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Despite the segment shrinking, Kia is plowing ahead with small cars with an all-new 2019 Forte sedan.

New compact cars keep showing up on roads and streets all around the United States despite the surge in sales of utility vehicles and pickups.

In fact, the compact car segment has become one of the most competitive as buyers look for ways for transportation that both relatively economical and comfortable. The new Mazda3 and the new Toyota Corolla and new 2019 Kia Forte are all putting new life into a segment that also includes cars such as the Honda Civic, Hyundai Elantra and Volkswagen Golf.

The 2019 Kia Forte EX I drove recently had a roomy and comfortable interior that made it easy to like and fun to drive. I never had to worry about parking spaces and the car had ample power to address the challenges of everyday driving.

On the outside the Forte EX has been stretched to make it look larger and boasts an interior on par with more expensive models.

(Kia ups performance quotient with new Stinger GTS. Click Here for the story.)

Kia’s designers have earned a reputation during the last decade for developing passenger cars with the kind of sleek curb-side appeal that invariably catches the eye of consumers thinking of a new vehicle and almost anyone else who cares to take a closer look at the sheet metal.

The 2019 Forte, with its fastback shape, has extended Kia’s reputation for coming up with strong designs. The deftly shaped creases in the hood and redesigned tiger nose grill are supported by a re-shaped lower valance that enhance the overall character of the 2019 Forte.

With the new Forte, Kia is looking to compete with small car standbys like the Honda Civic, Toyota Corolla and Chevy Cruze.

Standard projection or available full LEDs are modeled on those used on the stylish Kia Stinger, while turn-signal indicators are mounted near the new air curtains placed close to the ground to improve aerodynamic performance.

The fastback shape also gave Kia’s engineers an opportunity to expand the occupant compartment in several key areas so passengers are treated to a comfortable space no matter how long the journey. Overall length has increased by 3.2 inches to 182.7 inches, allowing for more rear legroom and additional cargo in the trunk and a track or width that increases by .8 inches.

The dashboard in the new Forte is simple and straight forward, fostering the impression of additional space. The clean lines, minimal number of buttons and horizontal emphasis used on the instrument panel also helps avoids clutter with below an 8-inch color touch screen. The first touch point in the 2019 Forte, the steering wheel, also offers the driver not only a comfortable grip, but also a feeling of the car’s solidity.

The overall design also gave the vehicle slightly larger door openings making it easier to get in and out of the Forte. At the same time, there is also excellent visibility and lightweight seat frames that provide a more comfortable seating position with increased lumbar support and denser seat foam, which offers more support on a long drive.

(Click Here for more about Kia’s new SUV concepts unveiled in Seoul.)

The Forte is also equipped Android Auto and Apple CarPlay. With select smart phones, the system also can read SMS texts aloud through Bluetooth.

The Forte's exterior got a styling update as did the interior which features access to plenty of new technology.

The design of the 2010 Kia Forte is supported by a new chassis layout and stiffened structure, which, with the car’s revised suspension, improves the overall driving dynamics in all kinds of conditions, including when it wet and slippery, which it was during my test period.

The car’s smooth performance and driving dynamics help the driver concentrate on the road ahead and the traffic environment around the car. After a few days in the Kia Forte it was quite apparent that upgraded steering and brakes, along with the improvements to the suspension, also give the Forte some impressive driving characteristics that help take the labor out of a long drive and make the car a great deal of fun to drive in more challenging situations.

Forte’s long hood covers a 2.0-liter engine producing 147 horsepower and 132 foot-pounds of torque. The engine was paired up with an intelligent variable transmission. The key word is intelligent because unlike other variable transmissions I have driven in the past, this one never seemed to miss or mess up a shift.

The Forte also comes with Kia’s “Drive Wise” features are now standard, including forward collision-avoidance assist, lane keeping assist, driver attention warning, smart cruise control, blind-spot collision and rear cross-traffic collision warning.

The manufacturer suggested retail price for the model I drove was $21,990 before the addition of an $895 destination charge, which was offset by the relatively modest operating costs since the 2019 Forte get 30 mile per gallon in the city and 40 mpg on the highway for a combined rating of 34 mpg.

(For a review of the new Kia Telluride, Click Here.)

The combination of desirable features, power, driving dynamics and impressive comfort makes the 2019 Kia Forte EX a car to consider for any budget-conscious consumer willing to forego something bigger and heavier vehicle.

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