3 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
  • Never buy another - 2014 Kia Forte
    By -

    Bought this 2014 Kia Forte 5 new, Now has 15,xxx miles on it. We have had to the shop several times. Antifreeze fumes blowing out of dash vents 5 times, Had gas fumes out of dash vents twice, 3 times it smelled like a overcharged battery that has been boiling. Wife left one day for work and when I went to the garage to get in my old chevy truck the garage recked the battery smell. It burns your eyes and throat and nose. Getting ready to take back to the dealer again. If they wont trade us out of it. It will be going back again and again and again. Also been having issues with engine missing at a stop sign or light in gear.

  • Overpriced Cheap Money Pit - 2013 Kia Forte
    By -

    Ive had it for about 1.5 years...seemed like a lovely little deal with the XM radio, I got an ex...I was wrong about 1 yr in the amfm and satellite radio acquires signal every 5 or so minutes, the heat barely wants to work, the steering wheel looks horrible, the seats look horrible and the drivers seat sits like a hard church bench, it takes longer to stop running the ac and now its starting to drink gas. Yes Ive taken it in for service and had gas treatments...at first I was in love now Im very unpleased and am stuck with it bc its worth nothing, come to find out its not even that safe to drive...so when they wanted me to trade up to the new body style I was like no

  • Good cheap car that runs and drives - 2010 Kia Forte
    By -

    My car has 50,000 miles, 2.0L 4 cylinder, 5 speed manual transmission. I bought it used. This car has been great. It has been my daily driver for 2 years. I needed cheap, reliable transportation and it fit the bill. Comes with great features and a great warranty. That being said, beware of this cars resale value. I have put about 10,000 miles on it in the 2 years i have owned it and it went from being worth almost $13,000 retail/$10,000 trade to about $7500 retail and $5000 trade. For those who want to buy this car to keep and drive till it dies, it is well worth it. However if you plan on trading it in after a year or two, look away. I wish i hadnt bought it just for that reason alone.

  • The car is okay, but the gas mileage is not very good. - 2013 Kia Forte
    By -

    I have had my Kia Forte Hatchback since September and have not been impressed by the gas mileage. Highway miles I have not gotten over 30 and city miles are only at 20-22. I do not drive the car hard or jack rabbit starts at the stoplight. Not impressed and would probably go with a Honda or Toyota with my next car.

  • 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

  • Buy a coleman grill instead - 2012 Kia Forte
    By -

    Well, I bought mine brand new in December. Took her off the lot with 33 miles. I added a lowering kit, 20" wheels, and exhaust. I loved that car. It was fun to drive, but pretty slow. Still really caught a lot of looks though... But then I was driving home from buying bread last week and she went up in flames in mere minutes. Not sure what happened, and its under investigation with Kia. It only had 8,900 miles on it. Just feel like people should know. If I had kids in the back or was disabled or slow-moving, there could have been serious injuries.

  • Good car BUT overstated mpg - 2014 Kia Forte
    By -

    Kia Forte overall is a good car, but they overstate their mpg. Im not getting near kia projected 29 mpg instead Im getting 25 mpg while driving about 60% highway and doing it with a light foot. Kia and hyundai are getting poor mpg compare to other compact cars manufacturers, plus they recently got fine by the govt for overstating their mpg for their cars. Guess they havent learn there lesson.

  • Frustrating beautiful car - 2010 Kia Forte
    By -

    I bought this vehicle brand new! 2 months ago and I was in the dealership service shop within a week or so. KIA customer service has not helped much. I have been in and out of the shop 3 times with the same problem. One time the car was there for 3 weeks waiting for "Techs" who admitted that they dont know whats wrong with the vehicle. I called KIA and they told me there was nothing they could do but "make sure the dealership would commit all their resources to fixing it" which they have failed to do 2 times already. good luck if you get it.

  • Love her when shes not being serviced - 2014 Kia Forte
    By -

    Has been to dealer for several minor repairs. At 44k miles started having over heating issues. Cooling fan stopped working. Been at dealer a week. Not a major repair and the dealer is being very helpful but concerning that it needs these repairs at 44k miles!

  • An car for people who have never driven a honda - 2011 Kia Forte
    By -

    My car is a Kia forte SX hatchback. First let me start off by saying that if youre considering this car, Only buy it if you can get it with the six speed manual. The 2.4liter engine is completely unsuited for the 6 speed automatic. All the shift points are wrong meaning that you end up with a car that is 1.5 seconds slower to 60 than the manual and sucks gas like theres no tomorrow. My previous car was a 2004 Honda Accord EX-L with a manual 5 speed transmission. This car had an engine that had less horsepower and torque than the Kia and was quite a bit heavier and larger but it was substantially quicker and got 35% better gas mileage than the Kia. The Honda also handled better.

Kia Forte Reviews By Year:
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