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 61 through 70 of 295.00
  • Good value, roomy for its class, lacks great handling - 2011 Kia Forte
    By -

    I traded in my 8 year old Pontiac Vibe for the Forte EX (ECO), which I use as a long-distance commuter car. I purchased the Forte on price and decent reviews after test driving some of the competition in this class. I am happy with the acceleration, comfort, interior space, and styling of the vehicle. Combined gas mileage thus far through the first 2k miles has averaged in the low 30s mpg in my commute of mixed highway and city driving, which is virtually identical to my former Vibe and acceptable to me as the Forte ECO is rated 37/27. Steering still feels a bit uncertain to me and handling on windy roads does not compare to my former Vibe, which I did not notice in my initial test drive.

  • Luv my kias - 2011 Kia Forte
    By -

    Traded in our 04 Optima EX V-6 @ 133,000 for our Forte. The Optima was a great car. Only had to replace the starter. Absolutely luv the forte. Spirited 2.0L, great 6sp auto. Outstanding gas mileage, on a trip from Jax, Fl to Philly it avg over 40 mpg during 1 tank run, i.e. 403 miles and only took 9.7 gal to fill. Averaged 37-38 mpg on the trip. A definite gas saver over the 2.7L Optima. I am 61", 256#, a little cramped but otherwise REALLY like this car. Started out with a 2001 Sephia, bought 02 Optima EX V-6 for Mama, Traded both cars in on the same day in Dec 03 for an 04 Spectra and the 04 Optima. Still have the Spectra @ over 103,000 miles.

  • Koup is Killer - 2010 Kia Forte
    By -

    This car is more than I expected. I never thought I would own a KIA. I was looking for a sports coup. Looked at Mustang, Camaro, scion tc, and Honda. Mustang and Camaro had great power handling not so great. Scion tc is a Toyota that is a much as I will say about that. Hondas nice but the interior was dull. The Kia has the looks and handles great and the features you get for the price is outstanding. The 2 liter give it enough power and the gas mileage is very good. In the short time I have had this I cant believe the complements I have received. The price was great List was $17,600. I paid $15,200.

  • Kia Forte - Seats - 2010 Kia Forte
    By -

    I purchased this car back in August. Its a nice car it has over 3000 miles I bought the ex with fuel economy pkg I do mostly city driving I was getting 30 mpg which added up to 400 out of tank now im getting 360 per tank whats up with that? Second the drivers seat is killing me I can feel the steal construction of the seat with the air bag in the way. Kia wont do anything about it beware if your a tall & mature man stay away from this car!!!! The engine lag is some thing I still cant get use to? All other options for the money are great. I just wish it was more comfortable. I only drive to work and thats it The steering is not tight it pulls or leans to the right.

  • Overall ride - 2010 Kia Forte
    By -

    I enjoy driving the car. It suspension is very rough on bumps on road. I also own a Camry and it rides a lot better. The car has good power and the shift is easy in the 6 speed. It was supposed to come with a mirror that dims and it did not I pay for it and it did not have it and they told me I was not going to get one. I was upset about that.

  • Bye bye 12 Forte SX 5 door & hello 16 Forte5 EX - 2016 Kia Forte
    By -

    We shared the 12 for over 3 years and over 80,000 miles until I bought myself a 2015 Sonata Sport 2.0T Limited 6 months ago. Love that car and reviewed it on here also. Got a great deal. Now that were back to two cars, mileage will accumulate a lot less. While I was getting the 12 serviced 2 weeks ago and "someone" took my car to work, I was asked "Do you think you can get me a deal on trading my car like you did buying yours ?" So I walked the lot and found a Snow White Pearl Forte5 EX 2.0 GDI - loaded with Premium/Technology package and remote start with black leather with white stitching. I texted the pictures. "I really wasnt a fan of white until you got yours (Quartz White Pearl) but I really like it. See what you can do. If it works out, Ill come sign the papers". The 12 was in excellent condition except for the 82,000 miles they beat down the trade in value on, but with the rebate and financing, it was a good deal regardless. The 12 had leather and sunroof. Great little car. No complaints other than it could have used more sound insulation. Compared to the 12: The tech options are great. Stereo is better. Bluetooth streaming is a world better. Its quieter. Much better legroom - were both 6ft tall. Headroom was never an issue even with the 12 - sunroof in both. The 2.0GDI doesnt have the off the line punch of the 2012s 2.4 port-injected engine but feels fine overall (same 173hp rating) and better fuel mileage makes it worthwhile. Neither are pocket rockets but were not race car drivers lol. Has plenty of zip. Warranty cant be beat. This now makes 4 Hyundai / Kia products since 2008 and dont regret any of them. Im a semi-retired mechanic and choose my/our cars wisely. The only 2 gripes with the 16: 1 - gone with the 2014+ 5 door redesign is the split-folding rear seat bottoms which was great when we needed to haul stuff around. A minor gripe really because the 16 is still plenty roomy with the seat backs folded down. 2 - For the 2016 Forte line up, HID headlights were deleted, even with the Tech package. I remedied that with the same brand HID kit I installed in the 2012. Also installed LED plate and reverse lights - nice difference with the back-up camera at night. Experience has us anticipating the same reliability. The 2008 Sonata we traded for the 2012 Forte is still on the road with nearly 250,000 miles on it. Traded with nearly 120,000 trouble-free miles and came across it recently.

  • Great for the price! - 2010 Kia Forte
    By -

    I purchased my 2010 kia forte LX (with the 5 speed manual) late last year as a brand new car. I was looking at it as well as the honda fit and ford fiesta and liked it because it was much bigger than the others for the price. While mine doesnt have power windows or locks, it still has the bluetooth, ipod connect, etc. It rides ok but you can feel all the bumps. The build quality is ok, ive had some issues with the mirrors needing replacement for noise. with the 5 speed it has plenty of power. the seats are very comfortable, but the interior materials do feel a bit cheap.Its a very aggressive, nice looking car. For the price you cant beat it, for just under 13 grand it was a great buy

  • Koup great value - 2010 Kia Forte
    By -

    Been driving my Koup for about 3 weeks now and I must say that this is a nice car. The build quality is very good with no squeaks or rattles yet. The 2.4L engine is quite peppy and the 5 speed automatic transmission is responsive. The radio sounds very good for a base system and the standard Sirius satellite radio makes it very enjoyable. The cloth sport seats are comfortable and seem to be high quality. There are a few details that show where cost cutting was implemented such as no real carpeting in the car. The floor is covered with some type of fuzzy material, although carpeted floor mats are standard. Also, the silver parts of the alloy wheels are actually plastic inserts.

  • Friendly Environment - 2016 Kia Forte
    By -

  • Forte, so far so good - 2010 Kia Forte
    By -

    Purchase price-otd-$17,800 (not icld. My down payment) has everything except leather- think I got a good deal? Finance guy went on and on to sell me extended warranty, I bought into it to shut him up and leave then went back next day and canceled but still had to go back and forth with him about it just to cancel, way too much pressure to buy it. All in all, I drove a sephia for nine years and forte is several levels up and above Hyundai and I like it better than lancer and mazada3, esp. The price and all the extras

Kia Forte Reviews By Year:
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