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Noturbonoproblem's Base Model Journey - '21 FE 6-speed thread

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At the recommendation of others and to keep everything about my car in one place, I'm doing what I should have done almost 2 years ago and made a "build" thread for my car.

It all started in early 2021. I had decided that I was going off to college almost 900 miles away from home, and I (and my parents) decided that making that trip multiple times a year in my only (running) car at the time, my project 2003 Land Rover Discovery that I bought for a few hundred bucks, wasn't gonna cut it. Thus, the search began for a reliable car that was comfortable and got good mileage, preferably for under $20k. It really needed two things for me to be happy, besides the initial criteria:
  1. It had to be a manual transmission with NO REV HANG (which bothers me to no end)
  2. It had to have Apple CarPlay and Android Auto.
Thus, the search began. Initially, as a Volvo person, I wanted a Volvo, but something nice enough to be deemed reliable without some work was out of my price range, and unless I went with something super old, I wasn't getting a manual trans and the ability to install a CarPlay headunit. With other used considerations falling into a similar group, I decided to turn to new cars. I test drove the Corolla and found it bland and overpriced, the Impreza only had a 5 speed and felt outdated, and the Civic had so much rev hang that I immediately turned it down, despite the nice shifter feel most Hondas are known for.
Then I found the Forte. I had really liked the Elantra GT N-Line (which they discontinued by the time I was ready to buy a car), so the natural next choice in my price range was the Forte. The dealer I visited (and ultimately ended up buying my FE from) had both a 6 speed GT and 6 speed FE on the lot at the same time, so I was able to test drive them back to back. While I liked the GT more, the FE 2.0L felt like a sweeter engine, with basically no rev hang (the GT had a little bit), and being so much cheaper while still having CarPlay, it's the route I took. Here's my FE the day I bought it:
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I was super excited obviously, and drove it everywhere when I first got it, putting over 3,000 miles on it in around 2 months, despite nowhere to go with it due to the pandemic, which was still kind of a thing at this point.
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I loved it, and felt that it would be perfect with some modifications to bring the suspension more in line with the GT. And so, the modifications started to begin.

First up was the lower engine mount, as the factory one was way too soft for my liking and the engine moved around too much while shifting and in stop and go traffic. First, I tried out a cheap mount I got on Amazon. It was ok, and helped with the driveline slop, but brought too much NVH into the cabin. I tried modifying it, which helped, but when it broke in, the engine was moving around more than the stock mount. Tried some combination of stock and aftermarket, but nothing. Then, after seeing some recommendations here for the Powerflex lower mount, I pulled the trigger and installed it. It was perfect. Very little NVH (just at idle with AC on), and the engine movements were much more controlled. I was super happy with this upgrade, which got even better once it broke in and most of the AC-idle vibration slowly went away. I drove it like this for a while.
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After driving it for a while, I started getting sick of the light, plasticy stock shifter. I was used to the one in my Volvo, which, while not super short throw, has a factory weighted knob that felt so much better. As such, it was upgrade time. After some research, I landed on the Boomba short throw shifter that replaced the knob too, since I didn't like the plasticy feel of the stock knob. Install went very smoothly thanks to the good instruction video from Boomba, and I fell in love with the car all over again. The shifter feel with the Boomba short shifter was fantastic. It felt way better than my Volvo, and even, dare I say, better than the shifter in a friend's Porsche 911. It still is the best modification I've made to this car. At over $300, it's also the most expensive, but wow was it worth it.
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Next, the suspension deficiencies compared to the GT was kind of a bummer since the shifter made the car feel so great when rowing through the gears. To help remedy this, I installed an Evilla strut bar after a few people on here expressed the surprisingly large improvement it makes. Install took around 5 minutes, and it fully lived up to expectations. At just over $100, it was a great value for how much of an improvement it was to handling with the base suspension setup.
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After a few months, the slight slop left over from the factory rubber shift cable bushings started to bother me a little bit, so I got a set of SXTH Element cable end link bushings. Thanks to another helpful video, this install was also painless, and relacing the soft rubber bushings with solid aluminum bushings made a big difference, and further improved shifter feel.
A few months later, I got the itch for even better steering feel after reading about the lower tie bar on here. For $100, I figured I'd give it a go. While not as easy to install, and even though the improvements weren't as great as the strut bar, it was also a good purchase, and protected the underside of my car from a few things over the year I've had it. A writeup for both the strut bar and lower bar (with pictures of how to cut the undertray for installation) can be found here.
With a Midwest winter now imminent, I went ahead and ordered a set of Continental VikingContact 7 winter tires. Tire Rack was running an incredible deal on them, so I was able to score a set for $270. They are great in the snow and still returned pretty solid fuel economy. I'm now towards the end of my second winter running them and they still look pretty much new, even though they have over 10k miles on them.
With a set of winter tires on the factory steel wheels, and considering the cost of mounting and balancing the set of tires each season, it got me thinking about a set of aftermarket wheels and tires for the car. I eventually ended up pulling the trigger on a set of 17x7 Enkei J10s, with Sumitomo HTR AS/P03 tires and a set of TPMS sensors from Tire Rack, since they mount and balance them for free and ship the whole set to you for free. Once the weather started getting warmer, I got them on, and love how they look on the car. The grip was also worlds above the factory Khumos, and while I did sacrifice some mileage, I feel it was worth it.
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About time! We need some 2.0 exposure, for sure.
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(Continued from original post)
I absolutely loved the new wheels (original thread about that here), but one thing started to become apparent - with 30mm wider tires, the lack of sound deadening started to become bothersome on the roughly 13 hour drive home from school. As such, and having recently read about sound deadening in these cars, I decided to buy a couple boxes and sound deaden the car.
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With all 4 doors, the trunk floor, trunk lid, and rear seat floor fully sound deadened, the car was much nicer to drive on the highway, so I was happy. I no longer had to crank the volume to be able to hear a podcast, which was nice. Original thread about this with more pictures and tips can be found here.

Around this time is when I experienced the only issue I've had with the car so far - a failed oil pressure sensor that was peeing oil out the connector, causing the light to come on when the car was at idle. You can read more about it here, but the Kia dealer got me in and out quickly, and they didn't mention any of the mods when performing warranty work.

After that, I was happy with the car. Nothing really stood out to me that needed to be done. However, the mod bug always bites, so after a few months, I decided to experiment with LED headlights after reading so many people's positive upgrade experiences on here. I got a set of Sealight bulbs, but was disappointed. Ultimately, I ended up returning them and kept the stock bulbs. The factory lights don't bother me as much as they do some people, so I'm going to leave them for now. Perhaps at some point I'll pay up for some nice LEDs, but for now, good enough. You can read more into that saga here.

Then, after reading about @Hamster-GT's positive experience with the Powerflex upper engine mount and transmission mount bushing inserts, I decided to get myself a set and install them in my FE. They fit great, and completely transform clutch feel and the shifting experience. I did have to sand away at the edge of the plate for the trans mount insert a little bit to keep it from vibrating against the chassis under load in lower gears, but once that was complete, all was well. This was one of the best mods I've done, and anyone with a manual Forte should highly consider them. Paired with the Powerflex lower mount, they massively improve shifting and clutch feel without adding unwanted vibration, and they even resolved the clutch chatter I was experiencing. Forgot to take pictures unfortunately. Details of both my and Hamster's experience can be found in Hamster's thread here.

Since then, not much has changed. I did add some more sound deadening behind the door speakers to improve bass. As for what I have planned for the car, there isn't much. I do want to lower it on lowering springs eventually, and I may give the Evilla rear sway bar a go at some point. I'd love to open up the 2.0L with an intake, but it's crazy expensive - almost $500. I'd probably end up doing the Evilla axleback exhaust first, even if it means I have to cut my bumper. I'd also like to eventually do the Hyundai XG350 big brake mod laid out here. Other than that, I'm quite happy with it.

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About time! We need some 2.0 exposure, for sure.
For sure! I'm bummed they killed the manual option on the 2.0L with the facelift. I'm glad I got mine when I did - the 2.0L/manual is one of the sweetest modern drivetrain combinations I've driven.
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For sure! I'm bummed they killed the manual option on the 2.0L with the facelift. I'm glad I got mine when I did - the 2.0L/manual is one of the sweetest modern drivetrain combinations I've driven.
I feel the same way, but for the color. A GT in fire orange is only available for 2020.
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I feel the same way, but for the color. A GT in fire orange is only available for 2020.
Makes sense. I initially wanted either Deep Sea Blue or Fire Orange, but alas, the FE is only available in boring greyscales. Shame, but at least Gravity Grey is somewhat interesting in direct sunlight.
Long overdue post!
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Evilla Motorsport鈥檚 V2 Torsion Bar 鈥 Evilla Motor Sports

Do they actually have a rear sway bar for the 2019-23 2.0L beam axle? They don't break it down for 1.6L and 2.0L and I know the old model does not fit the new. I did measure the rear beam axle on the 2021-23 Elantra 2.0L and it is appears to be dimensionally the same as the 2019-2023 Forte 2.0L. I am trying to find one for my wife's LXS since she will have my GT wheels and 225/40/18 Michelins for the spring, summer and fall.
Evilla Motorsport鈥檚 V2 Torsion Bar 鈥 Evilla Motor Sports
Do they actually have a rear sway bar for the 2019-23 2.0L beam axle? They don't break it down for 1.6L and 2.0L and I know the old model does not fit the new. I did measure the rear beam axle on the 2021-23 Elantra 2.0L and it is appears to be dimensionally the same as the 2019-2023 Forte 2.0L. I am trying to find one for my wife's LXS since she will have my GT wheels and 225/40/18 Michelins for the spring, summer and fall.
FORTE 3RD GEN (2019-2022) 鈥 Evilla Motor Sports
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I know the Eibach rear sway bar I have in my garage for the 2014-2018 Forte does not come close to fitting the 2019-2023 Forte 2.0L rear beam axle. So has anyone actually put one on a 2019-2023 Forte 2.0L yet?
Great writeup, noturbonoproblem. Keep up the good work and good luck at college. I had the time of my life in college and learned more about people than anything else. Try to make friends with EVERYONE you meet, regardless of race,creed,color or religion like I did and you will do well in life.
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Evilla Motorsport鈥檚 V2 Torsion Bar 鈥 Evilla Motor Sports

Do they actually have a rear sway bar for the 2019-23 2.0L beam axle? They don't break it down for 1.6L and 2.0L and I know the old model does not fit the new. I did measure the rear beam axle on the 2021-23 Elantra 2.0L and it is appears to be dimensionally the same as the 2019-2023 Forte 2.0L. I am trying to find one for my wife's LXS since she will have my GT wheels and 225/40/18 Michelins for the spring, summer and fall.
I believe they make one - that listing is for all of the torsion beam sway bars, and you have to select the '19-22 Forte. There were a couple 2.0L folks on here that have one
Great writeup, noturbonoproblem. Keep up the good work and good luck at college. I had the time of my life in college and learned more about people than anything else. Try to make friends with EVERYONE you meet, regardless of race,creed,color or religion like I did and you will do well in life.
Thank you sir! That's the plan. I'm now almost through my second year out at school, in for automotive engineering and management. The Forte now has just over 37k on it and still running strong, and is quite nice for the long trip from home to school and back.
I believe they make one - that listing is for all of the torsion beam sway bars, and you have to select the '19-22 Forte. There were a couple 2.0L folks on here that have one
I emailed Eli at Evilla, here is his reply for the sway bar. Seems like they have the right part. I still would like to see one before I do anything. Hopefully noturbonoproblem orders one soon. :)

The picture of the rear torsion bar is the same as the 2nd gen we just

made the changes where it fits but the overall look/design is the
same.
If you order the 19-23 torsion from us you will get the correct one.

Cheers,
Eli

19mm it attaches to the bottom spring perches just like the old gen
forte
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Excellent write up! This definitely gives me some ideas on what to do in the future. In the immediate future I鈥檓 going to pull the trigger on some nice LED low beams, probably from Lasfit. My girlfriend鈥檚 Rio has the tech pack, so it has full LEDs, makes me jealous of how well they work every time I drive it. I鈥檇 love to do the Boomba Shifter, but it is quite pricey. So much to do!
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I emailed Eli at Evilla, here is his reply for the sway bar. Seems like they have the right part. I still would like to see one before I do anything. Hopefully noturbonoproblem orders one soon. :)

The picture of the rear torsion bar is the same as the 2nd gen we just

made the changes where it fits but the overall look/design is the
same.
If you order the 19-23 torsion from us you will get the correct one.

Cheers,
Eli

19mm it attaches to the bottom spring perches just like the old gen
forte
I'm probably going to get lowering springs before I get the sway bar. As is with the strut brace and lower tie bar, it's quite nice around corners and will even give you some lift off oversteer if you drive it right. I've been waiting for like a year for someone to get the M&S lowering springs so I can see if I like how they sit, but I still can't find pictures anywhere.
Excellent write up! This definitely gives me some ideas on what to do in the future. In the immediate future I鈥檓 going to pull the trigger on some nice LED low beams, probably from Lasfit. My girlfriend鈥檚 Rio has the tech pack, so it has full LEDs, makes me jealous of how well they work every time I drive it. I鈥檇 love to do the Boomba Shifter, but it is quite pricey. So much to do!
Thanks! Note in case you're looking at it, the Boomba transmission adaptor (the one that goes up by the transmission) does NOT work on the FE 6 speed. I say do it on the Boomba short shifter. If I had to choose just one mod as my favorite that I've done so far, that would be it.
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I'm probably going to get lowering springs before I get the sway bar. As is with the strut brace and lower tie bar, it's quite nice around corners and will even give you some lift off oversteer if you drive it right. I've been waiting for like a year for someone to get the M&S lowering springs so I can see if I like how they sit, but I still can't find pictures anywhere.

Thanks! Note in case you're looking at it, the Boomba transmission adaptor (the one that goes up by the transmission) does NOT work on the FE 6 speed. I say do it on the Boomba short shifter. If I had to choose just one mod as my favorite that I've done so far, that would be it.
2019 Kia Forte with 18x8.5 35 AVID1 AV20 and 225/40R18 Sentury Uhp and Lowering Springs | Custom Offsets
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I'm looking forward to seeing the lowered FE. I recommend camber bolts while you're in there. Moar grip!
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I'm looking forward to seeing the lowered FE. I recommend camber bolts while you're in there. Moar gripe!
I'll be sure to do that too when the time comes. I looked on the guy's Instagram of that LXS you linked, and the guy says camber was hardly affected by lowering it, but it can't hurt. Right now my Volvo project is sucking up all of the car funds, but this summer hopefully I'll have the time and money to lower this thing.
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