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I‘m not a fan of driving in snowstorms, so when I first realized my test ride would happen in the midst of one, I got nervous. I mean, over the years I’ve grown to trust Kia as a dependable brand but the Forte is one of its less expensive models and this was a REAL snowstorm. I thought about pulling over but decided to throw it into sport mode and stay the course. I’m glad I did. The $16K Kia Forte held its own, cutting through the heavy snow easily. And, when the weather shifted to nearly blinding rain, I was impressed with the Forte’s ability to keep me in my lane even when I couldn’t see the lane markers. This safety technology called the Lane Keep Assist System, was a godsend, and is something I don’t often see on cars at this price point. The option is not standard but it is definitely worth getting. I also appreciated the Front Collision Warning System and the Rear Cross Traffic Alert, both of which helped make me feel safe.

On the brass tacks side, the Forte has three different drive modes: Normal, Eco and Sport. While using the Eco setting, my miles per gallon range hovered in the 30s. When I switched over to sport mode the car immediately became zippier and more responsive but the MPG dipped into the mid 20’s. That said, the sport mode sounds great, especially for a car this small. Expect to turn some heads.

This is a very simple thing, but when the car is locked the side view mirrors fold in. I loved this feature because when I couldn’t remember if I’d locked the car or not, just a glance would give me the answer. Super nifty. Bonus? If you unlock the Forte but walk away for too long it’ll lock itself again, keeping your car protected.

I know this is going to make me sound mad spoiled, but *ahem* it’s been ages since I was inside a car with cloth seats.  I  can honestly say it was a welcome change. In Nashville’s unexpectedly sub-freezing temperatures, it was nice to not sit on frigid leather and wait for it to warm up. The cloth seats were a bit chilled but not enough to make me dread physical contact.

Full-sized rear seat, anyone? When we had a group of people mobilizing for after-church brunch, my mom said, “You don’t have enough room in that car.” But, sure enough, we all were able to pile into it. The point? The Forte is larger than it looks. Speaking of which, it also has a shockingly large trunk for such a compact car. It fit plenty of everything from two sets of luggage to my bracelet-making supplies, with plenty of room leftover to bring a homemade lemon cake back to New York. Here’s another cool fact: after all the snow turned to salt, my mom thought the car was gray but it’s actually a nice shade of bluish-gray called Phantom Grey. Depending on the light, it looks gray, or black, or blue. Very chameleon-like and stylish.

All told, the Kia Forte is a solid (and safe) car at an appealing price point. Great for a first-time car buyer or someone looking to reduce expenses.

Just the Facts:

  • 2017 Kia Forte S
  • Starts at $16.6K
  • 5 year/ 60K mile warranty with roadside assistance
  • 3-month free subscription to Sirus XM
  • Bluetooth technology
  • Push button start


SekouWrites is a lifestyle and automotive journalist.