2017 Kia Forte worthy compact option beyond Honda, Toyota

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The 2017 Kia Forte is the 10th year of the South Korean compact. It’s among the best of several cars in different segments trying to find a market against some of the country’s long-standing, best-selling vehicles.

Matched against the Honda Civic, Toyota Corolla, Ford Focus, Volkswagen Jetta, Hyundai Elantra, Mazda3 and others, the Forte remains unheralded. It’s in the sixth year of its second generation, but for 2017 has a restyled exterior, including more modern crafted headlights and taillights.

The 2017 Kia Forte is strong compact sedan beyond Honda, Toyota.
The 2017 Kia Forte is strong compact sedan beyond Honda, Toyota.

Available as a sedan in LX, S and EX trim levels, the Kia Forte also has a hatchback variant, the Forte5, in LX, EX and SX trims. The two-door Forte Koup was discontinued after the 2016 model.

For my test vehicle, the EX trim, Kia complements a lengthy standard equipment list from the lower-level trims. Gone are the sport-oriented features, replaced by a powerful 2.0-liter, 147-horsepower engine. Acceleration from 0-60 miles per hour takes 8.5 seconds.

Fuel efficiency is adequate, 25 miles per gallon in city driving, 32 miles per gallon on the highway and a combined 28 miles per gallon with Kia’s standard six-speed automatic transmission.

The EX trim’s equipment offering is one of several major areas in which the Forte makes a strong case for consideration against the compact monoliths. Standard features include: Leather upholstery, heated front seats, LED taillights, keyless entry and ignition, ambient interior lighting and dual-zone automatic temperature control with rear vents. And there are foglights, 17-inch alloy wheels, LED turn signal indicators on the mirror housings and puddle lamps underneath.

The base price of $21,200 is attractive, but the Premium Plus Package option ($4,490) is a worthy consideration. It features a sunroof, power driver seat, adaptive xenon headlights, a navigation system, cooled front seats and driver memory settings.

Kia also has an impressive focus on safety. The Forte includes automatic emergency braking, a lane departure warning and prevention system and blind-spot monitoring.

Beyond its healthy equipment list, the Forte’s interior matches segment leaders. The cabin is made with quality material, notably in the more expensive trim. Instrumentation is intuitive, particularly the seven-inch navigation screen.

Lack of interior room used to be a universal rap against compact cars. It’s no longer accurate in many brand’s offerings, including the Forte. The trunk capacity is 14.9 cubic feet.

Driving the Kia Forte is surprising. It has precise steering and the automatic transmission moves through gears seamlessly. For its compact sedan segment, the Kia has above average leg and headroom, but the back seat isn’t comfortable for larger adults, particularly on long hauls. It’s also a quiet ride, with little wind rush and a smooth voyage over road imperfections.

Two small features add to the Forte’s value: the smart entry opens the driver’s door automatically when the key fob is near the car. The side mirrors automatically retract when the car is locked and open when the fob is nearby.

Despite its qualities, the Forte still may not persuade potential buyers away from the compact segment favorites. One final consideration could be convincing. Kia offers the industry-best warranty. The Bumper-to-bumper parameters are 5 years and 60,000 miles; the powertrain is 10 years, 100,000 miles; and the roadside assistance warranty is 5 years/60,000 miles.


Quiet ride.
Overall comfort.
Good trunk space


Expensive options package

Facts & Figures: 2017 Kia Forte

Acceleration: 0-60 mph, 8.5 seconds.
Airbags (6): Dual front, front side and side curtain.
Fuel economy: 25 mpg (city), 32 mpg (highway), 28 mpg (combined), six-speed automatic transmission.
Horsepower: 147.
Manufacturer’s Suggested Retail Price: $21,200.00.
Manufacturer’s Website: kia.com.
Price As tested: $26,540.00
Warranty: Bumper-to-bumper, 5 years/60,000 miles; Powertrain, 10 years/100,000 miles; Roadside Assistance, 5 years/60,000 miles.

What Others Say:

“The 2017 Kia Forte is an attractive choice. It has one of the more upscale and attractive cabins in the class, and it’s made with high-quality materials. This car is far from compact inside. It has comfortable and spacious front and back seats and one of the largest trunks in the class in both sedan and hatchback body styles.” — U.S. News & World Report.

The Weekly Driver’s Final Words:

“Overall the 2017 Kia Forte is handsome with clean, straightforward, stylish lines. It’s economical and has more than its share of functionality and technology features. The one potential sticking point is the expensive optional package. But it’s a worthwhile purchase that further defines the Forte as a strong competitor against its distinguished adversaries.”

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