The all-new 2019 Kia Forte’s overall length has increased by 3.2 inches to 182.7 inches, allowing for more rear legroom and additional cargo in the trunk. With 15.3 cu.-ft., cargo room is among the largest in the segment. Additional rear headroom results from increasing the overall height to 56.5 inches, while the overall width has grown to 70.9 inches. Metro News Service photo

Resolution buster: Kia Forte gains size, appeal in 2019

Many of us, myself included, made New Year’s resolutions to lose weight. We’re knee-deep in diet plans, trying to shrink our body size. The Forte is doing the opposite. The 2019 Kia Forte, still categorized as a compact car after a total redesign, has increased its overall length and width from the previous model year. New year, new Forte. Good for Kia, and even better for the consumer who will now enjoy a larger interior and an affordable compact car that doesn’t feel so compact.

Can I sign up for this type of positive body improvement and go back to eating Funyuns?

The new-look Forte isn’t overly flashy, nor is the restyled exterior overly garish. Rather it’s updated and modern, as it should be. The small front end isn’t aggressive, which is good, because the power and performance also are far from aggressive.

The overall exterior styling suits the Forte well. The ’19 Forte is more than three inches longer than the 2018 version and more than inch wider, without changing the wheelbase. The result is an obviously bigger compact car. And certainly, that increase in dimensions greatly improves the interior space. The beautiful-looking styling of the Forte gives it a streamlined look that will remain current for many years.

The down side to this new Forte is its overall performance. The 2.0-liter 4-cylinder engine is sluggish. The 147-horsepower performance is bit pokey off the line. It becomes adequate eventually, but there’s nothing enthusiastic about the Forte’s performance. Even the standard six-speed manual transmission won’t make it an enthusiast’s darling.

My tester came with the continuously variable transmission (which Kia calls an IVT, intelligent variable transmission), further adding to the drivetrain’s uninspiring performance. In short, the Forte is utilitarian, sufficiently getting you from point A to point B, but if you’re expecting it to be anything more than that, you will be disappointed.

The interior of the Forte redeems any negatives surrounding the driving performance. The bigger dimensions make this compact car feel cavernous. The back seat has tremendous leg room and you can fit three people in the back seat in reasonable comfort. On the EX trim there are even luxurious-like features like heated and cooled seats. All the touchpoints scream high dollar, yet the Forte has one of the lower starting prices in the entire segment.

The infotainment system is intuitive and looks great on the 8-inch color touchscreen. The simplicity of how the system works, and integration with smart phones through Apple CarPlay and Android Auto as well as USB chargers and a 12-volt outlet, give this system everything you could want from a technology standpoint.

With the increase in dimensions, the Forte now boasts 15.3 cubic feet of trunk space, which leads the compact car segment, among non-hatchback vehicles. There’s a hands-free power trunk available, too.

The four trim offerings are the FE, LXS, S and EX. The basic FE trim has a starting price below $18,000. My tester was the top-of-the-line EX trim, which carried a base price of only $21,990. The affordability factor is significant in this ultra-competitive segment. So, from a consumer standpoint, you get more car for less money. My tester had a final price of $23,305. Value indeed.

The 2019 Kia Forte has an EPA rating of 30 mpg/city and 40 mpg/highway. In a week’s worth of driving around the suburbs and a little on the highway, I got an impressive 36 mpg. Sure, this car is pokey, but when there are fewer trips to the gas station, that justifies it.

The new-look, fully redesigned 2019 Kia Forte raises the bar in the compact car segment by challenging how much quality you can put inside a car, and how much space you can offer in a non-hatchback. Competition is a good thing. The bar is now raised.

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