New KIA Forte EX Launch Edition offers premium ride and performance with value pricing
Recently, we spent a week with the new 2019 Kia Forte EX in and around Austin, Texas. The top-of-the-line EX is very well-equipped as is – but adding the optional EX Launch Edition package put it well over the top leaving us wanting more.
While brands are moving away from sedans, Kia continues to embrace the category, making them ever better year after year. The new five-passenger 2019 Kia Forte is a great example of they continue to pack value – with performance – into a compact sedan.
Our test 2019 Kia Forte EX Launch Edition came in a dazzling Snow-White Pearl color (optional) with Gloss Black accents and a well-crafted Black interior.
Taking styling cues from its Stinger fastback sport sedan sibling, Forte’s long hood and short deck give it a similar profile. A new tiger design nose features a Gloss Black grille and lower valance giving it a planted look. Other Gloss Black accent the fog light/turn signal housings front, turn signal housing rear and the lower rear fascia.
Standard equipment includes Fog Lights, LED Tail Lights, LED Daytime Running Lights, body color Power Heated Mirrors with LED turn signals and puddle lamps, Variable Intermittent Wipers, body color door handles with pocket lighting and body color front bumper with Gloss Black accent,
On the interior, the styling and integrated use of varying textures, tones and accents is absolutely the best we have seen in a compact sedan, especially one well below $25,000. Kia has used an array of hard and soft touch materials – mixed and matched – that deliver a premium look throughout the cabin. Accents include great use of Satin Chrome and both Piano Black with Matte Black at key touch points.
Other standard equipment includes Dual-Zone Climate Control with rear vents, heat ducts and Auto Defog, 12V Power Points, USB Charging Ports and more.
Of note is the simple yet effective layout of the dash with easy to use buttons and dials in logical order.
Five adults can be very comfortable in the 2019 Forte with some added length and width translating to more cabin space. Seating is supportive and very good looking with Kia’s Sofino leatherette trim. Front seats are both heated and ventilated. The driver seat is 10-way power while the passenger is 6-way manual. The front seat console has good storage and cupholders with the 60/40 rear seating also including a console and cupholders.
The 2019 Forte is powered by the second-generation 2.0L Nu four-cylinder engine with Atkinson Cycle technology and cooled EGR system added. It delivers 147 horsepower and 132 lb.-ft. of torque – same as last year.
New for 2019, Kia has mated it to their Intelligent Continuously Variable Transmission (i-CVT) with Sportmatic and Drive Mode Select feature. The i-CVT uses adaptive style shift logic with a chain-type belt in lieu of the typical push belt to deliver more of a step shift feel during acceleration and quick response accelerating at high speeds like when passing.
The Drive Mode Select feature offers three levels of driver-selected powertrain response. The settings are COMFORT, SMART and SPORT. Each adjusts throttle shift points and steering to deliver different levels of driver engagement. COMFORT is what you might call ‘everyday’ when you want all powertrain elements optimally integrated. SPORT zips up the engagement– giving preference to some elements over others to deliver a much sportier ride. SMART – using its logic – ‘learns’ driver preferences under different conditions and makes changes for the driver as drive conditions suggest.
Fuel economy ratings for the Forte EX with iCVT are 30/40 mpg city/highway and 34 combined.
We assume those were based on the COMFORT mode setting. Running about 300 miles both city and highway in the Austin area with much of it in SPORT, we were just a tad under 34 mpg for the week.
On the Road
The 2019 Kia Forte has exceptional road manners. It drives bigger than it actually is – which is a good thing.
The use of more hot-stamped components and up to 54 percent Advanced High-Strength Steel in a new subframe delivers increased rigidity for better handling and ride. In addition, its suspension has been reworked along with elements in the braking and steering components to further improve the ride.
Other road elements include Electric Motor Rack and Pinion Steering, McPherson Strut with Coil Spring front and Coupled Torsion Beam rear twin tube shocks suspension. Wheels are 17-inch alloy mounted with P225/45R17 All-Season tires.
Infotainment, Convenience and Top Safety Pick Plus
Infotainment in the is managed through a very crisp and bright 8-inch Touch Screen Audio Display and well-located buttons and switches – easy to locate and use. Audio elements include AM/FM/MP3 audio, SiriusXM radio, Bluetooth, Android Auto and Apple CarPlay integration plus 12V power point and dual USB chargers.
The 2019 Forte is equipped with Kia’s ‘Drive Wise’ technology that include Driver Attention Warning (works so well it is almost annoying), Forward Collision Warning-City, Lane Departure Warning, Lane Keeping and Lane Change Assist, Blind Spot Collision Warning and Rear Cross Traffic Collision Warning.
Standard handling features include ABS Brakes, Electronic Stability Control, Hill Start Assist, Vehicle Stability Management and Tire Pressure Monitoring.
The 2019 Forte EX has received a Top Safety Pick Plus (TSP+) rating from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS). To earn the ‘plus’ the EX met an enhanced frontal crash protection requirement plus new headlight guidance with its LED Auto-Leveling Headlight system.
Our Forte EX compact sedan – every well-equipped as is – is nicely priced at MSRP $21,990.
Adding the EX Launch Edition package ($3,210) adds or upgrades a host of features for very little more.
Included are the Harman/Kardon 320 watt 8-speaker premium audio with Clari-Fi, Command Premium NAV with the 8-inch touchscreen, 4.2-inch LCD meter cluster, wireless smartphone charging, Power Sunroof, single-projection LED auto-leveling headlights with High Beam Assist, LED interior lighting front and rear, Graphite Finish wheels, Rear Deck Spoiler, Smart Cruise with Forward Collision Avoidance Assist-Pedestrian, Parking Distance Warning-Reverse plus Kia’s UVO eServices with Voice app suite.
We don’t know about you, but our test 2019 Kia Forte EX with Launch Package – with a delivered price of only $26,515 – would fit really nicely in our garage.
2019 Kia Forte Lineup
The 2019 Kia Forte is available in four trim levels. The base FE is available with both a 6-speed manual gear box – MSRP $17,790 or the i-CVT (Continuously Variable Transmission) – MSRP $18,690. All other trims are equipped with the i-CVT only: LXS with MSRP $19,190, S – MSRP $20,290 and the EX – $21,990.
Learn more about the 2019 Kia Forte here: https://www.kia.com/us/en/vehicle/forte/2019.
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