Kia Forte 5 Road Trip

Kia has come a long way since the days I was selling Rondos and Spectras at the dealership. This new Forte5 is not only a sporty fun hatchback perfect for a road trip but also loaded with technology and options making a road trip more comfortable and easier than ever. From a large screen featuring Android Auto and Apple CarPlay functions as well as Kia’s own UVO emergency and concierge service to heated and air conditioned seats, the Forte5 has optional equipment not offered by most competitors in this class.

The Kia Forte5 SX T-GDI packs a turbocharged 1.6-liter, which is good for 201 horsepower at 6,000 rpm, and the 6-speed manual transmission gave the car a sporty fun feel. The SX also gets larger brakes on the front which help keep things under control when enjoying a spirited drive. While the X does have a sporty feel, the car still is quiet and smooth on the long straight stretches of highway you find in the California desert.

For this trip, we would head up Highway 395 to the town of Lone Pine and the historic internment camp in Manzanar. It is a beautiful drive from Southern California's high deserts to Owens River Valley. The Forte5 was the perfect choice with enough room for gear and passengers, but still sporty and fun to drive when the road got curvy. 

Highway 395 has long stretches with nothing at all, small towns here and there and some roadside attractions. Most of the towns along the way have been abandoned, in the town of Grant stands a house that was featured in an episode of the Twilight Zone, a few more miles down the road is the Lemon House, an odd bit of vernacular architecture that sits alongside a now closed motel.

 You don't see much in the way of gas stations or restaurants until you reach the town of Lone Pine, a town known mostly as a starting point for hikers and campers looking to enjoy the beauty of Mount Whitney and the surrounding area. Small hotels, diners, and camping equipment stores make up the bulk of Lone Pine, but after a short visit and some lunch, it's time to hit the road and head back south.

Side Story:

 On the way back home a truck lost control and flipped directly in front of me, thankfully the camper took the bulk of the hit, but the driver and her animals were trapped inside and she was hanging upside down trapped by her seatbelt. After breaking the passenger window I was able to climb inside, pass her dog and cat to other people who had stopped and then cut the driver free. Thankfully she was unharmed, but this incident reminded me why it was so important to always have an emergency tool and emergency kit in your car, you might need it yourself, or you might need it to help another motorist.