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 41 through 50 of 295.00
  • LOVE the 2014 Forte! - 2014 Kia Forte
    By -

    I purchased a Crimson Red 2014 Kia Forte with black interior and UVO eServices features in March 2014. I absolutely love this car (Im getting the Super Polysteel coating added this week). It rides smooth and is very quiet. Myself, my husband and our two children fit in the vehicle comfortable (one infant carseat in back) and the trunk is very spacious. It has a lot of "get up and go" as my Mom would say. A compact, powerful, and stylish car for your money. I have fun driving it I know ill love it for years to come.

  • Koup sx 2 dr 2010 year - 2010 Kia Forte
    By -

    Bought this car for my son only had a few days but fun to drive lots of power with the sx good safety loaded features and a great looking car no problems so far good car for the money. sx is the way to go i read up and would not buy the lx or ex. seems to be well built. 2010 year modle SX

  • Love the car - 2017 Kia Forte
    By -

    I love my car. Was not aware when we purchased it that cruise control is not standard on all cars. Since we have had the car the front bumper and left headlight had to be replaced apparently due to shipping. They were both scratched up and not fixable without replacing them. Now at less than 2500 yes read that again less than "2500" miles the transmission has to be replaced!!! Apparently there have been 26 Kia Fortes that have had this problem and now I am # 27. I like the feel of the car, the color, all the Bluetooth options and the roominess but so far I have not been impressed at all with running of it. I have not even had this car 2 months and it has spent more time in the shop than I have had it to drive. Sorry Kia wish I could give a better review!

  • read the reviews - 2010 Kia Forte
    By -

    price, quality, warranty, looks, road noise, engine acceleration, smart interior controls, and the ride quality for a sedan at this price really surprised and sold me on this unit-test drive one and you will understand kia is giving this vehicle away to get the american consumer to buy kia.

  • just purchased 2010 forte sx koupe - 2010 Kia Forte
    By -

    just purchased this car yesterday and i must say Im in shock at how much car i got for my money.the car in the corsa blue color gets compliments every where i go.this is truly a great bang for the buck car. best looking car on the road bar none.

  • From a M3 to a Kia? - 2010 Kia Forte
    By -

    Thats what we did, from a 2003 M3 Convertible to a spicy red sx loaded with leather heated seats and sunroof. This Forte is an amazing little car with many standard features. We started to look for a car that would give us great gas milage and be big enough to take on short trips to Flordia. This car is very roomy and gives us plenty of space. Me and my wife both love the car. We drove over 500 miles in a clunker to pick it up. The drive home was great and got 33 mpg with the air full on. Kia did a great job putting great standard features such as heated outside mirrors, bluetooth, ipod in, steering wheels controls, and triple airbags, traction control, stability control and abs.

  • Civic killer - 2010 Kia Forte
    By -

    I had a Vw jetta and a 2000 honda civic, and the Forte has more power than bothe.Smoothe 5 speed manual transmission, nice steering wheel controls, nicely placed heat vents. Only complaint is the sterio needs tweeters mounted up near mirrors, sounds a little muffled. Base model still outshined my other two cars. Plans to put some 18 inch rims, body kit, and better interior speekers. Hedders and axaust already available 3rd party, well priced. To not be a hybrid, the gas milage blows me away, but drop in K&N airfilter adds about 15 more horsepower and 75 more miles per full tank of gas. Fun car, lots of potential for us tuner car drivers,BUY IT.

  • The car is okay, but the gas mileage is not very good. - 2013 Kia Forte
    By -

    I have had my Kia Forte Hatchback since September and have not been impressed by the gas mileage. Highway miles I have not gotten over 30 and city miles are only at 20-22. I do not drive the car hard or jack rabbit starts at the stoplight. Not impressed and would probably go with a Honda or Toyota with my next car.

  • Cute, fun to drive and reliable - 2010 Kia Forte
    By -

    This is my wifes car. Weve had it for 7 years and other than the basic brakes, tires and battery replacements, it has been flawless. The wife loved the cuteness of it and I admit it has a fun sporty look. Performance wise it is fine, as you might expect from a small car it can beat you up a little on rough roads but overall it has a good ride. It is quick but not fast and is good on gas. Id say for us it was a winner.

  • Nice car - 2011 Kia Forte
    By -

    Nice car, purchased new in 2011. No problems!! Gas mileage is disappointing, only 31-32. Does not have a "engine temperature" gage only an "idiot light".

Kia Forte Reviews By Year:
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