The hatchback world is a very crowded place. It’s not a world to be entered lightly by any manufacturer. Which is why you have to give Kia credit. Not only does the Forte5 fit in with the crowd, but it’s battling for the lead.
Let’s take a minute to size up some of the competition. There’s the Mazda3 which many folks feel has been setting the standard for years. Ford’s Focus Hatch has great looks and some interesting engine options. You can even opt for something a little more upscale and get the Lexus CT200h, with the “h” standing for hybrid. And those cars barely dent the hatchback world. There’s something out there for everyone.
I can’t say that absolutely everyone will like the Kia Forte5 , but you’ll be hard pressed to find many reasons not to appreciate this hatchback. It’s important to point out that you can get a Forte sedan, or a Forte5 hatchback. Similar in many ways, but the Forte5 (which stands for five doors) is more versatile. This car was redesigned in 2014. It was a nice update with a slightly more aggressive look that ties in with Kia’s overall corporate styling. You’ll especially notice it in the grill. I’m not going to say that the Forte5 breaks new ground, but it’s an attractive package that won’t get outdated quickly.
Inside, the car doesn’t feel small. Don’t get me wrong, you won’t feel like you’re driving a Cadillac Escalade, but it will feel better than your college pants that you still try to squeeze into every now and then. The dash is nicely laid out. It’s not pretending to be a luxury car, but it also doesn’t look cheap. The seats were very comfortable. We drove it to San Diego for a weekend trip and they felt great the entire trip. My test car had the $2,300 SX Premium package which included leather seats plus heating and ventilation, among other things. It even has a heated steering wheel.
Of course, it’s the hatchback that really makes this class of car versatile. We had to haul some stuff on our trip, and it was great to flop down the back seat, pop open the hatch and have plenty of room. The back seat has the 60/40 split so you can mix people and cargo. Honestly, I can’t understand why anyone would opt for the sedan version when the Forte5 allows you to do so much more.
One big reason that the Forte 5 does well against the competition is the engine choices. The hatchback has two options. If you choose the EX, you get a 2.0 liter four-cylinder that delivers 173 horsepower. That’s a very reasonable engine for this class of car. Opt for the SX version, and you’ll find a turbocharged 1.6 liter four-cylinder that nudges the horsepower up to 201. That kind of power is hard to find in the small hatchback world. It may not seem like much when you compare it to bigger cars offering closer to 300, but it makes the Forte5 fun to drive. I had the automatic and it was still a pleasure. The only knock on Kia’s engine choices is the mileage. The 2.0 is good for 24 mpg city and 34 highway, while the turbo 1.6 manages just 21 mpg city and 29 mpg on the highway. During my highway run to California with the Kia I managed just under 29 mpg even though I moving at nearly 80 mph much of the way. If mileage is your priority, then there are better choices. On the other hand, if driving fun ranks higher, the Forte5 is a solid pick.
I still meet people who grimace when I suggest a Kia. They need to understand that the Korean carmaker has come a long way since its early years with models like the Sephia or the original Sportage. The current generation is made up of great looking cars that work well. And don’t forget, they have one of the best warranties on the planet. 5 years or 50,000 miles for the entire car, 10 years or 100,000 for the powertrain.
My test car stickered at $27,100, but it was fully loaded. You can get into the SX starting at $21,890 or the EX for $19,690. Personally, I think the extra horsepower is worth the additional money.
As I said, the hatchback world is a crowded place. Buying a 2015 Kia Forte5 will definitely help you feel like you’re rising above the pack.