Test Drive Notes Library
- Handling. If you take a good, basic, compact car, tweak the suspension a bit, upgrade the engine and transmission, and put a great set of tires on it, you get a Kia Forte GT. It’s not a sports sedan, but if you’re on a compact car budget, it corners quite well, and is more fun than your average small sedan.
- Value. At $26,500, our 200 horsepower Forte GT got 29 miles per gallon, came with a full suite of safety features, a Harmon Kardon audio system, wireless phone charger, Apple Car Play and Android Auto, dual climate controls, a dual clutch transmission, Michelin Pilot Sport tires, a 5-year bumper to bumper and a 10-year powertrain warranty. Milton Berle would be impressed with that equipment.
- Ergonomics. The controls in the Forte are a paragon of clarity and simplicity. It looks up to date, and both the hard buttons and touch screen controls are well laid out and easy to understand and use.
- Well-bolstered front seats. The GT upgrades the seats, and they’re worth it. The back seat is acceptable, if a little low.
- Covers the basics. If you’re still a fan of compact sedans, this one does everything it’s supposed to do. It seats four in moderate comfort, gets good fuel economy, has a lot of standard features including the latest safety equipment, and, with the GT package, provides a little bit of driving fun.
Test Drive Notes Library
- Starting to feel dated. While there’s a lot to like about the Forte, it reminds us of the excellent Honda Civic. From 2015. That was "peak compact sedan," but that form is being bypassed by sleeker designs, hatchback/fastbacks, and crossovers.
- Stiff ride. If memory serves, the non-GT Forte is not much softer. But the GT seems even a step stiffer on the tuchus. Incidentally, the non-GT Forte does not handle badly, but lacks the upgraded engine/transmission combo.
- Acceleration delay. While the dual-clutch, 7-speed transmission works well, we experienced a momentary delay every time we suddenly “stepped on it.” It was probably due more to the time the 1.6L turbo charged engine took to spool up than to any slowness in the transmission itself. But it does detract from driving it like a sports sedan. When you step on it, you want it to go immediately, not say “oh, yeah, right, OK!” Putting the transmission into “sport” mode helped a bit, but created an edginess that we quickly found fatiguing.
- Key fob only trunk. A small gripe, but there’s no trunk latch button at the trunk. You have to open it from the driver’s seat or with your key fob. I know, work, work work!
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