There’s far more to the compact-sedan segment than just the Honda Civic and Toyota Corolla. Look beyond the best-selling segment players and you’ve got a number of options including the newly redesigned 2019 Kia Forte. The third-generation Forte enters 2019 with a number of changes, but what exactly did Kia update? Keep reading to find out.
The new Forte is longer, catching up to major rivals. At 182.7 inches long, an increase of 3.2 inches, the Forte is now on par with the current Civic (182.3), Corolla (183.1), Impreza (182.1), and Mazda3 (180.3), but a little smaller than the Volkswagen Jetta (185.1). Width has increased by 0.8 inch, and height has jumped by 0.2 inch. Cargo room has increased from 14.9 to 15.3 cubic feet, ahead of all the aforementioned competitors.
Most Forte buyers come from the compact car segment, but Kia is also attracting people who have abandoned midsize sedans and entry CUVs. This points back to the fact that the Forte has grown slightly in size. According to Kia product strategy manager Derrick Ty, the target customers are millennials and Gen X buyers, although the Forte is seeing an uptick of millennials recently with the help of more technology entering the vehicle. Kia has also seen more first-timers purchasing the Forte; over 30 percent of Forte buyers are first-time new-vehicle buyers.
The base FE model comes standard with an 8.0-inch touchscreen with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. Along with dual-zone climate control, other standard features include forward collision avoidance assist, lane keep assist, driver attention warning, forward collision warning, and lane departure warning. The midlevel LXS and S are expected to be the bread and butter models. LXS receives 16-inch alloy wheels and a 60/40 split-folding rear seat, while S upgrades to 17-inch wheels, LED daytime running lights and taillights, UVO eServices, voice recognition, SiriusXM satellite radio and tweeter speakers, and power windows with driver’s one-touch auto-up/down function.
Like most of its competitors, Kia hasn’t given up on the manual transmission in this segment. In addition to Kia’s first CVT (pictured above), the Forte offers a six-speed manual, but only on the base FE trim.
The second-generation Forte topped out at 29/37 mpg with the previous six-speed automatic and 25/34 mpg with the manual. With the new model, the CVT also achieves better fuel economy than the manual, topping out at 31/41 mpg. The manual gets 27/37 mpg, which is still a lot better than the previous version.