• 2017 Kia Forte5 SX: Now with Updated Styling and Powertrain [Review]

     Kia Forte5 SX
    [photo: Arv Voss]
    The refreshed Kia Forte5 for 2017 was unveiled early this year with subtle visual changes at the North American International Auto Show in Detroit. Other improvements included the addition of a new 2.0-liter 4-cylinder engine that delivers better fuel economy along with enhanced performance.

    My test vehicle was a 2017 Kia Forte5 SX with the 1.6-liter four-banger, that appeared in a Phantom Gray metallic exterior finish, with a Black interior featuring faux carbon fiber textured trim accents. The base price was set at $26,000, while the as tested sticker read $27,020 after the Inland Freight and Handling charge.


    Styling modifications include a new front bumper and “tiger nose” grille that’s been stretched to connect with the new headlights, similar to this year’s Kia Optima. Two designs will be available – one that’s focused on a more sophisticated look, while the other design takes on a bolder, sporty appearance. Out back are new taillights with optional LEDs.

    This latest iteration Kia Forte comes in three variations: The Forte Sedan; Forte5 hatch and Forte Koup. Three levels of trim remain – LX, EX, and SX – with each one bringing something new for 2017.  The entry-level LX is equipped with features such as projector beam headlights and remote keyless entry with trunk opener and is now available with Blind Spot Detection3 with Lane Change Assist and Rear-Cross Traffic Alert, as these advanced driver-assistance systems are optional across the entire range.


    The EX comes with the most changes, as previous options – including LED taillights, leather seats, heated front seats, push-button start with Smart Key, and perimeter approach lighting with front-door pocket lighting – are now standard along with UVO eServices. Kia’s UVO infotainment system offers Android Auto and Apple CarPlay (late availability) compatibility, and is displayed on a 7-inch color touchscreen4. Both platforms allow staying connected by replicating key smartphone apps and functionality on the touchscreen with the ability to send text messages, access music, or look up driving directions while behind the wheel.

    Beneath the hood, the 2017 Forte5 comes standard with a 2.0-liter GDI four-cylinder engine, which is paired with a six-speed manual transmission or an available second-generation six-speed automatic transmission.  Maintaining the sport theme in the SX is a zippy 1.6-liter turbocharged GDI four-cylinder engine, which is now available with a seven-speed dual-clutch transmission. 2017 Koup details will be released at a later date.

    For 2017, the SX trim retains its top position with standard premium exterior features such as LED taillights, Smart Key with perimeter approach lighting and front door pocket lighting, and new 17-inch alloy wheels.  Like its larger Optima stablemate, the Forte is available with Dynamic Bending Light technology, which uses steering wheel inputs to angle the light around corners and bends.

    Dependent upon trim, the Forte5 also comes with Kia’s latest navigation system. The EX and SX trims also come with Drive Mode Select, which allows the driver to change the driving experience based on their preference: Normal, Eco, or Sport as standard fare.


    [photo: Arv Voss]
    The new 2.0-liter Atkinson inline four-cylinder engine comes as standard replacing last year’s 1.8-liter inline-4 cylinder engine. It is paired with a six-speed manual transmission or with an available second-generation six-speed automatic transmission that has been engineered to help improve fuel economy. The EX trim is powered by a 2.0-liter GDI I-4 that produces 164 horsepower at 6,200 rpm, while generating 151 pound feet of torque at 4,000 rpm. This engine mates to a six-speed automatic transmission.  SX models draw their motive force from the 1.6-liter turbocharged four-cylinder with GDI.

    Driving the 2017 Kia Forte5 SX provided a most pleasant experience. The 1.6-liter engine was readily responsive, and the short-throw transmission shifted positively, making gear changes a pleasure, especially on twisty back roads.

    The ride quality was firm, but not uncomfortable, and the handling characteristics served up a sporty flavor. Acceleration was spot on, with virtually no turbo lag. EPA fuel economy estimates were 23 mpg city and 29 mpg highway.

    [photo: Arv Voss]
    TFLCAR’s TAKE: In the final analysis, the 2017 Kia Forte5 is an attractive, efficient, practical and fun-to-drive hatch that provides a heightened versatility and functionality over the sedan.

    SPECIFICATIONS: 2017 Kia Forte5 SX

    • Base Price: $26,000, price as tested: $27,020
    • Engine Type and Size: 1.6-liter, DOHC, 16-valve D-CVVT turbocharged inline 4-cylinder with Gasoline Direct Injection
    • Horsepower (bhp): 201 @ 6,000 rpm
    • Torque (ft./ lbs.): 195 @ 1,500-4,500 rpm
    • Transmission: Six-speed automatic with 3-modes: Normal, ECO, Sport & Sport+
    • Drive Train: Transversely mounted front engine / Front-wheel drive
    • Suspension: Front – MacPherson strut, coil spring with monotube shocks; Rear – Coupled Torsion beam axle, coil spring with monotube shocks
    • Brakes: Power-assisted four-wheel discs (vented front), four-wheel ABS, ESC, TCS, VSM, HAC, BAS, EBD and TPMS
    • Tires: Nexen Classe Premiere P225/40 R18 mounted on alloy wheels
    • Wheelbase: 106.3 inches
    • Length Overall: 171.3 inches
    • Width: 70.1 inches
    • Height: 57.1 inches
    • Curb Weight: 3,058 lbs.
    • Turning Circle: 34.8 ft.
    • Fuel Capacity: 13.2 gallons
    • EPA Mileage Estimates: 25 mpg city / 33 mpg highway
    • Drag Coefficient: 0.27

    Arv Voss
    Arv Voss
    Arv Voss is a Northern California based freelance motoring journalist and member and past officer of several noted automotive journalist organizations who contributes regularly to a number of national and international media outlets. He reviews not only cars, trucks and SUVs, but motorcycles as well.

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    5 thoughts on “2017 Kia Forte5 SX: Now with Updated Styling and Powertrain [Review]

    1. To high of a price tag. the civic SI and GTI offer more for around the price and both have a huge following and big modification market for upgrades and tuning you’d be lucky to find an intake for the Kia or Hyundai version this is not enough car for the price to attack the SI or GTI even comparing it to the sonic RS you have zzp Chevy performance parts threw Chevy DDM works you can’t enter this part of the market without being able to marke this stuff off. Srt4 had mopar performance factory stage 1,2,3 pcm upgrades 300-400hp mini as well.hondata pcm upgrade has the SI making over 325hp a cheap type R GTI pcm upgrade making 300hp sonic RS zzp pcm upgrade making 275 see my point

      1. Also, there is a new Veloster N launching very soon with over 250 HP, this car is NOT intended to compete with GTI or ST, again the price is thousands lower after guaranteed rebate the others rarely offer or are smaller.

        Actually, since I’m a vet and drive for Uber, by total rebates come out to $3900 off, so we’re talking $20,300 with DCT, leather and decent stereo.

        1. The fact is the majority of America has bad to fair credit which means high interest loan and withthat the car for what it is, is very expensive nice sexy but not worth the money.

    2. The price is NOT too high, here’s why: 1. There is always far more rebates on it than the competition, honestly to help people with a down payment to get it financed. 2nd, the review car has the premium package so it’s is FAR more loaded than the others, and you can get it without the premium package with the 7-speed DCT for $2400 less and it still has a nice 7″ touch screen stereo with Android Auto/Apple carplay and leather. I have the 2016 stick shift and it doesn’t have leather but for 2017 you have no choice but leather but also MUST take the premium package and it’s high price for the stick, which on mine sucks anyway, terrible clutch with no consistent grab point, crappy linkage and too low geared, you are at 3000 RPM at 70, which is kind of fun to have a lot of power without shifting down but hurts fuel economy… so I’m trading it in on a ’17 DCT, no premium package for $22k.

      Also, since the engine is used in the Veloster Turbo, new Soul Turbo and others, there are PLENTY of mods for it.

      Reviewer take note: You have the specs wrong, it’s NOT a 6 speed automatic in the SX, it’s a 7-speed DCT that actually works really well after 3 years being used in other cars they have it dialed in nicely.

    3. A rebated SI 23grand a rebated wrx 24grand a rebated GTI with upgraded exhaust 24grand a rebated st focus or fiesta 21-24 grand not many people care about dct trans most people want to buy a hot hatch with a manual so when things go wrong it’s cheap so when driving, it’s engaging and fun I’m not saying the Kia or the rebadged Hyundai version isn’t a fun sexy car I’m saying with the competition at 260 hp on average it’s not worth it and again most people in America have bad to fair credit their for higher interest loans.

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