Entry Price: $16,600
Price as Tested: $26,685
This week, we’re driving the re-designed 2017 Kia Forte, which starts at just $16,600 for the six-speed manual LX and then rises up to our tester’s entry of $21,300 for the upper-class EX. A mid-line and well equipped S model starts at $19,300 making Kia one of the most affordable compact cars on the road today.
Now in its second-generation, Kia Forte has grown to near mid-size dimensions since its debut as a compact in 2008. Back then, it rode on a 104.3-inch wheelbase while today, Elantra moves smoothly on a near 2-inch longer wheelbase.
Kia Forte is one of the most popular consumer choices based on affordability, safety items, owner reliability and return on investment (ROI). Add the 10-year/100,000 mile powertrain warranty in combo with its extensive standard feature list and few cars on the road (other than corporate relative Hyundai) can sway prospective consumers like Kia does in side-by-side comparisons. Notable are the plentiful standard features and notable high tech safety options included on our EX.
Two engines power the 2017 Forte models and both are 2.0-liter four cylinder designs. The entry LX and mid-line S utilize the 2.0 Atkinson cycle engine that is the same internal combustion engine used in numerous Hybrid applications. This Atkinson engine produces 147 horses and 132 lb. ft. of torque, but moves the Forte with surprising pep. I’ve driven one in the past, and the acceleration is better than expected while delivering 29 city and 38 highway EPA fuel mileage numbers when coupled to the Forte’s six-speed Sportmatic automatic.
The second engine powers our tester and is standard on all EX models. This 2.0 GDI (gasoline direct injection) engine generates 164 horsepower and 149 lb. ft of torque. It delivers better acceleration and still decent fuel mileage numbers of 25 city and 33 highway with the automatic. (Manual transmission only available on the entry LX).
Standard EX features are many, including safety items like advanced stability and traction control, hill start assist, rear-view safety camera with guidelines, four-wheel ABS disc brakes, push button start and an airbag assembly that cloaks the driver and passenger in a cocoon of security.
New for 2017 is a complete facelift and rear design upgrade as an improved headlight and taillight assembly highlight a silky-smooth, aerodynamic imprint. Add the above mentioned safety items and amenity-loaded interior, and you’ve got a car that is capable of attracting many new consumers.
Our EX included a Premium Plus option for $4,490 that bolsters the safety factor up several notches. Included are Supervision Meter Cluster, 7-inch Voice Command Navigation with Sirius/XM, Android/Apple stereo system, blind spot detection, rear cross traffic alert, ventilated front seats, power driver seat memory, auto dim rear view mirror, power sunroof, Xenon headlamps and the desirable automatic emergency braking with pedestrian detection.
On the highway both EX and S models feature a standard “Drive Mode Select,” which is optional on the entry LX automatic. The Normal, Eco or Sport Drive modes all impact throttle response, shift points and steering input all at the touch of a button. I personally enjoy Sport mode for a performance oriented ride although if you choose Eco, you just might better the EPA mileage ratings, especially the city number. Overall, and regardless of drive mode, every LE and S offer a comfortable ride for all passengers while everything improves if you order the top line EX. It’s your choice.
As for the cabin, Kia has worked hard to present an inviting driver and passenger experience, and they’ve accomplished that feat with the second generation Kia. The near 2-inch longer wheelbase makes everything inside “all the better,” from rear seat legroom to better cargo accommodations.
Underneath, and to allow better handling characteristics in tighter turns, Forte relies on the industry standard coil over MacPherson front struts and rear coupled torsion beam setups. Overall, Kia Forte EX delivers good handling when united with its 17-inch tires on lightweight alloy wheels.
Standard fare includes dual zone air, all the powers, UVO infotainment system, USB/MP3, Bluetooth, leather seating, smart key, power trunk, fog lights, and much more. Your dealer will gladly explain everything in more detail and also explain current dealer incentives and discounts. Our tester’s final tally came in at a retail of $26,685 with $895 delivery included.
Important numbers include a wheelbase of 106.3 inches, 3,029 lb. curb weight, 34.8 ft. turn circle, 14.9 cu. ft. of cargo space, and a 13.2 gallon fuel tank.
In summary, the second generation 2017 Forte is on sale now at your area dealer. Few competitors can match the ROI, so when it comes to spending your hard earned cash, Kia Forte is a better value than ever before.
Likes: Enhanced design, price, interior, fuel economy.
Dislikes: Top line safety equipment not available on entry LX.
— Greg Zyla writes weekly for More Content Now and other GateHouse Media publications. He welcomes reader questions at email@example.com.
Test Drive: 2017 Kia Forte
Entry Price: $16,600