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2018 vs. 2019 Kia Forte: What’s the Difference?

  • The Kia Forte compact sedan is all-new for 2019.

  • The 2019 Kia Forte is no longer available as a 5-door hatchback.

  • The new Forte carries over the same 4-cylinder engine from the outgoing 2018 model.

The Kia Forte has some very tough competition in the compact segment against the likes of the Toyota Corolla and the Honda Civic. While the Forte might be easy to forget about in the crowded field of compact cars, is has a lot to offer to drivers looking for a good value.

The Forte is all-new for 2019 with a new look inside and out. Let’s take a look at what’s new for Kia’s compact in 2019.

2018 vs. 2019 Kia Forte exterior


The new Forte is a little bigger than the car it’s replacing in every dimension and it has a whole new aesthetic. The Forte’s new look takes a few design cues from the Stinger, Kia’s new flagship sedan. The 2018 and the 2019 Forte both have Kia’s corporate grille, but on the rest of the face of the 2019 model is completely different. It has a much more aggressive look and it has a fastback profile giving the new Forte a sportier look than the outgoing model.

One of the most notable differences between the 2018 and the 2019 Forte is the body style. The 2018 model is available as either a 4-door sedan or a 5-door hatchback. The 2019 model, however, is only available as a sedan. As of writing, there’s been no word from Kia that a new Forte hatchback is in the cards.

2018 vs. 2019 Kia Forte interior


Don’t let the low price tag of the 2019 Forte fool you, it has a nicer interior than you might have thought was possible for a compact Kia. It’s still no high-end luxury car, but the new Forte’s interior is very well designed with a floating infotainment screen, nice materials and ergonomically friendly controls.

The 2018 model has a nice interior too, but the inside of the 2019 Forte is a big improvement. Both are available with nice features like a sunroof, heated and cooled seats, dual-zone automatic climate control and more.

2018 vs. 2019 Kia Forte mechanicals


There’s not much to report in terms of mechanical changes for the 2019 Forte. It carries over the same 2.0-liter inline four from the 2018 model but has slightly different specs.

2018 Kia Forte Engine

  • 2.0-liter inline four; 147 horsepower, 132 lb-ft of torque; 29 miles per gallon in the city and 37 mpg on the highway

2019 Kia Forte Engine

  • 2.0-liter inline four; 147 hp, 132 lb-ft of torque; 31 mpg city/41 mpg hwy

The 2019 Forte uses a continuously variable transmission (CVT) while the 2018 model uses a traditional 6-speed automatic, which is what accounts for the difference in fuel economy. Both models are available with a 6-speed manual transmission, but only on the base model.

The 2018 Forte EX, the top trim, uses a different version of this engine. Unlike the others, the engine in this specific trim isn’t an Atkinson cycle engine which means better performance, but worse fuel economy and it gets 164 hp and 151 lb-ft of torque while returning 25 city/33 mpg hwy.

The fact that the Forte is now capable of achieving more than 40 mpg on the highway, it’s more competitive with the more thrifty engines in this segment. It would be nice to see a higher-performing turbocharged engine in the Forte, but its naturally aspirated 4-cylinder has plenty of pep for most drivers.

2018 vs. 2019 Kia Forte technology


The 2019 Forte has several technological advantages over the 2018 model. For starters, every 2019 Forte comes with an 8-in touchscreen display while the 2018 car only comes with a 7-in unit. Also, the 2019 Forte comes standard with Android Auto and Apple CarPlay, which are optional on the 2018 Forte.

As for safety and driver-assistance features, the 2019 Forte comes standard with forward-collision warning, forward collision avoidance assist, lane-departure warning, lane-keeping assist and driver attention warning. None of these features are standard on the 2018 Forte. On top of these features, a few optional tech features on the 2019 Forte include blind spot monitoring, lane-change assist, rear cross-traffic alert, pedestrian detection, smart cruise control and more.

2018 vs. 2019 Kia Forte pricing


The Forte has always been on the lower end of the pricing spectrum in its segment and that’s still true with the 2019 model, despite a modest price hike. The 2018 Forte has a starting MSRP of $16,800 and the 2019 Forte starts at $17,690. Both model years can get up to the low-mid $20k range when you get into the higher trims and add options.

There are nicer, more feature-rich compacts on the market, but the Forte offers an excellent value when you consider what you’re getting for the money.

2018 vs. 2019 Kia Forte conclusion 


The Kia Forte is an often overlooked option in the compact segment, but it’s a great value and it’s the all-new 2019 model is the best it has ever been. With good fuel economy, a great new look and impressive standard tech, the Kia Forte is worth a look if you’re looking for a good, affordable car with a lot to offer.

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