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 71 through 80 of 295.00
  • Good car for the money - 2010 Kia Forte
    By -

    MSRP: $18510 My cost $16562 With the cash back of $1000. going to dealer. Also got the 2.9% apr for 60 months. Really a fun to drive economical car to drive. Blue tooth, nice stereo, ride is good. Great warranty. Would highly recommend. Drove a few others, but really liked what this car offers for the money. Get the 5 spd automatic, worth the extra $600.

  • Fun car to drive, but watch the MPG - 2010 Kia Forte
    By -

    I chose to buy SX sedan 6spd. It took me a while to get used to the soft clutch and sensitive gas pedal, but its a well worth effort. Car handles well for a non-sports car and it really accelerates! The ride is a bit bouncy. I get about 30 - 32 mpg on 75% highway/25% city driving. If you push it a little, the mpg suffers a lot. The instrument panel is not fancy, but very simple/easy to view. I love the voice recognition-enabled bluetooth. The rear trunk sits very high compared to other compacts, but the space is huge. Maybe due to visibility, but this car feels larger than other compacts. The front buffer is a magnet for bug splashes and multiple rock dents into the plastic bumper.

  • Reliable - 2010 Kia Forte
    By -

    If you are looking for a reliable inexpensive vehicle this is the one. I have 170k miles and have had any issues. It has been an excellent commuter car but not exciting.

  • Forte for me! - 2017 Kia Forte
    By -

    I spent a good deal of time on the day that I decided I was buying a car with looking at different types online, reading reviews, checking prices, my credit score, blah blah blah. By the end of the day when it was time to go to the dealership, I had decided a Kia Rio was gonna be the best for me. After back and forth with my salesman, we decided I would test drive a 2017 Kia Forte, a car I hadnt even considered all day. It was great! Spent some time after that dickering the price down to something I could live with and hit the road in my new vehicle. I havent had it terribly long yet, but it drives like a dream so far. And the warranty they gave with the vehicle gives me the peace of mind knowing that if something should arise, it will be taken care of. Many thanks to my local Kia dealership!

  • The Red Baron - 2010 Kia Forte
    By -

    Great small car

  • Great Purchase! - 2010 Kia Forte
    By -

    This car is truly fun to drive! This car had everything we wanted in a car and then some. I seriously cant think of anything bad to say about it.

  • Great Deal, Love mine! - 2010 Kia Forte
    By -

    Ive been a loyal VW customer, but after my last fiasco with an 03 Passat I had to move on. The Forte is smaller than my Passat but I LOVE IT. I got the dark cherry (the interior and exterior color is so nice and matches very well), it is a little jerky when it shifts gears though and the paint does seem to scratch a little more easily than Id like, but overall I LOVE IT. I got the fuel economy package and can get almost 450 miles to a tank when Im driving long distances. It has already been on several 5-9 hour road trips and there has never been a problem. The Bluetooth comes in VERY handy- I hate driving other cars without that feature now!

  • riding in style - 2016 Kia Forte
    By -

    my experience at Kia was enjoyable all the way around. Charles at the Kia store in Conroe was phenomenal he went out of his way to put me into the car of my dreams I am completely satisfied with all aspects off service that was provided to me. As far as the car it drives smooth hugging the road at every turn. I love the rearview camera that show me what is behind my car while backing up, I get great gas mileage which is another plus . Overall this is a great car and I would recommend all to head over to KIA in Conroe and let Charles put you into the car of your dreams.

  • Great deal - 2016 Kia Forte
    By -


  • Best in class! More MPGs - 2010 Kia Forte
    By -

    I actually have the EX with fuel economy package. To me, the clincher was the 5 speed auto and electric steering on this package. I drove an EX w/ 4 speed auto and it seemed sluggish getting down to any real acceleration. Also, the steering on the regular EX would drift especially on uneven pavement. The EX w/ fuel economy is awesome, however. The acceleration and shift points are perfect and the steering holds the road with solid feedback and good tight steering the whole way. I cant speak well enough about the EX w/ fuel economy package. You get the best of everything for a great price! It does preclude not being able to get the sunroof, but I wanted the best riding car first & foremost.

Kia Forte Reviews By Year:
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