After all, how could a compact sedan be comfortable enough for my six-foot, plus-size frame? How would my two daughters feel squeezed into the backseat? What would the ride be like for my co-pilot? Would she regret our decision to journey to Washington, D.C. to see the sites because of the car?
Let's check off the answers to those questions:
- Comfort? Simply amazing for me in the driver's seat. This rides like a much more expensive vehicle and simply soaked up the nuances of I-95 along the way.
- Backseat space? Nary a kicked driver's seat the entire journey and the young 'uns spread out their paraphernalia with plenty of room to draw and amuse themselves. The older daughter, not confined to a booster seat, loved the rear heated seats.
- The co-pilot? Loved all the technology the Kia Forte sedan had to offer and would strongly consider it as a possible replacement for her aging 2002 Dodge Neon. It’s the highest form of praise when we utter the words, "We could see ourselves buying this car."
Here are some of the reasons the Forte EX is more comfortable than the previous generation and probably why it's rated a best compact sedan. It rides on a chassis that is longer (by 1.2 inches), lower (0.6 inches) and wider (0.2 inches) than the previous Forte sedan.
As Kia points out, "With its 106.3-inch wheelbase, two inches longer than the outgoing model, the all-new Forte rides on a McPherson strut front suspension and a coupled torsion beam rear axle. On-center steering feel is improved utilizing larger bushings and revised front suspension geometry. Electric power steering has replaced the hydraulic system from the previous Forte."
Kia Forte Power and Fuel Economy
Most pleasing about the Kia Forte EX is its 173-horsepower (at 6,500 rpm) 2.0-liter inline four cylinder GDI engine that has 154 lb.-ft. of torque available at 4,700 rpm. Highway on-ramp acceleration was never a problem and the torque, while a tad low in my opinion, made for a civilized driving experience on city streets with no lurch off the line when accelerating from traffic lights (unless I needed to).
The Kia Forte EX provides some great fuel economy, too. On our trip south to D.C., when traffic was moving a little more slowly, I was able to get a combined 36.1 mpg, according to the onboard fuel computer. The trip back, when traffic was a little lighter and the Forte EX felt like running, our fuel economy was 33.9. In its defense, it was a colder, windier day, which could affect fuel economy. The EPA rates the Kia Forte EX at 24-mpg city and 36-mpg highway.
Two Trim Levels
The Kia Forte EX is the higher level of the two trims offered. The base LX comes nicely equipped with steering wheel mounted audio controls, SiriusXM Satellite Radio (subscription required eventuall), Bluetooth wireless technology, power windows, air conditioning and power heated outside mirrors among the many features that make the Forte stand out. The optional Popular Package adds 16-inch alloy wheels, cruise control, keyless entry with remote trunk release and a sliding front armrest.
Stepping up to the EX trim broadens Forte’s appeal with additional comfort and convenience features, including some of the popular package options from the LX. Kia’s next-generation UVO in-vehicle infotainment system with eServices is standard and can now be integrated with an optional navigation system. Additional standard EX features include the remote keyless entry with trunk opener, rear camera back-up display, a sliding center armrest and a cooling glove box.
The new optional Flex Steer system allows the driver to choose between three distinct steering profiles: Comfort, Normal and Sport. Frankly, unless you live in an area of twisty roads, you're going to keep it in the comfort setting 99% of the time.
Features found in the optional Premium Package include heated front and rear seats, a 10-way power adjustable driver’s seat with class-exclusive air-cooled ventilation, leather seat trim, power sunroof, 17-inch alloy wheels and push button start with Smart Key and a heated steering wheel. Opting for the Technology Package garners HID headlights, LED tail lights, a 4.2-inch color LCD cluster screen and dual-zone automatic temperature control with rear seat ventilation.
Kia Forte MSRP
The base Kia Forte EX, which comes nicely equipped, starts at $19,400. Stock it full of options and you're looking at $24,300 before the $800 delivery charge. It's a lot of car for not a lot of money.
KIA FORTE EX VITAL STATISTICS
- Wheelbase: 106.3 inches
- Length: 179.5 inches
- Width: 70.1 inches
- Height: 56.5 inches
- Curb weight: 2857 lbs.
- Engine: 2.0-liter, inline four cylinder GDI engine
- Horsepower: 173-horsepower at 6,500 rpm
- Torque: 154 lb.-ft. of torque at 4,700 rpm
- EPA estimated mpg city/highway: 24/36
- Base price: $19,400
- As-tested price: $24,300
- Also consider: (a comparative vehicle) Ford Fusion, Hyundai Elantra, Mazda3