The FREE Complete Bay Area Auto Enthusiast Guide

THE RIDE: Four-door, five-passenger 2019 Kia Forte EX sedan.

DOWN THE ROAD: Slotted between the Rio and Optima, the totally redesigned third-generation compact ride is longer (3.2 inches) and wider (0.8) than its predecessor. Plus, height is down by just 0.2 inches. Regardless, you have an enjoyable car to drive, displaying superb suppleness, grip and response.

TECH & PERFORMANCE: Under the hood of the front-wheel-drive vehicle sits the same 2.0-liter DOHC inline-4 cylinder engine developing a healthy 147 horsepower @ 6200 rpm and 132 pounds-feet of torque @ 4500 rpm. It is mated to a standard and quite impressive continuous variable transmission. A front MacPherson strut and a rear coupled torsion beam suspension soaks obstacles with dexterity, sure-footedness and poise. The electric power assist steering is responsive, quick and accurate.

LOOK & FEEL: With its long hood and short deck, the Forte shows off swept-back projector headlights that surround the familiar tiger-nose grille and a forceful lower black valance. The look is distinctly of the Stinger fastback in the Kia fold. The interior is generous for a compact car with Sofino leatherette seat trim though the shifter knob and steering wheel are decked in fine-looking leather. A trunk capacity of 15.3 cubic feet translates into abundant space for luggage. Also standard are dual auto a/c, remote keyless entry, tilt/telescopic steering column, heated/cooled front seats, 60/40 rear seat, 8-inch touch screen for audio, phone and nav controls, Android Auto and Apple CarPlay capabilities, and power-adjustable driver seat. Flex steering feature allows the driver to switch between normal, sport or comfort modes. 

SAFETY FIRST: Dual front and side airbags, side curtain airbag for both rows, four-wheel antilock brakes with electronic brake distribution and brake assist, stability/traction control as well as vehicle stability management, hill-start assist, blind-spot monitor, forward collision warning and avoidance assist, lane departure warning and lane keep assist, rear-cross traffic collision warning, rearview camera, front seatbelt pretensioners, front and rear crumple zones and tire pressure monitoring system are standard.

OUT THE DOOR: $21,990, plus tax, tag, delivery and destination charges.

BY THE NUMBERS: Tires, P225/45R17; wheelbase, 106.3 inches; length, 182.7 inches; weight, 2,762 pounds; fuel capacity, 14 gallons; city, 30 mpg; highway, 40 mpg; Web site,

WHY DIG IT: Not only is this overhauled gas-sipper fun, sprightly and well-balanced but also economical, starting under $22,000. Kudos go to Kia for continuing to offer the notable 10-year/100,000-mile power train and 5-year/60,000-mile basic warranties.

CALLING ALL KIA DEALERS IN THE WEST CENTRAL FLORIDA AREA: if you would like to be listed here as one of the test-drive dealerships, e-mail us at