Kia is no stranger to electrified vehicles. It currently offers the Optima Hybrid in both regular and plug-in varieties, the fully electric Soul EV that’s just been redesigned for 2019, so therefore…

2018 Kia Niro SX Touring Road Test

2018 Kia Niro SX Touring
Looking like a tall wagon with some SUV-like black cladding across its baseline, the Kia Niro hybrid is an impressive subcompact crossover SUV. (Photo: Karen Tuggay, Canadian Auto Press)

Kia is no stranger to electrified vehicles. It currently offers the Optima Hybrid in both regular and plug-in varieties, the fully electric Soul EV that’s just been redesigned for 2019, so therefore nobody should be surprised to see the new Niro subcompact crossover show up in HEV guise. 

The surprise is its dedicated hybrid powertrain. Yes, that means it isn’t offered with conventional gasoline-only propulsion at all. This is reason enough for it being compared to the Toyota Prius, with some even considering it a Prius competitor. While such may be true in the context of its hybrid drivetrain, directly challenging the Prius is really the job of Hyundai’s equally dedicated Ioniq, which while sharing the same fully independent underpinnings, the identical 1.6-litre Kappa III four-cylinder Atkinson-cycle powerplant, a duplicate of its six-speed dual-clutch automated transmission, and direct copies of its electrified components, the Ioniq is shaped more like a traditional hatchback, is quite a bit longer, and sits a lot lower to the ground overall. 

2018 Kia Niro SX Touring
The Niro’s clean lines might only offend someone by being completely inoffensive. (Photo: Karen Tuggay, Canadian Auto Press)

Instead, the shorter, taller Niro is sized almost identically to the new Toyota C-HR and slightly longer Nissan Qashqai, which are two of the larger subcompact SUVs available. This said the Niro is quite wide, coming closer to matching Subaru’s Crosstrek. Either way the Niro fits nicely within this smallest of SUV categories, which is an ideal place for a new hybrid to reside as it provides an excellent opportunity for sales growth. 

2018 Kia Niro SX Touring
SX Touring trim means LED-enhanced HID headlamps, larger 18-inch alloy wheels and more. (Photo: Karen Tuggay, Canadian Auto Press)

You’ll have to decide for yourself if the thick matte black trim around the wheel cutouts and additional slabs of black protective trim skirting the rest of the Niro’s lower extremities provide enough SUV-like machismo for its Kia-applied crossover categorization, or whether its satin-silver roof rails and other exterior detailing enhance or detract from that effect. Likewise, you’ll need to take it for a drive to find out if its slightly raised ride height allows enough visibility of the road ahead and surrounding area to make you feel like you’re at the wheel of a sport utility, but then again the popularity of the aforementioned Qashqai, which is now the subcompact crossover SUV segment’s best-selling model and hardly anymore truck-like, proves that tough, rugged styling and a tall profile aren’t the only elements of success in this class. 

2018 Kia Niro SX Touring
These sharp looking LED taillights come standard in EX trim and above. (Photo: Karen Tuggay, Canadian Auto Press)

SUV-ness aside, the idea of combining a small crossover with a hybrid drivetrain is pretty smart. It’s hardly an original ideal, Toyota having found plenty of success implementing this formula with in its larger RAV4 Hybrid in the compact SUV category, and Mitsubishi slightly less so with its similarly sized Outlander PHEV, but the Niro is a first for the smaller entry-level subcompact SUV segment, and the fact that it’s the first dedicated hybrid within the crossover SUV sector is actually groundbreaking. 

2018 Kia Niro SX Touring
The Niro SX Touring provides a much more upscale interior than most will expect from a mainstream volume brand. (Photo: Karen Tuggay, Canadian Auto Press)

Another thing the Niro has going for it is price. A base 2018 Niro L can be had for as little as $24,995 plus freight and fees (see full 2018 Niro pricing at CarCostCanada, plus money saving rebate info and dealer invoice pricing that could save you thousands), which is quite reasonable even without factoring in its hybrid drivetrain that normally costs thousands over a given model’s conventionally powered alternative. Still, you get this super-efficient HEV in base trim with standard 16-inch alloy wheels, perimeter/approach lights, auto on/off projector headlamps, LED DRLs, LED positioning lights, fog lamps, splash guards, variable intermittent wipers, a tilt and telescopic steering column, a heatable leather-wrapped multifunction steering wheel, a large colour TFT multi-info display, distance pacing adaptive cruise control, a leather-clad shift knob, illuminated vanity mirrors, filtered dual-zone automatic climate control with auto defog, three-way heated front seats, an overhead sunglasses holder, cloth upholstery, chrome/metal-look interior accents, a cargo net, a hill holder, individual tire pressure monitoring, a perimeter alarm, all the usual active and passive safety features including a driver’s knee airbag, and more. 

2018 Kia Niro SX Touring
The SX Touring gets a lot of luxury, electronic and convenience upgrades over less trims. (Photo: Karen Tuggay, Canadian Auto Press)

Continuing with the Niro’s impressive value theme, base L trim also comes standard with a 7.0-inch infotainment touchscreen featuring a rearview camera, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto smartphone integration, six-speaker audio, AM/FM/MP3/satellite radio, Bluetooth phone connectivity with audio streaming, USB and aux ports, etcetera. 

If you want more than mere base trim, and most Canadians do, the $27,595 Niro EX adds LED turn signals onto an upgraded set of power-folding side mirrors, sharp looking and quicker responding LED taillights, those roof rails mentioned earlier, plus proximity-sensing access with a pushbutton ignition, an auto-dimming rearview mirror, rear parking sensors, a wireless phone charger, upgraded cloth and leather upholstery, piano black lacquered interior trim, coloured console and door panel inlays, satin chrome inner door handles, a folding rear centre armrest, rear climate ventilation, a cargo cover, an under floor storage tray, and more. 

2018 Kia Niro SX Touring
This partially digital gauge cluster comes standard across the entire Niro line. (Photo: Karen Tuggay, Canadian Auto Press)

If you think that’s good, a tiny hop up to the $29,195 EX Premium adds a powered glass sunroof, an eight-way power-adjustable driver’s seat with two-way powered lumbar, and blind spot detection with rear cross-traffic alert. 

Leaving the best to the last, my top-line $32,995 Niro SX Touring included most everything already mentioned as well as better looking 18-inch alloys, brighter HID headlamps, aeroblade wipers, “niro” inscribed metal door sill treadplates, alloy sport pedals, a larger 8.0-inch touchscreen with a navigation system featuring detailed mapping, front parking sensors, a great sounding eight-speaker Harman/Kardon audio system, stylish perforated leather upholstery, a household-style 110-volt power inverter, driver’s seat memory, ventilated front seats, heatable rear seats, emergency autonomous braking, lane departure warning, lane keeping assist, stop and go added to the distance pacing adaptive cruise control, driver attention alert, and more. It all comes in a really nicely finished cabin that’s suited up more impressively than some premium branded subcompact crossover SUVs, highlighted by a high-quality soft-touch synthetic dash top and door uppers. 

2018 Kia Niro SX Touring
The centre stack is well laid out for easy of use and features high quality switchgear. (Photo: Karen Tuggay, Canadian Auto Press)

My Graphite painted Niro SX Touring looked stealth compared to those coated in Ocean Blue or Temptation Red, while other exterior colours include a darker, greyer Gravity Blue, Espresso brown, Snow White Pearl, and Aurora Black, with all SX Touring models receiving black leather upholstery within an all-black interior. Of course it’s not completely black inside, thanks to sporty white contrast stitching throughout, and two above average quality high-resolution electronic displays ahead of the driver and another on the centre stack, these filled with deep, rich colours and attractive graphics. 

2018 Kia Niro SX Touring
Accurate navigation with detailed mapping comes standard in a larger 8.0-inch touchscreen when moving up to the top-tier Touring SX. (Photo: Karen Tuggay, Canadian Auto Press)

Before I delve into these interfaces, the Niro SX Touring driver’s seat is comfortable and the all-round view is quite good thanks to a reasonably tall ride height, the Niro bridging the aforementioned gap between crossover SUV and tall wagon quite well. The previously noted power seat controls provided plenty of adjustment and the fore-and-aft-only powered lumbar support fit my lower back ideally, as did the entire backrest. Comfort in mind, the steering column offers a lot of telescopic reach, which I happen to appreciate because this benefits my long-legged, shorter torso five-foot-eight body type, while there’s also plenty of rake. 

2018 Kia Niro SX Touring
Unlike most hybrids, the Niro features a sporty, quick-shifting 6-speed dual-clutch transmission. (Photo: Karen Tuggay, Canadian Auto Press)

The nicely shaped leather-wrapped and black-lacquer adorned steering wheel looks and feels sportier than I expected for a hybridized SUV too, and it comes filled with high quality switchgear including easy-to-use rockers for various functions, particularly for scrolling through and selecting features within the full-colour dual-screen multi-information display mentioned earlier, these defaulting to hybrid-specific info. The analogue gauges are brightly backlit too, with the entire cluster very good looking. 

The centre stack mounted infotainment interface noted earlier features familiar tablet-style tap, pinch and swipe touchscreen gesture controls, a very clear and easy to see backup camera with active guidelines, navigation with a nicely detailed map and accurate route guidance, plenty of useful apps, and once again unique hybrid info that even goes so far as to show how well you’ve been driving via a dot matrix-style tree which grows more foliage when driven more efficiently. 

2018 Kia Niro SX Touring
The Niro SX Touring’s beautifully sculpted leather-clad sport seats are very comfortable and fully supportive. (Photo: Karen Tuggay, Canadian Auto Press)

It showed my real-time fuel economy averaging 5.9 L/100km, but to clarify I really wasn’t trying to drive efficiently during my final stint, as I need to get the Niro home quickly. It’s useful info just the same, while eco-geeks will likely enjoy the graphic energy flow display even more. This said I’ll deep dive into fuel economy as I get further into this review, because I don’t want to get pulled out of the Niro’s impressive interior just yet, and I need to preamble the powertrain before that. 

Having set the driver’s seat up for my aforementioned small-to-medium-build frame, I slid into the back seat more easily than I would in a lower car thanks to its taller ride height, and found a lot of space to move around and get comfortable in. In fact, there were four to five inches between my knees and the front seatback, plus even more above my head, while you shouldn’t have any problem seating three adults side-by-side, although two would be more comfortable. 

2018 Kia Niro SX Touring
A powered glass sunroof comes standard with EX Premium trim and above. (Photo: Karen Tuggay, Canadian Auto Press)

As expected in a crossover SUV albeit not always true of electrified cars, the Niro provides a sizeable cargo hold measuring 635 litres (22.4 cubic feet) behind the 60/40-split rear seatbacks and 1,789 litres (63 cubic feet) when they’re folded flat, which is actually much better than average for the subcompact SUV class. The loading area is nice and wide too, while a folding cargo floor reveals a hidden cargo organizer below, useful for storing valuables, tools or other items you may want to keep separated from everything else. 

Back in the driver’s seat, a quick press of the dash-mounted button ignites the engine and you’re off to the races. The direct injection-enhanced four-cylinder internal combustion engine (ICE) displaces 1.6 litres resulting in 104 horsepower, but when factoring in the 32-kW (43-horsepower) permanent magnet synchronous electric motor it’s good for 139 net horsepower. Even better, the electric motor adds 86.5 lb-ft of more immediate twist to the ICE’s 108.5 lb-ft of torque, with the combined effect totaling 195 lb-ft of net torque from 4,000 rpm. 

2018 Kia Niro SX Touring
The rear seating area is roomy and the outboard positions very comfortable. (Photo: Karen Tuggay, Canadian Auto Press)

That’s a lot of get up and go for a subcompact SUV, but the inclusion of the quick-shifting six-speed dual-clutch automated transmission I mentioned earlier (not the humdrum CVT found in most hybrids) makes the Niro feel even sportier. It’s such a great gearbox that I was longing for a set of steering-wheel mounted paddle shifters, but at least Sportmatic manual mode can be actuated via the gear lever, and it works well enough. 

Another driveline feature I would’ve liked to see is AWD, but despite the Niro targeting the subcompact SUV market the placement of its 1.56-kWh rear-mounted lithium-polymer battery means it won’t be getting all-wheel drive anytime soon if at all. Still, news that Hyundai-Kia is developing in-wheel e-AWD technology gives me hope that it’s not totally out of the question at some point in the future. 

2018 Kia Niro SX Touring
The Niro’s cargo compartment is not only accommodating for a hybrid, it’s one of the largest in the subcompact SUV class. (Photo: Karen Tuggay, Canadian Auto Press)

Some time ago I would’ve said that AWD is a subcompact SUV prerequisite, but it’s long been excluded from the very popular Kia Soul and now can’t be had with the aforementioned Toyota C-HR either, so I suppose AWD isn’t as critical in this category as I initially figured it would be, and the Niro’s fuel economy is so good many won’t care one whit about extra rear-wheel traction. 

Driving this point home is a great story worth repeating. The Niro was barely born when it earned a Guinness World Book of Record’s entry thanks to Wayne Gerdes and co-driver Robert Winger using just 4.1 tanks of gas while driving their Niro EX 5,979 km (3,715 miles) from Los Angeles to New York City, the key number being an average of 3.1 L/100km (76.6 U.S. mpg). No doubt they were using hypermiling techniques to achieve such incredible efficiency, as the Niro EX trim’s five-cycle Transport Canada rating is a more conservative 4.6 L/100km in the city, 5.1 on the highway and 4.8 combined. The base LX is claimed to do even better with a 4.5 L/100km city, 4.8 highway and 4.7 combined rating, whereas the as-tested SX Touring is good for an estimated 5.1 city, 5.8 highway and 5.4 combined. 

2018 Kia Niro SX Touring
Below the cargo floor is this handy hidden storage tray. (Photo: Karen Tuggay, Canadian Auto Press)

Like other hybrids Kia uses regenerative braking to recoup kinetic energy, as well as auto start/stop to save fuel that would otherwise be wasted while idling, while standard Drive Mode Select provides an Eco mode to increase efficiencies and therefore reduce emissions further. I actually left it in this greenest of settings for most of my test week due to a generally stingy personal nature, but I must say its alternative Sport mode makes for a more enjoyable driver’s car, providing that extra punch off the line required for quicker takeoff and more confident highway passing. 

I was actually surprised at how well the Niro drove. Let’s face it. While attractive, its somewhat conservative tall wagon styling prepared me for more of a sheepish experience than running with the wolves, but its formidable power, superb transmission, and nicely dialed in front strut, rear multi-link suspension rolling on meaty as-tested 225/45R18 rubber combined for good balance through the corners, while the ride is smooth and once again comfortable. Its lightweight yet rigid construction, made with plenty of high-strength steel and aluminum, adds to its Euro-inspired feel, while its nice taut ride was never rough, the Niro striking a good compromise between sport and comfort that most should appreciate. 

That last sentence really sums up my entire weeklong experience. I can’t see many disagreeing with Kia’s new Niro, nor its very attractive value proposition. It’s a great little crossover that’s wonderfully comfortable, fully accommodating, filled with premium features, and best of all it delivers record-breaking fuel economy yet doesn’t feel at all like a hybrid. In other words, the Niro is a lot of fun to drive. Whether you’re looking for a good small SUV or a fuel-efficient dedicated hybrid, consider the Niro. It’s a best of both worlds offering that shouldn’t be looked over.

Is Kia’s Forte5 SX the hot hatch for you? With 201-hp and a 7-speed dual-clutch auto with paddles it has plenty of scoot, while it’s also stocked full of luxury equipment like LED-infused HID headlamps,…

2017 Kia Forte5 SX Road Test

Kia has thoroughly refreshed its second-generation Forte5 for 2017, and it even looks better than the already stylish outgoing version. I've long found the Forte an attractive compact, whether in five-door hatchback, four-door sedan, or two-door coupe guise. The coupe, or rather Koup, was discontinued at the end of 2016 in the U.S. and continues unchanged here in Canada, so you'll need to step up to this Forte5 or the Forte sedan in order to enjoy all the improvements.

The 2017 Forte5 featured here is in top-tier SX trim, which is exactly how I'd option this car out if my name were on the ownership papers. Last year I would've been stumped about whether to stick with its standard six-speed manual or upgrade to the seven-speed dual-clutch automated gearbox with paddles, but now if you want the top-line engine with the manual you'll either need to buy one from the U.S. or walk across the street to your local Hyundai dealer and ask for the Forte SX' brother from another mother, otherwise Read Full Story
Thanks to new entries and loads of updates the minivan sector is once again heating up, which has us wondering whether Kia’s carryover Sedona has what it takes to compete. We test a top-line SXL+ to…

2017 Kia Sedona SXL+ Road Test

Regular readers will know I've got a thing about minivans. And no, I'm not talking about the usual ego-driven "I won't be caught dead in anything so homespun" attitude that's caused North American families to deviate from this most practical of motive appliances to far less utile car-based pseudo-SUVs in droves, but rather a true appreciation for monobox mobility with side-slider access. That the alt-mainstream brand Kia goes about the Sedona's pragmatic duty with such a keen sense of urbane style is merely a bonus that I exploited during a recent weeklong test.

It helps that Kia gave me a luxury-lined SXL+ model, which is outfitted as nicely as most anything in the class. OK, it's not as tarted up as a full load Chrysler Pacifica, but its as-tested $46,895 window sticker doesn't shock the senses as much as the $58,480 2017 Pacifica Limited I put through its paces recently. To be fair, the Pacifica is probably worth the extra coin if you're so inclined, but then again this Sedona Read Full Story
Kia Soul fans rejoice! The Kia Soul, which was introduced to the market as a 2009 model, now has an optional turbocharged engine. The new Soul has a 1.6-litre turbocharged inline four engine paired with…

2017 Kia Soul Turbo SX

The Kia Soul Turbo looks awesome in its Wild Orange paint
Kia Soul fans rejoice! The Kia Soul, which was introduced to the market as a 2009 model, now has an optional turbocharged engine. The new Soul has a 1.6-litre turbocharged inline four engine paired with a seven-speed dual-clutch automatic transmission with manual shifting. The new turbocharged Kia Soul now develops 201 horsepower at 6,000 rpm and 195 lb-ft of torque at 1,500 rpm. The Soul will reach 100 kph in 7.5 seconds (est) from a standstill and will keep on going to a claimed top speed of 200 kph. Interestingly the engine in the new Kia Soul Turbo is the same engine found in the Kia Forte Koup, Kia Optima, Hyundai Elantra Sport, Hyundai Sonata, Hyundai Tucson and the Hyundai Veloster Turbo. The Kia Soul sells extremely well in the small car, tall hatchbacks & crossover vehicle segment in Canada. In 2016 it led the market segment with 12,672 units sold. The closest competitor to the Kia Soul in this segment was the new Honda HR-V. In 2016 the Honda HR-V sold 12,371 units.
A VW GTI-esque red stripe nicely compliments the athletic looking Kia Soul Turbo.
To distinguish the turbo model from the base model there have been several visual refinements. A Volkswagen GTI inspired red accent line just below the door runs along the rocker panel. The piano black grille is sharper and also sports a red accent line near the bottom of the fascia. Our test vehicle also included 18-inch sport alloy wheels with P235/45R18 tires, upgraded fog lights, dual exhaust tips, a front skid plate and distinguishing Turbo badges.
The Wild Orange coloured stitching looks great on the sport shaped steering wheel and the sport seats.
Inside, you will find comfortable, high quality black cloth sport seats with leather bolsters trimmed in “Wild Orange” stitching. Both front seats are six-way power adjustable and heated however, only the drivers’ seat has lumbar support. The Kia also has a heated sport steering wheel (shaped like a downwards facing “D”) wrapped in leather and also trimmed to match the seats. The automatic gearshift is wrapped in leather and accented nicely with more stitching and a black and orange plastic knob.  
The control knob for the footwell lighting can be set to respond to the music or apparently even your mood.
Underneath and to the left of the steering wheel there is a control knob for the foot well lighting which you can set to react to mood or music. It worked extremely well for music however stayed permanently blue while on mood, which I thought was weird because I couldn’t resist smiling the entire time. The tester also came with a beautiful panoramic sunroof that made the already spacious car feel even more so. Speaking of space, the cargo capacity for the Kia Soul Turbo is 532-litres which climbs to 1,402-litres once the rear seats go down. The trunk also comes with a clever hidden floor panel, which can be used to store valuables.
The eight-inch multimedia interface comes with voice activated navigation, Android Auto and Apple CarPlay.
On the Soul Turbo the Tech package option adds $3,000 making the Kia $31,000. The option package includes dual USB charge points, eight speakers, Harman Kardon premium audio system, eight-inch multimedia interface with voice-activated navigation, Android Auto and Apple CarPlay smartphone integration, LED cabin lighting and a cargo cover with luggage net. There is so a lot more to delve into when it comes to the Kia Soul Turbo so make sure to come back and read our full road test review. I’m excited to tell you what it’s been like to drive, how comfortable it is, its livability, the fuel efficiency and why it’s worth the extra money for the Turbo.
With 6,856 Fortes down the road as of May 31, 2017 and 12,296 units sold during the entire 12 months of 2016, Kia seems to be on track for a record year. Of course, we’re only talking five months so…

2017 Kia Forte5 SX

2017 Kia Forte5 SX
For 2017, Kia has given its Forte a brand new look, and it arguably looks best in top-line 2017 Kia Forte5 SX trim. (Photo: Karen Tuggay, Canadian Auto Press)
With 6,856 Fortes down the road as of May 31, 2017 and 12,296 units sold during the entire 12 months of 2016, Kia seems to be on track for a record year. Of course, we’re only talking five months so far, with seven more that may not prove as profitable, but things are definitely moving up. It’s difficult for we outsiders to surmise where the sales growth is coming from. VW’s Jetta, Ford’s Focus, Dodge’s Dart, and Kia’s own Soul are having particularly bad years, so some of those who’ve previously bought these competitors may be switching rides, or more likely the Forte is finding a combination of many such conquest sales as well as managing to upsell would-be Rio buyers that haven’t been too keen on little subcompact lately. Now matter how we try to dissect it, Forte sales are up by a considerable margin.
2017 Kia Forte5 SX
The practical hatch gets wrapped in an attractive design to go along with its sporty character. (Photo: Karen Tuggay, Canadian Auto Press)
From personal experience of driving and reviewing five Fortes since introduced for 2010, I can honestly say it’s about time the market caught on to how good this compact model is. I can speak similarly for most of the brand’s current offerings, Kia a mainstream volume brand that delivers much more than its value-oriented pricing suggests, and backs up its entire line with one of the better warranties in the industry at five years or 100,000 kilometres. Even more brag-worthy, Kia landed on top of the entire auto industry in J.D. Power and Associates’ most recent 2017 Initial Quality Study, while its 2017 Vehicle Dependability Study score placed it in the top five of all mainstream volume brands. What’s more, a new top-five standing in Consumer Reports’ latest Annual Reliability Survey is news worth sharing too. In other words, anyone still having qualms about driving a Kia had better give their head a shake.
2017 Kia Forte5 SX
The SX offers an upscale ambiance thanks to soft-touch cabin surfaces, leather, and more. (Photo: Karen Tuggay, Canadian Auto Press)
With respect to the car in our garage specifically, it’s a thoroughly refreshed second-generation Forte5 that somehow manages to look better than the already stylish outgoing version. I’ve long found the Forte an attractive compact, whether in 5-Door hatchback, four-door sedan, or two-door coupe guise. As you may have heard, the coupe, or rather Koup was discontinued at the end of 2016 in the U.S. and continues unchanged here in Canada, so you’ll need to step up to this Forte5 or the sedan in order to enjoy all the improvements. At my beck and call this week is the 2017 Forte5 in top-tier SX trim, which is exactly how I’d option this car out if my name were going on the ownership papers. The only issue I’m a bit stumped about is whether to leave its standard six-speed manual as is or upgrade to the seven-speed dual-clutch automated gearbox with paddles. I’m testing it in the latter trim and without giving too much away ahead of my full road test review, it’s damn good. Then again the manual is, well, a manual, which inherently provides more driver engagement. A tough choice, but of note one that most automakers don’t provide at all. Move up into the topmost trim levels of the Forte’s key rivals and you’ll be stuck with an autobox or worse, a CVT, but kudos to Kia, this sportiest Forte5 gets a true performance aficionado’s alternative, which has to warm the heart of anyone with petrol in the veins.
2017 Kia Forte5 SX
A leather-wrapped flat-bottomed sport steering wheel with paddles plus aluminum foot pedals provide a performance-oriented cockpit. (Photo: Karen Tuggay, Canadian Auto Press)
If that wasn’t already the best part, take heed this sportiest Forte5 gets fitted with a zesty 201 horsepower 1.6-litre turbo four with 195 lb-ft of torque, which is a solid 37 horses and 35 lb-ft more than the already sufficiently potent base 2.0-litre four. I’ll go into more detail about how this little mill reacts to input in my review, not to mention explain how its driver selectable Normal, Eco or Sport modes work while delving into how its 18-inch alloys on 225/40s and sport-tuned MacPherson strut front and torsion beam rear suspension manages aggressive behaviour, plus explain how its 0.8-inch larger 11.8-inch front discs and 10.3-inch rears perform under pressure. The Forte5 SX comes swathed in some pretty upscale duds too, such as proximity-sensing access with pushbutton ignition, a flat-bottomed leather-wrapped tilt and telescopic multifunction sport steering wheel, a leather shift knob, alloy pedals, 7.0-inch colour touchscreen infotainment with a rearview camera, UVO eServices, Android Auto and Apple CarPlay, AM/FM/MP3/USB/aux and satellite audio, a soft-touch synthetic dash top and door uppers, leather upholstery, three-way heatable front seats, and much more.
2017 Kia Forte5 SX
Heated and cooled 10-way powered leather sport seats with memory make the Forte5 SX pretty luxe as well. (Photo: Karen Tuggay, Canadian Auto Press)
Another quandary would be whether or not to add on the $3,600 SX Premium Tech package, but if it were my money and the prospect of spending many a commute for three or so years lay ahead I’d probably take the plunge as the upgrade includes HID headlamps, a Supervision gauge cluster with a 4.2-inch colour TFT multi-information display, an auto-dimming rearview mirror, dual-zone auto climate control, three-way ventilated front seats, navigation with detailed mapping, voice activation, HD radio, a powered glass sunroof, unique red-accented sport seats (with the manual), a 10-way powered driver’s seat with two-way memory, plus blindspot monitoring with lane change assist and rear cross-traffic alert. As it is, Kia added this package and it’s making my weeklong test drive a lot more comfortable. Of course, this will give me more to talk about in my upcoming review, so stay tuned to find out why I think this little Kia is gaining such traction in the compact class while many of its peers are sliding backwards…