Now in its third year on sale, the Kia Forte replaced the forgettable Spectra as Kia's compact sedan offering. Available in two-, four-, and five-door configurations, the Forte elevated Kia's role in the market from a bit player to a serious competitor in the Civic/Corolla/Focus compact segment.
Body styles: Sedan, four-door hatchback
Engines: 2.0-liter inline-4, 2.4-liter inline-4
Transmissions: six-speed manual, six-speed automatic
Models: LX, EX, SX
The Forte carries over largely unchanged from 2011. The few exceptions include the fact that the Forte hatchback is no longer available with a manual transmission, and EX models now have a telescoping steering wheel as standard equipment. In EX models with the technology package, the Forte adds its signature Supervision meter cluster as part of the gauges.
With chiseled lines and a sporty appearance, the Forte brings a touch of sophistication to the compact class. The Forte gets 15-inch wheels as standard equipment; 16-inch wheels come equipped on EX models, and 17-inch wheels and tires are optional on top-level SX models, accenting the crisp look of the Forte.
Clean and straightforward, the Forte's interior comes with a standard auxiliary jack, Bluetooth, and tilt steering wheel. Go up one trim level to EX and air conditioning, power windows and locks, and six-speaker audio upgrade are standard. With the top-level SX models, paddle shifters are standard equipment. A four-speaker audio system is standard on LX models, but a six-speaker unit with steering wheel-mounted controls comes in EX and SX models.
Performance & Handling
Expect anemic performance with the base 2.0-liter engine and the automatic transmission. The manual transmission boosts performance significantly, as does the much larger 2.4-liter engine. The 2.0-liter engine with the available fuel economy package on the EX yields a Forte-best 37 mpg on the highway, but the low-friction tires don't do any favors for the car's handling.
Dual front airbags, dual front seat-mounted side airbags, and full-length side curtain airbags are standard. Four-wheel disc brakes with ABS, brake assist, and electronic brake-force distribution, stability control, and traction control are also standard.
EPA Fuel Economy
LX (manual): 25 city/34 highway mpg
LX, EX (automatic): 26 city/ 36 mpg highway; 27 city/37 highway mpg (fuel economy package)
SX: 23 mpg city/32 mpg highway
- Crisp styling
- Great value
- Spacious rear seats
- Solid structure
You Won't Like
- Body roll
- Air conditioning optional
- Sluggish base engine
Good, but not class-leading
If You Like This Vehicle
- Honda Civic
- Ford Focus
- Toyota Corolla