• 2015 Kia Forte
  • 2015,Kia,Forte,compact sedan, fuel economy
  • 2015,Kia Forte,road test

Road Test: 2015 Kia Forte EX

Sporty Looking with a Low Entry Price

With three body styles—a sedan (Forte), coupe (Forte Koup) and a five-door hatchback (Forte5), the compact Kia Forte offers eye-catching styling with the lowest cost for a highly optioned base model in its class. So, what’s not to like? Not much at all.

Drivetrain

The front-wheel drive 2015 Kia Forte has two engine options—the 1.8L with multi-point injection putting out 145 hp and 130 lb-ft of torque and the one powering our test EX model, the 2.0L direct injection engine with 173 hp and 154 lb-ft of torque. Both engines run on unleaded regular.

The 1.8L has a six-speed manual option while both engines come with a smooth six-speed automatic. Clean Fleet Report’s Forte EX with the automatic is EPA rated at 25 City / 36 Highway / 29

2015,Kia ,Forte, road test,styling

A good-looker, good driver

Combined. In 504 miles of 65-percent/35-percent highway/city driving we averaged 34.9 mpg, which if the 13.2 gallon fuel tank was run dry would have taken us 450 miles down the road.

For a more sporty drive, if you choose to purchase the Forte5 or Forte Koup, there is a third option, a 1.6L turbocharged direct injection engine mated to a six-speed manual. Kia campaigns the Forte Koup in the Pirelli World Challenge race series and took the 2014 Manufacturer and Driver titles. The competition version of the Forte Koup is nearly identical to the street version, so check it out this year when the race series comes through your town.

Driving Experience: On the Road

At 3,029 lbs. the Kia Forte EX handles firm and flat in slow to medium tight cornering, but has some body roll when pushed hard. With a set-up of 17-inch alloy wheels and low rolling resistance tires, front MacPherson struts with coil springs and a coupled rear Torsion Beam axle, the Forte EX did not transmit road cracks or bumps through the cabin but the car could have been much quieter at highway speeds.

2015 Kia,Forte, styling,road test

A challenger in the crowded compact arena

The electric power-assisted rack and pinion steering has three settings controlled from the steering wheel: Comfort, Normal and Sport. For a car this size, the Comfort option seems it would get little use as Normal is fine for highway travel and you would most likely be in Sport at all other times.

Stopping was straight and true with no fading from the front vented and rear solid disc brakes, assisted by the four-wheel Anti-lock Brake System (ABS) and the Electronic Brake Distribution (EBD) system.

Driving Experience: Exterior

Kia says the Forte sedan “offers European-inspired design” and “sport-sedan styling.” Coming from their Irvine, California design studio, the Forte falls in-line with our very favorable design impressions of the recently reviewed Kia K900 and Kia Optima Hybrid.

I personally like the Forte EX’s sweeping roofline and sleek profile. Compact sedans can sometimes be hard to design because, well, there just isn’t much length to them to draw out the lines. Kia has done a very good job of making the Forte EX stand out in a crowded market segment. I especially like how the nose is not blunt (with that gaping open mouth look that is so common on many cars) and the headlamps blend into the hood that sweeps to the A-pillar and laid-back windshield. The taillights carry-over the Optima design and soften the back-end look.

Driving Experience: Interior

Clean Fleet Report was driving the highly optioned 2015 Kia Forte EX with the Premium and Technology Packages that made for a pleasant 500+ miles behind the wheel. The Forte EX is a pleasure to walk up to and even nicer to sit in.

Our Forte EX had a power tilt and sliding sunroof that was good open up to about 50 mph before the wind noise became too much to carry on a conversation. Our EX model had black leather seats

2015 , Kia Forte,back seat, luxury, features

Luxury and comfort in back

that were 10-way power adjustable, with memory for the driver and four-way for the passenger. Both front seats were heated (driver’s is also ventilated) as are the outbound rear seats. It was easy to find a comfortable driver seat position, which included power lumber support and a sliding center arm rest/console that was set at the right height. Adding to the interior comfort was a tilt and telescopic steering column; a heated, leather-wrapped steering wheel with audio, hands-free telephone and cruise controls; and soft touch materials on the dash and door panels.

The dash layout is simple and clean with easy to find controls. I was especially pleased to see the radio had real knobs for volume and channel selecting and the climate control wheels were a different size than those of the radio—and were located away from the radio to eliminate any confusion. This may not seem like a big thing but it is when reaching for these very different controls in the dark—regardless of your familiarity with the dash layout.

2015 Kia,interior,Forte,dash

Knobs – just what the doctor ordered

The Forte sedan can seat three adults in the 60/40 split bench rear seat, but for longer trips two adults would be more comfortable where they could take advantage of the fold down arm rest. At 5’ 9”, I fit in all cars, including open wheel racers, so a true test was having a 6’ 1” associate sit in the driver’s seat and when positioned, have him climb into the back to check leg, knee and head room. The Forte accommodated my friend in comfort with room to spare.

The simplicity of the dash layout also made reading the gauges and operating the sound system easy. Clean Fleet Report’s Forte EX came with the Technology Package that included a seven-inch HD touch screen with navigation and rearview camera as part of the UVO eTelematics infotainment system. This system came with SiriusXM (three-month trial subscription), AM/FM/HD/CD/MP3, USB port with iPod connectivity, Aux-in jacks, Bluetooth streaming audio and hands-free telephone.

Other nice interior features are the rear air vents in the center console, dual zone automatic temperature control, power windows and door locks, power outside mirrors, multiple cup holders, carpeted floor mats, center console with slide-adjustable arm rest, cooling glovebox, auto-dimming rearview mirror and 12-volt accessory outlets.

Safety and Convenience

The 2015 Forte came with safety and convenience features including six air bags, remote keyless entry, Tire Pressure Monitoring System (TPMS), Electronic Stability Control (ESC), Traction

2015 Kia,Forte,standard features,road test

Plenty of options standard

Control System (TCS), Vehicle Stability management (VSM), four-wheel disc Anti-Lock Brakes (ABS) with brake assist, hill start assist, Xenon High Intensity Discharge (HID) projector beam headlights with LED fog and running lights, perimeter approach lighting and puddle lights, and an anti-theft engine immobilizer.

Pricing and Warranties

Base pricing for the 2015 Kia Forte with the six-speed manual transmission is $15,890, excluding the $800 freight and handling charge. Clean Fleet Report’s 2015 Forte EX with the Premium and Technology Packages had a MSRP of $25,600, excluding the $800 freight and handling charge.

2015,Kia Forte,trunk,road test

Good space for storage

The 2015 Kia Forte comes with these warranties:

  • 5-year/60,000-mile Basic
  • 10-year/100,000-mile Powertrain
  • 5-year/60,000-mile Roadside Assistance
  • 6-year/100,000-mile Anti-Perforation

Observations: 2015 Kia Forte EX Sedan

Even with so much going for it, the Kia Forte is lagging against its class competitors in sales and market share, probably because consumers are just not aware what this car has to offer. Sharp styling, a roomy interior, mid-30s highway fuel economy and coming nearly fully equipped for around $25,000 makes the Kia Forte EX a must-add to your shopping list.

Whatever you buy, Happy Driving!

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About Author: John Faulkner

John Faulkner is an automotive marketing professional with more than 30 years experience branding, launching and marketing automobiles. He has worked with General Motors (all Divisions), Chrysler (Dodge, Jeep, Eagle), Ford and Lincoln-Mercury, Honda, Mazda, Mitsubishi, Nissan and Toyota on consumer events and sales training programs. His interest in automobiles is broad and deep, beginning as a child riding in the back seat of his parent's 1950 Studebaker. He has a keen appreciation of Art Deco design, no bias for domestic versus foreign makes and loves competition - whether that be F1, IndyCar, Sports Cars, NASCAR or participating in Track Days at places such as Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca, Thunderhill or Willow Springs. John lives in Dana Point, CA, and enjoys a top-down drive on PCH on an early Sunday morning.

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