2017 Kia Forte S: Kiss a Kia

Susan Frissell

It’s hard to be first in this category, what with year-after-year winners such as Toyota Corolla. But Kia has a strong contender in the 2017 redesigned Forte 4-door sedan.
We had the pleasure of spending the week in the 2017 Kia Forte S, with its updated, sharp detailing and dramatic roofline. Although it may not necessarily stand out among the Corollas, Ford Focus, Subaru Impreza, Mazda3, or very distinctive Honda Civic, the Forte is a great little commuter.

Handsomer and with more detail, the 2017 Kia Forte is a well-equipped compact sedan. Complete with different body styles, Forte has revised its powertrains, driving personality and value features. More extroverted, this nimble runner is available in the entry-level LX, intermediate S model and top-of-the-line EX trim.

The Kia Forte is available in several versions, including the sedan, Forte Koup-or two-door coupe, and Forte5, a five-door hatchback. We love that the hatchback and ‘wagon’ versions from different manufacturers are making a comeback. Practical and comfortable, these versions are needed.

The Forte sedan may have the best design of all the choices. When last redesigned, the Forte gained some more width and length, but not height. However, this gives the sedan an elongated roofline and better looks in the sedan department. For 2017, the Forte gets a new front bumper, a “tiger nose” grille, that closely resembles the Optima sedan frontend, sitting somewhat lower and blending into the headlamps. The taillights have also been redesigned, with optional LED lights.

Really, all compact sedans today look very similar, Virtually every small sedan has adopted the same shape to reduce aerodynamic drag, and increase fuel-economy. God Bless any compact car going up against the likes of Honda, Toyota, and forever brands like Ford. It would be hard to overtake these year-after-year winners, but for a little less cash, consumers can opt for the Forte, and expect satisfaction in fuel economy, a pleasant driving experience and ease of operation. Dependability can also be added to the list.

The interior of the 2017 Forte is simple, with easy to understand and operate controls. It is sporty, clean and comfortable. One can expect all the infotainment goodies of today’s vehicles, gauges and a full set of features for the money. The base Forte LX includes keyless entry, air conditioning, power windows/locks, rearview camera, steering-wheel audio controls and Bluetooth.
In addition, new heated-leather-front seats are standard in the 2017 Forte EX, as well as dual-zone climate control, rear vents, and push-button start. The Forte’s interior is ‘simple,’ by comparison, and easy to manage. We just found this little compact to be effortless to drive, park and navigate. Even hitting speeds of 80 mph on the expressway felt breezy.

Which brings us to the Kia Forte’s powertrain, a choice of the 2.0-liter inline-4 and 2.0-liter iron-block, 4-cylinder (LX and S); the EX models come with a 2.0-liter 4, aluminum block and direct injection. Paired with each engine is Kia’s 6-speed automatic transmission, with available 6-speed manual transmission as standard on the base LX. Fuel economy has improved for 2017 (25/34), but not outstanding.

The 2.0-liter engine is smooth, even and responsive, and the Forte suspension easily manages most road surfaces. The sedan handles well, but don’t expect refinement. Remember, this is a compact car, not a large family sedan. For tall drivers, the Forte may feel a tad cramped. Seats are comfortable, but not necessarily form-fitting, and bolstering is inadequate.

To Kia’s credit, though, the Forte has come a long way. Materials, trim and details have improved significantly, making it competitive. Plastics are of a little higher grade, there is a handle center console and upholstery and trim have been upgraded. Stitching in the Forte S lends a sporty look.

New-active safety features have been added to the 2017 Kia Forte, and include autonomous emergency braking, rear cross traffic alert, front collision warning, lane change assist, and dynamic bending lights. Part of option packages on the EX, and possibly the S model is expected.

Our test Forte S model did not come with any pricing so pricing listed here is approximate: LX, $18,495, S, $20,195, EX, $22,195. Additionally installed equipment on our test car included the S Technology package: Supervision Meter Cluster 4.2-in. Color LCD, Push-button start with smart key, auto-up/down front windows, autonomous emergency braking, forward collision warning system, blind spot detection, lane departure warning system, lane keep assist system, rear cross traffic/alert, outside mirrors with LED turn signals (and auto folding upon locking car), front door handle pocket lights, fog lights, LED tall lights and smart trunk.


MSRP: $20,195
Engine: 2.0-liter Multi-Point Injection, 4-cylinder engine, 164 hp., 151 lb.ft. torque
Transmission: 6-speed automatic
Wheelbase: 106.3 in.
Height: 56.3 in.
Length: 179.5 in.
Width: 61.5 in.
Fuel Tank Capacity: 13.2 gal.
Fuel economy: 25/34 mpg.
Tires: P195/65HR15
Wheels: 15×6
Warranty: 10 yr./100-,000-mile limited powertrain; 5 yr./80,000-mile limited basic; 6 yr./80,000-mile roadside assistance.

Kia Forte S interior

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