2019 Kia Forte


U.S. News Best Price Program

2019 Kia Forte Performance Review


Performance: 7.1

The 2019 Kia Forte has underwhelming engine power and decent handling. Its fuel economy is about average for the segment.

  • "In short, the new Kia Forte is a nimble compact sedan, and its well-tuned steering, gas and brake inputs make for a pleasant driving experience." -- Kelley Blue Book
  • "As we mentioned earlier, the new Forte has the same output as the previous-gen model, and the car feels a little slow accelerating from a standstill to highway speeds. This slowness is accompanied by an engine that growls, but not necessarily in a good way. The CVT routed the power smoothly, and fake gear shifts make it feel like a conventional automatic." -- Motor Trend
  • Kia says the Forte 'has the spirit of the Stinger's handling.' It mentioned Albert Biermann (ex head of BMW's M-division) when describing how the new Forte goes around corners. It's not easy to live up to those words, and we think it's a bit of an exaggeration in practice. However, the Forte dives into corners much more willingly than before and offers a modicum of fun when hustled on a twisty backroad. Uneven roads do trip the rear end up a bit as it bounces around in ways you don't want it to." -- Autoweek

Acceleration and Power

The 2019 Forte comes standard with a 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine that puts out 147 horsepower. A six-speed manual transmission is standard, and a continuously variable automatic transmission is optional. The Forte gets 27 mpg in the city and 37 mpg on the highway with the manual, and up to 31 mpg city and 41 mpg highway with the CVT.

There isn't a consensus from critics on the Forte's engine. Some think that it's very slow, while others note that it's adequate or even surprisingly powerful. The CVT earns praise for its responsiveness.

  • "If you came to the Forte thinking it would go as fast as it looks, you'll be roundly disappointed. It's painfully slow off the line, with a throttle pedal that seems to ask you twice if you're sure before telling the engine to do something. Kia didn't quote any acceleration times, but it feels like a 9-second-plus car to 60 mph." -- Autoweek
  • "A new continuously variable transmission routes power to the front wheels helping to return an EPA estimated 30 miles per gallon in the city and 40 mpg on the highway. With steps programmed into the gearbox, under light-to-medium throttle it operates like a regular torque converter automatic and the manual shift function is the most responsive in a CVT that I've come across to date -- even if it isn't actually moving any gears." -- CNET
  • "Acceleration isn't what we'd consider impressive, but it is more than adequate at getting up to highway speeds. It will match free-flowing traffic without stress on you or the engine. Passing slower traffic spotlights how much more responsive the transmission is than some rivals, as it's quicker in reaching the right gear ratio for optimal power." -- Edmunds

Handling and Braking

The Forte has decent handling, with controlled motions but some body lean around turns. The suspension is on the stiff side, so you may feel some bumps in the road. The brakes provide a good amount of stopping power.

  • The Forte didn't shield occupants from the feel of potholes and bumps as much as we'd like, and we noticed some body roll, but generally, the often rough roads didn't intimidate this small car. … The steering wheel seems properly weighted, but it doesn't have the same light, casual feel as the Honda Civic's. The Sport driving mode adjusts rpms and sharpens the Forte's steering in a small way, but it doesn't change the suspension." -- Motor Trend
  • "What I can’t stop raving about, however, is, well, stopping. The Forte’s brakes are beyond good. Even with different drivers and some exuberant commuting, the stopping power remained smooth and even throughout the day. The travel length and the amount of force required to brake almost seemed individually tuned. Why can’t every car be like this?" -- New York Daily News
  • The ride quality is a bit stiffer as a result of the improved handling characteristics, but it's in no way harsh. We logged many miles over the course of a day on some flawed roads and never felt fatigue. There was a noticeable amount of road noise, but it's usual for the class and simply turning on the radio overcomes it." -- Edmunds
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2019 Kia Forte

MSRP: $17,790 - $21,990

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