2013 Kia Forte EX (USA)

  photo Picture089_zps186104f8.jpg  photo Picture090_zps3e4d271b.jpg  photo Picture088_zpsa0559fed.jpg  photo Picture079_zps6c2a4546.jpg  photo Picture078_zpsd82adb42.jpg  photo Picture087_zps89dd20e1.jpg
 photo Picture035_zps4dbf3c86.jpg  photo Picture034_zps8c3504ef.jpg  photo Picture033_zpse78ae030.jpg  photo Picture032_zpsabf2055f.jpg  photo Picture41_zpsf3dc1ccb.jpg
 photo Picture086_zps1e99f916.jpg  photo Picture080_zps31983bd9.jpg  photo Picture085_zps1c0df6e6.jpg  photo Picture075_zps47b58ed8.jpg  photo Picture042_zps8416312e.jpg
   photo Picture064_zpsed51dba1.jpg  photo Picture063_zps682ac3d0.jpg  photo Picture062_zps65740fc6.jpg  photo Picture060_zps21e6dd22.jpg  photo Picture059_zps5be7de89.jpg  photo Picture058_zps8941b69f.jpg 
 photo Picture051_zps39944659.jpg  photo Picture069_zpsda9be413.jpg  photo Picture068_zpsbc272332.jpg  photo Picture066_zps8402ca34.jpg  photo Picture065_zps9d1f5153.jpg
   photo Picture037_zpsa295c2b4.jpg  photo Picture039_zps194a03f7.jpg  photo Picture047_zpsfd1d505a.jpg  photo Picture054_zpsce58c01e.jpg  photo Picture053_zps18edbbdd.jpg  photo Picture044_zpsfbb8fe73.jpg  photo Picture061_zps8cda55be.jpg
   photo Picture026_zps02928c3f.jpg  photo Picture025_zpsb3025a67.jpg  photo Picture017_zps5419425a.jpg  photo Picture038_zpsd4778a43.jpg  photo Picture036_zps0e04aca2.jpg
As part of Kia’s inexorable and rapid rise from automotive no-hoper of the 1990s to the power-house that it is now, it was the models that emerged around 10 years ago which really put us all on notice that this Korean company had decided to tackle the world’s best. The C-segment car launched in the 2004, called Cerato in most of the world and Spectra in America was not top of the class, but it did represent a huge improvement on the car it replaced, and served notice that its replacement was likely to give the Golf, Astra, Corolla and Mazda 3 a real fight. There was not one replacement, but two. Europe got their car first, in 2007, with the Slovakian made Cee’d which really did enter the top echelons of family car motoring. As hatchbacks are not of such interest to American buyers, they were offered a small four door sedan instead, designed in Kia’s California studio, which shared much of its underpinnings with the Hyundai Elantra. Making its US debut at the 2009 Chicago Auto Show, it retained the Cerato name in some Asian markets, except Korea where it was called K3, but the Americans gave it the name Forte. Although some would doubtless complain that the design is not that adventurous, to my mind, I think it looks clean and unfussy, and rate it as among the more visually appealing cars in its class. Look more closely and you will see that there are some neat details, with complex curves and surfaces on the bonnet, the front wings and under the side windows, along with some complex light mouldings. The initial design was subsequently joined by an elegant Coupe model, and eventually a five door hatchback as well. Although the adage “if it looks right, it is right” holds true in almost all cases in the automotive world, initial press reports suggested that it did not lead the class, with complaints made in particular that it was noisy. Never content to sit on their hands for long, Kia made a couple of notable revisions to the model, replacing the antiquated four speed automatic transmission with a modern six speeder for the 2011 model year cars and then in what turned out to be the final year of a four year run by adding more sound deadening. Although the Forte has been in the rental fleets ever since launch, they are nothing like as prevalent as most of their rivals, so sourcing one has taken a while. I thought I had got one earlier in this trip, but when I went to it, the battery was as dead as they come, so had to go and switch to something else. A few days later, I did spot what turned out to be the self-same car, with duly recharged battery, so instead of taking what Hertz had allocated, the self-same Sonata that I had taken when the Kia would not start (what a pair of coincidences, given the size of the LAX fleet), I was finally behind the wheel set to find out what I thought about the 2013 Forte.

 photo Picture072_zpsb5601a6e.jpg  photo Picture067_zps7fc051b3.jpg  photo Picture071_zps1856af3a.jpg  photo Picture074_zpsd92eeac4.jpg  photo Picture083_zpse6e4cb29.jpg  photo Picture084_zps98be8f11.jpg  photo Picture040_zpsa14891c0.jpg
 photo Picture082_zpsf265a73c.jpg  photo Picture081_zps8b07a791.jpg  photo Picture077_zps1b44b312.jpg  photo Picture076_zps284ccaa0.jpg  photo Picture073_zps0c0e2dd1.jpg

The test car had the smaller of two engines offered in the Forte, a 2 litre 4 cylinder unit which puts out 156 bhp, a slightly greater figure than that achieved by many of its rivals. Even so, the Forte is no ball of fire. Although this Kia was fine in most driving conditions, face it with a less than gentle incline, or the need for a sudden burst of acceleration and it runs out of steam pretty quickly forcing a downshift or two, at which point the engine gets really very noisy indeed, as speed builds up again. I suspect that this is a consequence of the fact that the engine is ultimately not that powerful or even more the case that the gearing of sixth gear has been chosen to address previous concerns about noise levels. Driven gently, noise levels are generally quite low, with just a trace of wind noise, and some road noise, which was notably worse on some surfaces than others. A manual gearbox is standard, but like all US rental cars, this one had the optional automatic. The six speed automatic gearbox is pretty smooth, and it is only the change in noise levels and the upward swing of the rev counter that really puts you on notice that you are no longer in top gear. Indeed, it was only by pushing the lever sideways into Tiptronic mode that I could see there were indeed six gears in this car (unlike the four that featured in previous year models), as counting the upchanges was quite difficult to be sure you had got them all.

 photo Picture009_zpse40a3d71.jpg  photo Picture001_zpsec51a01d.jpg  photo Picture014_zpscf895486.jpg  photo Picture048_zps58bc79f4.jpg  photo Picture021_zps2d2e8840.jpg

During my time with the Kia, I had a day of mostly freeway cruising, and a day up in the canyons. Over the 516 test miles, it consumed 16 gallons of regular, which means 32.25 mpg US, or 38.5 mpg in Imperial measures, which is not as good as some of competitors (in particular the Corolla, despite its antiquated 4 speed transmission) would likely have achieved. What I was not expecting was that when I took the Forte up on to the canyon roads, was that it would actually prove fun to hustle around the swooping bends. The steering has far more feel than many cars of this class (or any class, come to that), and the handling, although clearly from the school of front wheel drive meant that I could take the various curves and bends at far greater speed than I had done a few days earlier, and enjoy the experience far more. For sure, a European spec Focus would score far higher than this Kia, but even so I was pleasantly surprised at how much fun such an ordinary car could prove to be on these roads. The brakes were fine, and they took the punishment of the long and steady curvy downhill of the Angeles Crest Highway with no problems at all. A pull up handbrake is fitted between the seats. With a generous glass area, and relatively short overhangs, positioning the Forte on the road was easy and there were no problems in judging the extremities when manoeuvering it, though I did think that the door mirrors could usefully have been larger as there was a significant blind spot to remember when looking to pull out on the freeway.

 photo Picture024_zps7a1a159c.jpg  photo Picture022_zps2cd4c0b2.jpg  photo Picture020_zps6cc65872.jpg  photo Picture027_zps7a5d920e.jpg  photo Picture018_zps5861d259.jpg

There are two ways of looking at the cabin of this Forte., You could take a quick peek, and poke a couple of the surfaces and conclude that it is all rather grey and hard plastics, in other words rather old school Korean, or you could declare that it is refreshingly simple and unfussy. Both views are largely correct. The seats on the EX spec of the test car were covered in a mixture of grey cloth materials, and the dashboard and door casings were a mixture of grey and black, with a dark grey insert down the centre of the dash, and indeed the plastics used did feel rather hard and not look to be particularly appealing, and the plastic moulded steering wheel does little to dispel this impression. However, after the complicated mess of buttons that Ford (the worst, but not the only culprits) seem to think make us believe we are getting an upscale interior, the fact that there is an refreshing simplicity to the Forte was quite welcome. There are three large dials, under a single cowl, all deeply recessed and with chrome finisher rings, with central speedometer flanked by rev counter and a fuel gauge. Anything else you need to know is conveyed by warning lights in the middle of the instrument cluster. Twin column stalks operate the lights and indicators on the left and wipers on the right. The centre of the dash contains two vertically arranged air vents which straddle the integrated audio unit, and below this are the rotary knobs for the air conditioning system. There are some small and rather discrete repeater buttons on the steering wheel hub for the audio unit and cruise control. And that is it. Everything that you need is there, but there are no extras and no fripperies. The audio unit included XM satellite radio, which was a bit of a surprise in a car of this specification and price point, as well as USB and auxiliary ports mounted positioned in front of the gear lever. It was particularly easy to use, and sound quality was good.

 photo Picture004_zps9aa13c2a.jpg  photo Picture011_zpse28c88bf.jpg  photo Picture010_zps83491158.jpg  photo Picture007_zps1f81b4ed.jpg  photo Picture005_zps2f6c7723.jpg

Unsurprisingly, seat adjustment was all manual, with ratchet levers on the side of the seat for height and backrest angle and a bar under the seat for fore/aft movement. With an adjustable column, getting the ideal driving position was easy, and the seat proved comfortable for the time I spent sitting on it. Access to the rear seat is easy thanks to large door openings, and once there, there is a decent amount space for a couple of adults, with ample head room, as well as sufficient leg room even when the front seats are set well back. Three adults could squeeze in, though this is not a particularly wide car, so they would not want to stay there for long. There is a drop down central armrest with a pair of cup holders in its upper surface. There is no external release for the boot, with access gained either by pressing the button on the remote or by pulling a lever down by the left of the driver’s seat. With the lid raised, I was pleased to discover that the boot is surprisingly commodious, especially given the short tail. It is particularly deep from top to bottom, and official figures suggest that it is among the roomiest in the class. More space can be created by folding down the asymmetrically split rear seat backrests. Inside the cabin there is quite a generously sized drop down glove box, and door bins on the front doors only, and a split level cubby under the central armrest. There is a useful area in front of the gear lever which easily accommodated two cameras and my phone, and there is a very small dash mounted cubby recess above the driver’s knee. Rear seat passengers do not fare so well, with no door bins and a map pocket only on the back of the passenger seat.

 photo Picture006_zps6feaa94d.jpg  photo Picture008_zps433117ba.jpg  photo Picture045_zps6a3b8ae1.jpg  photo Picture046_zps1acf39d9.jpg  photo Picture070_zps41e1463b.jpg

Kia offer three different versions of the Forte, a four door Sedan like the test car, a five door hatchback and the rather neatly style 2 door coupe, called the Koup. Sedan models come in basic LX, mid-spec EX and top of the range SX models. The hatch and Koup are not available as an LX. Standard equipment on the LX includes air conditioning, a tilt steering wheel, split-folding rear seat backs, and a Bluetooth wireless cell-phone link. Features such as power windows, locks, mirrors, cruise control, keyless entry, and a telescopic steering wheel are standard on the EX and SX, but aren’t available on the LX. SX models come with the larger and more powerful 2.4 litre 4 cylinder engine and a sport suspension. EX sedan models with automatic transmission are available with an Eco Package that includes a “smart” alternator and low-rolling resistance tyres that are meant to increase fuel efficiency. A power sunroof is optional on the EX and SX. The SX is available with leather upholstery and heated front seats, but these features are only available on models equipped with the sunroof. A Technology Package for the automatic-transmission EX and SX includes a navigation system, rearview camera, automatic climate control, and keyless access/engine start. Remote engine start is also optional on these models. Neither of these optional Packages featured on the test car, unsurprisingly. List price for an EX Automatic such as the one I drove is $17,800.

 photo Picture049_zpsab171ebc.jpg  photo Picture043_zpsa640cd9f.jpg  photo Picture057_zps29d6743e.jpg  photo Picture056_zps83ebe6c6.jpg  photo Picture055_zps42333a78.jpg

This Forte struck me as an honest and unpretentious car that would serve well those who wanted a mid-sized family saloon that eschews the gimmicky styling and features that are permeating some of its competitors and yet which has no significant weaknesses. The only thing counting against it that I could discern was the rather breathless and noisy engine, and I suspect that these problems are easily overcome by the more potent 2.4 SX version. So, I quite liked the Forte and would happily rent one again. However, I probably won’t get the chance, as although this car was first available in the US as a 2010 model, such is the pace of change and new models chez Kia that this generation of Forte is already obsolete. A new model, once again called K3 in its home market, and retaining the Forte name for the Americans was premiered in the second half of 2012 and is just becoming available in the US, although it has yet to hit the rental fleets and I have not yet seen one on US roads. Motor Trend recently compared it with five rivals – the recently refreshed Sentra, the emergency facelifted Civic, the all new Dart and their previous class favourite the Mazda 3, and declared the Kia to be the easy winner of the group.

 photo Picture016_zpse60a1386.jpg  photo Picture013_zps280ed387.jpg  photo Picture023_zps32d06da6.jpg  photo Picture015_zpsd1c7daae.jpg  photo Picture012_zpsca7a134b.jpg  photo Picture003_zps8c635679.jpg  photo Picture002_zps5da5772c.jpg
 photo Picture031_zpsda079ed4.jpg  photo Picture030_zps8d7f782a.jpg  photo Picture029_zps37a688f3.jpg  photo Picture019_zps2c11cb76.jpg  photo Picture028_zps96d2b457.jpg

Share and Enjoy

  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • Delicious
  • LinkedIn
  • StumbleUpon
  • Add to favorites
  • Email
  • RSS


Home Forums 2013 Kia Forte EX (USA)

This topic contains 0 replies, has 1 voice, and was last updated by  Colin 4 years, 2 months ago.

Viewing 1 post (of 1 total)
  • Author
    Posts
  • #6301

    Colin
    Member

                 As part of Kia’s inexorable and rapid rise from automotive no-hoper of the 1990s to the power-house that it is now, it was the models tha
    [See the full post at: 2013 Kia Forte EX (USA)]

Viewing 1 post (of 1 total)

You must be logged in to reply to this topic.

Pinterest