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New Cars Review: Kia delivers strong value with the renewed Forte

Targeting the under-35 demographic. Kia’s strategy to win over tech-savvy consumers is to focus on value and connectivity in their all-new Forte compact sedan.

The base model comes with a heated steering wheel, heated front seats, keyless entry, cruise control, a rear-view camera, and air conditioning as standard equipment. Not bad for $16,495.

The base trim’s infotainment system includes an eight-inch touchscreen with Android Auto and Apple CarPlay capabilities, allowing smartphone connection to navigation, music, and hands-free calling. It works seamlessly.

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The 2019 Kia Forte.

Android Auto and Apple CarPlay is “the fourth most wanted feature” in new cars, said Lee Kant, product planning supervisor at Kia Canada. “In the past couple of years, it has gone from 10th to seventh to fifth to fourth. It’s really getting up there and it’s really influential.”

The UVO Intelligence system comes in a more expensive trim, starting at $25,095 – not too bad, considering what you get. The UVO app on your phone and lets you lock or unlock the car remotely from anywhere in the world, find it in a crowded parking lot, remotely start it, and change the cabin temperature. And don’t worry environmentalists – you can limit the amount of idle time in the driveway, too. The system comes with safety services such as roadside assistance and SOS emergency assistance. The service is free for five years, though not available on the base or lower level models.

The Forte also raises the bar in the compact car category by integrating safety features you might expect to find in luxury vehicles. The suite of advanced driver assistance systems, or ADAS, includes front collision avoidance assist, blind spot protection, lane keep assist, high beam assist, smart cruise control, and driver attention alert. The safety tech functioned well on a drive from Ottawa through Montebello to Montreal.

There are new convenience features too. A smart trunk release makes it easier to load or unload items into the cargo area when you’re juggling suitcases, cellphones, and your morning cup of java. No kicking under the rear bumper needed, either. Just stand behind the trunk with your smart key and the trunk pops open automatically after three seconds. It’s a nice touch. But like most of the safety technology, the smart trunk release costs extra.

It’s refreshing to see these features trickling down into more affordable cars. They’re intended to entice millennials shopping for a new ride.

Tech Specs

Base price/as tested: $16,495/$28,065

Engine: 2.0-litre four-cylinder

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Transmission/drive: S-speed manual or continuously variable automatic /FWD

Fuel economy (litres/100 km): Manual: 8.6 city/6.4 hwy; CVT: 7.7/5.9

Alternatives: Honda Civic, Toyota Corolla, Hyundai Elantra, Mazda3, Subaru Impreza

rating out of 10

8

Looks

Longer and wider than the last version. From the front end, you can spot the family resemblance between the Forte and it more powerful, aggressive sibling, the Stinger. The unlock/lock and trunk release buttons are placed awkwardly on the narrow side of the key fob, instead of on the wider, top area – it’s not intuitive and takes time adjusting to hitting the side buttons to unlock or lock the doors or pop the trunk.

The 2019 Forte is longer and wider than the last version.

Interior

Spacious cabin with ample room in the front and rear seats. But the front seats aren’t that comfy or supportive. Especially on longer drives, it gets uncomfortable fast. More padding and a better front seat design would help. Over all, the cabin is nicely appointed and well laid-out; it doesn’t feel or look cheap. The dashboard design is clean and uncluttered with minimal buttons.

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Performance

It feels like a Honda Civic behind the wheel. The transmission is one of the better CVTs on the market, 17 per cent more fuel efficient than the prior version.

Technology

Cool available technology includes a wireless charging pad and the UVO Intelligence system that connects your phone to your car.

The 2019 Forte has a clean dashboard design.

Cargo

Spacious, long trunk with 434 litres of room. When more space is needed, drop the 60/40 rear seats to haul longer items.

Verdict

While the base model is well-equipped, jumping up the ladder adds an impressive list of connectivity and technology features you’d expect to find on pricier vehicles.

Shopping for a new car? Check out the new Globe Drive Build and Price Tool to see the latest discounts, rebates and rates on new cars, trucks and SUVs. Click here to get your price.

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Petrina Gentile shows off the all-new Kia Forte interior, with wireless charging and the UVO system to further connect your device and car. The Globe and Mail
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