2019 Kia Forte Review

Written by Anqoinette Crosby

I was stoked to be heading to my friend’s annual March Madness party in the fully redesigned 2019 Kia Forte. The only downsides were a torrential downpour and maddening rush hour traffic standing between the sports lounge in which it was being held and me.


On the other hand, these conditions provided an ideal opportunity to see just how well the Forte was capable of handling itself in such unpleasantness. Happily, the Forte “weathered” the 90-minute drive from Maryland to Virginia with aplomb. This, and several other factors lead me to proclaim this version of the Kia Forte a slam dunk for the Korean automaker.


The sporty exterior styling benefits from a strong resemblance to the Forte’s Stinger luxury sports sedan sibling — but without that car’s elevated sticker price. However, the sleek coupe-like profile also looks considerably more expensive than the little Kia’s MSRP would usually dictate.


Meanwhile, the interior has been completely reworked too. An elongated dashboard design with a floating infotainment screen presents a clean, minimalist appearance, even as the nicely sculpted seats and door panels add an air of substance. With seating for five, the Forte offers sufficient comfort and support, albeit more for those seated in the front than the back.


In typical Kia fashion, standard features are plentiful. These include six-way adjustable front seats, an eight-inch touchscreen infotainment system, Bluetooth, Android Auto and Apple CarPlay, a USB port and dual-zone automatic climate control.


You’ll also find a rear view camera, lane departure warning, lane keep assist,

forward collision warning, automatic emergency braking, and driver attention monitoring; all included in the base price.


My top-of-the line EX trimmed test car added leatherette upholstered seats with heating and ventilation for front passengers. The driver’s seat was also adjustable 10 ways. What’s more, my tester was fitted with the Forte’s Launch Edition package.


This brought numerous upgrades including a sunroof, adaptive cruise control, forward collision avoidance with pedestrian detection, rear cross-traffic collision warnings, Kia’s UVO infotainment system with voice-command navigation, 17-inch alloy wheels, and a premium Harman-Kardon audio system.


Another big plus is the Forte’s generous 15.3 cubic feet of trunk space, one of the most commodious in its class. Higher trim levels get the convenience of a pass-through from the cargo compartment to the rear seat. Forte EX also flaunts one of my all-time favorite features — a hands-free trunk lid. (It’s manually operated on the rest of the lineup.)


Lift the hood, you’ll find Kia’s 2.0-liter four-cylinder producing 147 horsepower. A six-speed manual transmission feeds the front wheels on base models. All others get Kia’s continuously variable transmission as standard. And yes, the CVT can be had on base models as an option.


The engine displays adequate spunk around town, but highway speeds reveal it to be a bit lacking. On the other hand, my CVT-equipped EX Forte was rated at 31 MPG in the city and 41 on the highway. With gas prices on the rise again, those numbers are looking pretty good to me. Handling is sporty and ride quality is quite good, considering how well the little Kia corners.


All in all, the handsome 2019 Kia Forte is a delightful car.