New for 2018
Kia expands the Forte sedan's features-list by adding cruise control as standard on the base LX model and including UVO3 with Android Auto and Apple CarPlay on the Popular package. The S model receives a new 16-inch alloy wheel design, the Technology package now includes a moonroof and the Premium package has been discontinued. Kia also expands the Forte's safety features by adding rear cross-traffic alert and blind-spot monitoring with Lane Change Assist as standard on the top EX model. The Forte5 hatchback will likely receive similar updates.
Kia's compact Forte sedan is positioned above the subcompact Rio but below the large and more expensive Optima, Cadenza, Stinger, and K900 sedans. The Forte has a similar starting price as the Soul, Kia's crossover-like hatchback.
Powering the 2018 Kia Forte LX and S sedans is a 147-hp, 132 lb-ft of torque 2.0-liter I-4 engine that delivers 25/34 mpg city/highway when backed by a standard six-speed manual transmission and 29/37 mpg with a six-speed automatic. Found in the range-topping EX sedan is a direct-injection 2.0-liter I-4 that produces 164 hp and 151 lb-ft of torque and is rated at 25/33 mpg with the six-speed automatic (not available with the manual transmission).
The Forte5 hatchback uses the 164-hp 2.0-liter I-4 paired to the six-speed automatic in the base LX and EX trims and comes rated at 25/34 mpg. The top SX model packs a 1.6-liter turbocharged I-4 that pumps out 201 hp and 195 lb-ft of torque and is rated at 25/30 mpg with the seven-speed dual-clutch transmission and 23/29 mpg with the six-speed manual. The Forte and Forte5 are only available in front wheel drive.
The 2018 Kia Forte is available with 17-inch alloy wheels, LED daytime running lights, HID headlights that turn in the direction the car is traveling, LED taillights, power-folding and heated side view mirrors, a power moonroof, a 4.2-inch instrument cluster display, 10-way power adjustable heated and ventilated leather front seats, a leather-wrapped steering wheel and shift knob, dual-zone automatic climate control, and a 7.0-inch center display with the UVO3 infotainment system and navigation and Android Auto and Apple CarPlay. The Forte5 is also available with all the above features as well as 18-inch alloy wheels, perimeter approach lighting, puddle lamps, gloss black side view mirrors, dual chrome exhaust finishers, Sport front and rear fascia with red accents, metal pedals, two-way power driver's lumbar support, and soft-touch front upper door panels.
The 2018 Forte received a five-star overall rating from the NHTSA (out of a possible five stars). The Forte5 hatchback received five stars for the side crash test and four stars for the rollover evaluation (an overall rating has not been issued). The 2017 Forte sedan is considered a 2017 Top Safety Pick+ - the IIHS' highest award - because the sedan received the highest score of Good in all five crash test evaluations and the highest rating of Superior for the front crash prevention test by avoiding a frontal collision in 12- and 25 mph tests thanks to the available Autonomous Emergency Braking system found in the Technology or Premium packages (depending on the model). Those packages also include the remaining driver assist safety features: Forward Collision Warning system, a lane departure warning system, lane keep assist system, HID headlights, blind-spot monitoring, Lane Change Assist and rear cross traffic alert.
What We Think
In 2017 Motor Trend Car of the Year testing, the refreshed 2017 Kia Forte sedan did not make it as a finalist. We liked the refreshed exterior styling and loads of value but found that the acceleration and fuel economy lagged behind some competitors. The interior is not much to look at and the ride is too firm: "The Forte is a solid, well-behaved, value-priced commodity car, but it's nothing special. Playing catch-up doesn't get you into the finalist circle."
Thanks to direct injection (versus port injection), the 2.0-liter I-4 in the EX model produces an extra 17 hp and 19 lb-ft of torque.