2 Star Reviews for Kia Forte

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 1 through 10 of 295.00
  • 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!

  • 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 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.

  • So many problems, so few miles - 2010 Kia Forte
    By -

    Clutch and flywheel had to be replaced at 70K miles at a cost of over $1500. No aftermarket parts widely available. Speedometer/Odometer replaced at approximately 75K miles. Entire rack and pinion steering assembly had to be replaced at 85K miles at a cost of over $1000. Tires on this care barely reach 15K miles without going bald. Brakes and rotors replaced at 85K miles. This car, while fun to drive and very good looking is expensive to maintain and not very reliable. It is my second Kia and possibly my last. I would advise against any manual transmission in this car. This is a very difficult clutch to drive, and I have driven many. When you have to replace it, get ready pay big bucks.

  • Starts off great but major water issues! - 2014 Kia Forte
    By -

    I have had this car for over 2 years now and the issue of water somehow leaking into the car from the trunk/back lights has become a major problem. Anytime it rains or you get the car washed you have to hope that the car and anything in your trunk isnt soaked inside. I have gone out to find puddles of water, wet back seats and trunk, and in the cold months frozen windows (from the inside). The back windows stopped working which I am sure is due to the water damage and I have seen condensation inside the dash board where the speedometer is as well as freezing in the ceiling lights. Heads up, the problem begins with windows that constantly fog and youll probably dismiss it with bad defrosting but DO NOT be fooled! The gas mileage is great but the issues that come with this car are not worth it.

  • Frustrated Kia owner!!! - 2014 Kia Forte
    By -

    This car starts out cute, had it 2 yrs. now. Just found that there has been water running into the vehicle by way of trunk or back windshield. Its rains for a day and a half. I put something in my trunk and spotted a soaked trunk. I thought well Ill put in in the back seat , opened the door and put my bag on the back seat only to find that the back seat and floor were completed enfolded in water. Took the car to the dealer, there response was, well your warranty is out. The car is having electrical problems back windows wont open , apparently the water ruined them. The car has mold. They say , oh yes we are fixing there manufactures defect, not mine because its out of warranty. WTF, this should be a recall due to defect! Wont stop this fight!!! This could cost more for repairs than the car is worth. Looking for help!!! Frustrated in North Carolina

  • Would not wish this thing on my worst enemies - 2016 Kia Forte
    By -

    I would advise anyone looking to get a 2016 Kia Forte Ex steer clear. The transmission is very hesitant, especially on the freeway. The car rattled until on the fourth repair attempt they finally fixed the issue. The car is a nightmare for anyone who has an interest in cars. The engine makes pretty good power but it does not start to really get moving until around 5000 RPM. The transmission is always in the wrong gear. Eco mode just means the throttle will not respond almost at all. When cornering the traction control system tries to intervene and does a horrible job at that (even when the system is turned off it still tries to work.) The brakes overheat and fade pretty quickly in a stop and go higher speed situations. The drivers seat is extremely uncomfortable and lacks support. The plastics look cheap and feel the same way. I have had two bad tires because the stock tires went bad when in both cases a small rock on the road hit the sidewall of the tires. I am very upset and honestly will never own another car from Kia. I would suggest anyone to look at other upscale CPO cars instead of this one. I am not going to bother trying to fix anymore of these issue because at the end of the day it is not worth wasting my time. I honestly have stopped caring about my car. I used to wax it and wash it all the time but with all the problems I have had it doesnt seem like it is worth the care I would normally give to a car.

  • Kia Forte Koup - Do not buy - 2010 Kia Forte
    By -

    Carpet on below the mats are ripping and I have had them replaced and they are ripping again. Below my glove box the carpet is hanging down and I can see the bolts. My gears are slipping already. Horrible. I have only had it for 4 months.

  • Disappointment - 2010 Kia Forte
    By -

    This car is a major disappointment. Ride is rough. Brakes and gear shift poorly responsive, fuel injection uneven. No vision out rear window. Rear headrests further block vision. Back of car too high for vision. Drivers left vent for air very poor. Controls for sunroof make no sense in terms of open being opposite of closed. Takes excessive time for sunroof control to result in desired position. Remote key to open trunk is extremely slow. Have to be right at trunk for it to respond. The trunk door doesnt stay in the up position. Very narrow access to truck. Would recommend against anyone buying this car.

Kia Forte Reviews By Year:
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