With a longer wheelbase but a lower roofline, the Kia Forte has slightly less interior room on paper than the last version. It's not obviously shy in any dimension when compared to the top sellers in the compact class, and a closer eye (and ear) on details makes this Forte feel more substantial, too.
By the numbers, the Forte is 179.5 inches long, up a little more than an inch, and rides on a 106.3-inch wheelbase, up 2.0 inches. It's lower by an inch, to 56.5 inches, and in practice the subtle reshaping of the passenger cabin makes more of an impact on its handsome styling than it does on its usable room. Front passengers won't come up short in any way: the front seats have a good range of adjustment, and give even very tall drivers enough headroom. The extra width and a gently curved center console fall out of the way of knee space. The driver-side power and seat ventilation that come on the Forte EX are useful and eye-catching at order time, but we'd like a little more bolstering on the bottom cushions for better long-distance support.
The back seat is typical for compact cars, with not quite enough head room for six-foot passengers, but plenty of others. The front seats leave plenty of foot room, and the door openings make entry and exit easier than in some of the more sporty compacts we've driven this year.
Storage space is very good, with a 14.9-cubic-foot trunk larger than almost all the competition, save for the Honda Civic. The trunk lid's cut wide, for easy loading, and the rear seats fold down almost flat for the rare occasion when the trunk is taxed. There's a useful bin hiding under a sliding screen in front of the shift lever, and a fair-sized glovebox and center console bin.
It's a straightforward layout without a major flaw--and it's much better presented than even the last Forte. There's an elevated sense of quality in this compact car, from the soft touch of the plastic and the mix of materials chosen, to the added sound deadening that tamps down powertrain and road noise to better than average levels.