Class: Compact Car
Miles driven: 177
Fuel used: 5.8 gallons
Real-world fuel economy: 30.5 mpg
|CG Report Card
|Room and Comfort
|Power and Performance
|Fit and Finish
|Report-card grades are derived from a consensus of test-driver evaluations. All grades are versus other vehicles in the same class. Value grade is for specific trim level evaluated, and may not reflect Consumer Guide's impressions of the entire model lineup.
|Big & Tall Comfort
|Big & Tall comfort ratings are for front seats only. "Big" rating based on male tester weighing approximately 350 pounds, "Tall" rating based on 6'6"-tall male tester.
Driving mix: 60% city, 40% highway
EPA-estimated fuel economy: 27/35/30 (city, highway, combined)
Fuel type: Regular gas
Base price: $22,290 (not including $925 destination charge)
Options on test vehicle: Automatic Climate Control Package ($200), GT2 Package ($2200), GT 18-inch summer tires ($200), cargo mat ($95), carpeted floor mats ($135), cargo net ($50), auto-dimming mirror with HomeLink and compass ($350)
Price as tested: $26,445
The great: Zippy acceleration from turbocharged engine; nicely balanced ride and handling; excellent level of performance and features for the money
The good: Decently spacious, nicely finished interior
The not so good: Occasionally quirky behavior from dual-clutch automatic transmission; folded rear seatbacks rest above trunk floor, which can complicate the loading of large items
So now everyone at Kia is a hot-rodder all of a sudden? The folks behind the ballyhooed Stinger from a few years ago targeted the 2021 model year for a new midsize K5 sedan including a GT model. Before that happened, though, even the inexpensive Forte was gifted with a sports model.
A year after the compact sedan was fully redesigned, it adds a GT version as a 2020 line extender. It has a multi-link rear suspension and a 201-horsepower turbocharged 1.6-liter 4-cylinder paired with a 6-speed manual or 7-speed dual-clutch automatic transmission. At $23,215 with delivery to start, the GT is priced up in “luxury” Forte EX territory. Throw in a set of high-performance summer tires, a tech and audio package, and a few other stand-alone goodies and you’ll wind up with a $26,445 job like the one that Consumer Guide tested.
The GT should not be confused with the GT-Line, another new-for-’20 Forte. The latter appropriates some of the GT’s interior and exterior cosmetic touches but sticks with the 147-horse 2.0-liter 4-cylinder engine found in all other Fortes, and its automatic-trans option is a continuously variable unit without stepped gears. In addition to its engine, 7-speed autobox, and rear suspension, the GT also has a distinct sport-tuned dual-exhaust system (that terminates in bright tips), slightly bigger front brakes, and 18-inch alloy wheels with a machined finish. LED projection headlights with high-beam assist, an interior with ambient lighting and red accent stitching, and Kia’s UVO eServices telematics are other GT standard features. Note that the costlier manual-transmission GT includes a few more standard items, some of which were contained in the $2200 GT2 option package that was applied to the 7-speed car CG tested.
Thanks to its 201 horsepower at 6000 rpm and 195 lb-ft of torque at a fairly immediate 1500 rpm, the Forte GT likes to get away with some spring in its step, even if it won’t throw you back in your seat. The ostensibly sportier exhaust setup does not raise an objectionable racket. The dual-clutch automatic, which can be shifted manually via steering-wheel paddle shifters, knocked out prompt downshifts for merging and passing on the highway—but getting off said roadway in “Sport” driving mode induced slurred downshifts as the car adjusted to slower surface-street speeds. EPA fuel-economy estimates for the GT automatic’s powerteam are 27 mpg in city use, 35 mpg on the highway, and 30 combined. When this driver went 66 miles, with 50 percent of that in city conditions, he logged 28.9 mpg.
With a rear suspension that’s more sophisticated than the torsion-beam axle found on other Fortes, the GT provides a good balance of ride and handling characteristics. While the 18-inch wheels are the largest available and the 225/40R18 tires have the lowest profile in the vehicle line, ride comfort wasn’t dramatically different from what we saw from a 2019 Forte EX with a 17-inch wheel/tire package. Steering is easier than it is precise but roll control in turns is perhaps a little better than you might assume for a mass-market car. The 12-inch-diameter front brake rotors are one inch bigger than the discs used on other Fortes. Braking is responsive and predictable.
GT and GT-Line cars share a distinct leather-wrapped flat-bottom steering wheel and standard cloth-and-leatherette seats (though the test car had optional full-leatherette upholstery), but are much like any other Forte from a passenger’s perspective. Good rear-seat legroom is one of its bonuses, and a minimal floor hump makes possible three-adult occupancy of the back seat. Even the optional sunroof doesn’t detract too much from the fine headroom in both rows. Soft surfaces are distributed on the upper half of the instrument panel, the tops and centers of the front doors, the console lid, and all armrests.
Controls, be they for driving or operating comfort features, are legible and accessible. We like that the 8-inch touchscreen is accompanied by external tuning and volume knobs for the audio system, even with the Harman Kardon premium outfit that was added to the tester. Both the manual single-zone and automatic dual-zone climate units use handy rotating dials to make temperature settings, and the simpler unit also has dials for fan speed and mode.
There’s useful space to the glove box but the console cubby box is on the small side, and some of its space is given to a USB port. An open area ahead of the console contains USB, auxiliary, and power outlets on a bottom level, with a top level available for the optional wireless device charger. Front-door pockets each house a bottle holder, and two open cup holders are found in the console. Rear storage consists of a net pouch on the back of the front-passenger seat, bottle holders in the doors, and cup holders in the pull-down center armrest.
The trunk holds 15.3 cubic feet of cargo, and it’s useful space on a well-shaped, flat-floored load area. A little additional space resides around the spare tire under the trunk floor. For more capacity, the 60/40-split rear seats fold almost flat, but they rest a little above the level of the trunk floor, which may complicate loading. Also, a bulkhead between the trunk and cabin slightly limits the size of items that can be loaded onto the folded seats.
Additional standard features that help round out the Forte GT are “smart key” entry and push-button starting, forward-collision warning and mitigation, lane-departure warning and lane-keeping assist, driver-attention warning, satellite radio, Android Auto and Apple CarPlay compatibility, a rearview camera with dynamic parking guidance, and LED daytime running lights and taillights. As such, Kia provides a decently equipped and competitively priced car while it scratches a sporty-car itch that it hopes you have, too.
(Click below for enlarged images)
2020 Kia Forte GT Gallery