Review: Kia Forte

By Winding Road Staff

November 29, 2012

This is the Master Landing Page for the Kia Forte. From now on, as we further review this car, we will be updating this page with whatever fresh content we create. Future drive reviews, updated specifications, videos, and other relevant information will all be found right here, in one convenient spot.
2014 Kia Forte Sedan
Kia has unveiled a significantly updated version of its four-door Forte at the LA Auto Show. The new compact will do battle with the likes of the Ford Focus, Hyundai Elantra, Honda Civic, and Chevrolet Cruze.
Power comes from a pair of engines. The base engine, a 1.8-liter four-cylinder delivers a respectable 148 horsepower and 131 pound-feet of torque, and is available on the Forte LX. The LX is available with either a six-speed manual or a six-speed automatic.
Moving up to the EX gives drivers a touch more power courtesy of a 2.0-liter four with 173 horsepower and 154 pound-feet of torque. It’s not likely to set freeways alight, but it certainly fits in well with the competition. Shifting duties on the top-spec Forte are handled by a six-speed autobox. Unfortunately, economy figures aren’t available for either engine at present.
We may not be able to comment on fuel economy, but we can talk about the Forte’s new sheetmetal. We’d make a strong argument that this new Kia is one of the best looking vehicles in its segment. It looks like a miniaturized Optima with smoother lines. With styling penned by Kia’s American Design Center in California, this new Forte is sure to stand out from the crowd.
The interior doesn’t seem to carryover the exteriors stunning good looks. It’s acceptable, with a logical layout and enough space, but we’d hoped for something a bit flashier to match the looks of the exterior.
The all-new, 2014 Kia Forte goes on sale during the first quarter of 2013. Pricing info will be released closer to launch.
Please scroll down for the official press release from Kia.
All-new Forte Offers More Space and a Sleek European-inspired Design
Longer, lower and wider than the previous Forte
Goes on sale in the first quarter of 2013 offering a plethora of upscale features
Los Angeles, Nov. 28, 2012 – Pulling the silk off the all-new 2014 Forte sedan today at the Los Angeles International Auto Show, Kia Motors America (KMA) revealed a stunning European design-inspired sedan that makes it clear the Korean auto manufacturer has another winner in its line-up of sought-after cars and CUVs.  Sitting on an all-new chassis that is longer, wider and lower than the previous-generation Forte, the all-new third-generation Forte will offer more room, more performance and more premium amenities when it’s expected to go on sale in the first quarter of 2013.  The all-new 2014 Forte will be offered in LX and EX variants with a choice of an efficient 1.8-liter engine or a more powerful 2.0-liter engine.
“The all-new Forte significantly raises the bar, offering upscale amenities and eye-catching appeal,” said Michael Sprague, executive vice president of marketing & communications, KMA.  “When you combine exclusive available features like a ventilated driver’s seat and UVO eServices in a car with such an attractive design, it’s very clear the all-new Forte sets a new standard for the compact segment.”
Set to arrive at Kia retailers in early 2013, the all-new Forte will represent the heart of KMA’s small-car line-up, replacing the current Forte, which has been a sales success story since launching in 2009.  Slotted between the Rio sub-compact sedan and the best-selling Optima mid-size sedan, the all-new Forte includes a raft of unexpected available premium features in a package that easily accommodates five passengers and their belongings.
Unexpected Premium Features
Offered in LX and EX trim levels, the all-new Forte proudly carries on Kia’s reputation for offering premium features that redefine automotive segments.  The LX model comes standard with steering wheel mounted audio controls, SiriusXM™ Satellite Radio1, Bluetooth® wireless technology2, power windows, air conditioning and power heated outside mirrors among the many features that make the Forte stand out from its competition.  The optional Popular Package adds 16-inch alloy wheels, cruise control, keyless entry with remote trunk release and a sliding front armrest. The Eco Package includes Kia’s ISG (Idle Stop & Go) system, dual-zone automatic temperature control with rear seat ventilation and unique “eco” badge.
Stepping up to the EX trim broadens Forte’s appeal with additional comfort and convenience features.  Kia’s next-generation UVO in-vehicle infotainment system with eServices is standard and can now be integrated with an optional navigation system.  Additional standard EX features include remote keyless entry with trunk opener, rear camera back-up display3, a sliding center armrest and a cooling glove box.  The new optional Flex Steer system allows the driver to choose between three distinct steering profiles:  Comfort, Normal and Sport.  Features found in the optional Premium Package include heated front and rear seats, a 10-way power adjustable driver’s seat with class-exclusive air-cooled ventilation, leather seat trim, power sunroof, 17-inch alloy wheels and push button start with Smart Key and a heated steering wheel.  Opting for the Technology Package garners HID headlights, LED tail lights, a 4.2-inch color LCD cluster screen and dual-zone automatic temperature control with rear seat ventilation.
Enhanced Performance, Improved Ride and Handling
The all-new Forte offers spirited performance thanks to two advanced four-cylinder engines.  The LX features a 1.8-liter powerplant, while the EX comes standard with a 2.0-liter engine.  Both engines feature dual continuously variable valve timing and a lightweight intake manifold that reduces weight by 30 percent over a cast unit.  The aluminum “bed plate” located below the cylinder block reduces engine NVH levels and improves block rigidity by 30 percent.
With 148 horsepower available at 6,500 rpm and 131 lb.-ft. of torque on tap at 4,700 rpm, the 1.8-liter MPI inline four-cylinder engine found in the LX routes power to the front wheels through either a standard six speed manual transmission or an optional six speed automatic gearbox.
Forte EX enhances the driving experience with a 173-horsepower (at 6,500 rpm) 2.0-liter inline four cylinder GDI engine.  With a robust 154 lb.-ft. of torque available at 4,700 rpm, the EX comes standard with a six speed automatic.
The all-new Forte rides on a chassis that is longer (by 1.2 inches), lower (0.6 inches) and wider (0.2 inches) than the previous Forte sedan.  With its 106.3-inch wheelbase, two inches longer than the outgoing model, the all-new Forte rides on a McPherson strut front suspension and a coupled torsion beam rear axle.  On-center steering feel is improved utilizing larger bushings and revised front suspension geometry.  Electric power steering has replaced the hydraulic system from the previous Forte, reducing parasitic load. Optional Flex Steer puts the driver firmly in control with settings for Comfort, Normal and Sport, which vary steering effort at the touch of a steering wheel-mounted button.
The base LX manual rides on 195/65R-15 tires, while 205/55R-16 tires on 16-inch alloy wheels are optional.  The top-of-the-line EX is shod with the same 55-series tires. Low-profile 215/45-17 tires mounted on sporty 17-inch alloy wheels are optional.
Sport Sedan Design From California
With an aggressive stance, broad shoulders and a windshield rake that can only be described as sporty, the all-new Forte looks as good parked as it does carving through a remote canyon road. Influenced by European sport sedan styling, the Forte’s modern aesthetic was born in California at Kia’s American Design Center in Irvine.
Dramatically swept headlight lenses cut deeply into the front fenders and incorporate projector headlamps.  LED positioning lights create distinct eyebrows, making the Forte instantly recognizable in a crowd.  Gentle sculpting along the Forte’s lower flanks taper the sheet metal inward, affording the car a taut, nimble appearance without diminishing its road presence.  Around back, the up-kicked fender line and trunk design, with its deep horizontal crease, lend width and charisma while allowing the complex curves of the tail lights to flow over the rear haunches.
A Modern and Sophisticated Cabin
Opening the wide doors reveals a cabin sculpted in organic curves.  Gentle ripples across the instrument panel convey serenity, as if small waves are radiating from a pebble dropped into a pond. The driver-centric cabin is canted 10 degrees and features high-quality materials and soft touch points.  Large, easy-to-read instruments dominate the binnacle, and secondary controls fall easily to hand.  The optional 4.2-inch color LCD screen nestled between the white-on-black gauges in the EX provides trip and ancillary vehicle information front and center to the driver.  Tasteful chrome bezels ring the HVAC rotary knobs and the optional push-button start.  Additional chrome accents, standard Bluetooth® hands free phone integration and power windows, mirrors and door locks enhance the all-new Forte’s premium feel.  Optional leather seating trim, power sunroof, and dual-zone automatic climate control with rear seat vents and HID head lights take the Forte to new levels of sophistication.
Kia’s Unprecedented Growth
Kia Motors is one of the world’s fastest moving global automotive brands; from 2009-2011 Kia launched more new vehicles in the U.S. than any other automaker, and under the guidance of chief design officer Peter Schreyer earned a reputation as an industry leader in automotive styling.  Kia Motors America’s full line of fun-to-drive cars and CUVs has earned critical acclaim and dramatically increased consumer awareness, perception and consideration for the brand.  In 2011, KMA recorded its 17th consecutive year of market share growth, thanks in part to the largest increase of any major brand in perceived quality4 and the industry’s highest brand loyalty ranking5.  Kia’s U.S.-based manufacturing facility in West Point, Georgia – KMMG – is responsible for the creation of more than 10,000 plant and supplier jobs and builds two of the company’s best-selling vehicles in the U.S. – the Sorento CUV and Optima midsize sedan*.  Kia’s value and technology-laden lineup also includes the Sportage compact CUV, Soul urban passenger vehicle, Optima Hybrid, Forte compact sedan, Forte 5-door compact hatchback, Forte Koup two-door coupe, Rio and Rio 5-door sub-compacts and Sedona minivan.
About Kia Motors America
Kia Motors America is the marketing and distribution arm of Kia Motors Corporation based in Seoul, South Korea. KMA offers a complete line of vehicles through more than 755 dealers throughout the United States and serves as the "Official Automotive Partner" of the NBA and LPGA. In 2011, KMA recorded its best-ever annual sales total and became one of the fastest growing car companies in the U.S.6 Kia is poised to continue its momentum and will continue to build the brand through design innovation, quality, value, advanced safety features and new technologies.
2014 Kia Forte 5-Door
Hyundai built a hot hatch. It’s called the Veloster Turbo, and it has 3.5 doors and a 201-horsepower, turbocharged four-cylinder under the hood. Now, bitter rival/sister company Kia has done its take on the hot hatch, offering up a stylish, five-door Forte with the same 201-horsepower engine. Verdict? Well, the Forte wins on looks.
This is an impressive looking small car, blending the right elements of the new Forte Sedan with the overall profile of a Hyundai Elantra GT. The smaller front grille looks better than the maw on the Sedan, giving the front end a cleaner look, overall. On the turbocharged SX model, a pair of meaty exhaust tips are sit on each side of a small diffuser. It looks good, and is certainly the most aggressive look we’ve seen from Kia.
The interior is pretty much identical to the Sedan. So that means a logical layout, Kia’s UVO system, and decent materials.
But on to that engine. It’s a 1.6-liter, borrowed from the Veloster Turbo. Like the Hyundai from which it’s pilfered, it delivers 201 ponies and 195 pound-feet of torque (all of which are available between 1750 and 4500 rpm. For those that aren’t interested in baking the front tires, the base Forte EX will come to market with a 2.0-liter, naturally aspirated four-pot, that delivers 173 horsepower and 154 pound-feet of torque. Adequate numbers, but we’ll take the turbo, thanks. A six-speed automatic is the sole gearbox for the 2.0-liter, while buyers of the turbo will get a standard six-speed manual and an optional automatic.
Look for the 2014 Forte 5-Door at your local Kia dealer during the third quarter of this year.
Please scroll down for the official press release from Kia.
201-HP Turbocharged Four-Cylinder Engine is First for Forte 5-Door SX
Lower, longer and wider, the all-new Forte 5-door combines European style with the practicality of a hatchback
Forte 5-door is expected to go on sale in the third quarter of 2013
CHICAGO, Feb. 7, 2013 – Kia Motors America (KMA) ignited the 2013 Chicago Auto Show when the all-new, ultra-hot Forte 5-door rolled on-stage today.  The all-new Forte 5-door SX’s eye-catching European-inspired hatchback design is complimented by an all-new 1.6-liter gasoline direct-injected (GDI) turbocharged four-cylinder engine putting out 201 horsepower and 195 lb.-ft. of torque, making the all-new Forte 5-door SX the most powerful Forte from KMA to date.  The Forte 5-door is expected to go on sale in the third quarter of 2013, and pricing will be announced closer to launch.
“We received very positive feedback after the all-new Forte sedan made its debut at the 2012 Los Angeles Auto Show, and we expect the all-new Forte 5-door will build upon that success,” said Michael Sprague, executive vice president of marketing & communications, KMA.  “The combination of a useful hatchback for carrying cargo and the sportiness of the turbocharged SX trim make the all-new Forte 5-door a dual threat in the segment.”
Presented in two trim levels, EX and SX, with two distinct engine choices, the Forte 5-door will offer customers Kia’s long list of premium amenities and features not normally found in the compact segment.  Under the hood, the Forte 5-door packs a punch, with the EX’s 2.0-liter GDI four-cylinder engine putting out a healthy 173 horsepower and 154 lb.-ft. of torque through a 6-speed automatic transmission.  The performance-oriented SX comes standard with the hard-charging 1.6-liter turbo four-cylinder, a first for the Forte line.  The SX also offers buyers the chance to pick their own gears with a standard 6-speed manual transmission, or they may opt for the 6-speed automatic featuring steering-wheel-mounted paddle shifters.
Standard Features and Technology Take Value to New Levels of Sophistication
Carrying on Kia’s reputation of offering tremendous value, the all-new Forte 5-door offers buyers an impressive allotment of technology and safety features.  The base EX comes standard with 16-inch alloy wheels, UVO eServices with rear camera display1, Bluetooth®2 wireless technology, SiriusXM™ Satellite Radio3 , leather-wrapped steering wheel with integrated audio and cruise control buttons, FlexSteer™, tilt and telescoping steering column, power windows, and LED positioning headlights with fog lights.
The SX trim ups the ante with standard 18-inch alloy wheels, dual chrome exhaust tips, and LED tail lights.  Forte 5-door SX also offers an aggressive front fascia with larger bumper and grille openings, black gloss grille inserts, larger front brakes, alloy sport pedals, front and rear seats with carbon fiber-style accents.  The lower front fascia and rear valance also feature carbon fiber-look trim pieces.
Additionally, both EX and SX trim levels offer optional HID headlights, navigation system with HD Radio™4, sunroof, heated steering wheel,10-way adjustable power driver’s seat, heated front seats and cooled driver’s seat, heated rear outboard seats, leather seating surfaces, SmartKey with push-button start, electric chromatic rearview mirror and dual-zone automatic climate control.
Stunning European Design Language
Born from the Kia design studio in Seoul and overseen by Kia’s global chief of design, Peter Schreyer, the Forte 5-door’s sophisticated hatchback profile, large wheels and aggressive posture give it a distinctly European appearance that speaks to its performance intentions.  The chiseled body commands attention and continues Kia’s tradition as a design leader in the industry.
Like its Forte sedan counterpart, the Forte 5-door’s swept headlights stretch deep into the front fenders and the raked windshield and broad shoulders give the front end a sleek, sporty appearance.  LED positioning lights add a premium look to the front fascia.  Moving around the vehicle, the large 18-inch wheels fill the wheel wells on the SX, and the hatchback profile affords a performance-oriented European personality.  Around back, the rear hatch glass opens to reveal 23.2 cubic feet of usable cargo space.  LED tail lights complete the premium feel of the exterior and a sporty rear valance with twin chrome exhaust tips maintains the Forte 5-door’s edgy demeanor.
Sporty Cabin with Premium Features
Inside, the Forte 5-door features premium materials and soft touch points. Large, easy-to-read white-on-black gauges nestle deeply into the instrument cluster.  Chrome accents around the HVAC controls and optional push-button start, along with carbon fiber-like textures on the dash and seats, add a sporty touch.  A grippy leather-wrapped steering wheel and shift knob are further evidence of the Forte 5-door’s performance aspirations. Class-exclusive available features such as front and rear heated outboard seats, an air-cooled driver’s seat and driver-selectable electric steering further set the Forte 5-door apart from its competition.
Thrilling Driving Experience
The Forte 5-door SX is the most powerful Forte built by Kia to date, utilizing a 1.6-liter GDI turbocharged four-cylinder that help improve performance.  Power is seamlessly transferred to the front wheels via a six-speed manual or automatic transmission.  The GDI powerplant produces 201 horsepower at 6,000 rpm and 195 lb.-ft. of torque between 1,750-4,500 rpm.  The advanced powertrain features double overhead cams with dual continuously variable valve timing to help improve efficiency and performance. 
The Forte 5-door EX comes standard with a 2.0-liter GDI powerplant producing 173 horsepower at 6,500 rpm and 154 lb.-ft. of torque at 4,700 rpm.  During durability testing, the engines are run 300 continuous hours at redline under full load then for an additional 20 hours at 10 percent above redline under full load.
To help further improve performance, the Forte 5-door features a sport-tuned suspension with a McPherson strut setup in front and a multilink rear design.  The Forte 5-door rides on standard 205/55R-16 tires while 225/40R-18 tires are included with the SX trim for an even more sporting driving experience.
Kia:  One of the World’s Fastest Moving Global Automotive Brands
Kia Motors America is one of only three auto brands to increase U.S. sales in each of the past four years, and in 2012 the company surpassed the 500,000 unit mark for the first time.  With a full line of fun-to-drive cars and CUVs, Kia is advancing value to new levels of sophistication by combining European-influenced styling – under the guidance of chief design officer Peter Schreyer – with cutting-edge technologies, premium amenities, affordable pricing and the lowest cost of ownership in the industry.  Kia recently joined the exclusive ranks of Interbrand’s “Top 100 Best Global Brands,” and is poised to continue its momentum with seven all-new or significantly redesigned vehicles scheduled to arrive in showrooms in 2013.  Over the past decade Kia Motors has invested more than $1.4 billion in the U.S., including the company’s first U.S. assembly plant in West Point, Georgia – Kia Motors Manufacturing Georgia – which is responsible for the creation of more than 11,000 plant and supplier jobs.  The success of the U.S.-built* Optima and Sorento in two of the industry’s largest segments has fueled Kia’s rapid growth and is complemented by Kia’s comprehensive lineup which includes the Soul urban passenger vehicle, Sportage compact CUV, Optima Hybrid, the Forte sedan, 5-door and Koup compacts, Rio and Rio 5-door sub-compacts and the Sedona minivan.
About Kia Motors America
Kia Motors America is the marketing and distribution arm of Kia Motors Corporation based in Seoul, South Korea. KMA offers a complete line of vehicles through more than 765 dealers throughout the United States and serves as the "Official Automotive Partner" of the NBA and LPGA. In 2012, KMA recorded its best-ever annual sales total and gained U.S. market share for the 18th consecutive year.  Kia is poised to continue its momentum and will continue to build the brand through design innovation, quality, value, advanced safety features and new technologies.
Information about Kia Motors America and its full vehicle line-up is available at its website – For media information, including photography, visit
2014 Kia Forte Sedan
2014 Kia Forte 5-Door