Running for its 3rd generation, the Kia Forte has once again stepped out of its realm of traditional compact cars ways with all new premium features, advance safety options, and now the ability to achieve over 40 mpg’s thanks to its newly develop drivetrain. However, foregoing its traditional values to produce consumer happy fuel economy numbers, has the Forte lost that spark that once separated it from the competition?
On the styling forefront, the Forte keeps things fresh and stylish. It continues to separates itself from the competitors with a sportier styling cue and almost baby Stinger mannerisms. Currently, the Forte line up offers four trim levels starting at $17,790. Our top tier EX model starts at $21,990 with the addition of the $3210 EX Launch Edition package which elevated our Forte with a stunning Deep Sea Blue exterior paint, 17-inch wheels and LED head-, daytime-, & tail lights.
The interior is also very crisp resonating an attractive display of soft touch materials and an suitable usage of metal and black accents throughout without being too overwhelming. Transmitting a German-like interior, the Forte offers a more elevating premium stature that its consumers will adore.
Centered around technology, the Forte structures a long list of standard features from the large, protruding 8-inch touch screen infotainment system with Apple CarPlay & Android Auto to the advance safety features including blind-spot monitoring, Forward Collision Warning & Assist, Lane Departure Warning and Assist, and Rear Cross-Traffic Detection. Our EX Launch Edition took the Forte one step further with a wireless charging pad, Navigation, upgraded Harman Kardon Premium Audio, a power sunroof, Smart Adaptive Cruise Control and Parking Sensors. Comfort creatures were heavily outfitted with leather seating surfaces, power driver seat, heated and cooled front seats.
Sitting in the Forte, it doesn’t quite give the impression of a compact economy car. There is room to move about comfortably for all passengers. There is sufficient leg and headroom in the rear seats for even passengers that grow above and beyond six-feet tall. Long distance travels felt comforting with decent seating support. The leather interior felt of decent quality and featured heated and cooled front seats and a power driver seat.
Moving in the direction of fuel consciousness, Kia has ultimately decided to end the era of a traditional six-speed automatic and proceed into the craze method of single geared transmissions. Taking a different spin on what is known as a CVT (Continuous Variable Transmission), the Forte is equipped with what they call iVT (Intelligent Variable Transmission) – an in-house Kia developed system designed to optimize fuel consumption. Unfortunately, no matter how its spun, the iVT system works exactly like a CVT transmission – and paired to the Forte’s standard 2.0-liter four-cylinder, it lowers the Fortes enthusiastic driving behavior a notch or two or three.
Working with 147-horsepower, the Forte’s intentions is never going to be a speed racer. That’s what the 2020 Forte GT with over 200-horsepower and a six-speed manual will be geared for. In sight of fuel economy, the new iVT transmission provides an inattentive relationship – something we expect out of an economy mule beater. Taking nearly 9-seconds to sixty, the power band is sufficient for the car in its class. Its performance is adequate with the ability to maintain composure over the road and pass other motorist when called upon. Switching the drive mode can encourage more of an elevated driving style with a crisper responsiveness from the throttle; however, ultimately damaging the capability of achieve 40 mpg on the highway. During our 200-mile highway run, we managed to squeeze out 41.7 mpg and a total combined rating of 33 mpg – slotting it nearly two ticks above the EPA highway rating and only one down from the combined rating.
Coping with the day-to-day routine, the Forte drive fairly confidently. The steering is admirable with a hefty weight to its motions. There’s a positive return on the suspension feeling comfortable – over courser imperfections, there is some slight harshness – but that is easily forgiven, given its class.
Offering handsome styling cues, premium features and advance safety features, the Kia Forte was this years 2019 Southwest Lifestyle Media Best Value Car of the Year. While this new generation should appeal to the younger youths with its premium stature; its driving characteristics have portrayed a different agenda. If premium options, 40 miles to gallon at an affordable price is what you seek, then Forte marks itself at a good value. If elevated performance is more of what is desired; then hold out for 2020 Kia Forte GT – it might just be what we need to get the Forte out of its hum-drum funk.
Model: 2019 KIA FORTE
Starting Price: $17,790
As Tested: $26,220 (EX Trim & EX Launch Edition Package)
Engine: 2.0-LITER FOUR-CYLINDER
Horsepower/Torque: 147-HORSEPOWER / 132LB-FT TORQUE
Transmission: IVT (INTELLIGENT VARIABLE TRANSMISSION)
Fuel Economy: EPA RATED: 30-CITY / 40-HWY / 34-COMBINED
(AS TESTED: 32.3 MPG COMBINED | 41.7 MPG – 200 MILE HIGHWAY TEST)
Fuel Range: 400 MILES
0-60 MPH: ±9.0 SECONDS