While driving the Forte S I was thinking “if it cost less than $24K or so it’d be a good deal.” Slid in under the wire. There’s real value here.
The exterior is sharp –- and roomy — no matter the body style. The Forte comes as a sedan, coupe or five-door hatch. I’d likely go for the latter. The interior looks good too and the materials/fit and finish seem competitive at this price. I thought the steering wheel was the interior’s best part – it’s thick and grippy and would be at home in plenty of sports cars. The controls are well-designed and intuitive — nice knobs for the heat/vent and radio for example.
I’d describe the driving experience as pleasant with a mostly well-controlled body and decent-but-not-outstanding acceleration. Kia’s six-speed auto works well while the four isn’t as smooth as, say, Honda’s (especially under acceleration), but it’s not crazy loud or rough.
Overall I’d rank the Forte behind VW’s Golf and the Mazda 3 and probably the Honda Civic. If however someone told me they didn’t want one of those I’d tell ’em to check out the value-laden Kia.
–Wes Raynal, editor
Inside, LX and S trims get upgraded cloth materials for the seats, with the S trim featuring exclusive black cloth seats with white contrasting stitching, as well as a leather-wrapped steering wheel and shift knob.
The Forte S is neither underwhelming nor overwhelming — it’s just kind of dependably there, a sort of Korean Corolla. That’d be faint praise if the Corolla wasn’t a smash hit, as far as semi-snoozeworthy success stories go.
The reality is, just about anything I say is going to come off as faint praise here; it’s a tidy, un-fussy design inside and out, but it’s not a stunner by any stretch. I’ll overlook the 2.0-liter’s rasp in part because you won’t find a lot of great soundtracks at this end of the market. And while the S-trim is fairly middle-of-the-road as far as features go (many of the safety features here have been added with the cost-extra S Technology Package), the price reflects that fairly.
If there’s any area that could stand for fundamental improvement, I’d say it’s the ride: While generally acceptable, there are odd quirks. Clip a pothole or imperfection with one side of the car, for example, and you’ll experience a slight (but noticeable) side-to-side waggle in the tail rather than the expected up-and-down bounce. Would the average consumer notice? Eh…no. But would you?
Ultimately, it’s hard to complain too much when you realize you’re talking about a $21,540 car (one that starts at $17,340). That’s less expensive than the Civic, the Cruze, the Focus, the Corolla, the Mazda 3…although if you’re looking to eke out at least a little bit of fun behind the wheel, spend a little more and drive home in the Mazda.
–Graham Kozak, associate editor
At this year’s SEMA Show in Las Vegas, Honda officially made the 2.0-liter turbocharged I4 engine from its Civic Type R available in crate form. Getting 306 hp and 295 lb-ft of torque shipped to …
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