2017 Kia Forte Review
2017 Kia Forte Review
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Edmunds' Expert Review
Director of Content Strategy
Josh Sadlier has worked in the automotive industry since 2008. He has written or edited thousands of expert car reviews and road-tested hundreds of vehicles over the course of his career. Josh is director of content strategy at Edmunds and has also contributed to Autotrader and Automobile. Under his stewardship, Edmunds' own 1989 Yugo GVL won first place at the Concours d'Lemons, taking home a jar of borscht, a can of beets, a cutting board and a pint of VIP vodka.
- Feels roomy inside for a small car
- Many desirable standard and optional features
- Easy-to-use controls and simple touchscreen interface
- Warranty coverage is better than most in the segment
- EX sedan returns lackluster fuel economy
- Ride quality can be overly firm at times
The 2017 Kia Forte receives mildly updated front-end styling with available adaptive xenon headlights, plus new taillights (with available LED lighting). There's a new S sedan trim level with sporty accents and a firmer suspension, and the sedan's base engine is now a 2.0-liter four-cylinder that is rated to deliver slightly better overall fuel economy than the discontinued 1.8-liter unit. The EX receives some formerly optional luxuries as standard, while newly available features include Apple CarPlay/Android Auto integration and a suite of advanced safety technologies. For the Forte5 SX hatchback, Kia offers a seven-speed, dual-clutch automatic transmission instead of last year's more traditional automatic. Finally, the two-door Forte Koup has been discontinued.
The perennial small-car sales leaders have never faced stiffer competition, and the 2017 Kia Forte is the latest shot over the bow. Although it falls short of a full redesign, the 2017 Forte offers freshened styling, a new standard engine for the sedan, a sport-themed S sedan trim level, Apple CarPlay/Android Auto connectivity, and optional safety technologies such as automatic emergency braking that are still rare in this class. With fuel economy as high as 38 mpg highway and just about every available feature one could ask for in this price range, the 2017 Forte makes a strong case for itself against its more established foes.
Calculate my fuel costs
Cost to DriveCost to drive estimates for the 2017 Kia Forte LX 4dr Sedan (2.0L 4cyl 6M) and comparison vehicles are based on 15,000 miles per year (with a mix of 55% city and 45% highway driving) and energy estimates of $3.12 per gallon for regular unleaded in Virginia.
Monthly estimates based on costs in Virginia
$134/mo for Forte LX
Avg. Compact Car
The sedan's base 2.0-liter engine is perhaps the biggest news, as it's not often that a car swaps out its primary powerplant in the middle of its production cycle. Although it's slightly larger, the new 2.0-liter is more efficient than the smaller engine it replaces. Paired with the revised six-speed automatic transmission, the new engine increases combined fuel economy to 32 mpg (up one from 31 mpg), but the city rating gets a big boost from 26 mpg to 29 mpg. Notably, the top-of-the-line EX trim level gets a different, carryover 2.0-liter engine that makes a bit more power (though less than last year) but gives up an eye-opening 4 mpg in combined driving.
If you're shopping for a small car like the Forte, you probably already have two names in mind: Civic and Corolla. In terms of resale value, you can't beat 'em, and the current Civic also happens to be an unusually rewarding car to drive, especially with the optional turbocharged engine. The Corolla doesn't fare nearly as well on the merits, however, and the Forte undoubtedly offers more bang for the buck than both. We also recommend the sharp-handling Mazda 3 and Ford Focus, but their backseat space pales by comparison.
Every 2017 Kia Forte comes standard with antilock disc brakes, traction and stability control, front side airbags and side curtain airbags. A rearview camera is optional on the LX and standard on the other trims. The optional Uvo eServices telematics bundle includes roadside assistance, emergency crash notification and secondary driver (i.e., teenage) monitoring features that include notifications when curfew, vehicle speed and vehicle location limits are exceeded.
As noted above, the sedan offers automatic emergency braking, lane departure warning and prevention, and blind-spot monitoring, although the Forte5 only offers the latter. Kia doesn't offer these features on the Koup.
In Edmunds brake testing, a Forte EX sedan came to a stop from 60 mph in 120 feet, while a Forte5 SX turned in a 114-foot effort. Both results are slightly shorter than average for this segment.
Government crash tests of the 2017 Forte sedan saw it earn a five-star rating (out of five), with four stars for overall front-impact protection and five stars for overall side-impact protection.
Edmunds' Expert Rating
Compact cars aren't usually known for offering the latest and greatest technology and features, but that's not the case with the 2017 Kia Forte. It has plenty to offer along with a very reasonable price that makes it worth considering if you're in the market for a small sedan or hatchback.
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. The Forte5's available turbocharged 1.6-liter engine is the logical choice for those who want extra zest, as it transforms the Kia into a genuinely speedy little car. The EX sedan's 2.0-liter engine is caught in the middle, providing no more power than the standard engines in many rival sedans yet sucking down fuel at a relatively prodigious rate.
The six-speed automatic transmission provides smooth shifts, and it's surprisingly responsive during typical passing and merging situations. The slick-shifting six-speed manual in the Forte5 SX is pleasant to operate and makes the most of the turbocharged engine's power.
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 is steady on winding roads, but it's not particularly engaging.
The 2017 Kia Forte is much more than just an economy car stuffed with gadgets. Boasting a handsome cabin furnished with quality materials, especially in the higher trim levels, the Forte gives other top compacts a run for their money. In addition, the Forte's high-tech features are well-designed and easy to use. The 7-inch touchscreen interface — with large, logically positioned virtual buttons — is one of the better examples of this technology.
Seat comfort front and rear in the sedan and Forte5 is very good, and even 6-foot adults should be comfortable sitting in back. The Forte sedan offers very generous cargo capacity, with a trunk capacity of 14.9 cubic feet, while the Forte5 hatchback boasts 23.2 cubic feet with the rear seat up and plenty more with the seatbacks folded down.
2017 Kia Forte models
The 2017 Kia Forte is available as a sedan in LX, S and EX trim levels, while the hatchback Forte5 model is offered in LX, EX and SX trims. The two-door Forte Koup has been discontinued for 2017.
Standard features on the LX sedan include 15-inch steel wheels, heated mirrors, air-conditioning, full power accessories, a trip computer, a tilt-and-telescoping steering wheel, a height-adjustable driver seat, a 60/40-split folding rear seat, Bluetooth, and a four-speaker sound system with a CD player, satellite radio, USB connectivity and an auxiliary audio jack.
Optional for the LX (but only with the automatic transmission) is the Popular package, which includes automatic headlights, cruise control, upgraded interior upholstery and trim, a sliding front armrest, a rear-seat armrest, a rearview camera, a 4.3-inch touchscreen and six speakers.
The S sedan starts with most of those items and upgrades to a sport-tuned suspension, 16-inch alloy wheels, LED running lights, a rear spoiler, a chrome exhaust outlet, adjustable drive modes (including steering effort), unique black cloth upholstery with white contrast stitching, a leather-wrapped steering wheel and shift knob, and a 7-inch touchscreen with Apple CarPlay/Android Auto (late availability) and Kia's Uvo eServices telematics.
The S sedan's Technology package adds foglights, LED taillights and keyless entry and ignition plus a few safety technologies (lane departure warning and prevention, blind-spot monitoring and automatic emergency braking). There's also a Premium package that builds on the Technology package with a sunroof, heated front seats, a power driver seat, driver memory settings, a sliding front armrest and a navigation system with voice controls.
The EX sedan drops the sport-themed extras but adds the more powerful 2.0-liter engine, foglights, 17-inch alloy wheels, LED turn signal indicators on the mirror housings (and puddle lamps underneath), LED taillights, keyless entry and ignition, ambient interior lighting, leather upholstery, heated front seats and dual-zone automatic temperature control with rear vents.
For the EX, there's an optional Premium Plus package that adds a sunroof, power driver seat and the extra safety technologies plus adaptive xenon headlights, a navigation system, cooled front seats and driver memory settings.
From a features standpoint, the Forte5 LX and Forte5 EX largely mirror the LX and S sedan, with minor differences such as standard 16-inch steel wheels for the Forte5 LX and standard leather upholstery for the Forte5 EX, which gets 17-inch alloy wheels but lacks the S sedan's sport-tuned suspension (standard on the Forte5 SX) and other specific sport-themed flourishes. The Forte5 SX adds a turbocharged engine, 18-inch wheels, dual exhaust tips and unique front and rear styling, plus an Orange Color package (new for 2017) with orange leather seat inserts and contrast stitching. Forte5 options also largely mirror those of the sedan, although a couple of the sedan's advanced safety features (automatic emergency braking and lane departure warning and prevention) are not currently offered.
The SX trim ratchets up the sport quotient with a sport-tuned suspension, 18-inch wheels, larger front brakes and LED taillights. An auto-dimming rearview mirror and Uvo eServices are also standard.
Options for both trims include a sunroof, keyless ignition, dual-zone automatic air-conditioning, power-adjustable heated and ventilated front seats, leather upholstery, an auto-dimming rearview mirror, HD radio and a navigation system.
The Forte LX and S sedans are powered by a 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine rated at 147 horsepower and 132 pound-feet of torque. Power runs to the front wheels through a six-speed manual transmission (LX only) or a six-speed automatic. EPA fuel economy estimates are 32 mpg combined (29 city/38 highway) with the automatic and a rather disappointing 28 mpg combined (25 city/34 highway) with the manual.
The EX sedan gets a 2.0-liter four-cylinder generating 164 hp and 151 lb-ft of torque (or 160 and 149, respectively, in SULEV specification). This engine comes only with the six-speed automatic and returns an EPA-rated 28 mpg combined (25 city/33 highway), which is decidedly unimpressive given the relatively modest power output.The Forte5 LX and EX share this same powertrain, and the power and fuel economy are nearly identical. The hatchback in this configuration returns 1 mpg better (34) on the highway.
The SX version of the Forte5 has a turbocharged 1.6-liter four-cylinder rated at 201 hp and 195 lb-ft of torque, paired with either a six-speed manual or a seven-speed dual-clutch automatic transmission. Fuel economy on manual-equipped models is 26 mpg combined (23 city/30 highway) while the seven-speed dual-clutch models return 27 mpg combined (25 city/32 highway).
4.1 out of 5 stars
Most helpful consumer reviews
4 out of 5 stars
My second Forte
Forte Pro, 11/15/2016
2017 Kia Forte LX 4dr Sedan (2.0L 4cyl 6M)
Bought a 2010 Forte LX (5 speeds manual) back in 2010. 160K miles later, I had to trade it in for a 2017 Forte LX (manual 6 speeds). What an improvement ! First of all, not one problem, itch or snooze on my previous Kia. Never opened the hood. All oil changes done by professionals. I already had great mpg, but this new one ? Even better. Manual says 32 city/39 Highway. I get 41 city/45 … Highway. Of course, my commute (120 miles per day - 20% city and 80% Thruway) is pretty much on flat road (no hills) and the temperatures are constantly over 40 degrees. Good dry conditions. Speed of 70-75 mph when Tach read 2,750 rpm. This car purrs and swallows the miles one by one. Comfort is what you can expect from a "small" car. Everything being new, you need some time to get used to it, or for the car to get used to you. Now, odd enough, no spare tire nor donut in the back trunk. Just some kind of fix-your-flat-yourself-kit with a plug-in pump (and patch?), enough for 50 miles to get to a station (?).The dash boards illuminates nicely and I still have not figured out why the outside temperature reading starts flashing when it get under 40 degrees F (or everytime it drops under 30, 20 etc...). Acceleration is nice, although there seem to be a soft spot when starting in 1st gear which obliges you to push and reach 4,000 rpm or shift into second very quickly. The sound is definitely not premium. Automatic windows is a nice upgrade from my previous Kia and the electronic lock/unlock is also a nice addition. I hope to have it last a long time. From previous experience, it will. Update after owning this Forte for 7 Months: Winter is over. No special tires, just the ones this car came with and no problem on the snow (and God knows that Rochester, NY, can have plenty of it). No sliding. Really happy about the mileage per gallon. Constantly hitting the 47.5 mpg, although this little car doesn't seem to like the rain (or the cold). At 2,500 rpm, on highway, you should easily get 50 mpg without pushing your gears too much (of course, no extra weight/passengers/luggage). Still a "dead spot" when starting in 1st gear and I suspect a "bad" electronic distribution, but not enough to put that car through computer testings. So far so good. Reliable it is. A year has passed. Mileage per gallon is still the same 47-48 miles per gallon, although I suspect that this will change with the cold weather coming. Still, no problem and hood is staying closed (besides oil changes done by pros). Still very happy with the purchase. Update - Dec 1st, 2018 Still very good car. Roughly 52K on it. No more long and evening long commutes (120 miles total). Found employment much closer to home (3 miles). Of course it changes my gas consumption. It dropped from 47 miles/gal to 32/34 mpg. Still one full tank will last a month. It is a very economical car. No problems with brakes. Put the car at the Dealership for its 50K miles inspections and even after a couple hoses were changed (they looked like they could have lasted longer), and this car's engine looked like a diamond. Again, if you're looking for no frills - no super gadgets, economical, safe... This is the car to own. Update June 2019. Forte still running strong. I will not change my ratings from last update. I still didn't open the hood. This is the car to own (great price, not expensive to maintain). December 2019 I want to write a negative update so bad, just to balance my enthusiastic mood of the past, but I can't. Still working and I still have to open the hood. No "engine light" at all. (Maybe that bulb is burnt). I am so please that I actually bought a KIA Sportage 2018 for my wife. December 2020. Same as before, although mileage consumption has changed, but that will happen when driving in the city. Brakes, exhaust, sensors have not been touched. No repairs, no breakdowwns. Wife's Kia is still going strong. See you in 6 months ?
4 out of 5 stars
Nice car to own and ride
2017 Kia Forte LX 4dr Sedan (2.0L 4cyl 6A)
I leased 2017 KIA forte LX for only 79$ per month for 3 yrs. I am very happy about the car. Fuel economy is great, interior is good and when it comes to exterior it does not look like a cheap car at all. Brake system exceeded my expectation. However,My comment on performance is different. Acceleration for this 2.0 L engine is weak. When it comes to merging into traffic make sure you have … enough room with incoming cars because you are not able to speed up quickly! But overal it is such a good car to ride and worths every penny you spent.
5 out of 5 stars
2017 Kia Forte LX 4dr Sedan (2.0L 4cyl 6M)
I have a 2017 Kia forte. I have read about transmission problem and missing problems. I had these problems as well. My car has 78000 miles on it. I am a lift driver that is the reason I have so many miles on it. Anyways I don't know if this will help anyone. But I took it to the dealer and was told I needed a three point fuel claening. Had that done witch I am Shure I needed anyways. I … changed the spark plugs witch looked real bad. Still trans and shaking continue. Kia kept checking into it. They told me it was the upper right hand motor mount. I still didn't think this would solve the problem. Went and picked up a motor mount and had it put in as a result it solved all the shaking and the transmission is fine. The car is running as the day in took it off the lot. Very happy. Thanks to Jack at Lincolnwood Kia. Hope this review is helpful to someone 😁
5 out of 5 stars
2017 Kia Forte LX 4dr Sedan (2.0L 4cyl 6A)
The car is more then i could ask for my wife and daughter loves it great on gas and a incredible ride and lots of room
2017 Kia Forte video
MARK TAKAHASHI: I'm Edmunds editor Mark Takahashi. And here's an Expert Rundown of the 2017 Kia Forte. There are three different Kia Forte models that include a sedan, an upcoming coupe, and this, the Forte5 hatchback. For 2017, the Forte gets a slight facelift, some new features, and a sporty seven-speed transmission. For hatchback shoppers, getting the most for your money is key. The Forte5 definitely does that with a lot of standard and optional features, but it does come up short in terms of fuel efficiency. The Forte5 has a lot more cargo space and versatility even than the sedan. But compared to other hatchbacks, it's only about average for the class. Inside the Forte feels roomy. There's even enough space for taller adults in the back seats. And the interior has a nice modern design with plenty of quality materials. We do need to point out, however, that many advanced safety features are only available on the sedan. Whether it's the hatchback or sedan, when you factor in a very generous warranty, the Kia Forte's bottom line is that of an undeniable value. This gives it enough to battle our class favorites that include the Honda Civic, Mazda 3, and Ford Focus.
2017 Kia Forte Expert Rundown Review
Looking for a great compact offering the latest and greatest technology and features? The 2017 Kia Forte might be a good match. Here's a quick rundown of what we like, what we don't and the bottom line from the Edmunds editors.
2017 Forte Highlights
|Combined MPG||28 MPG|
|Cost to Drive||$134/month|
|Cargo Capacity |
All Seats In Place
|Drivetrain||front wheel drive|
|Warranty||5 years / 60,000 miles|
NHTSA Overall Rating5 out of 5 stars
The National Highway Transportation Safety Administration offers independent analysis.
- Frontal Barrier Crash RatingOverall4 / 5Driver4 / 5Passenger4 / 5
- Side Crash RatingOverall5 / 5
- Side Barrier RatingOverall5 / 5Driver5 / 5Passenger5 / 5
- Combined Side Barrier & Pole RatingsFront Seat5 / 5Back Seat5 / 5
- RolloverRollover4 / 5Dynamic Test ResultNo TipRisk Of Rollover10.3%
The Insurance Institute of Highway Safety uses extensive crash tests to determine car safety.
- Small Overlap Front Driver-Side TestGood
- Small Overlap Front Passenger-Side TestAcceptable
- Moderate Overlap Front Test – OriginalGood
- Moderate Overlap Front Test – UpdatedNot Tested
- Side Impact Test – OriginalGood
- Side Impact Test – UpdatedNot Tested
- Roof Strength TestGood
- Rear Crash Protection / Head RestraintGood