Nissan Sentra Vs. Kia Forte: Compact Sedans With Big Hearts

By Justin Cupler | March 1st, 2019

Compact sedans offer great balance for younger buyers and those on a tighter budget with ample room and a respectable levels of features. The 2019 Nissan Sentra and 2019 Kia Forte meet these descriptions and more, but which of these compact sedans is best for our Midland area buyers? Find out below.


The Nissan Sentra went through its last redesign in 2013, but recent changes, like the new SR Turbo and NISMO models, have kept things fresh. The 2019 Sentra’s looks are very traditional for the compact sedan segment, giving buyers no surprises. This simpler look will appeal to a  wider range of buyers.

The 2019 Kia Forte is all-new after a complete redesign. It looks sharp and modern with its Kia-Stinger-inspired syiling, but this more dramatic look isn’t for everyone.

The majority of the 2019 Nissan Sentra lineup is 182.1 inches long, 69.3 inches wide, and 58.9 inches tall. The only exceptions are the SR and NISMO models, which are 182.5 amd 183.6 inches long, respectively. The Sentra rides on a 106.3-inch wheelbase and weighs 2,851 to 2,976 pounds.

The 2019 Kia Forte is longer and wider than the Sentra at 182.7 inches long and 70.9 inches wide, but it is lower at 56.5 inches tall. It ides on a 106.3-inch wheelbase and weighs 2,707 to 2,903 pounds.

Advantage: 2019 Nissan Sentra

  • Toned-down looks that some buyers prefer
  • Smaller footprint is easier to handle

Advantage: 2019 Kia Forte

  • More modern appearance
  • Lower and wider body offers sportier stance


Inside the 2019 Nissan Sentra, you’ll find the simplicity carries on from the outside. There is nothing overwhelming, but it also has all the features you want. The latter include a standard 7-inch touchscreen, Bluetooth connectivity with audio streaming, Siri Eyes Free, hands-free text messaging, and more. What’s more, moving into the SL model adds premium goodies like leather seating and an eight-speaker Bose audio system, and the NISMO model adds tons of sporty features.

The 2019 Kia Forte, like so many other models from the brand, looks upscale in even its base trim with its sharp-looking steering wheel, clean design, and 8-inch touchscreen. Moving up in trims nets you leatherette seating, a six-speaker audio system, navigation and more.

Up front, the 2019 Nissan Sentra offers 39.4 inches of headroom, 42.5 inches of legroom, 50.9 inches of hip room, and 54.7 inches of shoulder room. The 2019 Forte’s front seats have 0.6 inches less headroom and 0.3 inches less legroom, but they offer an extra 2.1 inches of hip room and 1.4 inches of shoulder room.


In its rear seats, the Sentra has 36.7 inches of headroom, 37.4 inches of legroom,

50.1 inches of hip room, and 53.9 inches of shoulder room. The 2019 Forte’s rear seats have an extra 0.8 inches of headroom, 1 inch of hip room, and 1.4 inches of shoulder room, but its legroom is tighter by 1.7 inches.


Luggage room checks in at 15.1 cubic feet in the 2019 Nissan Sentra and 15.3 cubic feet in the Forte.

Advantage: 2019 Nissan Sentra

  • Loaded-up SL model
  • Sporty NISMO cabin
  • More legroom

Advantage: 2019 Kia Forte

  • Modern looks
  • Loads of standard tech features
  • More standard safety features


The 2019 Nissan Sentra comes standard with a 1.8-liter four-cylinder engine that produces 124 horsepower and 125 pound-feet of torque. This engine pairs with a standard six-speed manual transmission or an optional continuously variable transmission. This adds up to a 9.5-second 0-to-60 time, according to independent testing.

The 2019 Sentra SR Turbo features a 1.6-liter turbocharged four-cylinder engine that cranks out 188 horsepower and 177 pound-feet of torque. This power heads through a Standard CVT for a seven-second 0-to-60 time. The SR Turbo helps tame this extra power with a sport-tuned suspension, V-rated tires, larger front brakes, and rear disc brakes.


The 2019 Sentra NISMO uses the same 188-horsepower 1.6-liter engine as the SR Turbo, but it pairs with a standard six-speed manual transmission or an optional CVT. It has the same seven-second 0-to-60 time, but it has a more aggressive NISMO-tuned suspension and steering system, larger wheels, and Michelin Pilot Sport tires.


The 2019 Kia Forte has just one engine option, a 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine that cranks out 147 horsepower and 132 pound-feet of torque. This engine mates with a standard six-speed manual transmission or an optional CVT. This adds up to an 8.7-second 0-to-60 time.

Fuel economy can be a determining factor when buying a compact sedan, and the Forte and Sentra deliver in this area. The 2019 Sentra with the base engine gets up to 29 mpg city, 37 highway, and 32 combined**. Moving into the SR Turbo puts its economy at up to 27 mpg city, 33 highway, and 29 combined**. Finally, the NISMO model takes the biggest fuel economy hit at up to 25 mpg city, 31 highway, and 27 combined**.


The Kia Forte’s sole engine, a 2.0-liter four-cylinder, gets up to 31 mpg city, 41 highway, and 35 combined.

Advantage: 2019 Nissan Sentra

  • Potent optional turbocharged engine
  • Zippy acceleration in SR Turbo and NISMO models
  • Precise handling in NISMO trim

Advantage: 2019 Kia Forte

  • More powerful base powertrain
  • Quicker base acceleration
  • Big fuel economy advantage

Pricing and Features

The 2019 Nissan Sentra has six trim levels — S, SV, SR, SR Turbo, SL, and NISMO — and their starting price range from $17,790 to $25,840.


There are four trim levels comprising the 2019 Kia Forte’s lineup, including the FE, LXS, S, and EX. Their starting prices range from $17,790 to $21,990.

2019 Nissan Sentra Key Features and Pricing by Trim

S: $17,790*

  • 1.8-liter four-cylinder engine
  • Six-speed manual transmission
  • Front-wheel drive
  • Front disc and rear drum brakes
  • Four-wheel anti-lock brakes
  • Speed-sensitive electric power steering
  • 16-inch steel wheels with hubcaps
  • Auto-on/off halogen headlights
  • Power mirrors
  • 7-inch touchscreen
  • Bluetooth connectivity with audio streaming
  • Hands-free text messaging
  • Siri Eyes Free
  • Rearview camera
  • Remote keyless entry
  • Power door locks
  • Air conditioning
  • Cruise control
  • Steering-wheel-mounted controls
  • Tilt-and-telescoping steering wheel
  • Variable-intermittent wipers
  • Cloth seating
  • 60/40 split-folding rear seat
  • Silver interior trim
  • AM/FM audio system with four speakers
  • USB port
  • Auxiliary audio input jack


SV: $19,090*

  • All S features, plus
  • CVT
  • Active understeer control
  • 16-inch 10-spoke aluminum-alloy wheels
  • NissanConnect infotainment system
  • Apple CarPlay and Android Auto
  • Fine-vision electroluminescent gauges
  • Nissan Intelligent KEy with keyless ignition
  • Dual-zone automatic climate control
  • Sliding front armrest
  • Rear-seat center armrest
  • Premium cloth seating
  • 370Z-inspired steering wheel
  • Leather-wrapped steering wheel
  • Piano-black interior trim
  • Six-speaker audio system
  • Dual-USB rear charging ports
  • SiriusXM radio
  • Automatic emergency braking
  • Tire-pressure monitoring system with Easy-Fill Alert
  • Security system


SR: $20,590*

  • All SV features, plus
  • Rear disc brakes
  • 17-inch 10-spoke aluminum-alloy wheels
  • LED low-beam projector headlights with LED accents
  • Fog lights
  • Sport rear fascia
  • Lower-body side-sill extension
  • Chrome exhaust finisher
  • Rear spoiler with integrated LED brake lights
  • Heated mirrors with LED turn-signal indicators
  • Adaptive cruise control
  • Premium sport cloth seating
  • Heated front seats
  • Sport interior trim


SR Turbo: $22,570*

  • All SR features, plus
  • 1.6-liter turbocharged four-cylinder engine
  • CVT with manual-shift mode
  • Larger disc brakes
  • SR-tuned sport suspension
  • Power sunroof


SL: $23,020*

  • All SV features, plus
  • Rear disc brakes
  • 17-inch five-spoke aluminum-alloy wheels
  • LED low-beam headlights with LED accents
  • Fog lights
  • Heated mirrors with LED turn signals
  • Power moonroof
  • HomeLink universal home remote
  • Adaptive cruise control
  • Auto-dimming rearview mirror
  • Six-way power driver’s seat
  • Leather seating
  • Heated front seats
  • Eight-speaker Bose premium audio system
  • Blind-spot warning
  • Rear cross-traffic alert


NISMO: $25,840*

  • All SR Turbo features, plus
  • Six-speed manual transmission
  • NISMO-tuned suspension and steering
  • 18-inch NISMO 10-spoke aluminum-alloy wheels
  • Michelin Pilot Sport all-season tires
  • LED daytime running lights
  • NISMO body kit
  • NISMO chrome exhaust tips
  • NISMO black outside mirrors
  • NISMO badging
  • NISMO tachometer
  • NISMO sport front seats with additional bolstering
  • NISMO synthetic suede seat trim
  • NISMO signature red stitching
  • NISMO Alcantara-and-leather-wrapped steering wheel
  • NISMO leather-wrapped shift knob
  • Carbon-fiber-look interior trim
  • Black headliner
  • Bose premium audio system with eight speakers

2019 Kia Forte Key Features and Pricing by Trim

FE: $17,790

  • 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine
  • Six-speed manual transmission
  • 15-inch steel wheels with hubcaps
  • Four-wheel anti-lock disc brakes
  • Front-wheel drive
  • Electric power steering
  • Body-color door handles
  • Solar-control glass
  • Variable-intermittent wipers
  • Projector-beam headlights
  • Daytime running lights
  • Auto-on/off headlights
  • 8-inch touchscreen display
  • Apple CarPlay and Android Auto
  • AM/FM four-speaker audio system
  • Bluetooth connectivity with audio streaming
  • USB port
  • Dual 12-volt power outlet
  • Steering-wheel-mounted controls
  • Cruise control
  • Tilt-and-telescoping steering wheel
  • 3.5-inch driver-information center
  • Power windows with driver’s side one-touch-down operation
  • Power door locks
  • Remote keyless entry
  • Dual-zone automatic climate control
  • Cloth seating
  • Hill-start assist
  • Rearview camera
  • Automatic emergency braking
  • Forward-collision warning
  • Lane-departure warning
  • Lane-keep assist
  • Driver-attention warning


LXS: $19,190

  • All FE features, plus
  • CVT
  • Gloss-black bumper accents
  • Chrome exhaust tips
  • 16-inch machine-finish alloy wheels
  • Drive-mode selector
  • 60/40 split-folding rear seats


S: $20,290

  • All LXS features, plus
  • 17-inch machine-finish alloy wheels
  • LED daytime running lights
  • Fog lights
  • LED positioning lights
  • LED taillights
  • UVO eServices 8-inch infotainment system with voice recognition
  • SiriusXM
  • Additional tweeter speakers
  • One-touch-up/down driver’s side window
  • Folding rear armrest with cup holders
  • Premium Tricot cloth seating
  • Leather-wrapped steering wheel
  • Leather-wrapped gear shifter
  • Soft-touch upper door panels


EX: $21,990

  • All S features, plus
  • Chrome window molding
  • Perimeter approach lighting
  • Heated mirrors
  • Mirror-integrated LED turn signals
  • Smart-open trunk
  • Windshield wiper de-icer
  • Space-saving spare tire
  • Dual center-console USB charging ports
  • Keyless ignition
  • Rear A/C vents
  • Front center-console sliding armrest
  • Illuminated glove box
  • Dual illuminated vanity mirrors
  • SOFINO leatherette seat trim
  • 10-way power driver’s seat
  • Heated and ventilated front seats
  • Blind-spot monitoring
  • Lane-change assist
  • Rear cross-traffic alert

Who Should Buy the 2019 Nissan Sentra?

Prefer a simpler design? The 2019 Nissan Sentra has just that, but it is far from boring, especially in its NISMO trim. Also, buyers looking for a peppier sedan will find it in the SR Turbo and NISMO models.

Who Should Buy the 2019 Kia Forte?

Buyers looking for the latest in styling will appreciate the Stinger-inspired Forte. Also, buyers looking for a premium-per-dollar value will appreciate the Forte’s lower cost for premium features and safety goodies.


Come down to Garber Nissan, serving the Saginaw and Midland areas, to test drive the 2019 Nissan Sentra for yourself. Whether you commute to Bay City every day and need its impressive 37 mpg highway or need the power of the NISMO and SR Turbo models to zip through the streets of Midland, the 2019 Sentra has a version that suits you. Can’t make it in for a test drive? Check out our online inventory to see what 2019 Sentra models we have in stock today and schedule a test drive for later.


* All prices are Manufacturer’s Suggested Retail Price (MSRP). MSRP excludes destination and handling charges, tax, title, license, and options. Dealer sets actual price.

** Actual mileage may vary