2017 Kia Forte and Forte5: First Look

FORTE-38488.jpg 2017 Kia Forte | Manufacturer image


Competes with: Honda Civic, Toyota Corolla, Ford Focus

Looks like: The Forte5 hatchback gets a new face that evokes the Volkswagen Golf in many ways. The sedan still looks like a Forte; the changes don’t alter the look dramatically.

Drivetrain: A new 2.0-liter four-cylinder; a 173-horsepower, 2.0-liter four-cylinder (EX models); or a 201-hp, turbocharged 1.6-liter four-cylinder (Forte5 SX only); six-speed manual or six-speed automatic transmission; front-wheel drive

Hits dealerships: First half of 2016

More Detroit Auto Show Coverage

Kia unveiled refreshed-for-2017 versions of its compact Forte at the 2016 North American International Auto Show in Detroit. Both the sedan and hatchback (Forte5) get styling updates and added technology, with details on the coupe (Forte Koup) to follow, according to Kia. The Forte adds a new trim level, with the sport-oriented S trim slotting between the LX and EX. The Forte5 now is offered in three trim levels as well: LX, SX and EX.


Styling changes give the Forte and Forte5 the same nose; this change represents only a slight tweak for the sedan, but for the hatchback it’s more drastic. The Forte5 ditches its thin version of Kia’s tiger nose grille for a larger version that now feeds directly into the reworked headlight clusters. They feature updated LED detailing and available Dynamic Bending Light technology, which angles the headlights to illuminate corners at night. This new grille, coupled with the removal of the large lower air intake, gives the Forte5 a new, smoother aesthetic that immediately brought the Volkswagen Golf to mind. The taillights have also been redesigned on both models, with LED elements optional. 


The 2017 Forte and Forte5 get upgraded materials, new stitching and softer-touch surfaces (in this case, a leather-wrapped steering wheel and shifter on S models). The most exciting changes are on the technology front, with the addition of Apple CarPlay and Android Auto to Kia’s UVO3 multimedia system. This allows for mirroring of selected smartphone apps on the Forte’s 7-inch touch-screen. 

Under the Hood

The new base engine is a 2.0-liter four-cylinder, which replaces the outgoing 1.8-liter four-cylinder engine. Kia did not release power or fuel economy ratings. Two other engine options carry over: a 173-horsepower, 2.0-liter four-cylinder for Forte/Forte5 EX models or a 201-hp, turbocharged 1.6-liter four-cylinder in the SX trim, which is exclusive to the hatchback. The SX also adds a new transmission option for 2017: a seven-speed dual-clutch automatic. 


Kia has also expanded the Forte’s safety technology systems for 2017, continuing an industrywide trend that finds these features making their way down into subcompact and compact cars. A new set of driver aids is now available, including forward collision warning with autonomous emergency braking, lane change warning/assist, lane keeping assist, blind spot detection and rear cross-traffic alert.

Keep an eye out for the refreshed Forte and Forte5 to land in dealerships in the first half of 2016.

FORTE-8556.jpg 2017 Kia Forte | Manufacturer image


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Former L.A. Bureau Chief Brian Wong is a California native with a soft spot for convertibles and free parking. Email Brian Wong

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