$11,343 - $18,440

2017 Kia Forte Performance Review

Note: This performance review was created when the 2017 Kia Forte was new.

Scorecard

Performance: 7.5

The Forte's base engine offers adequate power for the average driver. Its available engine is a little peppier, but still isn't among the most powerful optional engines in the class. Fuel economy is on par with most compact cars, but some still use a bit less fuel. While the Kia feels relatively stable and controlled on the road, it isn't quite as nimble or comfortable to drive as some competitors.

  • Overall, the 2017 Forte continues to lack the firm resolve of a Ford Focus or a Mazda 3. There's somewhat more body motion that you might expect from a sportier small car, yet at the same time choppy pavement can ring in loudly—and we remain to be convinced that the Forte serves up any more comfort in return. It's perfectly adequate, but it's not terribly special." -- The Car Connection
  • Let's just get this out of the way first: Despite the available 201-horsepower engine available in the Forte5 and Forte Koup, this subcompact doesn't have the sporty chops to back up its looks. Enthusiasts should check out the Mazda3, Honda Civic SI, or Volkswagen Jetta or GTI for their fix. However, for the other 99 percent of drivers who just want a comfortable, feature-filled and sporty-looking sedan, coupe or hatchback, the Forte lineup is a solid choice. Around town and on the highway, the Forte sedan, coupe and hatchback are all excellent choices." -- Kelley Blue Book

Acceleration and Power

The 2017 Kia Forte sedan comes standard with a new 147-horsepower 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine. A larger 2.0-liter four-cylinder that puts out 164 horsepower is available. The Forte5 hatchback is available with a 201-horsepower, turbocharged 1.6-liter four-cylinder engine. The Forte comes standard with a six-speed manual transmission, and a six-speed automatic is optional. The EPA estimates that the base engine with manual transmission earns 26 mpg in the city and 37 mpg on the highway. These figures are bettered by the Forte’s optional automatic transmission, which gets 29 mpg in the city and 38 mpg on the highway when paired with the base engine. Those estimates are about average for the class and an improvement over those for last year's now discontinued engine.

For the average buyer's daily commute, the Forte's base engine will provide decent power. The larger engine is slightly better tuned and has a higher horsepower rating, but it still doesn’t offer the liveliest acceleration in the class.

  • The new base engine for the Forte and Forte5 is a 2.0-liter 4-cylinder with 147 horsepower and 132 lb-ft of torque. Those numbers are essentially the same as last year's smaller engine, but this engine gets notably better city fuel economy. It's standard in the LX and S models of the Forte sedan. The other 2.0-liter engine is a direct-injection 4-cylinder that puts out a more robust 164 horsepower, which is slightly down from last year." -- Kelley Blue Book
  • The second engine option is a direct-injected 164-hp 2.0-liter 4-cylinder, rated at 151 lb-ft of torque. The larger engine offers more relaxed tuning, but neither is among the quickest or most powerful for compact sedans." -- The Car Connection
  • Based on our experience with the 2017 Hyundai Elantra that uses the same 2.0-liter engine as the base Forte, we're not expecting quick acceleration from the base Forte sedan. The new engine is fuel-efficient, however, at least with the automatic transmission, and should feel adequate in terms of power delivery to most drivers." -- Edmunds

Handling and Braking

The 2017 Kia Forte has a fairly compliant ride and feels stable when you turn a corner. However, its performance is dull compared to sporty rivals like the Mazda3 and Ford Focus, which both offer a more engaging ride. The Forte's ride can also be a bit harsh.

The Forte comes standard with an adjustable steering system with Standard, Sport, and Comfort modes.

  • It also handles reasonably well, though it's hardly a match for sporty rivals like the Mazda 3 or Ford Focus. The suspension tunes out some pavement coarseness, but irregularities still ring into the cabin, and there's more of a din at highway speeds than is now typical for this class." -- The Car Connection
  • Most shoppers in this segment will likely be satisfied with the Forte's overall ride quality, but the Forte's suspension is occasionally a bit firm and unrefined. Rougher roads produce a somewhat busy ride; in comparison, rivals such as the Focus and Mazda 3 feel relatively cushy over broken pavement. The Forte feels steady on winding roads, but it's not particularly engaging." -- Edmunds
  • "Ride and handling won't lead the class, but true to this Forte's form they are good enough to seem like a good deal for 20 grand. Cornering lean was commendably controlled in the test car, and it was as easily maneuverable cutting through traffic as it was fitting into parking spaces between other cars." -- Consumer Guide

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