The Car Connection | Andrew Ganz | 08/23/2018

EPA estimates for the redesigned 2019 Kia Forte show that the new compact sedan won’t be a favorite of gas station owners.

What will likely be the most popular 2019 Forte—the sedan with the optional continuously variable automatic transmission (CVT)—is rated at 30 mpg city, 40 highway, 34 combined by the EPA. That’s not quite the 35 mpg combined the automaker promised when the new Forte debuted in January the Detroit auto show. It turns out that there was an asterisk to that claim.

A special fuel efficiency-oriented version called the 2019 Forte FE is rated at 31/41/35 mpg. Kia has not yet detailed what makes the Forte FE earn 1 mpg better in every category.

Regardless, CVT-equipped Fortes will be among the thriftiest compact sedans when they go on sale later this year. Among 2019 model year competitors rated so far, only the 2019 Toyota Corolla hatchback with its optional CVT rates higher at 32/42/36 mpg.

Notably, the Honda Civic—which was last year’s compact sedan fuel economy champ—hasn’t been rated for 2019. Last year’s CVT-equipped Civic EX and EX-L sedans were rated at 32/42/36 mpg.

Noticing a trend? CVTs save fuel. Stick with the stick-shift and the Forte is rated at just 27/37/31 mpg. By comparison, last year’s most miserly Forte was a sedan with the 6-speed automatic at 29/37/32 mpg.

The EPA’s estimates push the new Forte ahead of its sibling from parent company Hyundai, too. The 2019 Hyundai Elantra tops out at 29/38/33 mpg. The biggest difference? The Elantra uses a 6-speed automatic, while the Forte features a new CVT that helps keep engine revs low during normal driving to conserve fuel.