Handling: Capable but Not Quite There

As noted in our prior drives of the SX sedan, the Forte’s chassis isn’t tuned for serenity. The hatchback’s MacPherson-strut front and torsion-beam rear suspension, combined with 17-inch wheels and low-profile, 215/45-series tires, is set up for friskiness, and body motions are well controlled. The steering offers decent feedback, proving relatively satisfying during spirited runs on back roads, although its off-center quickness requires a lot of course corrections to maintain a straight line on the highway. Overall ride quality is decidedly firm and accompanied by unpleasant resonant booming.

As with its acceleration times, the Forte hatch’s maximum lateral grip came in just shy of the sedan’s, at 0.83 g versus 0.85. At 184 feet from 70 mph, this test example took 11 more feet to stop than did the SX sedan, despite the brakes’ early-onset grabbiness. That touchiness, combined with the aggressive throttle and darty steering, means both manual and automatic versions of the Forte are a little tough to drive smoothly. So while all of that immediacy does impart a sporty character to the Forte, it is ultimately less polished and less satisfying to drive than the Mazda 3 five-door, which only challenges a driver’s smoothness with manual models’ numb clutch takeup.

    See also:

    Seat belts
    Seat belt restraint system WARNING • For maximum restraint system protection, the seat belts must always be used whenever the vehicle is moving. • Seat belts are most effective when seatbac ...

    Driving tips
    Fuel requirements Emission control system Before driving Suggestions for economical operation Special driving conditions Using four-wheel drive Weight of the vehicle Trailer towing Overloading ...

    Transfer case (4WD)
    Checking or changing transfer case fluid Have transfer case fluid checked or changed by an Authorized Kia Dealer according to the Maintenance Schedule at the beginning of this section. Use only ...