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 31 through 40 of 295.00
  • I LOVE my 2010 Kia Forte EX - 2010 Kia Forte
    By -

    With 4000k miles in 2 months since driving it off the lot, I have only great things to say about this car! Everything. Absolutely everything is awesome! It looks sharp, like a Lexus and drives like a sporty Cadillac with room to spare! The bluetooth and Sirius rocks especially now that msnbc is on channel 90. I spend more time in my car than my house and feel like Im not missing out on anything! The fully reclining front seats let me catch some needed zs in sweet comfort, and when I need some zip, its there big-time without hesitation! For the price, it doesnt get any better than this! The fun is free!

  • Bargin Pocket Rocket - 2010 Kia Forte
    By -

    Still in getting broken in period, have the Corsa Blue, get lots of looks as the color seems to glow in the dark.

  • Great car with great mileage and comfort - 2010 Kia Forte
    By -

    I also have the EX with the Fuel Economy package. Runs nice and quiet along with being comfortable inside. I traded in a Dodge Caravan and this is my second Kia (also own a Sedona). Kia products seem to be very well constructed since I havent had any problems and really dont expect any. The 3 months Sirius is great since Ive never used this before so its a good way to try it out. The bluetooth is also great, especially for your phone (it shows who you are talking to and has voice activated commands).

  • Great Car - 2010 Kia Forte
    By -

    I purchased the car in May of 2010 and have nearly 25,000 trouble-free miles on it. It has plenty of pep especially since I have added a few aftermarket parts. I get awesome gas mileage, even in the city. Averaging 28 mixed city and hwy. The paint is kinda crappy though. Ive had a few cosmetic warranty issues but they were fixed immediately with no trouble from Kia Corporate or my dealership. $18,750 for a fully loaded car with leather, sun roof, and 17 inch wheels I couldnt be happier. The manual transmission took some getting used to. Overall great car.

  • Kia forte S Sedan - 2017 Kia Forte
    By -

    S model is great in gas. 29 city/ 38 highway EPA estimates. 2017 model has new 2.0 L engine with 6 gear automatic. 2017 has automatic headlight setting, backup camera, Bluetooth. I believe s and ex models come with touchscreen head unit that has Apple CarPlay/ Android Auto.

  • Love it! - 2010 Kia Forte
    By -

    We purchased the Forte EX in Titanium after an exhausting search. We initially had settled on a Nissan Sentra then saw this and decided to drive it and we were sold. Most of the complaints that the editors at Edmunds had about the automatic transmissions shifting is easily resolved by using the auto-manual feature. Comfort is fantastic, handling is great for a car of this class.

  • Currently have 7500 miles driven and I love it! - 2010 Kia Forte
    By -

    Bottom Line: This is an attractive fun car that is affordable. I have always been a Toyota driver because of their reliability. Well Im 28 and wanted to get a little more than the basic corolla. The corolla S is a joke! It has no added performance features so it was time to look elsewhere. My target was a Civic SI but it just cost too much. I test drove the Forte and fell in love. The manual transmission is a little touchy but with a little practice its easy to get used to. I love this car and if you give it a try you will too! Note: I gave the car a reliability rating of 5 because of the 100,000 warranty and free roadside assistance for 5 years.

  • Good cheap car that runs and drives - 2010 Kia Forte
    By -

    My car has 50,000 miles, 2.0L 4 cylinder, 5 speed manual transmission. I bought it used. This car has been great. It has been my daily driver for 2 years. I needed cheap, reliable transportation and it fit the bill. Comes with great features and a great warranty. That being said, beware of this cars resale value. I have put about 10,000 miles on it in the 2 years i have owned it and it went from being worth almost $13,000 retail/$10,000 trade to about $7500 retail and $5000 trade. For those who want to buy this car to keep and drive till it dies, it is well worth it. However if you plan on trading it in after a year or two, look away. I wish i hadnt bought it just for that reason alone.

  • Forte is great! - 2010 Kia Forte
    By -

    I love my Kia Forte. It is strong and peppy. Sometimes I feel like it shifts to 5th in a funny place, but the drive is very nice. I have also been getting better gas mileage than I expected. I love the Blue Tooth and steering controls but wish it had automatic lights as a feature. The trunk is enormous. Overall, so pleased!

  • Review for LE forte - 2010 Kia Forte
    By -

    I like the exterior design but the interior is a little cheap. The check engine light has been on two times. Unexplained noises coming from the front and back. The front struts were replaced and the noises continue.

Kia Forte Reviews By Year:
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