A blue 2020 Kia Forte is facing front in a dark garage.

The 2019 Kia Forte Versus the Upcoming 2020 Release

There are a lot of things we should expect out of a great sedan. Fuel efficiency, a comfortable interior, plenty of safety and infotainment tech, the list goes on. There are many great sedans out there, gaining widespread appeal even as larger vehicles stand to compete as far more popular options. As family-oriented lineups become crowded with crossovers and compact SUVs, Kia continues to push the envelope developing sleek and stylish sedans that stand out from the rest. Joining the growing family is the 2020 Kia Forte, a small departure from the 2019 model, that introduces features like wireless charging for your smartphone and a refined suspension in performance models. With all of these new additions, is the Kia Forte still the high performing sedan that drivers have come to expect? In this post, we’ll make a comprehensive comparison between what’s new with the latest Kia Forte and what we’re leaving behind in 2019. We’ll also see if the Kia Forte can still remain relevant in today’s crowded field.

A Comparison of Styling

The Kia Forte has always made a clear statement, that being that the compact sedan doesn’t have to be boring and practical. Here is a car that not only stands out in terms of performance but offers a unique outer appeal that is not often found in competitors. From the quirky front grille to the sports-car influenced design, the Kia Forte is far from ordinary. In 2019 the Kia Forte had an edge in styling, with swooping angular headlights and a low profile ideal for drivers with a desire to push the speed limit. The 2020 Kia Forte does an excellent job of providing more of the same. Utilizing the same general styling, drivers who loved the 2019 model’s design certainly won’t be disappointed. In many ways, the 2020 design and the 2019 design, pull inspiration from sportier cars but manage to tone things down a bit for more practical day to day use.

The interior of the 2020 Kia Forte has also received a minor touch up showing once again that small details really matter. While drivers can still expect a simple and clean interior styling in base models, higher trims introduce black cloth upholstery popping with red lined trimmings. Overall, we can expect more of the same when it comes to interior design for the Kia Forte, and that is hardly a problem.

A Glimpse of Performance

A blue 2020 Kia Forte GT is drifting with a dirt cloud behind it.

While the 2019 Kia Forte may have had a styling edge that screamed ‘performance’ and ‘punchy engine’ the truth of the matter was that the wrapping was far better than what was actually included in this sporty sedan. When it comes to performance, the outgoing 2019 Kia Forte was something of a disappointment to some drivers. While the 147 horsepower 2.0-liter inline-4 engine offered up 132 lb-ft of torque. To make matters worse, this was the only engine option available across all trim options. There were some benefits to this, take for instance the fact that base models of the 2019 Kia Forte earned 31 mpg in the city and 41 mpg on the highway. And if you wanted to invest in the larger 16-inch wheels and that fuel economy would only drop to 30 mpg in the city and 40 mpg on the highway. The 6-speed manual transmission option also puts a serious dent in fuel economy falling to 27 mpg in the city and 37 mpg on the highway. All that said, it is hard to deny that kind of fuel efficiency is quite impressive, especially without any hybrid drivetrains involved. Although, this bump in fuel economy hardly sated drivers who expected the Kia Forte to be a subtle performance machine. In the 2019 Kia Forte, they also experimented with a continuously variable transmission, or CVT, Kia’s first. For the most part, the CVT performs smoothly, although it certainly takes some getting used to.

So, how does the 2020 Kia Forte hope to improve on these performance issues? Well, while base models continue to get a reasonable yet not-so-powerful 147 horsepower engine, higher trims like the Kia Forte GT, will get a robust 201 horsepower 1.6-liter turbo I-4 engine, granting drivers a greater performance level of experience. Speaking of trim options, Kia has revamped the selection offering the base FE, LXS, GT Line, EX, and GT. Pricing for the Kia Forte starts at around $17,790 MSRP for the base model with a manual transmission.

While performance is a big change for the 2020 Kia Forte it is far from being the only expected shift. Kia has brought the Kia Forte into the modern age, adding a suite of new features that drastically change the overall driving experience; but don’t worry its all for the better.

A Massive Step Forward

The 2019 Kia Forte isn’t too bad in terms of tech features. Base models sport dual-zone climate control and an 8.0-inch infotainment touchscreen that is compatible with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. Higher trims like the Forte EX added heated and cooled front seats, keyless ignition, LED turn signals, and two USB ports. Safety tech wasn’t too bad either, as Kia made automatic emergency braking and active lane control a standard feature on all Forte models. For a bit of extra cash, drivers could bump that tech to the next level adding automatic high-beam LED headlights, adaptive cruise control, and blind-spot monitors. All that said, this package is far from competitive, even for higher trim options. As more and more manufacturers add some of these features in their base models, the Kia Forte must up the ante.

Fortunately, the 2020 Kia Forte advances on the successes of the 2019 model, adding forward collision warnings, lane departure warnings, lane keeping assist, and driver attention warnings to all trim options. This robust safety package can be upgraded in higher trims like the GT, including additional features like blind spot collision warnings, rear-cross traffic collision warnings, smart cruise control, and parking distance warnings as optional.

A phone is charging in the cordless power phone charging area.

Infotainment and accessibility has taken a step up too in the 2020 model, as base models get a power sunroof with overhead LED front and rear lamps, a Harman Kardon premium audio system, wireless charging for your smartphone, and an intuitive voice command navigation system; did we mention that all of that comes as standard? Taking a step up to the GT Line, drivers will find features like a smart key with push-button engine start and LED daytime running lights and taillights. Moving all the way up to the GT trim and you’ll find all of the previously mentioned features with LED headlights that have auto-leveling and High Beam Assist.

It is clear that Kia got the message and has brought their Kia Forte into the future. All of these factors considered, does this sporty sedan have what it takes to stand out from the rest?

The Appeal of the 2020 Kia Forte

The 2020 Kia Forte attempts to make waves in an industry crowded with larger cars, more robust engines, hybrid drivetrains, and practically driver-less technology. While the Kia Forte falls short in some areas, it performs beautifully in others. The lower price is the real appeal of this sporty sedan, as for an entry-level sticker price, you’ll be given features that some manufacturers make as premium. So, yes, the 2020 Kia Forte is certainly packed with value, and takes what was not working in the outgoing model and capitalizes on it, reaching an end result that is bound to put the 2020 Kia Forte out above the rest.