2017 Kia Forte S Review

2017 Kia Forte S - Stylish Kia Forte excels in fuel economy


With subtle visual changes, the Forte has an even more sophisticated, fluid appearance, and is available in the entry-level LX trim, new sporty S and top-tier EX models.

You'll be able to spot the latest Forte by the extended "tiger nose" grille that connects with the fresh headlamp design, and around back, newly designed taillamps can be ordered with LEDs.

Kia's compact front-wheel-drive car designed the Forte for a family's economical use.

It can be a sedan or a hatchback. The hatchback with the liftgate is offered only in the Forte5, a 1.6-liter turbocharged, 201-horsepower, four-cylinder car.

The three (LX, S, EX) compact front-wheel-drive sedan models have 2-liter, four-cylinder engines, and they have the trunk. One of those models, the S, was tested recently and the 14.9-cubic-foot trunk was almost the size of one found in a midsize sedan. It was lighted with a flat load floor and the lid opened by remote key fob or by a control in the cabin.

The trunk was not the highlight of the test weeks. Economy was the highlight as the S model averaged 34.1 miles per gallon using regular gasoline. This was with two adults aboard with minimal luggage. The driving was divided equally between interstate highways and suburban roadways. Two modes of driving (economical, sporty) were offered and sport was chosen. Even in the sporty mode, expect sprints from 0 to 60 miles per hour to take at least eight seconds.

A second highlight was price. The base Forte LX costs $16,600 and the 2-liter engine developing 147 horsepower is mated to a six-speed manual transmission. The S carries a manufacturer's suggested retail price of $19,300 and its engine, the same as the LX, is mated to a six-speed shiftable automatic. The Forte EX is priced at $21,300 and its tweaked 2-liter engine develops 164 horsepower.

Forte models include as standard equipment power windows with express up and down for driver and front seat passenger, power door locks and exterior mirrors. Steering wheels tilt and telescope manually. Air conditioning, Bluetooth, 60-40 split rear seat USB and iPod input jacks, compact disc player and 12-volt outlets also are standard. Other common elements are cruise control, automatic on-off LED headlights, variable intermittent wipers, floor mats, front map, courtesy lights and lighted vanity mirrors.

The S is sportier looking than the other models and amps up the Forte's dynamic demeanor by adding a sport-tuned suspension, 16-inch alloy wheels, LED daytime running lights, rear spoiler, and a chrome exhaust tip.

As for infotainment, both the S and EX trims come standard with UVO3 telematics, which is displayed on a seven-inch color touch screen and includes a suite of core smartphone functions via Android Auto and Apple CarPlay. Both platforms in-vehicle connectivity allows drivers to use the touchscreen for smartphone functions streaming music, looking up driving directions and sending text messages.

A strut suspension system in front and rear includes coil springs, shock absorbers and stabilizer bars. During the test week, there was no discomfort while driving on imperfect pavement in the suburbs. The interstate roadways flowed evenly. Outside noise intruded minimally into the cabin. Leg room is good in front, cramped in the rear. Also, the S has no pulldown armrest with pull-out cupholders in the rear seat, which should be included in a $19,300 price tag.

Safety highlights include an antilock braking system with brake assist, electronic stability control, hill-start assist, front airbags, front side airbags and curtains for the two rows, anchors and tethers for rear child seats and a tire pressure monitoring system.

Hill-start assist is appreciated. When idling on an incline at a stop light, for instance, the car will not roll back into the vehicle behind. It will hold position until there is acceleration forward.

Kia's Dynamic Bending Light technology used in the bigger Optima sibling is available on the Forte and uses steering wheel inputs to angle the light around corners and bends

Kia has one of the best warranties, in terms of length, in the automotive industry. It is 10 years or 100,000 miles on the powertrain and five years or 60,000 miles on the limited coverage including 24-hour roadside assistance.


Vehicle: S model of 2017 Kia Forte

Type: front-wheel-drive, four-door, five-passenger compact sedan

Price: $19,300

Engine: 2-liter, 147-horsepower four-cylinder

Transmission: six-speed shiftable automatic

Fuel tank: 13.2 gallons

Fuel: regular

Weight: 2,976 pounds

Wheelbase, length, width, height, ground clearance in inches: 106.3, 179.5, 70.1, 56.3, 5.3

Leg room: 42.2 inches front, 35.9 inches rear

Trunk: 14.9 cubic feet

Turning, curb-to-curb: 34.8 feet

Tires (205), wheels (alloy): 16-inch

Brakes: discs, 11-inch front, 10.3-inch rear

Warranty: five years or 60,000 miles with roadside assistance, 10 years or 100,000 miles powertrain

Assembly: Mexico

Information: www.kia.com/Forte

M.J. Frumkin and J.E. Kuyper

M. J. Frumkin and J. E. Kuyper covered the auto industry for decades. Frumkin was with Consumer Guide for 14 years, has authored four books and co-authored three more. He is also the historian/archivist for the Chicago Automobile Trade Association/Chicago Auto Show. Kuyper has been an automotive writer, editor and columnist for newspapers in the Chicago area the past 25 years. His reviews currently appear in the daily Northwest Herald newspaper. Frumkin and Kuyper are founding members of the Midwest Automotive Media Association.