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For 2019, the Kia Forte gets a complete makeover. This makes the current Forte part of the third generation of this vehicle that first rolled off of the assembly line in 2010. The Kia Forte is a compact, 4-door sedan that was first marketed towards younger consumers. It's still a great budget vehicle, but the Forte has moved up to be much more with this latest iteration. It's now a fine choice of a car for practically anyone. The Forte offers stylish looks, a comfortable ride quality and great performance.
The 2019 Kia Forte comes in four different trim levels. All of these share the same power plant. Kia equips the Forte with a 2.0-liter, I-4 engine. This engine cranks out about 147 hp. Acceleration on all models is more than adequate. The motor is paired with a 6-speed manual transmission system or Kia's IVT with overdrive and auto-manual shifting. The transmission system you get depends on the trim level you choose.
One great thing about the Kia Forte is that it offers an excellent fuel-economy rating at every trim level. You'll get a combined rating of around 31 to 34 mpg. This car is budget friendly to begin with, and it won't hurt your wallet at the gas pump either. Every trim comes packed with nice features for comfort, convenience and safety. The four trim levels move upwards logically from one to the next. You never lose out on anything. Previous trim features carry over unless you get an upgrade.
With four trim packages to choose from and nearly endless options, it can be tricky to pick the Kia Forte that's right for you. We will take a look at what each trim has to offer. Every successive trim package will be compared to the next step up as well as to the previous option.
Compare the 2019 Kia Forte FE vs LXS - What is the difference?
The base model of the 2019 Kia Forte is called the FE. It's the only model to come with a 6-speed manual transmission system with overdrive. The next trim level up is called the LXS. It gets Kia's IVT system. The FE, however, can have this transmission installed as an option. IVT stands for Intelligent Variable Transmission. It was designed to combat some of the downsides with traditional CVT systems found on other vehicles. With the IVT, you can also manually shift gears if you need to.
The FE model is available in only three colors called Aurora Black, Gravity Gray and Clear White. The LXS gives you these and three more choices. These are Currant Red, Deep Sea Blue and Silky Silver. The LXS has slightly better fuel economy numbers than the FE. It gets 30 mpg in the city and 40 mpg while driving on the highway. The FE rates as 27 mpg in the city and 37 mpg on the highway.
Both of these trim packages and all higher levels are only available in front-wheel drive. The FE comes with 15" steel wheels while the LXS sports a set of 16" alloy wheels. On the outside of the FE, you get body-colored door handles, solar-control glass and daytime running lights. Kia also includes a locking fuel door on the base model. The LXS adds in chromed exhaust tips and black accents on the bumper.
Moving to the interior, the FE has an infotainment system with an 8" touchscreen. The system features Android Auto and Apple CarPlay connectivity. The sound system gives you four speakers and an FM/AM stereo with an input for your MP3 or MP4 player. You can connect devices via Bluetooth technology as well. The audio system has controls mounted on the steering wheel for your safety and convenience. The LXS shares the exact same infotainment and audio systems.
The seat upholstery for both the FE and LXS is woven cloth. The passenger and driver's seats are 6-way adjustable. Both trims feature driver assists such as forward-collision assist. There's also a forward-collision warning to give you an early heads up. A driver-attention warning makes sure you don't nod off on long commutes. A lane-keeping assist makes small adjustments so you don't go too far over the line.
Both of these trim levels share the same safety features. You get two front airbags and two mounted, side airbags for the driver and front passenger. Kia also includes side curtain airbags for the full length of the interior. A traction-control system keeps power going to the specific wheels you need it to. Electronic-stability control keeps the vehicle stable. A brake assist makes minor adjustments to help you to stop in time.
Child safety locks in the rear make sure small kids don't accidentally open the doors. An emergency release is located inside of the trunk. Front and rear crumple zones as well as door beams provide some protection in the unfortunate case of an accident. The steering column offers an impact-absorbing design as well. ABS disc brakes and a monitoring system for your tire pressure round out some of the more notable safety features.
Compare the 2019 Forte LXS vs S Trims. What is the difference?
The S trim level comes with the same engine and transmission system as the LXS. It is also available in the same six colors. Both trim levels seat five passengers and offer the same fuel-economy ratings. Performance is just about the same on both models too. You get an engine that produces 147 hp and 132 lb-ft of torque. The S trim gives you larger, 17" alloy wheels in contrast to the 16" wheels on the LXS.
The S trim adds in quite a few exterior features that you don't get on a stock LXS. You get front fog lamps on the S trim. The headlamps and taillights get upgraded to superior LED models. You also get some extra options like a sunroof, high-beam assist and a headlamp leveling system. All of the same safety features from the previous two trim packages come standard on the S model.
On the inside of the Kia Forte, the S trim package adds on power windows with a one-touch, up-and-down function. You also get a rear arm rest and some additional cup holders and small-space storage. The seats get upgraded to premium, tricot cloth. The steering wheel and gearshift knob get the leather-wrapped treatment for the S model. Voice recognition and Sirius XM satellite radio are added in for the infotainment system. The speaker system also gets an extra pair of tweeters with this trim.
Compare the Forte S vs EX - What is the difference?
Finally, we come to the top-level trim package for the 2019 Kia Forte. The EX has all of the same features included on the previous trims except where an upgrade is made. You once again get the exact same engine and transmission system. All of the safety features are again carried over as well. While Kia may add new driving-assist systems on higher trims, they keep the safety equipment the same across the board.
The EX trim loses two of the six color options that were available for the LXS and S models. These are Deep Sea Blue and Silky Silver. Kia adds in a new color called Fire Orange, giving you five options overall. On the outside of the EX trim, you get LED turn-signal indicators on the mirrors. The exterior mirrors are also heated. Perimeter approach lighting is included here as well.
A de-icer for the windshield wipers on the EX trim quickly gets your wipers ready to go on cold winter days. On the inside of the EX trim, you get the same infotainment and audio systems as the S trim. You do, however, also have the option of upgrading to premium systems that are unavailable on previous trims. You can add a navigation system on for a small additional cost. You can also get a 320-watt, premium sound system from Harmon Kardon. This system includes eight speakers and a sub-woofer.
The EX trim gives you a few additional driver assists. Included here is a blind-spot collision warning. There is also a warning for rear, cross traffic. Finally, you get a premium lane-change assist. A driver-information screen and wireless phone charger are additional options you can select from as well.
A sliding armrest is added to the center console for the EX model. Both trims get dual-zone climate control, but the EX throws in extra vents for the rear-seat area. The upholstery for the EX trim gets upgraded again. This time around you get two-tone leatherette seats. The 6-way adjustable seats are replaced with a pair of 10-way adjustable models. The front seats are now heated and ventilated for added comfort. Rear, adjustable headrests are thrown in for good measure.
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Which One Should You Choose?
When recommending the best choice for a trim level, it's rare to suggest the highest trim package for the average consumer. For the 2019 Kia Forte, however, the EX trim package is the best overall value. There is only a modest cost increase for each of the trim packages on the Kia Forte. Each level adds in a good deal of unique and useful features too. Since the EX trim package gives you so much for such a small difference in price, there's almost no reason to settle for anything less.
• Compare the 2018 Kia Forte Trim Levels