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2015 Kia Forte

Motor Trend logo Motor Trend 4/28/2015 Stefan Ogbac

New for 2015

The 2015 Kia Forte sedan gets a small fuel economy improvement for the LX-grade. Optional wheels on LX and EX sedans have been bundled in a new package with Kia's UVO system and a rearview camera. Additionally, EX hatchbacks and coupes no longer have UVO as standard equipment and is now part of the EX UVO Package.

Vehicle Summary

Available as a sedan, hatchback, and coupe (Koup in Kia speak), the 2015 Kia Forte is a compact car that slots above the subcompact Rio and below the midsize Optima. Sedans are sold in LX and EX trims while the hatchback and coupe are offered in EX and SX grades.

Overview

All 2015 Kia Fortes are offered with two four-cylinder engines: a 1.8-liter with 145 hp and 130 lb-ft of torque and a 2.0-liter making 173 hp and 154 lb-ft. Hatchbacks and coupes, on the other hand, are available with the same 2.0-liter I-4 and a powerful turbocharged 1.6-liter making 201 hp and 195 lb-ft. All engines are mated to a six-speed manual or automatic transmission with the former only available in the Koup, LX sedan, and SX hatch.

Fuel economy is decent, with the automatic-equipped 1.8-liter sedan being the most frugal at 26/39 mpg city/highway. Opting for the manual drops those figures down to 25/37 mph while the larger 2.0-liter achieves 25/36 mpg. The coupe's gas mileage varies depending on the engine and transmission combination, with the automatic-equipped EX being the most efficient at 25/34 mpg while the EX manual gets 24/33 mpg. EX-grade hatchbacks offer respectable figures at 25/33 mpg. SX models have some of the lowest fuel economy ratings at 22/29 mpg with the manual coupe, 22/30 mpg with the automatic, and 21/29 mpg for the hatchback.

Driving dynamics have seen a dramatic improvement after the Forte's 2014 model year redesign, with all models offering excellent handling and acceleration except for the sedan equipped with the 1.8-liter, which is focused on fuel economy. Steering feel, however, could use some improvements since it remains slightly on the numb side even on the sportier SX variants. Ride quality, on the other hand, is "pleasantly firm" and isn't jarring over rough surfaces. Merging and passing maneuvers are a breeze with the 2.0-liter and turbocharged 1.6-liter, which offer great power and brisk acceleration for the class.

The 2015 Forte offers generous space in all body styles, with seating for four adults, plenty of small storage cubbies, and ample trunk space, particularly in the hatchback with a 56.4 cubic-foot capacity when the rear seats are folded down. Infotainment controls are "as easy to use as they come" with intuitive controls that don't require owners to look to the manual to operate. Additionally, all 2015 Fortes are available with a long list of tech and convenience features including heated front and rear seats, power folding side mirrors, cooled driver's seats, and an upgraded audio system. Seats in the car are supportive and comfortable but could use more side bolstering for spirited drives on twisty roads. Build quality in all body styles is good, with high-grade materials; however, the all-black interior makes the cabin feel "cold and dark."

The NHTSA gave the 2015 Forte sedan a five-star overall rating while the hatchback received four stars (out of a possible five stars; the Forte Koup hasn’t been crash tested yet). In IIHS evaluations, the car received a Good score in four categories and Marginal in the small overlap front crash test (Good is the highest possible score).

What We Think

The Kia Forte's 2014 model year redesign transformed it into a solid compact car that offers a long list of features, excellent driving dynamics, and a refined, well-built cabin. In a 2014/2015 Hatchback Comparison Test, we said that the Kia Forte provided a great balance of daily drivability, a quiet cabin, and capable handling. However, in a Forte5 hatchback First Test, we observed the steering didn't provide enough feel.

In a 2014 First Test of the Kia Forte Koup, we noted that the seating position "was too high" and that the front seats' side bolster didn't have enough support for enthusiastic driving. As an overall package, the Forte range delivers with a model that appeals to everyone and is available with many creature comforts. While the SX coupe's performance "isn't going to make you forget cars like the Volkswagen GTI or Civic Si," it provides an excellent combination of power, handling, and braking that make it a viable choice for buyers looking for a fun-to-drive daily car.

You'll Like

  • Great balance of smooth ride and excellent handling
  • Intuitive and user-friendly infotainment controls
  • Well-built and quiet cabin

You Won't Like

  • Fuel economy isn't impressive in all models
  • Front seats need better side bolstering.
  • Slightly artificial steering feel

Key Competitors

  • Honda Civic
  • Toyota Corolla
  • Mazda3
  • Volkswagen Golf/Jetta
  • Ford Focus

Rating

4 star

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