The Kia Forte name has been around for 10 years, and in most of its incarnations it represented basic transportation at a reasonable price. The economic advantages of the Forte are still there, but the all-new, third-generation Forte adds something else to the equation: luxury. Kia is not associated with luxury, except for the very rare K900 sedan. But now the Forte is available with list of luxury features on the EX and Launch Edition models. Let’s have a look at some of the features that come standard and see if the Forte is worth a look if you are in the market for a small sedan.
Mechanically, the Forte comes with a 2.0-liter four-cylinder linked to Kia’s in-house CVT transmission. The combination works well but it does not stand out from the crowd. What does stand out are the bevy of features that come standard in the EX. There are no manual climate controls, but dual-zone automatic climate with rear vents. The faux-leather seats are of good quality, and they offer heating AND cooling! A rarity at most price points. Typically to get ventilated seats, you have to be in the $40K-plus neighborhood. If you live in a hot climate, your nether regions will thank you. Forward collision warning and blind-spot protection are standard on the EX that comes in at less than $22,000. Almost a steal. LED tail lights set off the look of the rear end.
The designer of the Kia Forte, Peter Schreyer, used to work for Audi. There is a very Bauhaus feel to the interior that is clean compared to earlier versions. Although the EX has a plethora of standard features, the Launch Edition takes it to the next level. A Harman/Kardon Premium audio system is controlled with an 8-inch touchscreen. It is nicely integrated over the center stack vents, and the Kia UVO system is easy to navigate. The gauge cluster also becomes Audi-like with the addition of a 4.2-inch LCD screen between the speedometer and tachometer.
The Launch Edition also adds a sunroof, LED interior lighting, a Qi wireless charging system for your smartphone, and adaptive cruise control. The only minor niggle I had with the adaptive cruise control system is that it turns off at 5 mph, so it will not be able to help you in the most severe traffic jams. However, the safety features of the forward collision avoidance are taken to the next level in the Launch Edition with its ability to detect pedestrians as well as other vehicles. The whole package is rounded out with 17-inch graphite alloy wheels and a rear spoiler. The Launch Edition package costs $3,210 over the price of the standard EX.
Which begs the question … is it better to get the Launch Edition and have all the features built-in, or slowly add those features a la carte from a mobile enhancement specialist? In this case, it is probably best to go with the Launch Edition for its added safety benefits and adaptive cruise control. But that doesn’t mean the car is complete. Its special Currant Red paint is just begging for window film to set it off. The audio system could use a separate subwoofer. And the styling cues on the front end designed by Mr. Schreyer could use some paint protection film to keep them looking factory-fresh for the long haul.
The Forte price is truly great to get Audi-level features for a price tag in the mid-$20K range. To get the same features in a similarly-sized Audi A3, you would be at $42K! Now, we can’t compare a Kia to an Audi. Or can we? The equipment available on a Kia Forte Launch Edition is truly remarkable for the price. If you have an older A4 that you love but doesn’t have collision warning, heated seats, a sunroof, a good audio system or LED headlights, it is definitely a good time to upgrade at your mobile electronics specialist. Unless you want the guy in the Kia to have more features than your older Audi, Mercedes or BMW.