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
Engine: 2-liter, 147-horsepower four-cylinder
Transmission: six-speed shiftable automatic
Fuel tank: 13.2 gallons
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