The perennial small-car sales manufacturers have never faced stiffer competition, and the 2017 Kia Forte is the latest shot in the series. Although it doesn’t come with a full redesign, the 2017 Forte gives freshened styling, a new standard engine for the sedan, a sport-themed S sedan trim level, an Apple CarPlay/Android Auto connectivity, and optional safety features such as automatic emergency braking that are still not common in this class. With fuel economy as high as 38 mpg highway and just about every available feature one could ask for in this price range, the 2017 Forte makes a strong case for itself against its more established foes.see alsohttp://www.automobileglobe.com/2017-kia-forte-sedan-picture-review/
The sedan’s base 2.0-liter engine is so far the biggest news, as it’s not often that a car swaps out its primary powerplant in the middle of its production cycle. Although it’s slightly bigger, the new 2.0-liter is more efficient than the smaller engine it suceeds. Paired with the revised six-speed automatic transmission, the new engine increases combined fuel economy to 32 mpg (up one from 31 mpg), but the city rating gets a big increase from 26 mpg to 29 mpg. Notably, the top-of-the-line EX trim level recieves a different, carryover 2.0-liter engine that makes a bit more power (though less than last year) but gives up an eye-opening 4 mpg in combined driving.
If you’re thinking about a small car like the Forte, you probably already have two names in mind: Civic and Corolla. In terms of resale value, you can not beat them, and the current Civic also seems to be an unusually rewarding car to drive, especially with the optional turbocharged engine. The Corolla doesn’t seem nearly as well on the merits, but the Forte undoubtedly gives more bang for the buck than both. We also recommend the sharp-handling Mazda 3 and Ford Focus, but their backseat space are small by comparison.
BODY STYLES, TRIM LEVELS, AND OPTIONS
As at the time of this review, the 2017 Kia Forte is available as a sedan in LX, S and EX trim levels, while the hatchback Forte5 model is offered in LX, EX and SX trims. The two-door 2017 Forte Koup will be announced at a later date.
Standard styles and features on the LX sedan include 15-inch steel wheels, heated mirrors, air-conditioning, full power accessories, a trip computer, a tilt-and-telescoping steering wheel, a height-adjustable driver seat, a 60/40-split folding rear seat, Bluetooth, and a four-speaker sound system with a CD player, satellite radio, USB connectivity and an auxiliary audio jack.
Optional for the LX (however only with the automatic transmission) is the Popular package, which includes automatic headlights, cruise control, upgraded interior upholstery and trim, a sliding front armrest, a rear seat armrest, a rearview camera, a 4.3-inch touchscreen and six speakers.
The S sedan comes with most of those items and upgrades to a sport-tuned suspension, 16-inch alloy wheels, LED running lights, a rear spoiler, a chrome exhaust outlet, adjustable drive modes (including steering effort), unique black cloth upholstery with white contrast stitching, a leather-wrapped steering wheel and shift knob, and a 7-inch touchscreen with Apple CarPlay/Android Auto (late availability) and Kia’s Uvo eServices telematics.
The S sedan’s Technology package adds fog lights, LED taillights, and keyless entry and ignition plus a few safety technologies (that is lane departure warning and prevention, blind-spot monitoring and automatic emergency braking). There is also a Premium package that complements the Technology package with a sunroof, heated front seats, a power driver seat, driver memory settings, a sliding front armrest, and a navigation system with voice controls.
The EX sedan has the sport-themed extras but adds the more powerful 2.0-liter engine, foglights, 17-inch alloy wheels, LED turn signal indicators on the mirror housings (and a puddle lamps underneath), LED taillights, keyless entry and ignition, ambient interior lighting, leather upholstery, heated front seats and dual-zone automatic temperature control with rear vents.
For the EX, there is an optional Premium Plus package that sums a sunroof, power driver seat and the extra safety technologies plus adaptive xenon headlights, a navigation system, cooled front seats and driver memory settings.
From a features point, the Forte5 LX and Forte5 EX largely mirror the LX and S sedan lands with minor differences such as standard 16-inch steel wheels for the Forte5 LX and standard leather upholstery for the Forte5 EX, which gets 17-inch alloy wheels but it lacks the S sedan’s sport-tuned suspension (standard on the Forte5 SX) and other specific sport-themed flourishes. The Forte5 SX adds a turbocharged engine, 18-inch wheels, dual exhaust tips and unique front and rear styling, plus an Orange Color package (new for 2017) with orange leather seat inserts and contrast stitching. Forte5 options also largely mirror those of the sedan, although a couple of the sedan’s advanced safety features (automatic emergency braking and lane departure warning and prevention) are not currently offered.
POWERTRAINS AND PERFORMANCE
The Forte LX and S sedans are powered by a 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine rated at 147 horsepower and 132 pound-feet of torque. Power runs to the front wheels through a six-speed manual transmission (LX only) or a six-speed automatic. EPA fuel economy estimates are 32 mpg combined (29 city/38 highway) with the automatic and a rather disappointing 28 mpg combined (25 city/34 highway) with the manual.
The EX sedan gets a 2.0-liter four-cylinder generating 164 hp and 151 lb-ft of torque (or 160 and 149, respectively, in SULEV specification). This engine comes only with the six-speed automatic and returns an EPA-rated 28 mpg combined (25 city/33 highway), which is decidedly unimpressive given the relatively modest power output. Note that the Forte5 LX and EX are also equipped with this powertrain, although the numbers had not been finalized as of this writing.
The SX series of the Forte5 has a turbocharged 1.6-liter four-cylinder that will be rated at or around last year’s 201 hp and 195 lb-ft of torque, with both output and EPA numbers also yet to be finalized. This model offers either a six-speed manual or a seven-speed dual-clutch automated manual.
Every 2017 Kia Forte comes standard with antilock disc brakes, traction and stability control, front side airbags and side curtain airbags. A rearview camera is optional on the LX and standard on the other trims. The optional Uvo eServices telematics bundle includes roadside assistance, emergency crash notification, and secondary driver (i.e., teenage) monitoring features that include notifications when curfew, vehicle speed and vehicle location limits are exceeded.
As noted above, the sedan offers automatic emergency braking, lane departure warning and prevention, and blind-spot monitoring, although the Forte5 only offers the latter.
In Edmunds brake testing, a Forte EX sedan came to a stop from 60 mph in 121 feet, while a Forte5 SX turned in a 114-foot effort. Both results are slightly shorter than average for this segment.
Government crash tests of the 2017 Forte sedan saw it earn a five-star rating (out of five), with four stars for overall front-impact protection and five stars for overall side-impact protection.
INTERIOR DESIGN AND SPECIAL FEATURES
The 2017 Kia Forte is much more than just an economy car stuffed with gadgets. Boasting a handsome cabin furnished with quality materials, especially in the higher trim levels, the Forte gives other top compacts a run for their money. In addition, the Forte’s high-tech features are well-designed and easy to use. The 7-inch touchscreen interface, with large, logically positioned virtual buttons, is one of the better examples of this technology.
Seat comfort front and rear in the sedan and Forte5 is very good, and even 6-foot adults should be comfortable sitting in back. The Forte sedan offers very generous cargo capacity, with a trunk capacity of 14.9 cubic feet, while the Forte5 hatchback boasts 23.2 cubic feet with the rear seat up and plenty more with the seatbacks folded down
Based on our experience with the 2017 Hyundai Elantra that uses the same 2.0-liter engine as the base Forte, we’re not expecting quick acceleration from the base Forte sedan. The new engine is fuel-efficient, however, at least with the automatic transmission, and should feel adequate in terms of power delivery to most drivers. The Forte5’s available turbocharged 1.6-liter engine is the logical choice for those who want extra zest, as it transforms the Kia into a genuinely speedy little car. The EX sedan’s 2.0-liter engine is caught in the middle, providing no more power than the standard engines in many rival sedans yet sucking down fuel at a relatively prodigious rate.
The six-speed automatic transmission provides smooth shifts, and it’s surprisingly responsive during typical passing and merging situations. The slick-shifting six-speed manual in the Forte5 SX is pleasant to operate and makes the most of the turbocharged engine’s power.
Most shoppers in this segment will likely be satisfied with the Forte’s overall ride quality, but the Forte’s suspension is occasionally a bit firm and unrefined. Rougher roads produce a somewhat busy ride; in comparison, rivals such as the Focus and Mazda 3 feel relatively cushy over broken pavement. The Forte feels steady on winding roads, but it’s not particularly engaging.