2018 Forte New Car Test Drive
The Kia Forte offers a full family of compact cars, with three distinct body styles and two engines. The Forte was last redesigned for the 2014 model year.
The 2017 Kia Forte sedan models feature freshened styling, and a new Forte S trim level has joined the lineup. The 2017 Kia Forte S is a modestly sportier sedan that this year fits between the entry-level Forte LX and top-end Forte EX trim levels. The 2017 Forte sedan has a redesigned front bumper cover and a new tiger nose grille lower and blending into the headlights. Taillights have been reworked, with LEDs optional. Upholstery is upgraded for 2017, also.
Two-door Forte Koup and five-door Forte hatchbacks retain the previous platform and look, though a redone hatchback should be coming soon.
Beneath LX and S sedan hoods, a 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine, developing 147 horsepower and 132 pound-foot of torque, has edged aside the prior 1.8-liter four. EX versions get an aluminum-block 2.0-liter with direct injection, producing 164 horsepower and 151 pound-feet. A 6-speed manual gearbox is standard with LX trim. Most Fortes come with the 6-speed automatic transmission, which is optional for LX and standard otherwise.
The current design has been around for several years, but it's still a handsome vehicle, sharply detailed and topped by a dramatic roofline. Standard equipment has increased, making the Forte an even greater value. Cabin trim and materials have moved well ahead of early models.
Forte S and EX models come with a 7-inch touchscreen, as part of a new UVO3 system with Android Auto and Apple CarPlay functionality, to access smartphone functions.
Kia now offers some active-safety features as options, but a rearview camera is standard only on S and EX trim levels. Safety ratings score no better than average in crash-testing. Finally, Forte has earned an overall five-star score from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. Structural revisions for 2015 raised the previous crash-test score from a miserable three stars to an acceptable four-star rating. The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety now ranks the Forte sedan Good, due to raising its small-overlap test score from Poor to Marginal.
Newly available safety features include autonomous emergency braking, blind-spot monitoring, rear cross-traffic alert, frontal collision warning, lane change assist, and dynamic bending lights. For the LX model, a rearview camera is part of an option group. All-disc brakes are standard.
Forte LX ($16,490) comes with the 147-horsepower engine and manual gearbox or automatic ($1,010). Standard equipment includes cloth upholstery, keyless entry, air conditioning, power windows/locks, power mirrors, satellite radio, Bluetooth, and steering-wheel audio controls. The Popular Package for LX includes 16-inch wheels, keyless entry, and cruise control.
Forte S ($19,200) comes with automatic and a sport-tuned suspension. Included are 16-inch alloy wheels, a rear spoiler, LED positioning lights, and a rearview camera. Special black cloth seats feature contrast stitching.
Forte EX ($21,200) gets the 164-horsepower engine and automatic, leather upholstery, heated front seats, ventilated driver's seat, cooled glovebox, dual-zone automatic temperature control, pushbutton start. The EX Premium Package adds leather upholstery, a power ventilated driver's seat, heated front/rear seats, a sunroof, pushbutton start, 17-inch wheels, and navigation.
Options include UVO infotainment system, true on-board navigation, and LED taillights.