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 81 through 90 of 295.00
  • A fine value! - 2017 Kia Forte
    By -

    The 2017 Forte is a beautiful auto. The kicker is the 5 yr. basic warranty vs the 3 yr warranty on most other makes. The car drives well, looks great, feels solid, and is highly dependable. The only "distraction" Ive encountered is the "lag" in acceleration when trying to moderately increase speed at around 40 -- 50 mph. Theres a significant dead zone. Other than that, I see nothing but a great deal and happy ownership with my Forte 2.0 liter purchase.

  • An okay car - 2010 Kia Forte
    By -

    I recently purchased a Forte EX with the fuel economy package. I am fairly disappointed with the purchase. It handles like a slug, the transmission is continually hunts for the highest gear. I do like the safety features and the Sirius radio, but honestly that is about all I like about the vehicle

  • Kia is the best bang for your buck! - 2016 Kia Forte
    By -

    Ive had my 2016 Kia Forte EX 4 dr sedan for little over a week now and I absolutely love this car. Going from a 2013 Kia Optima LX, I was worried about interior room, but the Forte has equally the amount of interior room as the Optima in my opinion. My new Forte EX is loaded with all the bells and whistles, and rides great with a quiet interior. Ive gotten quite a few compliments on it so far, and the Crimson Red Metallic color has really grown on me, as I wasnt a big fan of red vehicles before I laid my eyes on this beauty. The 2.0 liter 4 cylinder engine has plenty of pep to get me onto the interstate, or just zipping around town. I dont see much difference at all from the 2.4 liter I had in my Optima to the 2.0 liter in my new Forte EX, they both get up and go with ease. This car is awesome and so comfortable to drive, whether it be just across town or on a long road trip. I cannot yet comment on fuel economy as Im still in the break in phase of the motor only having 400 miles on it so far, but even with my lead foot, Im pulling in 30+ mpg combined city/highway driving. I fell in love with Kias after I bought my first (2013 Kia Optima LX), and Im still in love with my new 2016 Kia Forte EX. These cars are so dependable and very well equipped for the price, they really do look more expensive than they actually are both interior and exterior. If you are thinking about buying a Kia Forte, you wont be disappointed.

  • I think Kia has a winner! - 2010 Kia Forte
    By -

    Picked this car up just over two weeks ago and I love it. I almost got a VW and decided for the money and other factors the KIA was the best value. So far so good, no dissapointments except for one thing. When idling, fully warmed up, im noticing a rattling. Looked at exhaust system and what not and seems solid. Sounds more like something in the engine compartment. Not a big deal, thats what warranties are for : ) Its handling is awesome, accelaration is pretty good, a turbo would do this car wonders. Definitely needs a better sound system though, kinda dissapointed in it. The little red lights are also a little cheesey but I like them sometimes (everyone feels the same)Gas is ok.

  • 2013 Forte SX - 2013 Kia Forte
    By -

    Ive had my Forte since Sept of 12 and thus far I have to say my major gripes are the crappier than expected fuel mileage... a tire that buldged out on me that they wouldnt cover under the warranty "because I must have hit something to make it break", and the leather on the steering wheel is so soft that if you happen to get out of your car with your keys in your hand, it tends to scrape the leather on the wheel as you grab it to get out and tear it... so within the first month of having it, they had to totally replace my steering wheel. Ride gets a tad stiff after a couple hours of driving for a long ways but awesome style and love the features

  • Fuel Economy is horrible - 2010 Kia Forte
    By -

    It only get 20 miles a gallon, I have owned my car and this is the worst one, I am a lady that take her time to get around, so there no reason for the poor fuel Economy

  • Kia has many flaws - 2011 Kia Forte
    By -

    I bought my Forte EX 2011 new. I am disappointed with the gas mileage Ive obtained which for an entire tank remains averages between 20-25 mpg with about 60% city and 40% hwy driving. Yet the worst features are the audio unit and the customer service (both corporate and local). My audio unit will randomly start whistling loudly, will turn itself off, bluetooth turns on and makes settings changes without prompting, the CD device fails, and all of these issue repeated after KIA replaced my audio unit with a brand new one. These glitches occur a few times a week while Im driving. Ive had complaints with KIA that have not been resolved for the past 4 months. I feel ignored by KIA.

  • for the cash - 2010 Kia Forte
    By -

    EX with the fuel economy package. Took an expert (my 16 year old daughter) to the KIA dealership to test drive the forte after spending too much time researching vehicles on the internet. First impression was the car looked great in person (a wink from my daughter confirmed this). Next came the test drive-forte handles better than most vehicles its size-leg room to spare (61 250Lbs)-getting in and out wasnt a chore either-visibility front and sides is extremely good. Standard safety equiptment is exceptional. Road noise was minimal on smoooth and township roads. Gadgets (bluetooth, ipod, auto manual, abs brakes and stability control for this price are great. Dont forget the warranty. C Ya

  • Screamin Hot Value - 2010 Kia Forte
    By -

    Great features like Bluetooth, Sirius, nice leather, heated seats, and a wonderfully-tuned sport suspension. Motor pulls well, though a little weak below 2,500 rpm. I STILL havent been able to make the tires howl in a turn, let alone break traction. Styling is wonderful. The exterior has fantastic proportions. The interior is comfortable, and theres remarkable rear seat space for a compact sports coupe.

  • RENT A FORTE - 2010 Kia Forte
    By -

    I was given a rent a car when my car was in for repair. I requested the 2010 Forte that was on the lot since I had an interest in buying one and thought that this would be the perfect opportunity for an extended test drive. I liked the car and all of the extras that are included.. bluetooth, etc. I was pleased with the ride and the gas mileage was OK. I was hoping for a little better. HOWEVER, I was very disappointed that in 7 places on the car, the paint was already bubbling and peeling. The paint appeared to be applied in a tthin fashion. I know this was an issue on one of the 2005 Kia models but would have hoped this was corrected. Has anyone else had any problem like this????

Kia Forte Reviews By Year:
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