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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 and some of the hard plastics inside that tell 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. 
 

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2019 Nissan Sentra

Starting Price: $18,685 | Price Yours

Above Average: Good looking, good fuel economy, and there are lots of cool additional options.

Below Average: There’s no hatchback or sporty version to compete with the GTI or Honda Civic SI.

Consensus: Affordable, spacious and efficient, the Nissan Sentra is safe and well-priced. 
 

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.

Like the Forte, the Nissan Sentra gets Apple CarPlay/Android Auto at the base S level for 2019. There’s also a new SV trim that gets special wheels and rear disc brakes, Blind-Spot Warning, Rear Cross-Traffic Alert, Intelligent Cruise Control and a power sunroof in a single, stylish package.

Inside the Sentra is spacious, offers good visibility, and has a comfortable ride. While power around town feels sufficient, if you decide to head for the hills with a few people on board, you’ll wish for more than the 130 horsepower you’ve got. While Nissan classifies the Sentra as a compact car, the EPA calls it a midsize and with comfortable room for 4 (5 in a pinch) it has ample space inside. Think of the Sentra like a baby Altima—with its athletic curves and flared wheelwells, it looks upscale and far from boring.

There are five variants of the Nissan Sentra, the S, SV, SR, SL, and Nismo, each increasing their level of amenities. For our money we’d go for the Sentra SL because it gets adaptive cruise control, blind spot detection and forward emergency braking. Prices for the Sentra are a bit higher than for the Kia Forte.

Similarities

Packed with luxury touches and nice optional amenities both the Kia Forte and the Nissan Sentra are good buys in the compact car space.

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 5-year/60,000 mile warranty.

Nissan Sentra Advantages

Manual transmission is available. You get better performance with the manual 6-speed transmission than you do with the CVT with a minimal decrease in fuel efficiency.

Final Recommendation

For our money, we’d go with the Kia Forte. It’s packed with features at the base level and while the CVT leaves something to be desired, the amazing warranty and more affordable price pushes the Forte above the Sentra.

Find out how much you'll pay for the 2019 Kia Forte 

  2019 Kia  Forte 2019 Nissan Sentra
Popular Powertrains    
Engine 2.0-liter I4 1.8-liter 4-cyl
Horsepower 147 @ 6,200 rpm 130 hp @ 6,000 rpm
Torque 132 lb-ft @ 4,500 RPM 128 lb-ft @ 3600 rpm
Transmission 6-speed manual Manual 6-spd
Fuel Economy 31 combined/27 city/37 highway 30 mpg /27 city/ 35 hwy
Also Available Automatic CVT Automatic CVT, 1.6-liter turbocharged I4
Specs    
Warranty 5 years/60,000 miles 3 years/36,000 miles
NHTSA Overall Safety Rating n/a 4 stars
Max Seating Capacity 5 5
Wheelbase 106.3 inches 106.3 inches
Overall Length 182.7 inches 182.1 inches
Width 70.9 inches 69.3 inches
Height 56.5 inches 58.9 inches
Turning Diameter 34.8 feet 34.8 feet
Headroom, Front 38.8 inches 39.4 inches
Headroom, Rear 37.5 inches 36.7 inches
Legroom, Front 42.2 inches 42.5 inches
Legroom, Rear 35.7 inches 37.4 inches
Shoulder Room, Front 56.1 inches 54.7 inches
Shoulder Room, Rear 55.3 inches 53.9 inches
EPA Passenger Volume 96.0 cu. ft. 95.9 cu. ft.
EPA Cargo Volume 15.3 cu. ft. 15.1 cu. ft.
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