New 2019 Kia Forte Sedan New 2019
Kia Forte Sedan

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KBB Editor's Overview

By Editorial Staff

The Kia Forte has grown up. This compact Kia sedan is sportier and more refined, while boasting a healthy amount of safety and infotainment tech. It’s also more fuel efficient. Just as significant, the all-new 2019 Kia Forte has been made considerably more attractive with some styling cues taken from the Stinger sports sedan. That neatly creased hood and the separated grille and headlights are obvious stylistic links to the Stinger. And from the rear, if we squint just hard enough, we can see a hint of Alfa Giulia and Lexus IS. The new Forte, as impressive as it is, faces tough competition from the likes of the Toyota Corolla, Honda Civic, Chevrolet Cruze and even its corporate cousin, the Hyundai Elantra.


You'll Like This Car If...

If a strong chassis, roomy interior, handsome looks, abundant safety technology, excellent efficiency and an outstanding powertrain warranty are important to you, the all-new 2019 Kia Forte checks all the right boxes.

You May Not Like This Car If...

The only automatic transmission is a continuously variable transmission (CVT) with no fixed ratios, and many people don’t like how they feel. That stated, Kia’s new CVT, developed in-house, is a good one. Also, some hard interior plastic pieces reveal the Forte’s affordable nature.

What's New for 2019

Just about everything. The Forte engine, though still a 2.0-liter 4-cylinder, now employs the Atkinson cycle, which together with the new CVT contributes to EPA highway fuel economy of up to 41 mpg. Inside and out the Forte is new, and we like the new long-hood/short-deck look.

Driving It

Driving Impressions

The 2019 Kia Forte is not a compact sports sedan, but it does have a lithe, sporty feel. The suspension (MacPherson-struts front, torsion-beam rear) delivers a firm but comfortable ride, and the car feels stable on the highway. On curvy roads, though, the new Forte is quite willing to change directions, aided by electric-assist steering that communicates well what the front tires are doing. The CVT, covered by a sound-attenuating metal quilt, does a good job of mimicking the behavior of a traditional 6-speed automatic. Most people, in fact, would have a difficult time identifying the Forte’s transmission as a CVT, thanks in part to what Kia calls “adaptive style shift logic.” The Forte has three electronic drive modes: Normal, Smart and Sport. In Smart, the new Forte switches between Normal and Sport, depending on how the 2019 Forte is being driven. The new Forte is perhaps best characterized as a refined and nimble compact sedan, one whose well-tuned steering, gas and brake inputs help make for a pleasant overall driving experience.

Favorite Features

All 2019 Fortes, not just the top models, get a standard 8-inch touch screen. It’s well placed at the top of the interior’s center stack, where it supports Apple CarPlay and Android Auto connectivity among other things. A row of intuitive buttons is located just below.

While KBB typically doesn’t like CVTs, the new Kia-built unit in the 2019 Forte is a good one. It does a great job of not “rubber-banding” -- that undesirable trait sensed when engine rpm don’t correlate in any way to vehicle speed. Kia’s CVT behaves quite like a 6-speed automatic.

Vehicle Details


The 2019 Kia Forte interior is handsome but minimalist, with a wide horizontal theme and an attractively contoured dash (with neat circular vents) that was penned at Kia’s design studio in California. The most prominent feature is the standard 8-inch touch screen; it’s standard on all 2019 Fortes, as are dual-zone climate control and Apple CarPlay/Android Auto. Also, the center armrest is about an inch higher and an inch longer than before, which makes it much more comfortable for resting your arm. The supportive front seats also are comfortable over the long haul, and they slide back far enough to accommodate taller drivers. The hand-lever emergency brake may seem old-school, but many of us prefer it over an electric switch.


With its long hood, high beltline, short rear deck and swoopy fastback roofline, the 2019 Kia Forte looks great from the direct side. From the front it looks pretty good, too, what with its creased hood and separated grille and headlights playing up the strong familial link to the “tiger nose” of the Stinger, Kia’s sports sedan. The Forte’s cowl, the area where the base of the windshield meets the hood, has been moved back five inches. In back, the turn signals are separate and mounted below the taillights, which are LED units on upper-level models.

Notable Standard Equipment

With the new Forte, Kia is bringing active safety into the world of affordable entry-level cars. Proof: The new 2019 Forte is equipped with what Kia calls its “Drive Wise” suite of safety technology. That means forward-collision avoidance is standard equipment, as is lane-keep assist, driver-attention warning, forward-collision warning, and lane-departure warning. Smart cruise control and blind-spot collision warning, which includes rear cross-traffic collision warning, are standard on the XE and the special Launch Edition model.

Notable Optional Equipment

Audiophiles will appreciate the 320-watt Harman Kardon stereo that’s optional on the Forte EX, the top model; it has eight speakers and Clari-Fi, which rebuilds audio signals lost during digital compression. Other notable options on the new Forte include navigation, wireless smartphone charging, LED lights and a rear spoiler. The EX is also available with the Launch Edition package, which includes additional active-safety features such as smart cruise control and niceties like a sunroof and 17-inch alloy wheels with a graphite finish.

Under the Hood

As before, the Forte remains powered by a 2.0-liter 4-cylinder engine with 147 horsepower and 132 lb-ft of torque. Internally, though, the engine has been considerably altered for better fuel economy. By employing the Atkinson cycle used in many hybrids, the cylinders of this Kia engine are better filled, giving the 2019 Forte excellent EPA fuel economy. A base Forte, fitted with the 6-speed manual transmission, delivers EPA fuel economy of 27 mpg/city, 37 mpg/highway and 31 mpg/combined. A Forte fitted with the new CVT is even better, ranked by the EPA at 31/41/35, respectively. That’s almost as good as some hybrids. Kia’s new CVT has a chain-type belt in place of the traditional push-type belt, and it’s said to return 2-percent-better fuel economy than a traditional CVT.

2.0-liter inline-4
147 horsepower @ 6,200 rpm
132 lb-ft of torque @ 4,500 rpm
EPA city/highway fuel economy: 27/37 mpg (manual), 30/40 mpg (automatic), 31/41 mpg (Forte FE)


Pricing Notes

The Forte FE, fitted with a 6-speed manual transmission and 15-inch steel wheels, has a Manufacturer's Suggested Retail Price (MSRP) just over $17,500, which does not include a destination charge of $895. The Forte FE, fitted with the CVT, starts just above $18,500. Next is the Forte LXS (around $19,000), the expected high-volume model with 16-inch alloy wheels and a split-folding rear seat. Moving up, there’s the S, which starts just above $20,000 and is fitted with 17-inch alloy wheels, fog lights, LED lights, a gloss-black grille and a leather-wrapped steering wheel. At the top of the Forte lineup is the EX. For just under $21,500, you get a temporary spare tire (instead of a patch kit), side mirrors with integrated LED turn signals, upgraded seat fabric and additional active safety (lane-change assist, blind-spot collision warning, rear cross-traffic assist). Lastly, there’s the Forte EX Launch Edition package. Painted an exclusive Fire Orange color, the Launch Edition boasts LED headlights, graphite-finished 17-inch wheels, a sunroof, voice-command navigation, wireless charging for smartphones, smart cruise control and the optional Harman Kardon stereo. It’s a lot of compact sedan for around $26,000. Be sure to check the Fair Purchase Price to see what others in your area are paying.

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