2019 Kia Forte First Drive: Buzzworthy

In order to understand the hyper-competitive compact car class, you have to look at the numbers. So let me bore you with them briefly. A whopping two million compact cars drove off dealer lots in 2017. The Honda Civic represented more than 377,000 units, and the Toyota Corolla another 308,000. Bottom line: this segment still moves a lot of product, even with the imminent SUV takeover.

This Is Kia's Forte:

So with the Kia Forte sitting at a meager sixth place on the sales chart in 2017 – it only counted for 117,000 units in the segment – the car is an outlier. Or more accurately, an outlier within an outlier. But Kia shouldn't worry. Following the strategy laid out by the larger, more performance-y Stinger, the compact Forte is ripe for success.

For one, the Forte looks good. Even with cars in this class getting more interesting, this Kia still stands out. It has a more svelte profile, stretching out to 187.2 inches (3.1 inches over its counterpart), and a more aggressive stance, widening to 70.9 inches (0.8 inches over its counterpart).

2019 Kia Forte: First Drive
2019 Kia Forte: First Drive

The "Tiger nose" grille and large lower intake help the Forte’s face stand out. The sharp headlights do their best Stinger impersonation, and the backside, particularly the taillights, have inklings of the Optima’s DNA. These carry-over elements are necessary prerequisites for building brand equity — especially in such a com...