Jump to content
  • William Maley
    William Maley

    Review: 2017 Mazda CX-5 Grand Touring AWD

      We're moving on up

    Mazda has a big dream for itself. It is trying to stand out from the competition by becoming more premium. The first steps of this process took place last year with a refreshed Mazda6 sedan. As we noted in our review at the time, the 6 made great strides in improving noise isolation and material quality. Now, the premium dream is coming more into focus with the redesigned CX-5. Mazda is making some big promises with claims of improved refinement and an upscale look and feel for the interior. We spent a week in a 2017 CX-5 Grand Touring to see if those promises are met.

    The past few years have seen Mazda designing some distinctive looking vehicles and the redesigned CX-5 is no exception. The overall shape is an evolution of the first-generation model with smoother lines and more curves. The small details such as the wider front grille, slim LED headlights, 19-inch aluminum wheels, and a rear tailgate design similar to the Mazda3 really set the CX-5 apart from the competition. The only item that slightly ruins the design is the oversized Mazda emblem on the front grille. This is due to the emblem holding the hardware for various active safety equipment such as the radar cruise control.

    Moving inside, it is clear Mazda has put a lot of effort in making the CX-5 a cut above the rest. The modern design and appointments such as the stitching on the dash and bright trim around the vents make for a very classy cabin. Most materials are soft-touch which add another level of the premium-ness Mazda is pushing. Controls fall readily to hand for both driver and front-seat passenger. 

    The front seats in the Grand Touring come wrapped in leather upholstery and feature power adjustments and heat. It would be nice if Mazda had the option of ventilation to prop up their premium image, but we’re nitpicking here. The seats offer excellent support over long trips and plenty of head and legroom. Back seat passengers will have no complaints as head and legroom are very competitive with other models, and there is the option of heated seats. Cargo space is where the CX-5 falters. Open the tailgate to be greeted with 30.9 cubic feet behind the rear seats. Fold the seats to expand space to 59.6 cubic feet. It pales in comparison to the likes of the Honda CR-V (39.2 and 75.8 cubic feet) and Volkswagen’s redesigned Tiguan (37.6 and 73.5 cubic feet).

    The Grand Touring comes with a 7-inch touchscreen with the Mazda Connect infotainment system and a control knob. It does take some time to learn the various idiosyncrasies such as the touchscreen functions being locked out when the vehicle is on the move and having to jump through various menus to switch between various audio sources. Once you get the hang of the system, it becomes easy to use. Mazda Connect is beginning to show its age with the dark color palate, somewhat dated navigation interface, and the lack of Apple CarPlay and Android Auto integration. 

    Mazda only offers the 2.5L Skyactiv-G four-cylinder engine with 187 horsepower and 185 pound-feet of torque. This is paired with a six-speed automatic and the choice of either front-wheel or Mazda’s i-Active all-wheel drive. The engine is where Mazda’s premium image takes a serious hit. Around town, the engine is very peppy and is willing to get speed quickly. But the powertrain feels somewhat winded when power was needed to make a pass or merge on an expressway. Mazda has been working on a diesel engine option that was expected to arrive in the second half of last year, but hasn’t come out at the time of this writing. A fix that I’m willing to propose is to offer the turbocharged 2.5L four from the CX-9. The six-speed automatic goes about its business with crisp and smooth shifts.

    Fuel economy for the CX-5 AWD is rated by the EPA at 23 City/29 Highway/26 Combined. My average for the week landed around 25.7 mpg.

    We have praised the previous-generation Mazda CX-5 as being one best driving crossovers. The new one continues that with agile handling and excellent body control. The steering provides excellent feedback and weight when driving down a winding road. Mazda has fitted their G-Vectoring Control that monitors steering and throttle input, and will reduce engine power to improve overall handling. But as I noted in my Mazda6 quick drive last year, I couldn’t tell if the system made a difference or not. The same is true when it comes to the CX-5. This sporting edge does mean the ride quality is slightly rough with a fair number of road imperfections being transmitted inside. The 19-inch wheels don’t help with this and it might be worth considering dropping down to the Touring for the smaller 17-inch wheels. At least Mazda is continuing to improve road and wind noise isolation. Compared to the last CX-5 I drove, there is a reduction in road and wind noise inside. It is almost as quiet as what you might find in a luxury model.

    If I was to recommend a CX-5 for most buyers in 2017, that would be the Grand Touring. While I find the price to be slightly high and the 19-inch wheels make the ride uncomfortable, it was the only way to get a number of active safety features such as radar cruise control and the smart city brake support. Thankfully for 2018, Mazda has migrated a number of those features down to the Touring and Sport trims. If you’re considering a 2018 CX-5, the Touring is your best bet as you’ll get most everything on the Grand Touring at a price that won’t break the bank.

    Has Mazda accomplished their hopes of becoming more premium? The answer is a bit mixed. For the positives, Mazda has been making great strides in improving the noise isolation in their vehicles and the new CX-5 is no exception. There is also the distinctive exterior shape, noticeable improvement in material quality, and the sharp driving dynamics that have made the CX-5 a darling of the automotive press. The negatives on the CX-5 include a slightly stiff ride, smallish cargo area, and certain missing features that would really help with the premium image Mazda is trying to project. But the biggest issue has to be the engine. While 2.5 Skyactiv-G is perfectly adequate around town, it really struggles when more speed is called for. Dropping either the long-delayed diesel or the CX-9’s turbo-four would really do wonders and help foster the premium image.

    The 2017 Mazda CX-5 is so close to the premium edge. It just needs a few more tweaks to reach it.

    Disclaimer: Mazda Provided the CX-5, Insurance, and One Tank of Gas

    Year: 2017
    Make: Mazda
    Model: CX-5
    Trim: Grand Touring AWD
    Engine: 2.5L Skyactiv-G Four-Cylinder
    Driveline: Six-Speed Automatic
    Horsepower @ RPM: 187 @ 6,000
    Torque @ RPM: 186 @ 4,000 
    Fuel Economy: City/Highway/Combined - 23/29/26
    Curb Weight: 3,693 lbs
    Location of Manufacture: Hiroshima, Japan
    Base Price: $30,695
    As Tested Price: $34,380 (Includes $940.00 Destination Charge)

    Options:
    Premium Package - $1,830.00
    Soul Red - $595.00
    Retractable Cargo Cover $250.00
    Cargo Mat - $70.00

    Edited by William Maley



    User Feedback

    Recommended Comments

    There are no comments to display.



    Join the conversation

    You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.
    Note: Your post will require moderator approval before it will be visible.

    Guest
    Add a comment...

    ×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

      Only 75 emoji are allowed.

    ×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

    ×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

    ×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.




  • Similar Content

    • By Drew Dowdell
      At an event in May, I got to spend some time with the 2020 Kia Telluride. The Telluride is an all-new model for Kia, though it is based on the Kia Sorento’s platform.  Being a good bit longer than the 7-passenger Sorento, it is substantially roomier inside, allowing for 7 or 8 passenger configurations depending on trim level.  The version I tested was the top of the line SX package with all-wheel drive and an additional Prestige Package.  Kia makes standard a whole host of active safety equipment.  Thankfully, I didn’t get to test any of the more important ones. One important safety feature on my shopping list is Smart Cruise Control with Stop and Go, and the Kia has it standard.
      On appearance alone, Kia is going to have a hit on their hands.  Though on the same platform as the Kia Sorento, the Telluride strikes a handsome square and almost truck-like silhouette. The overall look is of a vehicle even bigger than it is. Up front are an attractive set of headlight clusters with yellow surround daytime running lamps. As this is a new entry to the segment, Kia spells out the model name across the front of the hood making sure you know what model vehicle it is.  It still manages to look classy. My tester had the black 20-inch wheels, LED headlamps, and rear fix-glass sunroof that comes with the SX trim level.  
      Because this was the top of the line SX with Prestige Package, it came with beautiful Napa leather chairs, second-row captain chairs, heads up display, and premium cloth headliner and sun visors.  The overall fit and finish of my tester was excellent. Switchgear is nicely weighted and has a premium, if not luxury, feel to it. The styling inside is handsome if conservative, and passengers could be fooled into thinking they were in a vehicle of higher pedigree.  While it is roomier than the Sorento, is it still smaller than some of its primary competition. The Honda Pilot, Chevrolet Traverse, and Buick Enclave all boast roomier interiors.  Still, second-row comfort was good and third-row accessibility is acceptable, though best left to the kids.
      My experience with the Telluride’s 10-inch infotainment system was limited, however, it is based on the same UVO system found in their other vehicles.  Even in its native modes, I find Kia UVO to be one of the easier systems to use, but if you use the included Android Auto and Apple Car Play most often, you won’t be in the native system much anyway.
      The only engine option on the Kia Telluride is a 291 horsepower 3.8 liter direct-injected V6.  Torque comes in at 261 lb-ft, about average for this segment.  Coupled to the engine is an 8-speed automatic, and if you check the box for an additional $2,000, you get an active AWD system.  The system constantly monitors traction and via a controller in the cabin, the driver can select between 80/20 (Comfort and Snow), 65/35 (Sport), and 50/50 (Lock, best used for off-roading).  If you do care to do off-roading, you have 8-inches of ground clearance to play with. Towing capacity is 5,000 pounds which again is pretty much the expected capacity for the segment. EPA fuel economy is rated at 19 city / 24 highway / 21 combined.  The 2020 Telluride has not yet received a crash test rating.
      Though the engine only puts out 261 lb-ft of torque, the 8-speed automatic makes quick work of it and acceleration is sufficient at a reported 7.1 seconds.  Engine noise is hushed and refined.
      One of my favorite things about the Kia Telluride is its ride. The suspension is soft and comfortable.  The big 20-inch wheels can slam hard if one hits some more serious potholes, but overall this is one of the nicest riding big SUVs.  That soft suspension does have a downside; body roll and handling are not what you would call sporting. Though the steering is precise and well weighted, the big Kia hefts and leans through corners. Take it slow with grandma in the back and all will be well.  The towing package adds a hitch receiver and a load leveling suspension.
      Kia is not a brand known for luxury vehicles, but in SX Prestige trim, this Telluride can certainly count as one.  That leads us to the price. At $46,860 after destination charges, the Telluride handily undercuts the competition, some of which don’t even offer the level of active safety technology the Kia offers as standard.  If you’re shopping in the large SUV segment, the Kia Telluride is definitely one to add to your test drive list.
      Year: 2020
      Make: Kia 
      Model: Telluride
      Trim: SX
      Engine: 3.8L Gasoline Direct Injected V6
      Driveline: All-Wheel Drive
      Horsepower @ RPM: 291 hp @ 6,000 rpm
      Torque @ RPM: 262 lb.-ft. @ 5,200 rpm 
      Fuel Economy: City/Highway/Combined - 19/24/21
      Curb Weight: 4482 lb.
      Location of Manufacture: West Point, GA
      Base Price: $31,690
      As Tested Price: $45,815
      Destination Charge: $1,045
      Options:
      SX Prestige Package - $2,000
      Carpeted Floor Mats - $210
      Carpeted Cargo Mat w/ Seat Back Protection - $115

      View full article
    • By Drew Dowdell
      At an event in May, I got to spend some time with the 2020 Kia Telluride. The Telluride is an all-new model for Kia, though it is based on the Kia Sorento’s platform.  Being a good bit longer than the 7-passenger Sorento, it is substantially roomier inside, allowing for 7 or 8 passenger configurations depending on trim level.  The version I tested was the top of the line SX package with all-wheel drive and an additional Prestige Package.  Kia makes standard a whole host of active safety equipment.  Thankfully, I didn’t get to test any of the more important ones. One important safety feature on my shopping list is Smart Cruise Control with Stop and Go, and the Kia has it standard.
      On appearance alone, Kia is going to have a hit on their hands.  Though on the same platform as the Kia Sorento, the Telluride strikes a handsome square and almost truck-like silhouette. The overall look is of a vehicle even bigger than it is. Up front are an attractive set of headlight clusters with yellow surround daytime running lamps. As this is a new entry to the segment, Kia spells out the model name across the front of the hood making sure you know what model vehicle it is.  It still manages to look classy. My tester had the black 20-inch wheels, LED headlamps, and rear fix-glass sunroof that comes with the SX trim level.  
      Because this was the top of the line SX with Prestige Package, it came with beautiful Napa leather chairs, second-row captain chairs, heads up display, and premium cloth headliner and sun visors.  The overall fit and finish of my tester was excellent. Switchgear is nicely weighted and has a premium, if not luxury, feel to it. The styling inside is handsome if conservative, and passengers could be fooled into thinking they were in a vehicle of higher pedigree.  While it is roomier than the Sorento, is it still smaller than some of its primary competition. The Honda Pilot, Chevrolet Traverse, and Buick Enclave all boast roomier interiors.  Still, second-row comfort was good and third-row accessibility is acceptable, though best left to the kids.
      My experience with the Telluride’s 10-inch infotainment system was limited, however, it is based on the same UVO system found in their other vehicles.  Even in its native modes, I find Kia UVO to be one of the easier systems to use, but if you use the included Android Auto and Apple Car Play most often, you won’t be in the native system much anyway.
      The only engine option on the Kia Telluride is a 291 horsepower 3.8 liter direct-injected V6.  Torque comes in at 261 lb-ft, about average for this segment.  Coupled to the engine is an 8-speed automatic, and if you check the box for an additional $2,000, you get an active AWD system.  The system constantly monitors traction and via a controller in the cabin, the driver can select between 80/20 (Comfort and Snow), 65/35 (Sport), and 50/50 (Lock, best used for off-roading).  If you do care to do off-roading, you have 8-inches of ground clearance to play with. Towing capacity is 5,000 pounds which again is pretty much the expected capacity for the segment. EPA fuel economy is rated at 19 city / 24 highway / 21 combined.  The 2020 Telluride has not yet received a crash test rating.
      Though the engine only puts out 261 lb-ft of torque, the 8-speed automatic makes quick work of it and acceleration is sufficient at a reported 7.1 seconds.  Engine noise is hushed and refined.
      One of my favorite things about the Kia Telluride is its ride. The suspension is soft and comfortable.  The big 20-inch wheels can slam hard if one hits some more serious potholes, but overall this is one of the nicest riding big SUVs.  That soft suspension does have a downside; body roll and handling are not what you would call sporting. Though the steering is precise and well weighted, the big Kia hefts and leans through corners. Take it slow with grandma in the back and all will be well.  The towing package adds a hitch receiver and a load leveling suspension.
      Kia is not a brand known for luxury vehicles, but in SX Prestige trim, this Telluride can certainly count as one.  That leads us to the price. At $46,860 after destination charges, the Telluride handily undercuts the competition, some of which don’t even offer the level of active safety technology the Kia offers as standard.  If you’re shopping in the large SUV segment, the Kia Telluride is definitely one to add to your test drive list.
      Year: 2020
      Make: Kia 
      Model: Telluride
      Trim: SX
      Engine: 3.8L Gasoline Direct Injected V6
      Driveline: All-Wheel Drive
      Horsepower @ RPM: 291 hp @ 6,000 rpm
      Torque @ RPM: 262 lb.-ft. @ 5,200 rpm 
      Fuel Economy: City/Highway/Combined - 19/24/21
      Curb Weight: 4482 lb.
      Location of Manufacture: West Point, GA
      Base Price: $31,690
      As Tested Price: $45,815
      Destination Charge: $1,045
      Options:
      SX Prestige Package - $2,000
      Carpeted Floor Mats - $210
      Carpeted Cargo Mat w/ Seat Back Protection - $115
    • By William Maley
      Seven years ago, I drove the previous-generation Mitsubishi Outlander for a week-long review. There was a lot to like about the previous model as it featured distinctive shape, comfortable ride, and being somewhat fun to drive. But in other areas, the model fell a bit flat. Poor material choices, firm ride, and the optional V6 engine feeling slightly lackluster. I ended my review with this,
      “Mitsubishi has shown a new Outlander at the Geneva Motor Show earlier this year. Underneath the Outlander’s new sheet metal lies a new vehicle architecture and will have the choice between gas and plug-in hybrid power. The new Outlander also gets revised interior and new safety equipment. The question is will the new Outlander be able to fix the problems of the current one?”
      It has taken a fair amount of time to get my hands on the new Outlander. In that time, Mitsubishi has made a number of changes and updates to the Outlander lineup such as a revised exterior. Was it worth the wait?
      The Outlander’s shape is nothing too special with rounded corners, large glass area, and a set of 18-inch alloy wheels that comes standard on most models. For 2019, Mitsubishi has updated the Outlander’s front end with a new grille shape, headlights, and more chrome trim. It does help spruce up the design that has been with us since 2014. My only complaint is the dark silver paint on my tester. It makes the vehicle look like a giant blob. There isn’t anything that sets the interior apart from rivals. The design is somewhat plain, but material quality is quite surprising with an abundance of soft-touch materials. There is a fair amount of piano black trim, which does attract fingerprints. All Outlanders come with a 7-inch touchscreen running Mitsubishi’s latest infotainment system is standard. Those wanting Apple CarPlay and Android Auto need to step up to the SE or higher. My experience with the system mimics the Eclipse Cross; lags behind the competition in terms of the interface and performance, but its a huge step forward from the previous system. The Outlander is one of the few models in the compact crossover class that can boast having three-rows to allow seating for seven. This seat is best reserved for small kids due to the limited amount of leg and headroom. Having the third-row also eats into cargo space - 10.3 vs. 33 cubic feet with the seats folded. Front and rear seating is fine. There’s enough padding to keep everyone comfortable on a long trip, and most passengers will be able to stretch out. Most Outlanders come equipped with a 2.4L four-cylinder engine producing 166 horsepower and 162 pound-feet of torque. This is paired with a CVT and the choice of front or Mitsubishi’s Super All Wheel Control. Step up to the GT to get a 3.0L V6 packing 224 hp and 215 lb-ft of torque. There’s also a PHEV option which I talk about more in this first drive piece. The 2.4 is serviceable around town with brisk acceleration and minimal noise. But take the Outlander on the highway or fill it up with people and cargo, and the 2.4 feels overwhelmed. Not helping is the CVT that will drone quite loudly when you plant your foot on the gas. Fuel economy is mid-pack with EPA figures of 24 City/29 Highway/26 Combined for the AWD version - front-wheel drive models see a one MPG improvement. My average for the week landed around 24. One area that I was surprised by the Outlander was the ride. Over the varied surfaces on offer in the Metro Detroit area, the Outlander’s suspension smoothed out various bumps. It doesn’t feel comfortable around corners, showing noticeable body lean and a disconnected steering system.  The Mitsubishi Outlander answers the oddly specific question of, “what is the cheapest three-row crossover I could buy?’ I can see why someone on a tight budget would consider one as the Outlander provides a lot of standard equipment, along with seating for seven at a low price. It doesn’t hurt that Mitsubishi’s 5 year/60,000 mile new car warranty does provide peace of mind for those who want a bit of security. But it does become a poor value the higher you climb in price. My Outlander SEL S-AWC tester starts at $29.095. With the optional SEL Touring Package (forward collision mitigation, adaptive cruise control, LED headlights, and a 710W Rockford Fosgate audio system) and carpeted floor mats, the price ballooned to $33,225 with destination. For that amount of cash, you get into a decently equipped Volkswagen Tiguan or Mazda CX-5. I know dealers put cash on the hoods - most dropping the cost to under $30,000, but it is still a tough sell. Disclaimer: Mitsubishi Provided the Outlander, Insurance, and One Tank of Gas
      Year: 2019
      Make: Mitsubishi
      Model: Outlander
      Trim: SEL S-AWC
      Engine: 2.4L MIVEC SOHC 16-Valve Four-Cylinder
      Driveline: CVT, All-Wheel Drive
      Horsepower @ RPM: 166 @ 6,000
      Torque @ RPM: 162 @ 4,200
      Fuel Economy: City/Highway/Combined - 24/29/26
      Curb Weight: 3,472 lbs
      Location of Manufacture: Okazaki, Japan
      Base Price: $29,095
      As Tested Price: $33,225 (Includes $995.00 Destination Charge)
      Options:
      SEL Touring Package - $3,000.00
      Accessory Carpeted Floors Mats and Portfolio - $135.00

      View full article
    • By William Maley
      Seven years ago, I drove the previous-generation Mitsubishi Outlander for a week-long review. There was a lot to like about the previous model as it featured distinctive shape, comfortable ride, and being somewhat fun to drive. But in other areas, the model fell a bit flat. Poor material choices, firm ride, and the optional V6 engine feeling slightly lackluster. I ended my review with this,
      “Mitsubishi has shown a new Outlander at the Geneva Motor Show earlier this year. Underneath the Outlander’s new sheet metal lies a new vehicle architecture and will have the choice between gas and plug-in hybrid power. The new Outlander also gets revised interior and new safety equipment. The question is will the new Outlander be able to fix the problems of the current one?”
      It has taken a fair amount of time to get my hands on the new Outlander. In that time, Mitsubishi has made a number of changes and updates to the Outlander lineup such as a revised exterior. Was it worth the wait?
      The Outlander’s shape is nothing too special with rounded corners, large glass area, and a set of 18-inch alloy wheels that comes standard on most models. For 2019, Mitsubishi has updated the Outlander’s front end with a new grille shape, headlights, and more chrome trim. It does help spruce up the design that has been with us since 2014. My only complaint is the dark silver paint on my tester. It makes the vehicle look like a giant blob. There isn’t anything that sets the interior apart from rivals. The design is somewhat plain, but material quality is quite surprising with an abundance of soft-touch materials. There is a fair amount of piano black trim, which does attract fingerprints. All Outlanders come with a 7-inch touchscreen running Mitsubishi’s latest infotainment system is standard. Those wanting Apple CarPlay and Android Auto need to step up to the SE or higher. My experience with the system mimics the Eclipse Cross; lags behind the competition in terms of the interface and performance, but its a huge step forward from the previous system. The Outlander is one of the few models in the compact crossover class that can boast having three-rows to allow seating for seven. This seat is best reserved for small kids due to the limited amount of leg and headroom. Having the third-row also eats into cargo space - 10.3 vs. 33 cubic feet with the seats folded. Front and rear seating is fine. There’s enough padding to keep everyone comfortable on a long trip, and most passengers will be able to stretch out. Most Outlanders come equipped with a 2.4L four-cylinder engine producing 166 horsepower and 162 pound-feet of torque. This is paired with a CVT and the choice of front or Mitsubishi’s Super All Wheel Control. Step up to the GT to get a 3.0L V6 packing 224 hp and 215 lb-ft of torque. There’s also a PHEV option which I talk about more in this first drive piece. The 2.4 is serviceable around town with brisk acceleration and minimal noise. But take the Outlander on the highway or fill it up with people and cargo, and the 2.4 feels overwhelmed. Not helping is the CVT that will drone quite loudly when you plant your foot on the gas. Fuel economy is mid-pack with EPA figures of 24 City/29 Highway/26 Combined for the AWD version - front-wheel drive models see a one MPG improvement. My average for the week landed around 24. One area that I was surprised by the Outlander was the ride. Over the varied surfaces on offer in the Metro Detroit area, the Outlander’s suspension smoothed out various bumps. It doesn’t feel comfortable around corners, showing noticeable body lean and a disconnected steering system.  The Mitsubishi Outlander answers the oddly specific question of, “what is the cheapest three-row crossover I could buy?’ I can see why someone on a tight budget would consider one as the Outlander provides a lot of standard equipment, along with seating for seven at a low price. It doesn’t hurt that Mitsubishi’s 5 year/60,000 mile new car warranty does provide peace of mind for those who want a bit of security. But it does become a poor value the higher you climb in price. My Outlander SEL S-AWC tester starts at $29.095. With the optional SEL Touring Package (forward collision mitigation, adaptive cruise control, LED headlights, and a 710W Rockford Fosgate audio system) and carpeted floor mats, the price ballooned to $33,225 with destination. For that amount of cash, you get into a decently equipped Volkswagen Tiguan or Mazda CX-5. I know dealers put cash on the hoods - most dropping the cost to under $30,000, but it is still a tough sell. Disclaimer: Mitsubishi Provided the Outlander, Insurance, and One Tank of Gas
      Year: 2019
      Make: Mitsubishi
      Model: Outlander
      Trim: SEL S-AWC
      Engine: 2.4L MIVEC SOHC 16-Valve Four-Cylinder
      Driveline: CVT, All-Wheel Drive
      Horsepower @ RPM: 166 @ 6,000
      Torque @ RPM: 162 @ 4,200
      Fuel Economy: City/Highway/Combined - 24/29/26
      Curb Weight: 3,472 lbs
      Location of Manufacture: Okazaki, Japan
      Base Price: $29,095
      As Tested Price: $33,225 (Includes $995.00 Destination Charge)
      Options:
      SEL Touring Package - $3,000.00
      Accessory Carpeted Floors Mats and Portfolio - $135.00
    • By William Maley
      The Kia Forte could never claim to be the best compact car, but its low price and a long list of equipment made it an interesting alternative choice to the stalwarts of the compact class. This approach has worked well with the Forte becoming one of the brand’s best selling models. Kia wants to change the fortunes of the Forte with third-generation by not fully relying on price and value.  I spent a week in the top-line EX Launch Edition to see how it fares.
      The new Mazda3 is considered by many to be the sexiest compact car on sale. Running a close second is the Forte. Elements of the Stinger are used throughout such as power bulge on the hood, headlights that extend into the fenders, and sculpting along the side. The only place where the design falters is in the rear with a set of triangular pods housing the reversing lights and turn signals. They ruin the elegant and upscale look Kia is trying to go for.
      The Forte’s interior at first glance may look somewhat plain, with only a set of circular vents and a strip of faux metal trim running across the dash being the interesting bits. But Kia has done its homework in building a high-quality interior. Almost all of the plastics used are soft-touch and feature different textures to make the vehicle look and feel more expensive than the actual price. Clever touches such as dual-zone climate control being standard on all models and a two-tier bin allowing you and a passenger to place their phones also set the Forte apart.
      The EX features leatherette upholstery, a 10-way power seat for the driver, and heat/ventilation for those sitting up front. I found the seats to be very easy to find a comfortable position, along with providing excellent support for long trips. The back seat is mixed with a decent of legroom, but headroom being somewhat at a premium due to an optional sunroof for those above six-feet.
      All Fortes come with an 8-inch touchscreen as standard with Kia’s UVO infotainment system. Navigation is only available on the EX if you order the Launch Edition package. The current incarnation of UVO is starting to look somewhat old in terms of the interface. It cannot be beaten for the overall ease of use with large touchpoints, simple menu layout, and physical shortcut buttons underneath the screen. Android Auto and Apple CarPlay integration is standard across the board.
      Power comes from a 2.0L four-cylinder engine pumping out 147 horsepower and 132 pound-feet of torque. The base FE gets a six-speed manual, while higher trims use a CVT. The powertrain goes about its business surprisingly well around down with the engine providing decent pull and the CVT mimicking an automatic transmission. But this powertrain falters when you need to get up to speed quickly. The engine runs out of steam when going above 60 mph and there is a noticeable drone coming from the CVT.
      Fuel economy in the 2019 Kia Forte EX is rated at 30 City/40 Highway/34 Combined. My average for the week landed around 33.
      The Forte really shines when it comes to ride quality. Despite having a slightly stiffer ride compared to the last-generation model, the sedan glides over most bumps with no issue. Road and wind noise were about average for the class, and could easily be drowned out by turning up the volume slightly. Handling is about average for the class with a slight amount of body lean and steering providing decent weight.
      To sum up, the large effort Kia has put into the 2019 Forte shows. The combination of styling, a long list of features, balance between ride and handling, and a surprising base price make it a real threat in the compact car class. The only item that needs to be addressed is the engine - ten extra horsepower and torque could make the difference. 
      How I would configure a 2019 Kia Forte 
      While the EX Launch Edition does provide some desirable features such as adaptive cruise control, QI wireless charging, and a Harman/Kardon audio system, I would drop down to the mid-level S. At $20,290, you’re getting a lot of equipment such as 17-inch alloy wheels, automatic headlights, forward collision warning with automatic braking, and keyless entry. I would add the $1,200 S Premium Package to get LED headlights, automatic high beams, and a power sunroof. With destination, the price comes to $22,415. Alternatives to the 2019 Kia Forte
      Hyundai Elantra: Mechanically similar to the Forte, albeit with a face that will scare small kids. Two turbo engine options - one focused on the economy while the other is for sport - might be attractive to some. Honda Civic: Drives slightly better than the Forte and offers more body styles. But lower reliability scores and confounding infotainment systems may cause you to look elsewhere. Chevrolet Cruze: While it lacks a number of features found on the Forte, it does offer a slightly smoother and quieter ride. Plus, dealers are starting to push a lot of cash on the hoods to get them moving.   
      Disclaimer: Kia Provided the Forte, Insurance, and One Tank of Gas
      Year: 2019
      Make: Kia 
      Model: Forte
      Trim: EX
      Engine: 2.0L Multi-Port DOHC Inline-Four
      Driveline: Front-Wheel Drive, CVT
      Horsepower @ RPM: 147 @ 6,200
      Torque @ RPM: 132 @ 4,500 
      Fuel Economy: City/Highway/Combined - 30/40/34
      Curb Weight: 2,903 lbs
      Location of Manufacture: Pesqueria, NL, Mexico
      Base Price: $21,990
      As Tested Price: $26,220 (Includes $895.00 Destination Charge)
      Options:
      EX Launch Edtion - $3,210.00
      Carpeted Floor Mats - $125.00

      View full article
  • Social Stream

  • Who's Online (See full list)

  • My Clubs

About us

CheersandGears.com - Founded 2001

We ♥ Cars

Get in touch

Follow us

Recent tweets

facebook

×
×
  • Create New...