Both the sedan and hatchback variants of Kia's compact, unveiled at the 2016 North American International Auto Show in Detroit, get a mild refresh that includes a number of changes and upgrades to both models.
2017 Kia Forte
The second-generation Forte was all-new for the 2014 model year, but after three years Kia decided that its compact needed a bit of freshening. What we expected was a bit of tidying-up for the front and rear fascias and maybe an upgrade to its infotainment offerings. It turns out that buyers of the 2017 model will get even more than that.
Up front, Kia's signature "tiger nose" grille is wider, while the headlamp enclosures are now narrower. The fascia, itself, is more vertical, while the lower air intake is larger and now incorporates the fog lamp housings. A vertical pair of fake brake ducts now reside where the fog lamps used to be.
As expected, the sides remain unchanged. In back, however, minor revisions include new, more dimensional, taillamp housings (with optional LED lamps) as well as a revised lower fascia, while an oval exhaust tip replaces the former round unit.
2017 will also see a new Forte S trim level between the entry-level LX and top-trim EX model. Buyers opting for the new S trim will get a standard sport tuned suspension, 16-inch alloy wheels (replacing the LX's standard 15-inch steelies), LED daytime running lights, a rear decklid spoiler, and a chrome exhaust tip. Interior accoutrements include a unique black interior (both LX and S models will feature new cloth trim – an upgrade from 2016 models) with white contrast stitching, plus a leather-wrapped steering wheel and shift knob.
2017 Forte S models (as well as those in EX trim) will also come standard with Kia's UVO3 telematics system replete with 7-inch color touch screen that includes the late availability of Android Auto and Apple CarPlay functionality.
Meanwhile, all trims will come standard with Drive Mode Select, which encompasses Normal, Eco and Sport driving modes.
2017 Kia Forte engines
Not content with interior and exterior changes, Kia has made a big change under the Forte's hood, replacing last year's 1.8-liter inline-4 with a new 2.0-liter Atkinson cycle inline-4 mated to either a 6-speed manual (oddly, available only on the LX and not on the "sporty" S) or 6-speed automatic transmission (standard on the S and EX and optional on the LX). Kia notes that specifications on the new engine, including horsepower and torque, will be released at a future date.
The EX, on the other hand, soldiers on with Kia's 2.0-liter direct injection Theta DOHC inline-4 that generates 173 horsepower at 6,500 rpm and 154 lb.-ft. of torque at 4,700 rpm.
2017 Kia Forte5
Also introduced at the Detroit Auto Show was a facelifted example of the Forte's hatchback twin, the Forte5.
Like the Forte, the Forte5 also gets a nose job with an identical grille and headlamp housings. The design elements of the lower portion of the fascia, however, stray from that of the Forte on SX trim models with a more vertical orientation, a larger and more aggressive lower air intake, and larger, trapezoidal fog lamps surrounds that house round fog lamp enclosures.
Around back, the changes were limited to a revision in the taillamp lenses.
Unlike its 4-door stable mate, Kia has carried over the Forte5's LX, EX and SX trim levels from 2016, but changes to all three were made for 2017.
The LX, for instance, now gets standard projector beam headlights and remote keyless entry with trunk opener as well as optional blind spot detection with lane change assist and rear cross-traffic alert.
Bigger changes come to EX models that now come with standard LED taillights, leather seats, heated front seats, pushbutton start with proximity key, and "perimeter approach lighting" with front door "pocket lighting" along with Kia's UVO eServices. EX models also come with a 7-inch color touchscreen and the late availability of Android Auto and Apple CarPlay compatibility.
SX models now get all that the EX offers plus 18-inch alloys, unique, red-accented front and rear fascias, dual exhaust outlets and a new, optional Orange Color Pack which features orange leather seat inserts and contrasting stitching on the seats and shifter.
Under the hood the 2.0-liter direct injection Theta DOHC inline-4 carries over from last year as does the standard 6-speed manual. New for 2017 is the optional automatic that is now a 7-speed dual clutch unit.