The 2018 Kia Forte is offered in two different body styles, either as a 4-door sedan or as a 4-door hatchback. The 4-door sedan comes in LX, S, and EX grades, while the hatchback is available in either LX, EX or SX trims. LX models are powered by a 147-horsepower 4-cylinder engine, while EX models gets a more powerful 2.0L direct-injected 4-cylinder that makes 164 horsepower and 154 pound-feet of torque. The Kia Forte SX Koup comes with a turbocharged 1.6L 4-cylinder making 201 horsepower. Both of the non-turbo engines include continuously variable valve timing, which helps provide responsiveness over a wide range while enhancing fuel economy. LX models offer a choice between a 6-speed manual gearbox and a 6-speed automatic transmission, while EX 4-doors only come with the automatic. Both versions of the Koup come standard with a 6-speed manual, while an automatic is optional on either trim.
The Kia Forte sedan features an available Eco Package that adds Idle Stop & Go, a system that will automatically shut off the engine at stoplights; it also adds dual-zone climate control, rear-seat ventilation and special badging. LX trims now offer a Popular Plus Package, which provides cruise control, 16-inch alloy wheels and a rear camera display.
The Forte has a MacPherson strut-type front suspension and coupled torsion-beam rear setup. Across the model line, electric power steering is included. An available Flex Steer system lets drivers choose between Comfort, Normal and Sport modes, changing the steering feel with the press of a button. Base LX 4-door models have 15-inch steel wheels while 16-inch alloys are available. EX model includes 16-inch alloys with lower-profile tires while, 17-inch alloys are an option. The Forte Koup SX includes 18-inch wheels as standard.
Inside, the instrument panel is canted 10 degrees toward the driver for a cockpit feel and there are large, easy-to-read gauges. There's a multi-information display with 4.2-inch screen on EX models and trims and materials are in line with more upscale vehicles.
Forte LX models come standard with air conditioning, power windows, power heated mirrors, steering-wheel-mounted audio controls, Bluetooth connectivity and Sirius Satellite Radio compatibility. EX models add remote keyless entry, a rear backup camera, a sliding center armrest and a cooled glovebox.
EX options are grouped into several packages. The Premium Package includes heated front seats, a power-adjustable driver's seat, cooling for the driver's seat, leather upholstery, a power sunroof, push-button start, a Smart Key system and a heated steering wheel. Separately, a Technology Package combines HID headlamps, LED tail lamps, dual-zone climate control, rear-seat ventilation and a 4.2-inch color display screen.
The Forte Koup SX includes projector beam foglamps, gloss black painted, dual heated power mirrors, chrome exhaust tips, steering wheel mounted paddle shifters, bigger front brakes and of course a more powerful engine than is available on any other Forte.
Look, we all want a fancy performance car, but sometimes you have to stick to a budget. Me? I'd love a Kia Stinger, but it's a little out of reach financially. Thankfully, Kia now offers a bit of budget performance with Stinger style in the form of the 2020 Forte GT.
The GT distinguishes itself from the rest of the Forte lineup with a sharper design. I like the fastback silhouette that resolves with a small lip spoiler, as well as the black mirror caps, redesigned grille and sleek headlights. I also dig the red trim on the rear diffuser and think the subtle red highlights and GT badge in the grille look nice. The whole look is distinctive without being ostentatious.
The GT gets a performance bump over other Fortes, too, thanks to a 1.6-liter turbocharged I4 engine with 201 horsepower and 195 pound-feet of torque. That's a pretty significant increase over the 147 hp and 132 lb-ft available in other Forte models, and the hits keep on comin' with your choice of either a six-speed manual or seven-speed dual-clutch automatic transmission, as well as a louder exhaust.
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