Pittsburgh, PA – The third generation Kia Forte launches as an all-new vehicle for the 2019 model year. The new styling takes on some of the design cues and persona inherent in the Kia Stinger GT’s look. Kia Product planning guru, Orth Hedrick outlined the Forte’s similarities to the Stinger, which Kia feels contributes to a sportier vehicle with enhanced premium appeal. Some of the noteworthy exterior changes include the horizontal light trim strip between the taillights, the sweeping rear end trweatkent, detached rear turn signal indicators, and the gloss black front and rear splitters. But the similarities end there as the Forte doesn’t even come close in terms of the Stinger’s performance and handling attributes. But then, it isn’t supposed to.
Power for the new Kia Forte is provided by a 2.0-liter, DOHC, D-CVVT 16 valve inline 4-cylinder engine with Multi-point fuel injection that delivers 147 horsepower at 6,200 rpm while also developing 132 pound feet of torque at 4,500 rpm. The transversely front mounted engine’s energy reaches the front driving wheels via an Intelligent Continuously Variable Transmission (i-CVT). A 6-speed manual gearbox is available only on the base FE trim model. Other available trims include: the LX; S; and Ex,each with progressive feature content levels. A special EX Launch Edition will be available in a limited production run early on.
Visually, the new Kia Forte displays a fastback coupe look despite its four-door sedan configuration, thanks to the chrome trim cabin glass surround with the blacked out “B” and “C” pillars. In profile, the forte sits low over the wheels and tires. The high beltline, long hood and short rear deck with its modest overhang. The all-new Forte has increased in length by 3.2-inches increasing rear legroom and the available 15.3 cubic-feet of cargo space ranks as one of the roomiest in this segment.
The interior exhibits a simple and tasteful horizontal dash layout with easy to use, intuitive old fashioned knob controls. Kiudos for that simplification.
Forte trim levels or models offered are: the base FE; LXS; S and EX (and the spcial limited edition EX Launch edition. Standard fare across the lineup include: an 8.0-inch touchscreen, projector low beam headlights,solar control glass, a rear window defroster, dual-zone automatic tem[erature control, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, Bluetooth wireless technology, a six-way adjustable front passenger seat and steering wheel mounted audio controls.
Standard safety features for all trim levels include Hill Start Assist Control, a tire pressire monitoring system, impact sensing auto door unlock, rear child safety door locks, forward collision warning, forward collision avoidance, lane departure warning as well as lane keeping assist.
Kia Forte pricing ranges from $17,690 for the base FE trim with the manual gearbox to $21,990 for the top-of-the-line EX model. Add $3,210 for the Launch Edition Package which comes with a power sunroof, Harman Kardon premium audio system, single projection LED headlamps, smart cruise control, LED interior lighting, voice command navigation, Forward Collision Avoidance with pedestrian detection and Park Distance Warning. An exclusive Fire Orange exterior finish, darker finished wheels and a pronounced rear decklid spoiler will be available. Add another $895 to all models to cover Destination and Handling costs.
My test 2019 Kia Forte came in EX trim with the Launch Edition package and bright Silver metallic exterior finish and a Black interior. Its base sticker read $21,990., while the as tested price totaled $26,095. After factoring in the Launch Edition Package and destination and handling charge. Later at home, I was able to spend time in another EX Forte model with a Silky Silver metallic exterior finish and a Black interior. The base price was the same, but its final count and amount came to $26,220.
Piloting the 2017 Kia Forte EX sedan provided a most pleasant experience. The 2.0-liter engine was readily responsive despite it natural aspiration, delivering 147 horses and 132 pound feet of torque, and the Intelligent CVT transmission shifted smoothly in automatic mode, feeling more like a normal transmission, however wheel-mounted paddle shifters would have raised the fun-to-drive quotient, especially on challenging, twisting back roads.
The ride quality was firm, yet comfortable and stable, and the handling characteristics offered an improvement over the prior model Fortes – bordering on sporty. The selectable three drive modes (Smart, Normal and Sport) allow for matching one’s driving style. I preferred the Sport Mode, which provided the most responsive qualities.
In the final analysis, the 2019 Kia Forte is an attractive, efficient, practical and fun-to-drive sedan that also provides a heightened versatility in virtually all of its trim levels.
The Forte sedan is built at Kia’s state-of-the-art manufacturing facility in Monterrey, Mexico, The 2017 model Forte was the first vehicle to be built at the automaker’s second North American plant.
SPECIFICATIONS: 2019 Kia Forte EX Launch Edition
Base Price: $25,200.
Price as Tested: $26,095.
Engine Type and Size: 2.0-liter, DOHC, D-CVVT 16 valve inline 4-cylinder with Multi-point fuel injection.
Horsepower (bhp): 147 @ 6,200 rpm
Torque (ft./ lbs.): 132 @ 4,500 rpm
Transmission: Intelligent Continuously Variable (i-CVT)
Drive Train: Transversely mounted front engine / Front-wheel drive.
Suspension: Front -MacPherson Strut with coil springs and twin-tube shock absorbers.
Rear – Coupled Torsion Beam axle with twin-tube shock absorbers.–
Brakes: Power-assisted four wheel discs (vented front) with ABS.
Tires: Kumho Majesty SolusP225/45 R17 mounted on 5-sculpted “Y”-spoke alloy wheels – machine face with painted inners.
Wheelbase: 106.3 inches
Length Overall: 182.7 inches
Width: 70.9 inches
Height: 56.5 inches
Curb Weight: 2,903 pounds
Turning Circle: 34.8 feet
Fuel Capacity: 14.0 gallons
EPA Mileage Estimates: 30 mpg city / 40 mpg highway
Drag Coefficient: .269
0 – 60 mph: Not tested
Arv Voss is a Northern California based freelance motoring Journalist and member and past officer of several noted Automotive Journalist organizations who contributes regularly to a number of national and international media outlets. He reviews not only cars, trucks and SUVs, but motorcycles and unusual wheeled vehicles as well.
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