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William Maley

Review: 2019 Kia Forte EX Launch Edition

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The Kia Forte could never claim to be the best compact car, but its low price and a long list of equipment made it an interesting alternative choice to the stalwarts of the compact class. This approach has worked well with the Forte becoming one of the brand’s best selling models. Kia wants to change the fortunes of the Forte with third-generation by not fully relying on price and value.  I spent a week in the top-line EX Launch Edition to see how it fares.

The new Mazda3 is considered by many to be the sexiest compact car on sale. Running a close second is the Forte. Elements of the Stinger are used throughout such as power bulge on the hood, headlights that extend into the fenders, and sculpting along the side. The only place where the design falters is in the rear with a set of triangular pods housing the reversing lights and turn signals. They ruin the elegant and upscale look Kia is trying to go for.

The Forte’s interior at first glance may look somewhat plain, with only a set of circular vents and a strip of faux metal trim running across the dash being the interesting bits. But Kia has done its homework in building a high-quality interior. Almost all of the plastics used are soft-touch and feature different textures to make the vehicle look and feel more expensive than the actual price. Clever touches such as dual-zone climate control being standard on all models and a two-tier bin allowing you and a passenger to place their phones also set the Forte apart.

The EX features leatherette upholstery, a 10-way power seat for the driver, and heat/ventilation for those sitting up front. I found the seats to be very easy to find a comfortable position, along with providing excellent support for long trips. The back seat is mixed with a decent of legroom, but headroom being somewhat at a premium due to an optional sunroof for those above six-feet.

All Fortes come with an 8-inch touchscreen as standard with Kia’s UVO infotainment system. Navigation is only available on the EX if you order the Launch Edition package. The current incarnation of UVO is starting to look somewhat old in terms of the interface. It cannot be beaten for the overall ease of use with large touchpoints, simple menu layout, and physical shortcut buttons underneath the screen. Android Auto and Apple CarPlay integration is standard across the board.

Power comes from a 2.0L four-cylinder engine pumping out 147 horsepower and 132 pound-feet of torque. The base FE gets a six-speed manual, while higher trims use a CVT. The powertrain goes about its business surprisingly well around down with the engine providing decent pull and the CVT mimicking an automatic transmission. But this powertrain falters when you need to get up to speed quickly. The engine runs out of steam when going above 60 mph and there is a noticeable drone coming from the CVT.

Fuel economy in the 2019 Kia Forte EX is rated at 30 City/40 Highway/34 Combined. My average for the week landed around 33.

The Forte really shines when it comes to ride quality. Despite having a slightly stiffer ride compared to the last-generation model, the sedan glides over most bumps with no issue. Road and wind noise were about average for the class, and could easily be drowned out by turning up the volume slightly. Handling is about average for the class with a slight amount of body lean and steering providing decent weight.

To sum up, the large effort Kia has put into the 2019 Forte shows. The combination of styling, a long list of features, balance between ride and handling, and a surprising base price make it a real threat in the compact car class. The only item that needs to be addressed is the engine - ten extra horsepower and torque could make the difference. 

How I would configure a 2019 Kia Forte 

  • While the EX Launch Edition does provide some desirable features such as adaptive cruise control, QI wireless charging, and a Harman/Kardon audio system, I would drop down to the mid-level S. At $20,290, you’re getting a lot of equipment such as 17-inch alloy wheels, automatic headlights, forward collision warning with automatic braking, and keyless entry. I would add the $1,200 S Premium Package to get LED headlights, automatic high beams, and a power sunroof. With destination, the price comes to $22,415.

Alternatives to the 2019 Kia Forte

  • Hyundai Elantra: Mechanically similar to the Forte, albeit with a face that will scare small kids. Two turbo engine options - one focused on the economy while the other is for sport - might be attractive to some.
  • Honda Civic: Drives slightly better than the Forte and offers more body styles. But lower reliability scores and confounding infotainment systems may cause you to look elsewhere.
  • Chevrolet Cruze: While it lacks a number of features found on the Forte, it does offer a slightly smoother and quieter ride. Plus, dealers are starting to push a lot of cash on the hoods to get them moving. 

 

Disclaimer: Kia Provided the Forte, Insurance, and One Tank of Gas

Year: 2019
Make: Kia 
Model: Forte
Trim: EX
Engine: 2.0L Multi-Port DOHC Inline-Four
Driveline: Front-Wheel Drive, CVT
Horsepower @ RPM: 147 @ 6,200
Torque @ RPM: 132 @ 4,500 
Fuel Economy: City/Highway/Combined - 30/40/34
Curb Weight: 2,903 lbs
Location of Manufacture: Pesqueria, NL, Mexico
Base Price: $21,990
As Tested Price: $26,220 (Includes $895.00 Destination Charge)

Options:
EX Launch Edtion - $3,210.00
Carpeted Floor Mats - $125.00


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I've seen a couple of these wandering around in Pittsburgh and they're sharp little compacts.  Haven't driven one yet. 

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Have to say that this is very nice looking for the class and I actually like the exterior looks over the Mazda. If I was just starting out in life and wanted a new car versus used, I would consider this if I could fit in it.

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Coincidence. One of this new version passed me on the highway today. 

Pleasant  kia is in the game but still the car is bland to me  

the low power specs are inexcusable to me  and the Cruze left the market with good power specs  much better than this  

No matter how nice Kia makes the forte nowadays I just keep wondering why they didn’t keep the name Spectra 

 

 

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      Make: Volvo
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      Torque @ RPM: 258 @ 1,500
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      Horsepower @ RPM: 250 @ 5,500
      Torque @ RPM: 258 @ 1,500
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    • By William Maley
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      Trim: T5 Momentum
      Engine: 2.0L Turbocharged DOHC Inline-Four
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      Torque @ RPM: 258 @ 1,500
      Fuel Economy: City/Highway/Combined - 23/34/27
      Curb Weight: 3,657 lbs
      Location of Manufacture: Ridgeville, SC 
      Base Price: $36,050
      As Tested Price: $46,249 (Includes $995.00 Destination Charge)
      Options:
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      Premium Package - $2,050.00
      Multimedia Package - $1,850.00
      19" 5-Spoke Cut Wheels - $800.00
      Heated Front Seats & Heated Steering Wheel Package - $750.00
      Pebble Grey Metallic - $645.00
      Linear Lime Deco Inlay and Interior High Level Illumination - $600.00
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      Make: Volvo
      Model: V60
      Trim: Cross Country
      Engine: 2.0L Turbocharged DOHC Inline-Four
      Driveline: Eight-Speed Automatic, All-Wheel Drive
      Horsepower @ RPM: 250 @ 5,500
      Torque @ RPM: 258 @ 1,500
      Fuel Economy: City/Highway/Combined - 22/31/25
      Curb Weight: 4,202 lbs
      Location of Manufacture: Gothenburg, Sweden
      Base Price: $45,100
      As Tested Price: $56,990 (Includes $995.00 Destination Charge)
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      Driver Assist Package - $1,550.00
      Navigation Package - $1,040.00
      Carpet/Trunk Mat Set - $264.00

      View full article
    • By William Maley
      The landscape of midsize sedans was much different ten to fifteen years ago. All of them offered the choice of a four-cylinder and V6 engine. Today, it is a completely different story as most automakers that still offer a midsize sedan have dropped their V6 engines in favor of turbo-fours. But Toyota is bucking the trend by sticking with the V6 in the Camry. It seemed like a good time to ask whether or not there is a place for a V6 in the midsize class.
      The V6 in question is a 3.5L used in many Toyota and Lexus vehicles. In the Camry, output is rated at 301 horsepower and 267 pound-feet of torque. An eight-speed automatic routes power to the front wheels. This V6 is one of my favorites due to its combination of excellent acceleration off the line and smoothness that turbo-fours can only dream of. One gotcha you need to keep in mind that torque steer will pop up if you decide to mash on the accelerator. The eight-speed automatic is very smooth and quick to upshift but hesitates to downshift when you need more speed. This is likely due to programming in the transmission to improve fuel economy. EPA fuel economy figures for the Camry XLE V6 are 22 City/33 Highway/26 Combined. My average for the week landed around 24 on a 60/40 mix of highway and city driving. The XSE and TRD V6s see a slight dip in fuel economy due to their performance ambitions. While the XLE can’t fully match the athleticism of the XSE I drove last year, it still can hold its own in the bends. The XLE has the added benefit of providing a smoother ride, as most bumps and road imperfections become mere ripples. Disappointingly, there is a fair amount of road and wind noise comes inside when driving on the freeway. A key difference between the XLE and the XSE I drove last year is the front end treatment. There is a larger lower grille and a different top grille design. I find this design to be a bit much and may scare a lot of people away. On the other hand, the new front does give Camry some needed presence on the road - something that couldn’t be said for previous-generation models. The XLE is surprisingly luxurious with quilted luxury upholstery for the seats and stitching on the dash. Although, a Mazda6 Signature is slightly more premium in terms of offering more luxurious trim pieces, whereas the Camry XLE uses a lot of piano black trim.  Comfort is one area that the Camry XLE excels in. The seats are quite cushy and offer plenty of support, no matter the distance of any trip. The back seat offers plenty of head and legroom. The Entune system may not have the sharp and modern graphics as some competitors, but it does have a simple interface and the ability to use either Apple CarPlay or Android Auto. The XLE starts at $29,455 for the base four-cylinder, while the V6 will set you back $34,580. With a few options, my test XLE V6 carried an as-tested price of $37,824. That’s slightly more expensive than a Mazda6 Signature which offers a slightly more premium interior and better driving dynamics. But the Camry can counter with the smooth performance of the V6, comfortable ride, and its long-standing reputation for reliability. I came away really impressed with the Camry XLE, but also wondering how much longer Toyota will hold out. Despite all of the positives, the V6 is a very expensive proposition and most buyers will likely be happy with the four-cylinder. If I was to buy one, I would likely go for an XLE minus the options. Disclaimer: Toyota provided the Camry, Insurance, and One Tank of Gas
      Year: 2020
      Make: Toyota
      Model: Camry
      Trim: XLE V6
      Engine: 3.5L DOHC D-4S Dual-Injection w/Dual VVT-i V6
      Driveline: Front-Wheel Drive, Eight-Speed Automatic
      Horsepower @ RPM: 301 @ 6,600
      Torque @ RPM: 267 @ 4,700
      Fuel Economy: City/Highway/Combined - 22/33/26
      Curb Weight: 3,549 lbs
      Location of Manufacture: Georgetown, KY
      Base Price: $34,050
      As Tested Price: $37,824 (Includes $920.00 Destination Charge)
      Options:
      Driver Assist Package - $1,550.00
      Navigation Package - $1,040.00
      Carpet/Trunk Mat Set - $264.00
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