2017 Kia Forte Preview
By Christian Wardlaw, January 14, 2016
- Coupe, hatch, and sedan body styles
- New Forte S Sedan model debuts
- Updated styling aligned with 2016 Optima
- More standard equipment
- New 2.0-liter 4-cylinder engine
- New 7-speed dual-clutch transmission for Forte5 SX
- Optional Orange Color package for Forte5 SX
- Significant improvement in terms of driver-assistance, collision-avoidance, and infotainment technologies
- On sale in spring of 2016
Kia rolled out refreshed versions of its Forte Sedan and Forte5 hatchback at the 2016 North American International Auto Show (NAIAS) in Detroit. The automaker also confirmed that the slow-selling, 2-door Forte Koup would continue in 2017; details about the Koup will be available at a later date.
Styling, powertrain, and technology upgrades summarize the changes to the 2017 Forte5 and Forte Sedan. Also, Forte Sedan production moves to Kia’s brand new manufacturing facility in Monterrey, Mexico, and is the first model to be built there.
Mild styling changes better align the 2017 Forte with the redesigned Optima midsize sedan. The hatch and sedan both receive a new front bumper, grille, headlights, taillights, and wheel designs.
The Forte5 hatch lineup continues in LX, EX, and turbocharged SX trim levels. The Forte Sedan lineup comes in LX and EX trim, with a sporty new Forte S slotted between them. The Forte S is equipped with 16-in. aluminum wheels, LED running lights, rear spoiler, and a chrome exhaust tip.
The Forte5 LX comes with projector-beam headlights and remote keyless entry. Upgrade to the EX for new perimeter approach lighting. The Forte5 EX also gets new LED taillights, while the Forte EX Sedan gains LED headlights and new 17-in. aluminum wheels.
SX trim is reserved for the Forte 5, and in 2017 this version adds new 18-in. aluminum wheels, unique front and rear styling details, red trim accents, and a dual exhaust outlet tip.
Inside, the Forte LX Sedan has upgraded seat fabric, while the new Forte S Sedan receives exclusive black fabric with white contrast stitching, plus a leather-wrapped steering wheel and shift knob.
Regardless of body style, the EX trim level is now equipped with leather seats, heated front seats, front door pocket lighting, and a Smart Key entry system with push-button engine starting. Additionally, the EX Sedan has a 10-way power driver’s seat with 2-position memory, dual-zone automatic climate control, and rear-seat air vents.
The only upgrade for the Forte5 SX is an optional Orange Color package, which includes orange leather seat inserts and contrast stitching on the seats and the shifter.
Under the Hood
One of the big changes that Kia makes to the 2017 Forte is the addition of a new 2.0-liter 4-cylinder engine to replace the outgoing 1.8-liter unit. Horsepower, torque, and fuel-economy estimates were not finalized prior to the announcement in Detroit, but Kia says the new engine is more powerful and more efficient than the motor it replaces.
A 6-speed manual gearbox is standard equipment, with an updated 6-speed automatic transmission available as an option. The Forte EX Sedan is offered only with the automatic. Drive Mode Select technology provides the driver with a choice between Normal, Eco, and Sport settings.
Kia’s new Forte S Sedan adds a sport-tuned suspension and 16-in. aluminum wheels, while the Forte5 SX is available with a new 7-speed dual-clutch automated manual gearbox for 2017.
What the 2017 Forte really needs, and what it may not have received, is structural updates to improve its small overlap frontal-impact crash-test rating from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS). The current Forte Sedan earns a “Marginal” rating in this test, and this is the main reason to skip the existing Forte in favor of a different compact car.
Kia may have made unannounced changes, or it may not have. Time will tell. What Kia has improved upon are the Forte’s available driver-assistance and collision-avoidance technology offerings. Every 2017 Forte can be upgraded with a blind-spot warning system with rear cross-traffic alert and a lane-change assist function. The lane-change assist system is designed to warn a driver intent on changing lanes if other vehicles are approaching with too much speed.
All versions of the 2017 Kia Forte, with the exception of the LX, will have the company’s next-generation UVO3 (Your Voice 3) infotainment system with Android Auto and Apple CarPlay smartphone-projection technology. It uses a 7-in. touch-screen display, and an upgraded navigation system is an option.