2019 Kia Forte EX: You’re in for a pleasant surprise

11 Feb 2019 | 821 views | No Comment
By Don Hammonds Only one word describes Kia's vastly upgraded 2019 Forte sedan. Wow! The Forte is sporty on the outside, yes. So much so that you will probably think it looks like a smaller version of the vaunted, well regarded Kia Stinger sport sedan. It gets good fuel economy, of course.  And it has just about everything you will ever need in a four door sedan, and given Detroit's sudden aversion to sedans, Kia (and other imported brands)  stand to make a bundle from consumers who shy away from big, squarish SUVs.  But what really hooked me was the way it drove.  Taut, tight and thoroughly begging to be driven with enthusiasm, the Forte doesn't mess around when it comes to acceleration and a sporty feel behind the wheel. [caption id="attachment_9854" align="alignnone" width="600"] 2019 Forte[/caption] From my perspective, only the Mazda 3 and maybe Volkswagen Golf rivals or betters it on this score. And you get more standard equipment and handy features on the Forte to boot. Our test model was the Forte EX, with a base price of $21,990, and with options, you're looking at $26,220.00 Fuel economy rating is 30 city, 45 highway and 34 miles per gallon overall.  The Forte uses 2.9 gallons per 100 miles driven, and you save $1,500 in fuel costs over five years compared to the average new vehicle.  Annual fuel cost is $1,100 based on driving 15,000 miles annually for five years, using gasoline costing $2.55 a  gallon.
You can get your 2019 Kia Forte in a host of trim versions from the base model FE, to the LXS, S, and EX. In terms of engine, only one is available, a 2.0 liter four with 147 horsepower.  The transmission for the FE is a six speed manual variant, but everybody else gets a continuously variable automatic transmission that has Drive Mode Select. Even the base FE has a pretty attractive list of standard goodies.  They include 15-inch steel wheels, automatic headlights, dual-zone automatic climate control, rear air vents, an 8-inch touchscreen, Bluetooth, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, and a four-speaker audio system with USB and auxiliary audio jacks. The FE also comes with a rearview camera, forward collision warning, automatic emergency braking, lane departure warning and lane keeping assist.
     If you want a bit more, try the LXS.  It has  16-inch alloy wheels, selectable drive modes, a 60/40-split folding rear seat, and soft-touch dash and door surfaces. The S trim continues the upgrades with 17-inch alloy wheels, LED daytime running lights, foglights, a rear-seat armrest, a leather-wrapped steering wheel, a six-speaker audio system, satellite radio and Kia's Uvo communication services. Features included in the optional S Premium package are a sunroof, LED headlights and automatic high beams. Looking for the creme de la crème Forte?  It's the EX you want. It comes with  heated side mirrors, windshield wiper de-icer, push-button ignition, keyless entry, keyless trunk opener, simulated-leather upholstery, a power adjustable driver's seat, heated and ventilated front seats, a sliding armrest and two extra USB ports. Additional driver aids on the EX include blind-spot monitoring and rear cross-traffic alert and lane change assist. All of that sounds pretty good, huh? But wait......there's now an EX Launch Edition package, that will spoil you rotten with the following standard features:  17-inch wheels, a sunroof, a rear decklid spoiler, LED headlights, an auto-dimming rearview mirror, a larger gauge cluster display, a navigation system with voice controls, a wireless device charger, and an eight-speaker Harman Kardon audio system with HD radio. This package also includes adaptive cruise control, pedestrian detection for the automatic emergency braking system, rear parking sensors, and automatic high beams. But the nicest standard features for practical folks will be the warranty package.  You get a 10 year/100,000 mile limited powertrain warranty, five year, 60,000 mile limited basic warranty, and a five a year, 60,000 mile roadside assistance feature too. Once you are inside the Forte, you will be treated to a comprehensive complement of easy to use features that are quite intuitive, and even a star shaped button that you can customize to whatever use you might wish to provide for it!  And this car has far more information, warnings, chimes and informational flourishes than any car its size that I have driven. The biggest problems for me were the Harmon Kardon sound system, which seemed only average in terms of performance and quality, and of all things, the key fob.  The key fob has teeny tiny symbols on it and the buttons really have to be pushed hard in order to get them to function. Several attempts had to be made in order to do simple things with the key.  I say redesign the whole thing---with people's eyesight in mind. But other than that, the Forte goes straight to the top with Mazda3 and Volkswagen Golf for the compact car segment in my view.

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