I can’t recall driving a compact sedan that felt as militantly tight and study as the 2019 Kia Forte EX.
Honestly, the first word that sprang to mind while motoring in my Silky Silver test car was “tank.”
That was not meant as a compliment at the time–did someone on the line tighten the bolts too tight?–but over the course of my week with the Forte I did come to appreciate it more. For one thing, this Kia had something going for it that just about every car I have owned (compact sedans included) has not: quiet.
A little research revealed that for the 2019 Fortes, the South Korean automaker added more adhesive and thicker front side window glass to reduce noise and vibration. All I know is, it rode about as quietly as much pricier luxury cars I have been in. That was truly unexpected.
That “tank” feeling was apparently by design as well. Kia put the Forte on the Elantra platform for a better, more solid driving experience. So, while I expected the worst hitting the curves, the way the EX snapped back into the proper driving line was something I had not felt since I covered the same patch of roadway in a Volvo SUV months earlier. Give it a try on a test drive; it’s truly impressive.
The new Fortes are definitely no slouches. The 2.0-liter, four-cylinder, Multi-Port Injection engine produces 147 horsepower and 132 pound-feet of torque.
There are manual-transmission Fortes, but my tester had the Intelligent Variable Transmission that Kia introduced in 2018 models to replace six-speed automatics. One goal with IVT was to eliminate a “rubber-band” driving feel, which Kia confronted by using a chain-type belt instead of a push belt in the gearbox, which is also wrapped to muffle noise.
Another goal was better fuel efficiency. The government estimates that the 2019 EX gets an impressive 34 miles to the gallon combined (30 mpg city, 40 mpg highway). Annual fuel costs are estimated at $1,400, and it is expected that you’d save $1,500 for gas over five years when compared to the average new 2019 vehicles.
Government 5-Star Safety Ratings for crash performance were not yet available on the EX, but as has become rote for Kia, many safety features come standard. This includes anti-lock braking and tire pressure monitoring systems; traction, hill-start assist and electronic stability controls; and dual front advanced, dual front seat-mounted side and full length side curtain airbags.
An array of warning mechanisms are also standard, including those that alert drivers to blind spots, lane departures, forward collision threats, rear cross-traffic and their own wandering attention. EYES FORWARD, KUMQUAT!!!
Exterior fog lights and LED tail lights, daytime running lights and turn signal indicators on the power and heated outside mirrors are included in the sedan’s base price, as is a compact spare tire. Which reminds me: Did you know spares are not always included these days? That’s important to know before leaving the lot, no?
Kia is known for offering an array of standard creature comforts, and the EX includes a smart key, a smart trunk, push-button start, Apple CarPlay/Android Auto/Bluetooth integration, AM/FM/MP3 player with eight-inch touchscreen and rear camera, USB chargers as well as auxiliary and 12-volt outlets, and dual zone automatic climate control with rear vents.
The power adjustable driver’s seat and heated and ventilated front seats with SOFINO leatherette trim are also standard, and you get a three-month SiriusXM satellite radio subscription and five years of UVO, which is Kia’s infotainment and telematics services that include parking reminders, directions to points of interest and connections to roadside assistance.
For everything mentioned above, the base manufacturer’s suggested retail price on the 2019 Kia Forte EX comes in at $21,990. So why did the one in my driveway have a $26,220 sticker price?
Well, there were a few reasons. One was the $895 inland freight and handling fee. Another was $125 for carpeted floor mats.
But the biggie was the $3,210 EX Launch Edition package.
Not that you’d want to go without it because the bundle of goodies include: a rear spoiler, a power sunroof, smart cruise control, a wireless phone charger, an auto-dimming rearview mirror, a graphite finish on the 17-inch alloy wheels, a navigation system built into the touchscreen and a Harman Kardon premium audio system with Clari-Fi.
The launch edition package also features LED overhead interior lighting, LED headlights with high-beam assist and the Supervision Meter Cluster with 4.2-inch LCD display, which essentially means numbers and indicators are illuminated on the instrument panel.
Kia offers a 10-year or 100,000-mile (whichever comes first) limited powertrain warranty and five years or 60,000 miles for the limited basic warranty and roadside assistance.
The automaker suggests you talk with your dealer about warranty details and other possible incentives.
OC Weekly Editor-in-Chief Matt Coker has been engaging, enraging and entertaining readers of newspapers, magazines and websites for decades. He spent the first 13 years of his career in journalism at daily newspapers before “graduating” to OC Weekly in 1995 as the alternative newsweekly’s first calendar editor.