4 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
  • I love my Forte! - 2017 Kia Forte
    By -

    My 2017 Forte is my second-ever car, following the Accord Id had for 9 years. I love the interior of the Forte - the first time I ever sat in it, I felt like a CEO, and I still do. Its just so classy - the display is so nice and I really love the design of the seats. The front seat has plenty of leg room and the back seat has plenty of space. Im 58" and my boyfriend is 65" and we agree that the front seat is really comfy and accommodating for tall folk. I adore the outside of the car, too - the little front windows between the windshield and the mirrors (what do you call those?) are so charming to me. The only kind of off-putting thing about this car is that the display lights up even if your headlights arent on. That took some getting used to, and I definitely drove with my lights off a couple of times the first week. I have the LX with the popular package and I think the technology is perfect - I really enjoy having a back-up camera and the displays are all really user-friendly and aesthetically attractive. Ive only had my Forte since December but so far, I love her.

  • 2011 Forte EX - 2011 Kia Forte
    By -

    I have now owned my new Forte for one month. Have driven it just over 1,000 miles in mostly city driving and have achieved an average of 30MPG. I am a BIG guy, 63" and 260#. I find more leg, head, shoulder and hip room in this Kia than others in its class. It is comfortable to drive - but maybe not so much on a long trip. Has many creature comforts not found without extra cost on the competition. If I have a complaint it is that it feels a little light and "squirelly" in Interstate driving, so one must pay attention. I was used to a big Oldsmobile before checking on most cars in this class, all of whom came up short except for the Hyundai Elantra. The Kia won the coin toss.

  • cute little car - 2010 Kia Forte
    By -

    I bought this care as a belated Christmas gift. It handles the road well. The bluetooth is too noisy. The passenger airbag light stays on. I carried the car back twice, but it is not corrected yet. Overall I enjoy it

  • Sweet Little Car! - 2010 Kia Forte
    By -

    This car is a great value. I have been the only owner for 6 years, 220k miles. Handles curvy roads great w/o the traction control. The traction control becomes a pain when driving curvy roads as the brake activates and locks up a wheel as your are mid turn. Other than that the acceleration is great. Has guts. Very comfortable for 4 grown adults. Have been very happy with maintenance, as good my moms Honda CRV. Really good gas mileage, I average 27-29 MPG, in the city it was up to 32 MPG! Compact size makes parking anywhere a breeze. Trunk has lots of space, even with 2- 12 Rockfords.

  • poor gas mileage - 2011 Kia Forte
    By -

    I have owned it for a month. It has 20K miles on it. So far, it does 19 mpg 50/50 mixed. I am very disappointed in this. My other cars (a CUV and a wagon) give me 22 mpg/city!!!!

  • Great Car - front end clunking noise - 2010 Kia Forte
    By -

    Car has been great for me. I had the clicking / clunking noise on my front end as well, brought it in in a month after I had purchased and they said they couldnt find anything. 3 Months later I bring it back in and they said they figured out what the noise was on all Fortes as there is something behind the front tires that needs adjustment. BUT they will only tell you if you tell them you hear the noise first. Otherwise, they will not tell you about this problem. Hopefully this helps a lot of you out there.

  • Great Car - 2010 Kia Forte
    By -

    I purchased the car in May of 2010 and have nearly 25,000 trouble-free miles on it. It has plenty of pep especially since I have added a few aftermarket parts. I get awesome gas mileage, even in the city. Averaging 28 mixed city and hwy. The paint is kinda crappy though. Ive had a few cosmetic warranty issues but they were fixed immediately with no trouble from Kia Corporate or my dealership. $18,750 for a fully loaded car with leather, sun roof, and 17 inch wheels I couldnt be happier. The manual transmission took some getting used to. Overall great car.

  • Love it! - 2010 Kia Forte
    By -

    We purchased the Forte EX in Titanium after an exhausting search. We initially had settled on a Nissan Sentra then saw this and decided to drive it and we were sold. Most of the complaints that the editors at Edmunds had about the automatic transmissions shifting is easily resolved by using the auto-manual feature. Comfort is fantastic, handling is great for a car of this class.

  • Review for LE forte - 2010 Kia Forte
    By -

    I like the exterior design but the interior is a little cheap. The check engine light has been on two times. Unexplained noises coming from the front and back. The front struts were replaced and the noises continue.

  • Koup for Keeps - 2010 Kia Forte
    By -

    My Koup is Racing Red with an automatic transmission and sport cloth interior. I have owned the car for 3 weeks and so far it is an exceptional car for the money. The build quality is solid with absolutely no sqeaks or rattles, doors close with a reassuring thunk, the paint looks good and the fit and finish is very good. The engine runs and idles very smooth with more than adequate acceleration. Nice sporty ride, not too harsh over bumps. I traded in my 2005 Acura TL for this car and I can honestly say that I dont regret it.

Kia Forte Reviews By Year:
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