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Actual rating will vary with options, driving conditions, habits and vehicle condition.
The standard features of the Kia Forte LX include 1.8L I-4 145hp engine, 6-speed manual transmission with overdrive, 4-wheel anti-lock brakes (ABS), side seat mounted airbags, curtain 1st and 2nd row overhead airbags, airbag occupancy sensor, air conditioning, 15" steel wheels, ABS and driveline traction control, electronic stability, power mirrors.
Starting at: $15,990
*Termination fee for all states except CO, IN, IA, KS, ME, OK, SC, WI, WV & WY. WI termination fee: The amount of the base monthly lease payment or $400, whichever is less. CO, IA, KS, ME, OK, WV & WY termination fee: The amount of two times the base monthly lease payment or $400, whichever is less. IN & SC termination fee: The amount of three times the base monthly lease payment or $400, whichever is less. Not all incentive programs are compatible. Additional terms and conditions apply. All matters of program eligibility and qualification will be resolved by Kia Motors America, Inc. ("KMA") in its sole discretion, and KMA reserves the right to change product and program specifications at any time without incurring any obligations. Cannot exceed 12000 miles per year.
The Kia Forte’s appearance hints at sportiness but actual performance is average. Although the powertrain can be sufficiently spirited, gas mileage is generally good, and handling is acceptable.
No one would call the Forte quick, but both engines perform decently enough. The direct-injected 2.0-liter provides better fuel economy in urban, traffic-heavy driving, and seems better matched to the 6-speed automatic transmission.
You should expect a ride that’s firmer, even occasionally harsh, compared to some sportier compacts, such as the Ford Focus or Mazda 3. The suspension is reasonably good at absorbing choppy pavement roughness, yet surface flaws don’t go unnoticed. An EX feels firm during light maneuvers, yet permits excessive body motion at other times.
Some models offer selectable steering boost with three modes. Power steering is similar to the one used by the Hyundai Elantra GT, with sport, normal, and comfort assist levels. Responsiveness does not change, but picking a different mode does add a bit of heft to the steering. Normal and comfort feel more appropriate, but the sport setting can help the Forte remain reliably on course in highway driving.
Without question, exterior styling is the Forte’s strongest merit, helping to broaden its appeal to a wide audience. In fact, we consider Forte to be almost ideally proportioned, ranking among the most attractive models in its class.
With its surprisingly swoopy shape, below a gracefully arced roofline, the Forte manages to look both contemporary and rather sporty. In fact, the rake angle of the sedan’s front end almost suggests that of a sports car. Few competitors could make such a claim. The rear end narrows, but the trunk lid is cut wide to permit easier loading of luggage into the sizable space, which totals 14.9 cubic feet.
A clean, simple layout helps give the cockpit an appearance that approaches upscale, with a sporty component. A split design keeps the console from acquiring a bulky appearance. Sensibly large climate-control knobs are round and sturdy, and finishes within the cabin are pleasing to the eye.
Headroom is snug in both front and back; more so with a sunroof, which is available for the EX sedan. A power driver’s seat with ventilation, available for EX, may be tempting. But we’d be more impressed if those seat cushions held additional bolstering, to provide more support and yield greater long-distance support. Visibility isn’t the best, due largely to the Forte’s shapely body.
The rear doors are shaped to open wide, yet entry/exit for the back seat is impaired by the low, curvaceous roofline. That roof profile also shrinks useful headroom.
The rear seats fold almost flat for cargo space. Cubby storage space is sufficient, including a bin beneath a sliding screen, ahead of the gearshift lever. Both the glovebox and the console bin are adequate in size.
Kia has a long-held reputation for value, and the 2016 Forte continues that tradition, being well-equipped for the price. We prefer the larger, direct-injected engine, because it provides a more relaxed road experience with greater performance confidence. Each engine revs freely, with little vibration; but noise can be an issue at times. Forte fails to lead its class in any category but styling. A redesigned Forte is expected soon.
Driving impressions by Bengt Halvorson, The Car Connection. James M. Flammang contributed to this report.
The 2016 Kia Forte sedan comes in two trim levels, LX and EX, each with a different engine.
Forte LX comes with a 1.8-liter engine and manual ($15,990) or automatic transmission ($17,700), air conditioning; keyless entry; a rearview camera display; power windows, door locks, and mirrors; satellite radio; Bluetooth hands-free calling; steering-wheel audio controls; all-disc brakes; and a new audio system.
Forte EX ($19,990) gets the 2.0-liter engine and automatic transmission, a cooled glovebox, and rearview camera system. An optional UVO infotainment system can connect to Google Maps using a smartphone. Additional options include a true navigation system, ventilated driver’s seat, leather upholstery, garage-door opener, and pushbutton start.
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