By Asian Journal Auto Editor

The Kia Forte has just been voted 2019 Best Small Car in Canada by AJAC (Automobile Journalist Association of Canada.)  And it is not hard to see why. The compact sedan has always offered excellent equipment levels at a very competitive price. The new 2019 Kia takes some design cues from the awesome Kia Stinger performance sedan. There is larger, sleeker, more fluid look, the Forte actually offers an impressive 0.27. Drag coefficient that aids to better fuel economy. The aggressive front visage incorporates elements from the Stinger, such as the long hood, fastback profile, and steeply angled headlights. The Forte rides on the Hyundai Elantra’s platform, which Kia has revised for stiffer platform. Other changes include thicker glass for the front side windows. The bigger car offers better room for rear-seat passengers, good cargo room in the trunk and the rear doors open almost 90 degrees for easier access.

The Forte line as usual offers an excellent roster of standard equipment even at the entry level, $16,495 LX model that offers a standard 8.0-inch touchscreen with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, as well as dual-zone automatic climate control. The Forte comes standard with a host of safety features: forward collision avoidance assist, forward collision warning, and lane keeping assist. Apple CarPlay and Android Auto are standard, as are heated front seats and steering wheel, and Bluetooth cellphone connectivity.

The mid-level EX which lists at $22,065 is expected to be the best seller in the range with the addition of LED headlights, alloy wheels, “Supervision” LCD instrument cluster, and blind spot warning system, and a wireless charger for compatible cellphones.

The EX Premium trim ($25,065) offers adaptive cruise control, advanced forward collision warning, smart key with push-button start heated and ventilated front seats as well as leatherette upholstery. The top EX Limited trim level ($28,065) offers a SatNav navigation system.

The engine is a 2.0-litre four cylinder Atkinson cycle unit with variable valve timing, double overhead camshafts, and direct injection. And a cooled EGR system to improve efficiency. Which offers pretty good fuel economy (147 horsepower and 132 lb.-ft. of torque). While a six-speed manual gearbox is offered on the base LX trim level, other models offer a new CVT  unit, basically a stepped transmission that keeps the revs high near torque peak for better acceleration and throttle response. Kia’s first CVT, uses a chain-type belt to reduce noise, vibration, and harshness,

The interior layout as on all KIAs is sporty and modern. All of the dials and gauges are well placed. Trunk space and back seat room is excellent The Forte also boasts 15.3 cubic feet of cargo space and a generous back seat with interior storage and comfort. In addition to dynamic improvements, the Forte now benefits from increased cabin quietness. The Forte is a very nice car to drive, you sit firmly wrapped in the deeply supportive sport seats and everything falls to the hand and feet with the excellent ergonomics. On the road, with the well-weighted steering, and supple suspension, the Forte feel agile and sporty- yet comfortable. Forte’s ride is firmer than in most cars in this class the payoff is sharper steering and crisper handling. There is some body roll, but the Forte absorbs rough road and potholes with ease. At any speed, the Forte did a good job limiting wind noise during our drive, so Kia’s efforts at sound insulation prove a success as there is less noise than before. The Sport driving mode adjusts rpms and sharpens the Forte’s steering in a small way, but it doesn’t change the suspension setting. I did a fair bit of highway driving and found the Forte to be excellent, with a solid, big car feel. Fuel consumption rated by Transport Canada is City/Highway, l/100 km: Manual transmission — 8.6 / 6.4; CVT — 7.7 / 5.9.

In closing, the Forte comes across as an affordable sporty car that offers a mix of satisfying driving and ownership. Downsides are few, It seats four in comfort, five at a push, is practical and versatile.  If an affordable, well equipped sedan is what you need. Whether it’s your first car or the latest upgrade you will not be disappointed. Highly recommend

2019 Kia Forte: Priced from – $16,495- $28,065. Price as tested: $25,065.