic feet of total volume. Trunk capacity is equally practical at 15.1 cubic feet. Every 2019 Sentra comes with air conditioning, a tilt-and-telescoping steering column, push-button start, and a back-up camera.

The Bottom Line

The 2019 Kia Forte is not only fun to pilot from behind the wheel, but boasts modern bells and whistles you'll love. Available in a wide array of configurations, there's a Forte out there just for you.

Looking to learn more about the 2019 Kia Forte and similar vehicles? Check out these helpful articles:

1Fuel economy figures are based on EPA estimates for when vehicle sold as new. Fuel economy may vary for reasons like driving conditions and vehicle history. Unless specified, figures are for vehicles equipped with an automatic transmission. See fueleconomy.gov.
Unless otherwise noted, information related to these featured vehicles comes from third-party sources, including manufacturer information. Product and company names may be trademarks or registered trademarks of third-party entities. Use of them does not imply any affiliation with or endorsement by these entities.