At the turn of the century, the mid-size sedan was still the place to be in the automotive kingdom. Everyone was in on the action, and Toyota built a veritable empire on the back of the Camry’s reputation. Kia threw its hat into the ring in 2000, knowing that to be taken seriously, it needed to fight on the main card. In the intervening 20 years, Kia has kept improving its four-door offering, culminating in this, the 2021 Kia K5.
Times change though: the metric for success is now the crossover. That’s what makes the K5’s arrival feel like such a grudge match. Kia didn’t have to put a lot of effort into this fight since the spotlight is shining elsewhere. Instead, it’s built a lean, mean fighter ready to worry other sedans, packed with practical solutions to the everyday grind and a bevy of high-tech features. Beyond that, the K5’s camera-friendly looks might even draw eyeballs away from the current heavyweight crossovers, with a style none of ’em can hope to match.
Daring exterior design
First off, don’t fall for the Kia marketing speak that calls this the “first-ever” K5. That’s long been the home-market name for what we called the Optima. Now the whole world will call the mid-size sedan K5. That’s that sorted.
It’s not like you’d confuse this with the old Optima anyway. The K5’s design is dramatic, dripping with style in this GT-Line trim. The distinctive “tiger nose grille” now stretches right across the front of the car, incorporating the headlights too. In the daytime, it’s reminiscent of the hidden eyes on classic ’60s muscle cars, but with the wholly modern slashes of the yellow DRLs wrapping around the corners. It’s aggressive, though many of the vents you see on either end are indeed fake. Same goes with the big chrome “exhaust” tips.
The only other piece of chrome on the K5’s body arcs up over the doors, before looping under the rear glass in one uninterrupted line. The chrome’s varying thickness emphasizes the K5’s sweptback profile, giving it more than a hint of big-brother Stinger. There’s no hatch here, though: it’s a traditional trunk, with 16.0 cubic feet (434 litres) of available space putting it at the higher end of the class.
Every K5 comes with alloy wheels, though the base LX makes do with wee 16-inch rolling stock. The GT-Line gets the smart two-tone 18s seen here. Add it all up and the K5 is a seriously good-looking sedan. I’m used to people asking about the cars I’m photographing, but the K5 drew more questions and compliments than (nearly) any other bit of mainstream metal I’ve driven this year.
Practical, tech-forward interior
Step inside and the K5 continues to impress. It’s not as adventurous as the exterior and doesn’t play with colour the way other Hyundai Group products do, but it’s a clean, thoroughly modern layout. The whole center stack is canted toward the driver, like a classic BMW, with a row of redundant buttons for climate control. Open-pore wood wraps around the doors and onto the dash; I appreciate that there’s at least a sliver of it on the rear doors, too. A couple of cheaper plastic pieces show up right near the transmission shifter, but it’s nothing worse than you’ll see elsewhere in the class. The shifter itself is a traditional PRND unit, which is welcome.
Kia’s found one of the best uses of piano black as well: as the surround for the instrument panel. It reminds me of a black hole, with the panel pulling the trim inward.
Today’s crossovers get all the credit as practical vehicles, but there’s a lot of everyday cleverness baked into the K5. The wireless charger isn’t wedged in ahead of the shifter, for example: instead, it’s a tidy drop-in slot just ahead of the center storage. It keeps phones out of the field of vision. Another smart detail is a little raised ridge on the door panel, beside the window controls. It’s just enough to make closing the door easier for the short-limbed among us while still in the car.
Trimmed in synthetic leather, the front seats are comfortable, though the bases could use more contouring. Passenger space is plentiful front and rear, with the panoramic sunroof offering an extra dose of natural light. The sloping roofline does eat into rear headroom slightly, but the tape measure shows it as the average for the class at 37.4 inches (950 mm).
The 10.25-inch infotainment display is crisp and responds quickly to inputs. Kia’s custom font can be slightly difficult to read at a glance, however. The screen real estate allows for smartphone mirroring in addition to a panel of native display, for things like navigation. There’s a catch there, though: only the smaller 8.0-inch screen will do wireless Apple CarPlay or Android Auto. You’ll need a plugin for the larger UVO setup.
Smooth daily driver
The K5’s drivetrain is perhaps its least impressive feature. Every trim bar the upcoming GT uses the family 1.6-liter turbocharged four-cylinder. It produces an adequate 180 horsepower and 195 lb-ft of torque, just as it does in the K5’s platform sibling, the Hyundai Sonata. An eight-speed auto handles shifting duties here too. The torque peak comes on nice and early at just 1,500 rpm, which makes it fine for the cut-and-thrust of city driving. The K5 never feels out of its depth on the highway, but it does get noisy if you ask for an overtake. The steering feel is expectedly light, but it never feels vague. The K5 remains composed through corners, with a bit of lean to let you know when it’s approaching the limits of the winter tires. A snow driving mode is selectable, but the weather only threatened it during my time with the K5.
This particular model is AWD. Like most of the others in the class, the K5 essentially functions as a front-driver unless it senses slip, to minimize the fuel efficiency losses of AWD. On that front, it works: the EPA quotes 26/34/29 mpg for city, highway, and combined, respectively. (Canadian figures are 9.2/6.9/8.2 L,100 km.) That’s on par with the rest of the all-paw players in the segment.
Curiously, AWD is standard on all trims in Canada, with exception of the high-performance GT. That model will arrive packing a more powerful 2.5-litre engine, with power up to 290 hp and 311 lb-ft, all coursing through an eight-speed dual-clutch transmission to the front wheels. We’ve tried the combo in the similar Sonata N-Line already and while it was impressive, it will be interesting to see how Kia markets the performance model sending its power to just one axle.
Standard driver assistance tech on the K5 LX includes forward collision avoidance with pedestrian detection, auto high beams, lane departure, lane-keep, and lane-follow assists. Blind-spot monitoring, safe exit assist, and rear cross-traffic alert join the lineup on the LXS. The GT-Line offers improved FCA, adaptive cruise control, and Highway Driving Assist through options packages (equipped here), as does the EX.
A note on trims: our Canadian-spec tester is essentially a loaded GT-Line AWD Special Edition in the US. It isn’t limited to the Wolf Gray exterior but loses out on the unique red interior of the Special Edition.
Verdict: 2021 Kia K5 GT-Line AWD Review
The 2021 Kia K5 is a deeply impressive all-rounder. It offers a competitive on-paper package and then wraps it up in a confident, stylish exterior. Spacious, comfortable, and brimming with tech—if not quite as much as its Sonata sibling—the K5 is yet another compelling argument to go against the current crossover grain.
Prices start at $24,455 for an entry-level LX ($31,345 CAD), including destination. The GT-Line AWD goes for more but still rings in at a reasonable $30,055 ($37,745 CAD). That’s bang on with the class, and while the K5 can’t topple any single model in one discipline, it’s never far off. If you’re looking to get off the crossover train, this is one sedan worth checking out.
It is hard to believe that more than a year has passed us by since we named the Kia Telluride the 2020 MotorTrend SUV of the Year. The 2021 winner, the ruggedly cool Land Rover Defender, is a more than worthy torchbearer and now joins the Telluride at the top.
Although the Calipers have been passed to the Defender, the Telluride is still tops in its segment. Unsuccessfully competing alongside the Defender for this year’s honours was the 2021 Toyota Highlander. The Highlander not only fell short of winning our annual award, but it also fell short of dethroning the Telluride as the top three-row SUV.
Don’t take my word for it. Head over to our newly launched Buyer’s Guide and check out the rankings! Unsurprising to me, the Telluride leads the three-row SUV pack with a score of 8.4/10. Not only does the Telluride beat its main competitors, only one other SUV, but the luxurious Lincoln Navigator also matches the Telluride’s score!
Again, none of this surprises me. After lending the Telluride to a coworker with two small children, I recently reunited with the SUV after almost two months apart. With over 18,000 miles on the odometer, many of those spent serving special duty as a photography support vehicle as well as a people mover, the Telluride feels as solid as ever. I’m constantly and pleasantly surprised by how quiet it is on the road, and even with 18K on the clock, there is an enjoyable lack of creaks and rattles.
I am also pleasantly surprised that the interior seems to be holding up to the abuse. Whether it is being used to haul camera equipment or young children, we tend to put large SUVs’ interiors through a pretty tough use cycle, yet the seats, dash, and carpets are all holding up well.
One thing about being on top of the hill is that there’s never a lack of contenders trying to knock you off of it. The 2021 Toyota Highlander was no match for the Telluride, but with a segment as competitive as three-row SUVs, the Telluride will have to defend its title.
The new tech aims to reduce the risk after the initial impact.
The all-new Kia Sorento finally bowed recently, looking every bit as impressive as we’d hoped. But Kia’s latest midsize SUV – slotting in beneath the top-selling Telluride – has to do more than just look good. In the go-to segment for family shoppers, it has to be safe, too, which is why Kia is equipping it with a new Multi-Collision Braking (MCB) system. We first heard of this before the car was supposed to make its public debut at the Geneva Motor Show earlier this year, but Kia has now confirmed its inclusion as the first Kia to offer it.
The system itself isn’t exactly new to the automotive world, as several premium manufacturers have previously equipped this type of safety equipment. It mitigates further collisions after a primary impact by applying the brakes to all four wheels once an initial impact is detected – using airbag deployment as the primary means of detection. Using the brakes at each corner individually, as well as numerous directorial sensors, the MCB system can control the vehicle’s direction of travel and bring it safely to a halt with minimal collateral damage.
The fourth-generation 2021 Kia Sorento will be arriving at dealerships in Canada this fall and those who go see it will find a fully transformed model. The company’s most popular vehicle gets a transformation that can be described as major for 2021.
Yesterday’s presentation gives us the general picture of what’s new with the next Sorento. We’ll have the opportunity to come back to you with more details, but most importantly, our impressions of driving it once we get behind the wheel.
New platform and engines The 2021 Sorento is based on the new N3 platform, which is lighter and more rigid than the previous one. The new platform has a 35-mm wheelbase, which translate into a more spacious interior (14 mm for the second row and 93 mm for the third row). Total weight is reduced by 3.1%, while the torsional rigidity of the structure increases by 4% compared to the outgoing third-generation model.
The new Sorento product offering also includes two new engines. First, a 2.5L 4-cylinder engine replaces the 2.4L block that has served the SUV for some time. The new unit delivers 191 hp and 182 lb-ft of torque, with Kia promising an average fuel consumption of 9.7L/100 km. The automaker points out that represents a 4.9 percent improvement over the previous model’s 10.2L/100 km rating.
Then, a 2.5L turbocharged 4-cylinder engine with 281 hp and 311 lb-ft of torque comes standard on four of the model’s six variants. It also offers improved fuel economy, with an estimated average rating of 9.9L/100 km. That’s 10.5 percent better than the 3.3L V6 engine found in the 2020 model lineup.
Where we’re losing something is in terms of towing capacity. The new Sorento peaks at 3,500 lb. When asked about that, Kia answers that the Sorento’s capacity meets the majority of buyers’ needs, and that now that the company has the big-capacity Telluride in its lineup, it could afford to take a “step back” with the Sorento.
Ultimately, the customers will decide if that’s a problem for them, but there’s no denying Kia has removed one selling point when it comes to the new Sorento.
Conclusion As mentioned, the Sorento is a very important model within the Kia range, so it’s not surprising to see the automaker give it so much attention.
At the same time, it’s expected to cede its spot as the brand’s top seller to the new Seltos in 2021.
For the rest, we’ll be back with a full review once we’ve had a chance to get behind the wheel.
MISSISSAUGA, Ontario, Aug. 25, 2020 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) — In response to a national shortage of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE), Kia Canada has pledged a donation of 60,000 medical-grade face shields to the Public Health Agency of Canada, to equip the country’s heroic frontline healthcare workers as they work tirelessly to heal their communities.
Produced in a re-tooled section of Kia Motors’ manufacturing plant in West Point, Georgia, the donation of face shields is an extension of Kia Canada’s Power To Give COVID-19 relief efforts. The face shields will be allocated to Canadian healthcare workers and dispersed equitably to provinces and territories by the Public Health Agency.
This follows on the heels of Kia Canada’s donation of a generous contribution to Food Banks Canada within the brand’s Power To Give initiative, which provided a $200,000 donation nationally, as well as loaned vehicles to regional food banks to fight hunger relief efforts amid the pandemic.
“We are committed to giving back to the communities that we’re so proud to call home, and we’re grateful to the Kia family that we’re able to provide support with these protective face shields,” says Elias El-Achhab, Chief Operating Officer at Kia Canada. “We have proudly served Canadians for over 20 years, and we want to do our part to give back to our great nation. From the cobblestone streets of Gastown, BC, to the beautiful coast of St. John’s, Newfoundland, Canada has our heart, and we will continue to seek ways to meaningfully make a difference,” he says.
The Public Health Agency of Canada is pleased to see so many stepping up to lend support to those who need it most. On behalf of all Canadians, the Public Health Agency of Canada has expressed its sincere appreciation for Kia Canada’s donation to aid Canada’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic. The 60,000 Face Shields Kia Canada donated have been essential for keeping Canada’s frontline healthcare workers safe during a time of global shortages.
Kia is redesigning the Optima for 2021 and, in the process, gives the midsize sedan a new name. Called the 2021 Kia K5, the car features rakish styling, a high-tech interior, the latest in safety equipment, and plenty of performance measured in terms of both acceleration and efficiency.
When the new Kia K5 goes on sale in North America during the summer of 2020, it will come in LX, LXS, GT-Line, and EX trim levels. The racy K5 GT arrives later in the year.
Longer, wider, and lower than the Optima it replaces, the 2021 Kia K5 boasts new LED “heartbeat” daytime running light signatures front and rear. Expect this look to proliferate throughout the company’s lineup as vehicles are refreshed or redesigned.
In front, the latest evolution of Kia’s “tiger nose” grille leads the way, a look first seen on the redesigned 2021 Sorento. Additionally, the new K5 features a dramatic new fastback design that makes the car appear to have a rear liftgate similar to the Stinger. In reality, the K5 offers a roomy 16 cu.-ft. trunk.
The Kia K5 shares its platform and engineering with the recently redesigned Hyundai Sonata. Where the Sonata’s body sides swell between the wheel arches, Kia adopts a subtle “Coke bottle” tapering of the door skins for a leaner look. Chrome sweeps up from the base of each windshield pillar around the top of the side windows and then down and around the back glass in a continuous loop.
Wheel sizes range from 16 inches to 19 inches in diameter, the biggest aluminum alloy design bolted to the racy 2021 Kia K5 GT, which has a sportier appearance with a bolder front bumper and a rear bumper incorporating racy vents and a diffuser panel with clearly defined strakes. Dual trapezoidal exhaust outlets complete the K5 GT’s sport sedan look.
If the Kia K5’s exterior is wild, the interior is fairly mild. Designed to simple and minimalistic horizontal themes, the goal with the K5’s cabin is to present a sense of roominess and calm. There’s even an available Mood Lighting system and a Sound of Nature audio system playing what Kia characterizes as “natural soundscapes” to help soothe frazzled nerves.
Cloth or simulated leather is available in single- and two-tone cabin colour schemes. Trim and accents are rendered in polished metallic, simulated wood, and gloss black depending on the model, and a 10.25-inch widescreen infotainment display is available.
In addition to nicer wheels and an upgraded infotainment system with navigation, the 2021 Kia K5 optional equipment list offers wireless smartphone charging, heated seats, ventilated front seats, and a heated steering wheel. Kia also plans to offer numerous convenience, infotainment, and safety-related technologies, some of which are outlined below.
Under the Hood
With most trim levels, a turbocharged 1.6-litre 4-cylinder delivers 180 hp and 195 lb.-ft. of torque, the latter spread across a broad rev range and available from just 1,500 rpm. Translated, that means this engine feels more energetic in the driving situations most people encounter on a daily basis. It’s paired with an 8-speed automatic transmission that powers the front wheels.
The 2021 Kia K5 GT gets a turbocharged 2.5-litre 4-cylinder with new dual fuel-injection technology and a next-generation thermal management system for maximum engine cooling. Kia says it makes 290 hp and 311 lb.-ft. of torque, which scoots the car to 60 mph in a claimed 5.8 seconds. A new 8-speed wet double-clutch transmission is exclusive to the GT, helping to ensure maximum performance and driving enjoyment.
Drive Mode Select offers five driving modes: Eco, Comfort, Sport, Smart, and Custom. With the K5 GT, a Sport+ mode is also available. All-wheel drive is a new option for the 2021 K5, making the car more appealing to cold-weather dwellers. You’ll need LXS or GT-Line trim and the standard engine in order to get it, though.
Kia confirms that hybrids will return to the global K5 lineup but has not announced anything official for the North American market.
Kia equips the new K5 with all of its latest advanced driving assist systems (ADAS). Highlights from the standard and optional equipment list include:
adaptive cruise control that can incorporate information about the route ahead from the navigation system
front and rear collision warning
automatic front and rear emergency braking
blind-spot warning with active intervention
lane-departure warning with lane-keeping assistance
rear cross-traffic warning
safe vehicle exit assistance
rear seat reminder system to prevent parents from leaving children inside the car
Additional safety technology includes a driver attention monitor with a new Leading Vehicle Departure Alert. This new function tells the driver when traffic ahead is moving again, just in case he or she is paying attention to something other than the road.
The Kia K5 also offers a new Junction Turning technology. It acts when the driver is making a left turn across traffic, preventing the K5 from advancing if oncoming vehicles are too close.
The more you spend on the new Kia K5, the more technology you’ll receive. Most noticeably, this includes
With a 10.25-inch widescreen infotainment system with navigation, which replaces a standard 8-inch display, includes a new voice recognition technology that allows the driver to control the stereo, climate system, power windows, and even the heated/ventilated seats and heated steering wheel using voice commands. Audiophiles will want the available 12-speaker Bose premium surround sound system.
The next-generation Kia Sedona has been previewed sporting a radical redesign and the Korean automaker has dubbed it a “Grand Utility Vehicle.”
As minivans continue to lose market share to SUVs, Kia has restyled its family hauler to look more like a crossover with more aggressive lines and wheel arches, a boxier silhouette, shorter overhangs, and a floating roof design. We see shades of the Ford Explorer from the rear angles and the new Sedona will have unique LED lighting elements that help make it look more high end.
No powertrain information, photos of the interior, or details on features have been unveiled yet, but stay tuned for more information when the minivan debuts fully.
The minivan segment is shrinking but the ones left have stepped up their game and made the practical and family-friendly body style much more compelling. With the Chrysler Pacifica and the plug-in hybrid version getting rave reviews, the new Toyota Sienna coming as an all-wheel-drive hybrid with a mini-fridge, and the Honda Odyssey still a strong contender, we wonder if all this advancement will be enough to sway larger families away from SUVs.
Canadian information for the fourth-generation Kia Sedona has not yet been revealed, as only the Korean-market Carnival has been previewed. Expect more information at a later date.
The COVID-19 pandemic has disrupted society, putting millions out of work, into financial stress, and provoked a spike in national food insecurity, in some cases not seen since the 2008 recession.
Determined to help alleviate hunger in Canada and give back to its community, Kia Canada is deploying vehicles and much-needed funds through the #PowerToGive, a national partnership with Food Banks Canada.
“We’ve moved Canadians with safety and confidence for more than 20 years,” says Elias El-Achhab, Chief Operating Officer at Kia Canada Inc. “And our #PowerToGive partnership with Food Banks Canada and its 3,000 food banks and community agencies across the country will help put our team, our resources, and our vehicles to important work — feeding Canadians in this time of need.”
Kia Canada is lending its press fleet of top-of-the-line new vehicles including the Sportage, Soul and Telluride to Food Banks in Toronto and Vancouver to support their daily work in providing food packs to vulnerable Canadians. Along with a $200,000 kick start donation, Kia Canada is also working with its national network of dealers, helping connect them with their local food banks and agencies to lend additional assistance and support.
The National Leader in Hunger Relief Food banks across Canada are facing immense demand, with operational capacity strained to the max. “To put things into context, one of our BC food banks typically records visits from 50 households in one week. That number rose to 300 household visits per week since the pandemic began,” says Food Banks Canada CEO, Chris Hatch. “That, coupled with a reduction in volunteers and a significant drop in food donations in some markets, means that we need support to ensure our neighbours are fed,” he says.
“What Kia is doing is another example of Canadians coming together,” says Neil Hetherington, Chief Executive Officer at Toronto’s Daily Bread Food Bank. “Through these very difficult times, we at the Daily Bread have seen time and time again how individuals and corporations have stepped up to the plate to say: we are all in this together! We are grateful to Kia Canada for providing an uplifting moment, as we navigate these unchartered, anxious times and helping alleviate pressures for our team who are working frontline in service of their communities,” he says.
The Power to Give Kia Canada is giving back at all levels of its organization. Having already taken important steps to help alleviate financial difficulties for its customers, the company has worked closely with its lending partners to develop financial assistance options as well as launching the Kia Promise program, which provides an extension for warranties expiring between February 1st – April 30, 2020, giving customers additional time to address any warrantable concerns.
About Kia Canada Kia Canada Inc. (KCI), founded in 1999 and celebrating 20 years in Canada, is a subsidiary of the Kia Motors Corporation (KMC) based in Seoul, South Korea. The full line of award-winning Kia vehicles offers world-class quality and customer satisfaction through a network of 195 dealers across the country. The company employs 170 people at its headquarters in Mississauga, Ontario, as well as in locations across Canada and at its regional office in Montréal, Québec. Kia’s slogan “The Power to Surprise,” symbolizes the company’s worldwide commitment to exceed customer expectations through sustained automotive innovation.
Whether it is a compact, crossover, or electric model which is among the best in the industry, each Kia vehicle offers a superior combination of precision engineering, exceptional performance, innovative features and advanced safety systems. Kia has sold a million vehicles, including popular models in Canada like the Soul, Forte, Sportage, Sorento, Stinger and has recently added the Seltos to its lineup. To learn more, visit kia.ca or Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter and Instagram.
About Food Banks Canada Food Banks Canada provides national leadership to relieve hunger today and prevent hunger tomorrow in collaboration with the food bank network from coast-to-coast-to-coast. For 40 years, food banks have been dedicated to helping Canadians living with food insecurity. Over 3,000 food banks and community agencies come together to serve our most vulnerable neighbours who last year – made 1.1 million visits to these organizations in one month alone, according to our HungerCount report. Over the past 10 years, as a system, we have sourced and shared over 1.4 billion pounds of food and Food Banks Canada shared over $90 million in funding to help maximize collective impact and strengthen local capacity – while advocating for reducing the need for food banks. Our vision is clear: create a Canada where no one goes hungry.
In case you haven’t noticed, Kia Motors isn’t what it used to be and it’s a good thing. Back in the old days of the late 1990s, Kia Motors was a cheap and cheerful upstart in Canada. It once even sported a tagline approximating, ‘why settle for a used car when you can have a Kia?’ Really.
To say circumstances have changed for Kia is the understatement of this new decade. From the first-ever high-performance Stinger gran turismo sedan and three-row Telluride SUV, to all-new versions of the Soul and Soul EV crossovers, the South Korean automaker now churns out new models that don’t need support from cheeky ad campaigns. These cars are good.
And Kia isn’t standing still either. An all-new Optima mid-size sedan will arrive later this year, the first-ever compact Seltos crossover is in dealers now, and the subject of this review, the new Forte5 compact hatch, arrived late last year as a 2020 model.
The Forte family
The Forte family has been around for a sneaky long time. Also known as the K3 in China and the Cerato in South America, the Forte debuted in 2009 and went on sale in North America in 2010. Back then, the family also included a two-door Koup variant, which lasted through the first two generations before being retired at the end of the 2016 model year.
All three generations of the Forte have been built on a front-wheel-drive platform shared with the Hyundai Elantra, with which the Forte also shares four-cylinder engines and transmissions.
All-new for 2020
The Forte sedan was all-new for the 2019 model year, while the Forte5 is new for 2020. Being part of the same generation, both cars share similar styling and feature the same powertrains and technology.
The base Forte5 EX is powered by a 2.0-litre 4-cylinder engine that produces 147 horsepower at 6,200 rpm and 132 lb-ft. at 4,500 rpm. The only transmission on offer is a CVT which Kia calls an intelligent variable transmission (IVT).
GT and GT Limited models receive a more powerful 1.6-litre turbocharged 4-cylinder that produces 201 horsepower at 6,000 rpm and 195 lb-ft. of torque at 1,500 – 4,500 rpm. Paired with this engine is a 7-speed dual-clutch automatic with steering-wheel-mounted paddle shifters.
Sharp looks, lots of stuff
The previous generation Forte5 aged well to the point that when it was retired last year the transition to the new car was seamless.
The third-gen car’s styling is an evolution of the previous car rather than a complete departure. In fact, from a distance, it’d be hard to tell which model is new if the two were parked side by side.
The corporate Tiger Nose grille is smaller, and the LED headlights look fresher on the new car, but the lines and general shape of the two don’t differ much. The bigger difference to these eyes is at the rear, where the new fascia, LED taillight graphics and dual exhaust finishers have a more upmarket feel than those on the outgoing model.
Inside, Kia has done a great job of shedding much of the econobox feel some small cars still suffer from. Granted, my GT Limited tester has the best of everything but, as mentioned, a lot of this stuff is standard on all models. The confines in the Forte5 are a bit tight for passengers (although cargo room is quite generous), but I am impressed with its appearance and materials used. Sure, there are some hard, plastic bits in the dash and on the door panels, but the primary touchpoints mostly look and feel great.
The pictures tell the story here, but I must mention how Kia continues to nail interior design. Everything is well laid out, buttons and switches are where you expect them to be and, unlike some other OEMs, they aren’t being moved around for no good reason. The UVO entertainment system works fine, but Kia has wisely chosen not to abandon hard keys in the centre stack and elsewhere, and all I can say is thank you.
On the road
Generally, the Forte5 GT Limited is an able performer in everyday driving conditions. Acceleration from the 1.6-litre turbo is spritely and hustles this compact hatch along just fine, both off the line and at speed. The 201 peak horsepower number is impressive for a compact car, but it doesn’t arrive until 6,000 rpm which makes accessing it in daily driving situations challenging unless you want to launch yourself by pinning the throttle at every stop sign or traffic light (not recommended).
The good news is the torque curve is much flatter with peak twist starting at just 1,500 rpm, so some fun can be had by dialling the drive mode selector to sport (smart and comfort are also available) and toggling the gear shifter to manual mode to make use of the paddle shifters. Doing so doesn’t turn the Forte5 GT Limited into a sports car, but it gives this hatchback a more sporting character.
Bear in mind, these impressions are drawn from driving on winter tires on public roads. It’s difficult to fully evaluate a car’s performance without access to a closed course and better rubber (and nicer weather), but I can report that the Forte5 GT Limited’s handling feels responsive, with good steering feedback and minimal understeer in normal driving conditions. Road and wind noise are also well suppressed for a small car.
There’s a lot to like here. The Forte5 GT Limited is an impressive car that delivers what matters to buyers in this compact segment. It’s handsomely styled, comes packed with loads of standard comfort and safety features while offering good performance at a competitive price.
Kia makes a lot of great cars consumers should want for all the right reasons. The Forte5 GT Limited is just one example.