For 2019, the Forte has been completely revamped, marking the introduction of the third-generation of the popular compact sedan. To help it battle long time rivals, like the Honda Civic, Toyota Corolla and countless others, Kia decided to give the 2019 Forte it’s most stylish exterior ever (Kia says it’s inspired by the Stinger) and more features, all while keeping the price in check.
On the outside, the 2019 Forte ditches the previous generation’s cab-forward look for a more swept back, sporty stance with a longer hood to give it a fastback profile. The front is dominated by a more aggressive grille and if you look closely you can see some of the Stinger’s influence. Overall the Forte’s new face helps it stand out in the crowded segment, but it’s not as busy as the Civic.
Under the new, more stylish exterior, the 2019 Forte continues to share its platform with the Hyundai Elantra, but Kia did make a few tweaks to the platform to give the sedan a sportier driving experience. The Forte comes standard with a 2.0L four-cylinder with 147 hp and 132 lb-ft. of torque that can be mated to either a six-speed manual or a new CVT. The CVT does use a chain-like belt, which is supposed to improve the overall feel of the transmission and reduce the rubber-band effect that makes us wish CVTs would just go away.
The most efficient version is the CVT-equipped Forte FE, which is rated at 31 mpg city and 41 mpg highway. Other trim levels with the CVT are rated at 30/40 mpg, while the manual drops those specs to 27/ 37 mpg.
Around town the four-cylinder does an ok job of moving the Forte down the road, but with less than 150 horsepower on tap, don’t expect the Forte to feel very sporty or exciting. Pulling away from a stop, you’ll hear the engine come to life, but that’s about it, but at least the CVT does a good job of trying to not feel like an actual CVT. Often times we actually forgot the Forte even had a CVT, which is great.
The Forte may borrow some of its looks from the Stinger, but it definitely doesn’t drive like the Stinger. We noticed a bit of body roll, since the Forte is tuned more for comfort than sport. There is a Sport mode that adjusts the throttle and steering feel a bit, but sadly it doesn’t do anything to tighten up the suspension.
While the overall driving experience may not be very exciting, at least the 2019 Forte’s interior is a big improvement over the last generation. The second-generation Forte’s plain interior has been thrown out and replaced with a more stylish and premium feeling cockpit. The clean dashboard design with its higher quality materials could easily be mistaken for something from a luxury brand and there’s plenty of room for your friends. Kia also worked hard to make the interior quieter with thicker glass.
The Forte comes standard with an eight-inch touchscreen with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto connectivity, which is something that you won’t find standard on the 2019 Civic. If you want to add even more features, wireless charging and a nice Harmon/Kardon audio system are also available.
To keep you safe, the 2019 Forte comes standard with forward collision warning, lane departure warning, automatic emergency braking and lane-keep assist. The EX trim level adds a blind-spot monitor and rear cross traffic alert.
Given the fact that the 2019 Forte comes standard with a lot more features, you’d expect the price to have gone up as well. Well the good news is that the 2019 Forte starts at a reasonable $17,690. If you like the looks of the latest Forte, but want it to be a bit more fun on the road, well then you’ll want to check out the 2020 Forte GT with its 201-hp turbocharged engine.