Mid-pack performance in a competitive segment
We Like: Its refreshing updated exterior and good value.
We Don’t Like: The drab interior, lackluster acceleration, and overly firm ride.
Replacing the previous 1.8-liter engine with the EX’s 164-hp 2.0-liter I-4 and six-speed automatic helps the Forte run to 60 mph in 8.4 seconds while earning up to 33 mpg on the highway, a measured improvement. Unfortunately, the 2017 Hyundai Elantra Eco’s 128-hp 1.4-liter turbo I-4 is paired to one of the segment’s best transmissions, a seven-speed dual-clutch auto that sprints an 8.0-second 0–60 time and gets up to 40 miles on a gallon of gasoline. “The Kia boys must be getting a bit tired of their big brother,” Chris Theodore said. “They are always served second when a new platform [or driveline] comes out.”
Small-car safety is important. And the 2016 Forte only received a Marginal score for small-overlap crash test—thus missing a coveted top rating. Kia hopes the redesigned 2017 edition will ace the IIHS tests by improving its crash results and garnering Top Safety Pick+ points for crash avoidance and mitigation with forward collision warning and autonomous emergency braking, lane departure warning, blind-spot detection, and rear cross-traffic alerts.
Other highlights of the EX model’s Premium Plus package include curve-following HID headlights, ventilated front seats, voice-command navigation with real-time traffic, and a 7.0-inch color touchscreen.
The Forte is a solid, well-behaved, value-priced commodity car, but it’s nothing special. Playing catch-up doesn’t get you into the finalist circle.
2017 Motor Trend Car of the Year Contenders
- Buick LaCrosse
- Chevrolet Cruze
- Chevrolet Volt
- Fiat 124 Spider
- Ford Focus RS
- Honda Accord
- Hyundai Elantra
- Kia Cadenza
- Mercedes-Benz C300 Coupe 4Matic
- Mercedes-Benz E300
- Mini Clubman
- Toyota Prius Two Eco
|2017 Kia Forte EX|
|PRICE AS TESTED||$26,540|
|VEHICLE LAYOUT||Front-engine, FWD, 5-pass, 4-door sedan|
|ENGINE||2.0L/164-hp/151-lb-ft DOHC 16-valve I-4|
|CURB WEIGHT (F/R DIST)||2,988 lb (62/38%)|
|LENGTH x WIDTH x HEIGHT||179.5 x 70.1 x 56.3 in|
|0-60 MPH||8.4 sec|
|QUARTER MILE||16.5 sec @ 85.8 mph|
|BRAKING, 60-0 MPH||127 ft|
|LATERAL ACCELERATION||0.81 g (avg)|
|MT FIGURE EIGHT||27.5 sec @ 0.61 g (avg)|
|REAL MPG, CITY/HWY/COMB||21.3/37.5/26.4 mpg|
|EPA CITY/HWY/COMB FUEL ECON||25/33/28 mpg|
|ENERGY CONS, CITY/HWY||135/102 kW-hrs/100 miles|
|CO2 EMISSIONS, COMB||0.69 lb/mile|