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2019 Kia Forte Review

The 2019 Kia Forte sits in the top half of our compact car rankings. It has a spacious cabin, a large trunk, and user-friendly features, but its acceleration could be quicker.

Pros & Cons

  • Roomy cabin
  • Large trunk for a compact sedan
  • User-friendly infotainment system
  • Excellent fuel economy
  • Low-rent interior in base trim
  • Stiff ride
  • Timid acceleration

Rankings & Awards

The 2019 Kia Forte's #4 ranking is based on its score within the 2019 Compact Cars category. It was the winner of our 2019 Best New Cars for Teens award and a finalist for our 2019 Best Compact Car for the Money award. Currently the Kia Forte has a score of 8.4 out of 10, which is based on our evaluation of 20 pieces of research and data elements using various sources.

8.4

Overall

Scorecard

Critics' Rating: 9.3
Performance: 6.5
Interior: 8.2
Total Cost of Ownership: 9.2
Safety: 9.4
Reliability:
J.D. Power Ratings Logo

2019 Kia Forte Overview

Is the 2019 Kia Forte a Good Used Car?

Yes, the Kia Forte is a good used compact car. It gets better fuel economy than many competitors, and it offers plenty of passenger space as well as one of the roomiest trunks in the class. The Forte serves up a decent list of standard features, and compared to its rivals, it costs less to own and has a lower range of list prices.

Most of the Forte's negatives have to do with performance. There are no optional engines, and the engine it does have can feel underpowered at higher speeds. Additionally, the suspension is stiff, resulting in a sometimes harsh ride.

Why You Can Trust Us

We analyzed 20 Kia Forte reviews – along with reliability ratings, fuel economy estimates, and more – to help you decide if the 2019 Forte is the right new car for you.

U.S. News & World Report has been ranking cars, trucks, and SUVs since 2007, and our team has more than 75 years of combined automotive industry experience. To remain objective, we don't accept expensive gifts or trips from car companies, and an outside team manages the advertising on our site.

How Much is the 2019 Kia Forte?

Based on listings for the 2019 Kia Forte, the average list price is $14,118. Prices range from $17,790 to $21,990 and vary depending on the vehicle’s condition, mileage, features, and location.

See the Best Used Car Deals »

How Much Does the 2019 Kia Forte Cost to Own?

The 2019 Forte’s five-year costs for gas, insurance, taxes, fees, repairs, and maintenance are projected to be about $23,500, or $4,700 per year. That’s below average for the class.

2018 vs. 2019 Kia Forte: What's the Difference?

Kia fully redesigned the Forte for the 2019 model year. The new generation offers a revamped appearance, a standard touch-screen system with Android Auto and Apple CarPlay, and several standard active safety features. It also has more rear-seat and cargo space than the outgoing model, as well as an available continuously variable automatic transmission. For this generation, Kia also did away with a turbocharged engine and the Forte5 hatchback model. 

Compare the 2018 and 2019 Forte »

Here are the key changes for the Kia Forte over the last several years:

  • 2016: remote keyless entry became standard
  • 2017: refreshed exterior styling; a 2.0-liter engine became standard; Android Auto, Apple CarPlay, forward collision warning, automatic emergency braking, and rear cross traffic alert introduced as options; two-door Forte Koup discontinued
  • 2018: no major changes
  • 2019: fully redesigned

If you're considering an older model, be sure to read our 2016 Forte, 2017 Forte, and 2018 Forte full reviews to help make your decision. Also, check out our Best New Car Deals and Best New Car Lease Deals pages to learn about savings and discounts you can find on new vehicles.

How Reliable Is the 2019 Kia Forte?

The 2019 Kia Forte has a predicted reliability rating of 3.5 out of five, which is slightly above average.

Read more about Forte reliability »

2019 Kia Forte Recalls

There have been 2 safety recalls issued from NHTSA.

POWER TRAIN:AXLE ASSEMBLY:AXLE SHAFT Recall Date: 08/04/2020
  • Summary: Kia Motors America (Kia) is recalling certain 2019 Forte vehicles. The left front axle driveshaft may not have been heat-treated, which can cause it to break.
  • Potential Number of Units Affected: 834
  • Consequence: A broken driveshaft can result in a sudden loss of drive power, increasing the risk of a crash.
  • Remedy: Kia will notify owners, and dealers will inspect the left front axle driveshaft for a heat treatment verification code, and replace it if the code is missing, free of charge. The recall began September 2, 2020. Owners may contact Kia customer service at 1-800-333-4542. Kia's number for this recall is SC195.
  • Manufacturer Recall Number: SC195
  • NHTSA Campaign ID: 20V459000
EXTERIOR LIGHTING:HEADLIGHTS Recall Date: 10/30/2018
  • Summary: Kia Motors America (Kia) is recalling certain 2019 Kia Forte vehicles equipped with LED headlights. The headlights may not have been manufactured with the correct low beam aiming. As such, these vehicles fail to comply with the requirements of Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standard (FMVSS) number 108, "Lamps, Reflective Devices, and Associated Equipment."
  • Potential Number of Units Affected: 1754
  • Consequence: If the headlights are not properly aimed, the driver may have reduced visibility, increasing the risk of a crash.
  • Remedy: Kia will notify owners, and dealers will inspect the headlight aiming and replace the headlights, as necessary, free of charge. The recall began November 30, 2018. Owners may contact Kia customer service at 1-800-333-4542. Kia's number for this recall is SC171.
  • Dates of Manufacture: JUL 23, 2018 to SEP 16, 2018
  • Manufacturer Recall Number: SC171
  • NHTSA Campaign ID: 18V771000

See more information on Kia Forte safety recalls »

Which Used Kia Forte Trim Is Right for Me?

The 2019 Kia Forte is available in four trim levels: FE, LXS, S, and EX. A four-cylinder engine and front-wheel drive come standard. The base model is available with either a manual or automatic transmission, while higher trims only come with an automatic.

The base model is a good pick, with its standard infotainment system, smartphone integration, and several active safety technologies.

If you’re looking for additional amenities, it’s worth jumping up to the range-topping EX model, since the LXS and S trims don’t add many noteworthy features. The Forte EX comes with synthetic leather upholstery, heated and ventilated front seats, and blind spot monitoring. It's also the only trim to offer navigation, adaptive cruise control, and a Harman Kardon stereo.

  • Kia Forte FE: The 2019 Kia Forte FE features a standard 8-inch touch-screen infotainment system with Android Auto, Apple CarPlay, a four-speaker stereo, a USB port, and Bluetooth. It also comes standard with dual-zone automatic climate control, a rearview camera, forward collision warning, automatic emergency braking, lane departure warning, and lane keep assist.
  • Kia Forte LXS: Building on the FE trim, the Forte LXS gains alloy wheels and a split-folding rear seat.
  • Kia Forte S: Standard features in the Forte S include a six-speaker stereo, satellite radio, fog lights, a leather-wrapped steering wheel and shift knob, and a rear center armrest. Available upgrades in this trim include LED headlights and a sunroof.
  • Kia Forte EX: The top-of-the-line Kia Forte EX adds synthetic leather upholstery, a 10-way power-adjustable driver's seat, heated and ventilated front seats, lane change assist, blind spot monitoring, rear cross traffic alert, and two additional USB ports. Available driver assistance features include pedestrian detection, automatic high-beam headlights, adaptive cruise control, and rear parking sensors. You can also find models with navigation, an eight-speaker Harman Kardon premium stereo, wireless device charging, proximity keyless entry, a 4.2-inch color driver information display, an auto-dimming rearview mirror, and HD Radio.

See 2019 Kia Forte trims and specs »

What Does Kia's Certified Pre-Owned Warranty Cover?

Kia offers a certified pre-owned program for vehicles five years old or less and with fewer than 60,000 miles. Eligibility is determined by the vehicle’s initial sale date. Kia’s certified pre-owned vehicles receive the balance of the original 10-year/100,000-mile new-car powertrain warranty as well as a one-year/12,000-mile comprehensive Platinum warranty on non-powertrain parts. Every CPO Kia must pass a 164-point inspection. Additional benefits like towing and roadside assistance may be available, so read the Kia warranty page carefully.

According to our analysis, Kia has one of the best CPO programs among affordable car manufacturers.

See the best CPO programs »

How Safe Is the Forte?

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration gave the 2019 Forte an overall safety rating of four out of five stars, with four stars in the frontal crash and rollover tests. The car received five stars in the side crash test, but NHTSA issued a supplementary safety concern due to the interior door panel striking the passenger-side crash dummy during testing.

The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety gave the 2019 Forte the highest rating of Good in all six crash tests. The IIHS gave the car's standard headlights the lowest rating of Poor for how well they illuminate the road ahead, but the optional headlights received the highest rating of Good. When equipped with Good-rated headlights, the Forte was named a 2019 IIHS Top Safety Pick+, which is the highest award given by the organization.

The IIHS uses a different scale for grading collision avoidance features. This vehicle earned the highest score of Superior for the effectiveness of its front crash prevention system.

Standard advanced safety features:

  • Rearview camera
  • Forward collision warning
  • Automatic emergency braking
  • Lane departure warning
  • Lane keep assist

Available advanced safety features:

  • Lane change assist
  • Blind spot monitoring
  • Rear cross traffic alert
  • Pedestrian detection
  • Automatic high-beam headlights
  • Adaptive cruise control
  • Rear parking sensors

See Forte safety scores »

2019 Kia Forte Versus the Competition

Which Is Better: 2019 Kia Forte or 2019 Honda Civic?

The 2019 Honda Civic ranks in the middle of the compact car class, slightly lower than the Forte. The Civic is largely held back by its below-average predicted reliability rating. If you want more engaging performance, buy the Civic. Its handling is among the most athletic in the class, and it has a lineup of peppy engines. However, the Forte is a better value than the Civic, with a longer list of standard features and a lower range of prices by several thousand dollars. 

Which Is Better: 2019 Kia Forte or 2019 Hyundai Elantra?

The 2019 Hyundai Elantra and Kia Forte have the same 147-horsepower base engine, decent handling, and good passenger space. However, the Elantra offers a 201-horsepower turbocharged powertrain that you can't get in the Forte. The Kia has more standard features and a larger trunk, but you can get the Elantra in a spacious hatchback body type. In the end, these are both good cars.

Which Is Better: 2019 Kia Forte or 2019 Toyota Corolla?

The 2019 Toyota Corolla has a very high predicted reliability rating, but the Forte is better in most other areas. The Corolla has one of the lowest performance scores in the class, mostly because of its weak base engine. These cars have similar lists of standard driver assistance features, but the Forte has more infotainment tech, such as standard Android Auto and Apple CarPlay (not available in the Corolla). Neither vehicle has a truly upscale interior, but the Kia's is a little better. Personal preference will be the deciding factor in this matchup.

Compare the Forte, Civic, and Elantra »

2019 Forte Performance

How Does the 2019 Kia Forte Drive?

All 2019 Kia Forte models come with a four-cylinder engine. Reviews of this powertrain run the gamut, with some test drivers thinking it's very underpowered, and others noting that it's just fine (or even a little exciting). If you do a lot of city driving or don't have a lead foot, you shouldn't have any qualms. Still, getting up to highway speeds or merging onto a freeway might take a few extra seconds.

The Forte is available with a manual transmission or a continuously variable automatic. The CVT is responsive and smooth, and it simulates traditional gear changes well. This small car exhibits little body lean around turns, and handling is secure. With the Forte having such a stiff suspension, though, the ride quality suffers over rough pavement.

  • Base engine: 147-horsepower 2.0-liter four-cylinder
  • Drivetrain: front-wheel drive
  • Transmission: standard six-speed manual; available continuously variable automatic (CVT)
Does the 2019 Kia Forte Get Good Gas Mileage?

A CVT-equipped Forte gets one of the best fuel economy ratings in the compact car class, at 31 mpg in the city and 41 mpg on the highway. With the manual transmission, the Forte gets an EPA-rated  27 mpg in the city and 37 mpg on the highway.

Read more about Forte performance »

2019 Forte Interior

How Many People Does the 2019 Forte Seat?

The 2019 Forte seats five people in two rows. Accommodations are good for a car of this size. The front seats remain comfortable on longer trips, and the second row offers sufficient space for taller riders. Interior quality is mixed and generally depends on the trim level: The base model features a lot of hard plastics and unimpressive materials, while upper trims have more soft-touch surfaces and nicer seating upholstery.

Standard seating features:

  • Cloth upholstery

Available seating features:

  • Synthetic leather upholstery
  • 10-way power-adjustable driver's seat
  • Heated and ventilated front seats
  • Leather-wrapped steering wheel and shift knob
  • Rear center armrest
How Many Child Car Seats Fit in the 2019 Kia Forte?

The 2019 Forte has two complete sets of LATCH car-seat connectors for the rear outboard seats and an upper tether for the rear middle seat. The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety gave this LATCH system the second-highest rating of Acceptable for ease of use, citing lower anchors that are set deeply in the seats.

2019 Kia Forte Features

The Forte's infotainment features are easy to use. The screen is high on the dash and within the driver's line of sight, and there are  clearly labeled buttons and knobs for adjusting climate and audio settings.

  • Standard infotainment features: an 8-inch touch screen, Android Auto, Apple CarPlay, a four-speaker stereo, a USB port, and Bluetooth
  • Available infotainment features: a six-speaker stereo or an eight-speaker Harman Kardon premium stereo, satellite radio, two USB ports, HD Radio, and navigation
  • Additional standard features: dual-zone automatic climate control
  • Other available features: a sunroof, a 4.2-inch color driver information display, wireless device charging, an auto-dimming rearview mirror, and proximity keyless entry

See 2019 Kia Forte specs »

Read more about Forte interior »

2019 Kia Forte Dimensions

Kia Forte Cargo Space

The 2019 Forte has one of the largest trunks in the compact car class, measuring 15.3 cubic feet.

2019 Kia Forte Length and Weight
  • Length: 15 feet, 3 inches
  • Curb weight: 2,707 to 2,903 pounds
  • Gross vehicle weight rating: 3,638 to 3,792 pounds

Where Was the 2019 Kia Forte Built?

Kia built the 2019 Forte in South Korea and Mexico.

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