2021 Kia Cerato EX Review: Not Ex At All

Ben Chia

For under 100 grand, the mid-level Kia Cerato EX offers plenty for buyers to consider with its impressive list of standard features

Photos: Jay Tee and Ben Chia


Apparently, in youth lingo, ‘ex’ is a contraction of expensive, probably because three syllables are too much for a teenager to express. Judging by what the Kia Cerato EX can offer though, the mid-level trim of Kia’s popular family sedan certainly doesn’t seem ‘ex’ at all.

The EX sits above the base spec L and below the top-spec GT Line in the Cerato lineup. At the time of writing, the Cerato EX retails for S$97,999 including COE, and it looks to be a nice middle ground option. The L spec is nine grand less, but is decidedly bare bones and is ostensibly targeted at fleet buyers (i.e. private hire companies).

While the GT Line does offer a fair amount of extra kit, it is also seven grand more than the EX, and crucially has an Open Market Value (OMV) that exceeds S$20,000, while the EX comes under that threshold. This impacts on the car loan quantum that buyers can take, at 60 percent and 70 percent respectively. It’s certainly something to take note of, especially in this segment where buyers do tend to be more price sensitive.

Finances aside, the Cerato EX does offer quite a lot for the money. For under a 100 grand you get quite an extensive list of standard equipment, including LED head and tail lights, a 10.25-inch touchscreen with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto connectivity, an electric parking brake, wireless smartphone charger, and heated/ventilated front seats.

The EX scores pretty high on the safety front too, with driver assistance systems such as forward collision assist and warning, rear traffic collision warning and lane keeping assist all present here.

The only stuff you really lose from the GT Line are the dual zone climate control, electric memory front seats (with GT Line badges), GT Line steering wheel with paddle shifters, sunroof, along with the GT Line body kit. While they’re nice to have, the EX’s equipment list is comprehensive enough on its own.

Fundamentally though, there’s really little difference between the variants, in terms of the packaging and drive. The interior is generally well-appointed and feels nice to sit in, and there’s plenty of space for passengers and cargo alike. It doesn’t have as much pizzazz as, say, a Hyundai Avante, but everything is functional and organised neatly in a logical and coherent manner.

The drive is much the same too. The 1.6-litre naturally-aspirated 128hp powerplant is alright, but it’s not going to set anyone’s pants on fire. The engine does strain a bit when pushed hard, but otherwise, the unit is smooth enough to cope with everyday driving. For the average Singaporean family man, the Cerato should be more than adequate for their daily driving needs.

In terms of ride and handling balance, the Cerato EX strikes the middle ground too. Its cornering abilities is decent, doing just about enough to get you through the corner, while the ride quality is also reasonable, generally comfortable enough not to be too upsetting over bumps.

Refinement levels are also pretty good, with a noted lack of road noise at high speed. The EX also scores a point against the GT Line with its smaller 16-inch wheels (versus 17-inch) that deliver a more comfortable ride too.

The Cerato EX’s greatest appeal though is arguably its value. For less than 100 grand, there are very few options available that can offer what the EX does, with perhaps the Kia’s Korean cousin, the Hyundai Avante, being its closest competitor. But viewed on its own merits, the Cerato EX certainly doesn’t prove to be an ‘ex’ option to go for.

Kia Cerato EX

Engine1,591cc, inline 4
Power128hp at 6300rpm
Torque155Nm at 4500rpm
Gearbox6-speed automatic
0-100km/h11.6 seconds
Top Speed195km/h
Fuel Efficiency6.6L/100km
VES BandB / –
AgentCycle & Carriage Kia
PriceS$97,999 with COE
Verdict Well-equipped and decent, the Kia Cerato EX proves to be an excellent choice for buyers looking for a family sedan that offers great value


4-door 5 seat Cerato Kia petrol sedan

About the Author

Ben Chia

CarBuyer's senior staff writer went out to explore the Great Big World, including a stint working in China (despite his limited Mandarin). Now he's back, ready to foist upon you his takes on everything good and wonderful about the automotive world. Follow Ben on Instagram @carbuyer.ben

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