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 21 through 30 of 295.00
  • 2010 Kia Forte SE - 2010 Kia Forte
    By -

    I absolutely love my 2010 Kia Forte SE that I purchased on August 29, 2009. I got all the features I wanted on a vehicle including Air Conditioning, Power Windows and Doors, Bluetooth, Sirus Radio and USB for my Ipod. It runs very smooth and looks nice. :) I have gotten a lot of compliments about my new car.

  • Glad I Purchased - 2010 Kia Forte
    By -

    I just purchased my spicey red EX Christmas Eve. I need a commuter car that not only looks good but is fun to drive. I selected the 5 speed version making my commute to work a pleasure. The Fortes fit and finish is outstanding and the sound system cant be beat for the price. I looked at other cars and found that the KIA had more standard options for the price making it a no brainer. Mine has the sunroof and upgraded wheel package. It is a clean looking, fun, and comfortable vehicle that gets great gas milage. The price was just a Tad over 17K out the door. Cant beat that for a new that appears to be built to last. My dealer also gave me free oil changes and tire rotations 4 life.

  • poor gas mileage - 2011 Kia Forte
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    I have owned it for a month. It has 20K miles on it. So far, it does 19 mpg 50/50 mixed. I am very disappointed in this. My other cars (a CUV and a wagon) give me 22 mpg/city!!!!

  • Great Car - front end clunking noise - 2010 Kia Forte
    By -

    Car has been great for me. I had the clicking / clunking noise on my front end as well, brought it in in a month after I had purchased and they said they couldnt find anything. 3 Months later I bring it back in and they said they figured out what the noise was on all Fortes as there is something behind the front tires that needs adjustment. BUT they will only tell you if you tell them you hear the noise first. Otherwise, they will not tell you about this problem. Hopefully this helps a lot of you out there.

  • Redefining Value - 2010 Kia Forte
    By -

    Just bought the 2010 Forte SX 5sp A/M. I had a hunch that this would be a worthwhile purchased after reading all the rave reviews. It was hard to convince my partner that Kia has come a long way since the 90s and even the mid 2000s. The standard features you find at any Forte model are extra on Honda, Toyota, Mazda and Nissans. The bumper and powertrain warranty has no match. The best part is that we were able to buy it at about 300 above invoice with the Southern Hospitality deal (free oil/filter/tire rotation, etc. for life). Thank you Greenbrier Supercenter.

  • 2014 Kia Forte Nails It - 2014 Kia Forte
    By -

    Ive had this new 2014 Kia Forte for a month now, and so far it has exceeded all of my expectations. I was looking for a commuter car that got at least 30+ mpg, and at 68" and 260 lbs, I needed to be able to fit comfortably. I checked out the other brands in the segment (Carollas, Cruzes, Civics, Elantras, and Focus) but in the end I felt like I got more bang for the buck out of the new Forte. I was actually leaning toward the Elantra until the newly redesigned Forte came out. Once I saw how spacious the cabin was, along with how loaded the EX model is, I was pretty much sold. The fact that I had so much room to be comfortable while sitting in it sealed the deal.

  • I Luv my Kia - 2010 Kia Forte
    By -

    Ive had my Coup for just a little over 2 months. I still love walking out to the parking lot at work and seeing my baby. Even better when I get in to enjoy the drive home. I have had so many compliments on this car as well. It feels like I should have paid much more for it. The acceleration is great on this car! I need to be careful though, I have tendency to want to go faster than what the speed limit is because its so fun to drive! Oh, and the gas mileage is awesome! The way this car drives and performs it feels like shouldnt be so efficient. And my teenagers actually dont mind being seen with me in this car racy red car. :)

  • Worth the wait - 2010 Kia Forte
    By -

    I first saw the Koup in online reviews from the 2008 New York Auto Show. I was really impressed with the body lines, and intrigued by the 2.0 with Turbo. When the Genesis Coupe came out with the Turbo, I was certain the Koup wouldnt be far behind - alas it was not to be. I do have to say, however, that the 2.4 with the 6 speed manual has plenty of pep and is fun to drive - once youre used to first gear! After driving an 05 Spectra5 for 111,000 miles, I was certain that another Kia purchase would be a wise one. My milage is a little less than the Spectra - but the engine is larger... After over 2000 miles, I am not disappointed!

  • Best Bang For The Buck! - 2010 Kia Forte
    By -

    Goodbye 08 Corloa, hello 2010 Forte SX! Features I love: Bluetooth, sirius radio, metal trim, leather steering wheel with audio controls, foglights, chrome tailpipe, 2.4 Liter 173 HP engine that is peppy yet economical, awesome styling (in and out). FUN TO DRIVE!! SEXY CORSA BLUE COLOR!

  • I am in love with my 2017 Kia Forte S - 2017 Kia Forte
    By -

    This car is amazing, I have only had for 1 day but I love everything about it. The only thing that I was it had is a spare tire instead of a tire inflation kit. Also I wish it had another USB port, but those are nit picky things. Amazing car!

Kia Forte Reviews By Year:
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