Kia built its reputation as an automobile manufacturer that offers content at a discount. One look at the 2015 Kia Forte5 and it’s easy to understand why.
The compact hatchback can be equipped with features that were reserved for luxury vehicles a few years ago. Things like heated rear seats, a cooled driver seat, a heated steering wheel and an easy access seat are all available on this compact hatchback. Add a powerful turbocharged engine and an as-tested price of just $26,890 after destination charges and the Forte5 looks like a premium compact bargain. But is the car any good?
SEE ALSO: 2014 Kia Forte5 SX Review
To find out we put Amanda, our general consumer reviewer, into a 2015 Kia Forte5 SX. As an office worker commuting into in a city, she spends a lot of time behind the wheel. With an emphasis on comfort, practicality and ease of use, Amanda’s vehicle preference reflects those of the mainstream car buying public.
The 2015 Kia Forte5 is available with a choice of engines and transmissions. Amanda’s SX test car came equipped with the “Premium” and “Technology” packages. The Forte5 SX comes standard with the more powerful 1.6-liter turbocharged four-cylinder engine making 201 hp and 195 lb-ft. of torque and a six-speed manual transmission, though Amanda drove the six-speed automatic model. There is also a less expensive 2.0-liter naturally aspirate four-cylinder that makes 173 hp and 154 lb-ft of torque, sold exclusively with the automatic.
With the turbocharged engine and automatic transmission, the 3,122-lb. hatchback is rated at 21 MPG in the city and 29 MPG on the highway. Pricing for the 2015 Kia Forte5 starts at $20,490 after destination charges while Amanda’s loaded up SX model retails for $26,890.
In the rear, the Forte5 features a class-competitive 35.9 inches of rear legroom. Adults do fit in the back seats, but the space is tight. Being a proper hatchback, the cargo area is capable of hauling an impressive 23.2 cubic feet of cargo.
How does it Drive?
The turbocharged engine is responsive and it makes merging onto the highway easy. The Forte5 SX rides on lower-profile tires and larger 18-inch wheels than the base Forte5. This usually has an adverse effect on ride comfort but Amanda found no such issue.
During her week with the car, an unexpected cold snap hit causing below freezing temperatures and some light snow. Despite the Forte5 riding on all-season tires instead of proper winter rubber, Amanda reports the car performed very well on slick roads. It was easy to handle and the brakes worked well; she didn’t get nervous once driving it.
SEE ALSO: 2014 Kia Forte Review
The front and rear window defrosters work quickly in the cold. Aside from one of the windshield wiper fluid nozzles clogging with ice, nothing went wrong during her impromptu test of the how the car performs in winter driving. The next day, when temperatures rose back above the freezing mark, the nozzle worked once again without issue.
The View from Inside
The Forte5 is easy to adjust for a comfortable seating position and get comfortable in. Amanda was in a rush the first time she drove it and hastily adjusted the seat and mirrors to a comfortable driving position in less than 30 seconds. It turned out she found her optimal settings on the first try as she didn’t adjust anything the rest of her time driving the car.
She found the driver seat to be very comfortable, which was a plus since there were multiple days with unusually long commutes that week. After sitting in traffic for hours, her back never got sore and she didn’t feel overly fatigued.
As for the actual design of the interior, Amanda finds it’s nice enough, with none of the finishes impressing or disappointing her. Nothing felt exceedingly cheap, but there wasn’t anything to rave about either.
What She Liked
Amanda is only 5’2,” so she tends to sit closer to the steering wheel than most people would. The Forte5 has an easy entry and exit feature that automatically moves the power seat back when you turn the engine off and resumes its previous position on engine start-up to make entry and exit easier. For someone like her, it’s an especially useful feature because it makes getting in and out with a purse and other bags much easier. Although this isn’t by any means a new innovative feature, it is unusual in a compact car.
She also really likes how quickly the car heats up on cold days. The seat heater is powerful and stays warm, but she likes the heated steering wheel best of all because it is powerful enough to warm her hands through her gloves.
What She Didn’t Like
There weren’t too many negatives for Amanda during her week with the Forte5. She isn’t particularly fond of its updated styling compared to the more square-looking design it replaces. She also found the 18-inch wheels are a little too funky for her taste.
Although Amanda never had to fill up the car during her week with it, I would guess she wouldn’t be too impressed with the turbocharged engine’s fuel usage either.
Overall, Amanda is impressed with the Forte5. She would consider it for her next car as it combines usable space, ease of use and great features for a decent price. It’s one of the few vehicles to include a heated steering wheel in the $26,000 price range and as mentioned, she found the car as a whole to be quite comfortable. The Kia Forte5 probably won’t stir you on an emotional level For anyone looking at a premium compact car, the Forte5 may not garner that much emotional appeal, but it’s darn good value for the money.
- Engine: 1.6 L turbocharged four-cylinder, 201 HP, 195 lb-ft.
- Transmission: Six-speed automatic
- Fuel economy (US): 21 MPG city, 29 MPG highway
- Fuel economy (CDN): 8.0 L/100 km city, 11.1 L/100 km highway
- Price (US): Starts at $20,495 after destination charges, $26,890 as tested for Forte5 SX with Premium and Technology packages.
- Price (CDN): Starts at $20,980 after destination charges, $30,300 as tested for Forte5 SX Luxury
GALLERY: 2014 Kia Forte5 SX
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