2019 Kia Forte

Starting Price: $18,585 | Price Yours

Above Average: Roomy, good-looking, tons of safety features, fuel efficient all wrapped up with an impressive powertrain warranty.

Below Average: Only offered with a CVT transmission without any fixed ratios which most people don’t love. Some hard plastics inside from the affordable nature of the Kia Forte.

Consensus: The 2019 Kia Forte is more refined and sportier than the previous generation and comes replete with a variety of standard safety and infotainment technology. It’s also gotten a good-looking exterior redesign that makes it more handsome.


2019 Volkswagen Jetta

Starting Price: $19,440 | Price Yours

Above Average: Dynamic and responsive to drive, full of notable tech like Apple Car Play and Android Auto, and industry’s longest bumper-to-bumper warranty of 6 years/72,000 miles.

Below Average: Competitors like the Mazda3 and Honda Civic offer just-as-fun driving dynamics and offer a wider array of engine choices and body styles while the Jetta only has one.

Consensus: The 2019 Volkswagen Jetta gets sharp looking design, loads of driver-assist features and new tech and it starts under $20,000.

The 2019 Kia Forte may not be a compact sport sedan but it certainly feels like one. On curvy roads, the Forte is firm and responsive, but comfortable. The CVT, despite its lack of fixed ratios, does a decent job of behaving like a 6-speed automatic and can be driven in three different modes: Normal, Smart, and Sport. Smart mode adapts to how the car is being driven and toggles between Sport and Normal.  The 2019 Kia Forte comes standard with an 8-inch touch screen and minimalist interior. Apple CarPlay and Android Auto are standard. For our money we’d add the 320-watt Harman Kardon stereo on the Forte EX as well as navigation, wireless smartphone charging and LED lights. For 2019 Kia also offers a Launch Edition package which includes a suite of active-safety features like smart cruise control, sunroof and alloy wheels. While the new 2019 Volkswagen Jetta has sacrificed some engine options for the new model year, it still remains a fun, agile and lively car to drive. It still drives like the European sedan it is—responsive, direct, and enjoyable in corners. The new 8-speed automatic transmission is solid and the manual 6-speed captures the joy of rowing-your-own, though its only offered on the base Jetta for 2019. Inside the Jetta gets VW’s digital dashboard which replaces traditional gauges with a 10.25-inch configurable screen that can show navigation maps, audio information, as well as speed and RPM data. The 2019 Jetta also gets an optional Beats Audio system. The Jetta gets either basic cloth or leatherette inside the base S-trims up through the base SEL line. At the top of the line in the SEL Premium you can get leather. At the base level you get cruise control, LED headlights, and Apple CarPlay/Android Auto. If you want an automatic transmission it will cost you an additional $800. We recommend at least going for the Jetta SE because it is well equipped at the $23,000 price tag.


Great fuel economy, room enough for five, characteristic styling, and some of the best warranties out there.

Kia Forte Advantages

Great bang for your buck—for $26,000 you can get into the top-of-the-line Forte EX Launch Edition and you get a 10-year/100,000-mile powertrain warranty.

Volkswagen Jetta Advantages

Optional transmissions and a fun, dynamic, European-style driving feel.

Final Recommendation

It’s a bit of a toss-up between the Kia Forte and the Volkswagen Jetta. While the Kia offers more bang for your buck, it may suffer in terms of resale down the road when compared to the Volkswagen Jetta. Ultimately however, for our money, we’d go with the Kia Forte in this head-to-head because of its value proposition, good looks and packaging that makes it a solid buy. 

  2019 Kia  Forte 2019 Volkswagen Jetta
Popular Powertrains    
Engine 2.0-liter I4 1.4-liter, turbo I4
Horsepower 147 @ 6,200 rpm 147 @ 5,000 rpm
Torque 132 lb-ft @ 4,500 RPM 184 lb-ft @ 1,400 rpm
Transmission 6-speed manual 6-speed manual
Fuel Economy 31 combined/27 city/37 highway 34 combined/ 30 city /40 highway
Also Available Automatic CVT 8-speed automatic
Warranty 5 years/60,000 miles 6 years/72,000 miles
NHTSA Overall Safety Rating n/a 5 stars
Max Seating Capacity 5 5
Wheelbase 106.3 inches 105.7 inches
Overall Length 182.7 inches 185.1 inches
Width 70.9 inches 70.8 inches
Height 56.5 inches 57.4 inches
Turning Diameter 34.8 feet 36.4 feet
Headroom, Front 38.8 inches 38.5 inches
Headroom, Rear 37.5 inches 37.2 inches
Legroom, Front 42.2 inches 38.5 inches
Legroom, Rear 35.7 inches 37.2 inches
Shoulder Room, Front 56.1 inches 55.9 inches
Shoulder Room, Rear 55.3 inches 54.0 inches
EPA Passenger Volume n/a 94.7 cu. ft
EPA Cargo Volume 15.3 cu. ft. 14.1 cu. ft. 
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