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 51 through 60 of 295.00
  • Whats not to like? - 2010 Kia Forte
    By -

    My Jetta diesel wagon is my all time favorite car, buit I love the Forte also. Great looks, in and out. Was not expensive to move up to the SX trim. The car is loaded with features, fun to drive, and hope will be reliable. Mileage could be better, but I enjoy the more peppy 2.4L so it is a fair trade off. The safety features, electronics, design, and the price is why bought this car. Love it!

  • Better than the Honda Civic - 2010 Kia Forte
    By -

    Traded a 2007 Honda Civic for the Forte, and have no regrets. So much quieter on the road, and a lot more fun to drive. Loved the Honda until I drove the Forte. Honda having a lot of issues with there quality including cracked engine blocks. I paid 16700.00 for a LX Civic ,and 15700,00 for a SX Forte that has a lot more standard features. Stability control, and traction control are not even offered on the Honda. Build quality and materials on the Forte are also a step above the Civic, and remember this review is coming from some one who drove the civic for 3 and a half years. The Honda didnt even have heated mirrors, even my 2000 Dodge Neon had heated mirrors.

  • Forte-tastic!! - 2010 Kia Forte
    By -

    Drove the Soul (which is GREAT looking, but a bit too small for my needs), the Honda Fit, & a couple others on my radar as well. Forte won, hands down--simply no other car on the market gives the same bang for the buck. Terrific handling and cornering, & features for price cant be beat. Bluetooth: way cool. Sirius satellite: one of those things you didnt know you needed til you have it. Ipod connect: sweet! (note, you can get the ipod connector on ebay all day long for less than $20, including shipping--nearly $40 thru the dealer) Trunk is so big, its almost magic. Ride is quiet and smooth, plenty of room in back seat. Kia is here to stay--Detroit, take note!

  • 2014 Kia Forte EX is a winner! - 2014 Kia Forte
    By -

    The new 2014 Kia Forte EX is leaps and bounds ahead of the previous models. Although it has the same 2.0L engine as the previous year, they switched to a GDI injection system which is gives better efficiency, upping it from 156 HP to 173 HP, yet manages the same MPG. If you leave it on the default ECO setting, it feels sluggish if you try to push it some. Its trying to save you gas. But if you turn ECO off, the sluggishness goes away, but so will your better mileage. The new Forte EX is quieter. It rides better. The new Forte has the Elantra chassis with the same wheelbase, and curb to curb radius. It has the same 6 speed transmission, but a more powerful engine.

  • Koup for Keeps - 2010 Kia Forte
    By -

    My Koup is Racing Red with an automatic transmission and sport cloth interior. I have owned the car for 3 weeks and so far it is an exceptional car for the money. The build quality is solid with absolutely no sqeaks or rattles, doors close with a reassuring thunk, the paint looks good and the fit and finish is very good. The engine runs and idles very smooth with more than adequate acceleration. Nice sporty ride, not too harsh over bumps. I traded in my 2005 Acura TL for this car and I can honestly say that I dont regret it.

  • Better than the Civic - 2010 Kia Forte
    By -

    Traded a 2007 Honda civic for the Forte. Loved my Civic, but the Forte is a much better car. From day 1 the Civic had a lot rattles and noises, not the Forte. Recieved $1400.00 from Honda for paint defects, Forte paint has no defects. A lot of reviews say Honda civic engine is quiet and refined, and the Forte engine is loud, and unrefined. Forte engine is quiet and smooth. Honda was a nice car, but the Forte has a quiet interior with little road noise or wind, and it is fun to drive, handles great, and is great on the high way even in heavy winds. In my opinion Honda must be paying some one for there good reviews. Honda Civic has a lot of TSB like cracked engine blocks. Civic or Forte. FORTE

  • I love my Kia Forte! - 2010 Kia Forte
    By -

    Ive only been driving this car for a couple of days but was looking at several other cars before I landed my eye on this one. I love this car. It drives so nice, I love the red inside, looks small but very roomy inside. I went from a Saturn Ion to the Forte and it was a big upgrade. Love the auto dimming on the rear view mirror, nice touch. Roomy backseat and trunk. I was going to go with a Honda Civic but when looking at the reviews for that people said they wish they went with the Kia Forte, never new about it until a couple days ago and Im very pleased I went with this vehicle! This a great car!

  • Forte5 EX or SX is the way to go - 2016 Kia Forte
    By -

    If you are interested in a Forte, get the hatchback. As far as looks, space,quickness in and out of traffic, and easy to work on, this is really the best hatch you can get. I thought I would never buy a Kia. Reminds me of Honda circa 1986. The only things I can nitpick on is handling is so so around curves, and stock speakers in the EX are horrible. Ride comfort is neither great or terrible. I drove out of the dealership under $20k for everything. Very satisfied.

  • Have to hand it to Kia - 2010 Kia Forte
    By -

    The sport tuned suspension really makes this car fun to drive. Its no sports car by any means, but it is a beautiful blend of fun and practicality. Theres a half inch dead spot in the throttle which makes first gear a royal pain, but its a very simple fix for someone with a little know-how. Even with the mod, the gas pedal is REALLY light and sensitive. It takes a little getting used to. Blue tooth isnt great, but its there. Back seats have an impressive amount of space for a coupe. Drivers seat sits high and and only raises from the back. Steering wheel controls are great, audio sounds good, interior controls have a comfortable and logical layout. Well done, Kia.

  • Excellent for the $$ - 2010 Kia Forte
    By -

    Excellent exterior styling. Big difference in sx model. More power 5 sp. Auto. Nice wheels. Some cheap plastic that scratches easy on doors. Nice leather.

Kia Forte Reviews By Year:
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