Kia Forte Research & Reviews

Overview & Reviews

Average Score

4.48/5 Average
295 Total Reviews
Model Overview:

In recent years, some of the most improved players on the automotive playing field have been entry-level compact sedans. Many of these so-called economy cars now offer levels of style and equipment that rival larger and more expensive cars. A good example is the Kia Forte.

Although the first Forte was generally a good car that also boasted strong crash test scores, the more refined second-generation version propelled this Kia to high honors in a very competitive class. Specifically, the newer Forte more than holds its own against the old segment standbys in terms of style, features, driving dynamics, fuel economy and value. Thanks to its choice of three body styles versus the more typical one or two, the Forte is able to appeal to several types of buyers whether they prefer a traditional sedan, a dynamic coupe or a practical hatchback.

Current Kia Forte
Redesigned for 2014, the current Forte is available as a sedan in LX (1.8L) and EX (2.0L) trim levels. The four-door hatchback (Forte 5) and two-door coupe (Koup) are available in EX and turbocharged SX trims.

There are three four-cylinder engines: a 1.8-liter with 148 horsepower, a 2.0-liter with 173 hp and a turbocharged 1.6-liter packing 201 hp. Power runs to the front wheels through either a six-speed manual or six-speed automatic transmission. The EPA combined fuel economy estimates range from 24-29 mpg, depending on engine and transmission.

Standard feature highlights include air-conditioning, a tilt-and-telescoping steering wheel, a height-adjustable driver seat, Bluetooth phone connectivity and a six-speaker sound system with a CD player, satellite radio and USB/iPod/auxiliary inputs. Midlevel trims add a more powerful engine, alloy wheels, foglights, keyless entry, a voice-activated infotainment system with Bluetooth audio connectivity and a rearview camera. The SX trims also include sporty styling tweaks, xenon headlights, LED taillights, dual-zone air-conditioning and a navigation system. Options (depending on trim) include a sunroof, keyless ignition and entry, leather upholstery, heated front and rear seats, a heated steering wheel, a ventilated eight-way power driver seat and an auto-dimming rearview mirror.

In reviews we've found the EX's substantial equipment level more than compensates for its slightly lower fuel economy. Furthermore, the 2.0 is one of the peppier four-cylinders out there so it never feels like an economy car. In Edmunds testing, a Kia Forte EX sedan accelerated from zero to 60 mph in 8.1 seconds, making it one of the quickest cars in its segment. Of course, if sporty is what you're after in a compact car, we'd recommend the turbocharged engine with the manual transmission for maximum performance and fun.

Overall, the Forte has precise steering, and handling is steady. On upper trim levels, you can even adjust the steering effort via a three-mode (Comfort/Normal/Sport) button on the wheel. Most shoppers in this segment will likely be satisfied with the Forte's overall ride quality. That said, broken pavement can produce a somewhat rougher ride than what you'll find in the Forte's well-established European or Japanese rivals.

Used Kia Forte Models
The first-generation Kia Forte was available from 2010-'13 as a four-door sedan or two-door coupe (Koup). The four-door hatchback (Forte 5) joined the lineup in 2011. The sedan was available in LX, EX and SX trims, while the hatchback and coupe were EX and SX only. The LX and EX came with a 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine that made 156 hp. The SX came with a 2.4-liter four-cylinder good for 173 hp.

For the LX and EX, the initial transmission choices included a five-speed manual or four-speed automatic, while the SX offered a standard six-speed manual transmission or optional five-speed automatic. The latter came standard on the EX with the available Fuel Economy package. For 2011, transmissions choices were simplified, as the six-speed manual transmission was standard on all but the hatchbacks, which came with a six-speed automatic. The latter was an option on the others.

The base Forte came standard with air-conditioning, Bluetooth phone connection, satellite radio and a CD stereo with auxiliary/USB audio jacks. Upgrading to the EX model added alloy wheels, full power accessories, cruise control and, on 2012-'13 models a tilt-and-telescoping steering wheel. The Forte coupe featured a firmer suspension, a retuned exhaust and sport seats. The EX sedan and hatch were available with that Fuel Economy package, which added low-rolling-resistance tires, aerodynamic enhancements and electric (rather than hydraulic) power steering. The sportier SX trim featured the larger engine, 17-inch alloy wheels, firmer suspension tuning (sedan) and various interior upgrades. The SX coupe further received suspension retuning. Leather upholstery, heated seats and a sunroof were optional on the SX.

The driving experience largely depends on which version and from which year Forte you're in. We feel the first year (2010), while not to be avoided, isn't the year to look for due to the somewhat dated automatic transmissions. As such, we'd suggest going with a 2011 or later Forte, which in addition to featuring six-speed transmissions across the board, also had better standard and optional equipment including navigation. Taller drivers should note that a telescoping steering column was available on SX models only in 2010 and '11, then also on the EX in 2012 and '13.

In reviews, our editors praised the Kia Forte's relatively generous front and rear seating, tidy styling and clean and pleasant cabin layout. The LX and EX handled like typical economy cars, meaning distant steering, noticeable body roll when pushed and a comfortable, though sometimes noisy ride. The SX -- the coupe in particular -- was a completely different story with its sportier handling and notably firmer ride. Although it still wasn't quite as much fun as the sprightly Honda Civic Si, the SX provided enough entertainment behind the wheel to make it a good choice for driving enthusiasts.

Previous to the Forte, Kia's small car offering was the underwhelming Spectra.

User Reviews:

Showing 11 through 20 of 295.00
  • Wow, tried the rest now try the best - 2010 Kia Forte
    By -

    I work for a valet company, it is safe to say that i have had the privilege to drive all the cars in this segment and then some. Subtle design with a hint of class that does ot belong in this segment. Not one of its competitors feel this good and i can honestly say that the only car that stands out above it is the focus. Too me the elantra has a weird exterior. The corolla is extremely outdated and feels cheap, the civic is nice but if you are like me and lean on the bigger than average then your leg will stick into the handbrake and you will feel awkward driving it. For the price nothing comes close, hopefully depreciation is not too bad and in my opinion the only deterrent. 87/100

  • cute little car - 2010 Kia Forte
    By -

    I bought this care as a belated Christmas gift. It handles the road well. The bluetooth is too noisy. The passenger airbag light stays on. I carried the car back twice, but it is not corrected yet. Overall I enjoy it

  • great car - 2010 Kia Forte
    By -

    Had a Honda for 16 years, so very hard to buy another brand, but have been very impressed with Kias that friends have, so I drove this one. Wow, what a great car. I hope it lasts like a Honda. Looked at all cars in this segment and was so impressed with all the extras for the price. The exterior looks are what got me into the car. Absolutely one of the best looking cars on the road. Have had it since Novermber. Have already been on a long road trip. What a great highway car. Not one single problem yet. Mileage averages 29,30 in all conditions. Six speaker stereo and steering wheel controls are favorite features. Plenty of power for an average driver. Steering and braking great!

  • Overpriced Cheap Money Pit - 2013 Kia Forte
    By -

    Ive had it for about 1.5 years...seemed like a lovely little deal with the XM radio, I got an ex...I was wrong about 1 yr in the amfm and satellite radio acquires signal every 5 or so minutes, the heat barely wants to work, the steering wheel looks horrible, the seats look horrible and the drivers seat sits like a hard church bench, it takes longer to stop running the ac and now its starting to drink gas. Yes Ive taken it in for service and had gas first I was in love now Im very unpleased and am stuck with it bc its worth nothing, come to find out its not even that safe to when they wanted me to trade up to the new body style I was like no

  • Sweet Little Car! - 2010 Kia Forte
    By -

    This car is a great value. I have been the only owner for 6 years, 220k miles. Handles curvy roads great w/o the traction control. The traction control becomes a pain when driving curvy roads as the brake activates and locks up a wheel as your are mid turn. Other than that the acceleration is great. Has guts. Very comfortable for 4 grown adults. Have been very happy with maintenance, as good my moms Honda CRV. Really good gas mileage, I average 27-29 MPG, in the city it was up to 32 MPG! Compact size makes parking anywhere a breeze. Trunk has lots of space, even with 2- 12 Rockfords.

  • Extremely nice car for the price - 2010 Kia Forte
    By -

    The Forte EX with electric steering feels like Im driving a high end Lexus or Acura. Stay away from hydraulic LX model since it does not feel the same. The Forte handles very well with an adequate performance motor.

  • good ride - 2011 Kia Forte
    By -

    Had it for 8 months now and made 6 road trips and love the comfort and mileage. Would definitely suggest it to anyone.

  • Wonderfully, Disappointing - 2011 Kia Forte
    By -

    I would look at Mazda 5 again, but the Kia value as a 2.0 liter hatchback with the long warranties, roadside assistance, and all the standard features, likes Bluetooth, satellite radio, and safety equipment is hard to beat. Speaking about safety, I keep getting cruiser and volume controls mix up on the steering wheel. Hopefully, I will differentiate them before itÂ’s too late.

  • Love it - 2010 Kia Forte
    By -

    I bought this vehicle approx. 2 weeks ago. I like it a lot! It doesnt have all the bells and whistles, but its a great car to drive. The day after I bought it, we took it on a trip. We put about 350 miles on the car in 3 days. When I checked the mileage, I couldnt believe it. I was getting 38 mpg! I have since filled the gas tank a 2nd time and still get 38 mpg. This is more than what I anticipated and Im very happy. The car is comfortable and handles great. I was a little nervous as a first time buyer of a Kia, but so far Im happy with my purchase. The only item I need to have checked is the outside passenger mirror. There is a whistling coming from it going over 35 mph.

  • I had to check out reviews - 2010 Kia Forte
    By -

    Ok, I have only rented this car twice now and I had to check out the reviews because I was so impressed. Ive driven everything under the sun because of my traveling job and Forte simply impressed me in this class! The reviews on this site has confirmed my feeling. I dont need to buy a car right this minute but if I had to I would definitely buy this one. The only other one I would consider is the Toyota Prius 2010, but Im sure its much pricier. Ill have to do some calculations. My research says that you should get the fuel economy EX model with 5 speed automatic. It comes with impressive electric steering. I just had to put my 2 cents in!

Kia Forte Reviews By Year:
Great Deals Near You
  • Loading cars...

Selected visitor vehicle reviews Visitor Vehicle Ratings and Reviews are the property of, and may not be reproduced or distributed without the consent of Edmunds© is a trademark of, Inc., Inc. is not affiliated with this website or app.

Powered By Edmunds

× Estimated monthly payments based on 3.9% APR, 60 month financing, and 20% down payment. Tax, tags, title, administration fees, and license fees are not included in price or payment. Subject to approved buyer credit. Actual purchase terms may vary.

Payment calculations are sourced by and may not reflect actual dealer financing terms.

Send Us Feedback ×

Locating Vehicles In Your Area