Kia Forte

#6 in Compact Cars Overall Score: 8.5 / 10
2017 Kia Forte View More Photos »
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2017 Kia Forte Overview

The 2017 Kia Forte ranks 6 out of 24 Compact Cars.

The 2017 Kia Forte has more than you may expect from a compact car. There's nothing small about its passenger or cargo space, and it's available with plenty of high-tech features. It also has a great reliability score. Performance buffs, however, will want to look at other class options.  











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Pros & Cons

  • Roomy interior and cargo capacity
  • Lots of available features
  • Simple-to-use infotainment system
  • Dull handling
  • Rough ride on bumpy roads

Notable for 2017

  • Refreshed exterior styling
  • Automatic emergency braking and forward collision alert now available
  • Apple CarPlay and Android Auto now available
  • New 2.0-liter four-cylinder base engine

Kia Forte Rankings and Research

The 2017 Kia Forte ranking is based on its score within the Compact Cars category. Currently the Kia Forte has a score of 8.5 out of 10 which is based on our evaluation of 40 pieces of research and data elements using various sources.


Overall: 8.5
Critics' Rating: 8.7
Performance: 7.5
Interior: 8.5
Safety: 9.3
Reliability: 4_0


2017 Kia Forte Pictures

2017 Kia Forte Review

By Courtney Jones September 1, 2017

The 2017 Kia Forte has more than you may expect from a compact car. There's nothing small about its passenger or cargo space, and it's available with plenty of high-tech features. It also has a great reliability score. Performance buffs, however, will want to look at other class options.  

Is the Kia Forte a Good Car?  

The 2017 Kia Forte is an attractive choice. It has one of the more upscale and attractive cabins in the class, and it's made with high-quality materials. This car is far from compact inside. It has comfortable and spacious front and back seats and one of the largest trunks in the class in both sedan and hatchback body styles. It's also available with lots of high-tech features, though some rivals offer safety options that the Forte doesn’t.

On the road, the Forte isn't quite as fun as competitors like the Mazda3, and its ride can feel a bit firm. It has three available engines and all perform adequately, but some rivals offer more power. The Forte’s fuel economy is average for the class. Its predicted reliability rating, however, is excellent, so the Forte should hold up over time. 

Should I Buy the Kia Forte? 

The 2017 Kia Forte is a satisfying everyday driver. It offers one of the lowest sales prices in the class ($16,600), a roomy interior and trunk, good predicted reliability, and lots of available high-tech features.

Still, this is a very competitive class, and there are many vehicles that offer better driving performance and a few more standard and available features. The Mazda3 costs $1,245 more than the Forte, but it comes with a few more standard features than the Forte, including a rearview camera and push-button start. It’s also a more exciting car to drive, blowing away the Forte’s dull driving dynamics and firm ride. This makes the Mazda3 a better buy if you want a sporty and comfortable performer. The Forte, however, is a little roomier in terms of passenger and trunk space, and it has a better reliability rating.

If you prefer ride comfort to sporty handling, the Hyundai Elantra is the one to buy. It costs just $660 more than the Forte, and both cars have similar standard features. While the Forte has lots of optional safety features, the Elantra is available with a few the Forte doesn't have, including adaptive cruise control and adaptive headlights.

The Forte is a good car if you want a satisfactory daily driver with a good array of available features. If you want more fun behind the wheel, or more advanced safety features, however, there are other options.

Compare the Forte, Mazda3, and Elantra »

We Did the Research for You: 38 Pieces of Data Analyzed  

We analyzed 38 pieces of data from across the automotive industry to help you determine whether the Kia Forte is right for you. Our research is based on data like crash test and reliability scores, fuel economy estimates, and professional automotive reviews. The Forte hasn’t been fully redesigned since the 2014 model year and has seen few major changes since. As a result, this overview uses applicable research and reviews from the 2014 through 2017 model years.

Why You Can Trust Us

Our editorial team has a combined 75 years of experience in the automotive field, and we’ve been helping consumers make educated buying decisions for nearly 10 years. We don't accept expensive gifts or paid trips from automakers, and our site's ads are managed by an outside company.

How Much Does the Kia Forte Cost?

The Kia Forte is one of the most affordable compact cars you can buy. The base Forte LX sedan starts at $16,600 and comes with Bluetooth, a four-speaker stereo, satellite radio, and a USB port. You’ll probably want to step up to the Forte S for $19,300. This gets you tech features like a rearview camera, cruise control, and Kia's UVO infotainment system with a 7-inch touch screen, Apple CarPlay, and Android Auto. The Forte S also comes with a sport-tuned suspension. The top-level EX trim ($21,300) adds a number of comfort features like leather upholstery and heated front seats.

The Forte5 hatchback starts at $18,200. It has the same upgraded engine as the Forte EX sedan, as well as a six-speed automatic transmission. Standard features include heated outside mirrors, a six-speaker stereo, satellite radio, Bluetooth, a USB port, and a tilt-and-telescopic steering wheel.

Depending on the model you select, there are a number of packages that Kia makes available to enrich your Forte. These range in price from nearly $1,500 to about $4,500 and include improvements to technology and the interior. The Technology package, for example, adds blind spot detection and fog lamps. Another package brings a sunroof, as well as heated and ventilated front seats.

For a more detailed discussion of trims and packages, see “Which Forte Model Is Right for Me,” below.

Check out our U.S. News Best Price Program for great savings at your local Kia dealer. You can also find excellent manufacturer incentives on our Kia deals page.

Kia Forte Versus the Competition

Which Is Better: Kia Forte or Hyundai Elantra?

The Hyundai Elantra is worth your consideration. The base sedan model costs only $660 more than the Forte’s, and both come with similar features. The Forte comes standard with Bluetooth, which is not standard in the base Elantra. The Elantra, however, offers more advanced safety features, including several (adaptive headlights, adaptive cruise control, pedestrian detection) that aren’t even available in the Forte. The Forte has a slightly larger trunk in both hatchback and sedan body styles. Both cars have roomy back seats. If you want great fuel economy, the Elantra Eco trim provides some of the best in the segment.

Neither car offers a stellar performance. The Elantra has an underpowered base engine and dull handling. The ride, however, is comfortable. The Forte has a decently powered base engine, but it isn't as sporty as some rivals. Its ride is rather firm. The Elantra performs better in crash tests.

While the Forte performs better in our rankings, the Elantra is the better car if you want a comfortable daily driver with better safety scores and more driver assistance options.

Which Is Better: Kia Forte or Mazda3? 

If you're all about performance, the Mazda3 is the car for you. It has some of the liveliest driving dynamics in the class, and it has no problem taking on winding roads and quick corners while maintaining ride comfort.

The Mazda3 is also better than the Forte in a few other ways. It comes with a few more features than the Forte, including a rearview camera, a second USB port, and push-button start. You can also option up to get adaptive cruise control, which the Forte doesn’t offer. Additionally, the Mazda3 earns better fuel economy estimates than the Kia Forte.

The Forte isn’t without advantages – it has a larger trunk, more legroom in the back seat, and a five-year longer warranty. Finally, it costs less (by about $1,200) and J.D. Power awards it a better predicted reliability rating.

The Mazda3 is the better buy based on its strong performance, as well as its additional standard tech and optional safety features that the Forte doesn’t have.

Compare the Forte, Elantra, and Mazda3 »

Forte Interior

How Many People Does the Forte Seat?

The Forte has seats for five. Its front seats are comfortable and roomy, and its rear seats have good legroom for taller occupants. Even the unlucky person in the middle rear seat will be comfortable enough for a short drive. Still, some may long for more headroom in the back seats.

If you're looking for other small cars that will give you lots of passenger space, the Hyundai Elantra is a good option. Like the Forte, it has roomy seats in the front and rear. The Mazda3's back seat has decent space, but not as much as the Forte.

Forte and Car Seats

The Kia Forte's LATCH system for child car seats includes a complete set of upper tethers and lower anchors in the rear outboard seats and an upper tether in the middle seat. For ease of use, the Forte's LATCH system received a grade of Acceptable, the second-highest score, from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety.

Forte Interior Quality

On top of its healthy features list, the Forte has one of the nicest interiors in the class despite being one of the least expensive compact cars on the market. The Forte's cabin offers an impressive display of high-quality features and attractive styling.

Forte Cargo Space

Among compact sedans, the Kia Forte has one of the largest trunks at 14.9 cubic feet. Its 60/40 split-folding seats lay almost entirely flat to provide more usable space. Additionally, the Forte's wide trunk opening means you'll have little trouble fitting in larger items.

The Forte has more trunk space than the Mazda3 (12.4 cubic feet) and a bit more than the Hyundai Elantra (14.4 cubic feet).

If you're looking for more cargo space, look to the hatchback body style. The Forte5 has 23.2 cubic feet with the rear seats up and 56.4 cubic feet with them down. That's more space than the Mazda3 and Elantra hatchbacks have. The Mazda3 hatchback has 20.2 cubic feet behind the back seats and 47.1 cubic feet with them folded. The Elantra hatchback has 23 cubic feet behind the rear seats and 51 cubic feet with them folded.

Forte Infotainment, Bluetooth, and Navigation

Kia offers lots of available features for the 2017 Forte. It can be equipped with high-tech options like a 7-inch touch-screen UVO infotainment system that includes Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. These features make it a breeze to connect your smartphone to the car and access popular phone applications though the large, easy-to-use touch screen. The UVO infotainment system is simply one of the best on the market.

The Mazda3's Mazda Connect infotainment system is just as impressive as the Forte's, with simple inputs and straightforward navigation. The Hyundai Elantra's system is also easy to operate. Both the Forte and Elantra are available with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, but the Mazda3 isn't.

For more information, read What Is Apple CarPlay? and What Is Android Auto? Then, see the Best Cars With Apple CarPlay and Best Cars With Android Auto.

Read more about interior »

Forte Performance

Forte Engine: Compact Power

The 2017 Kia Forte comes with a new 147-horsepower 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine that provides decent acceleration for most daily tasks. An available 164-horsepower 2.0-liter engine offers a little more power and torque, but acceleration still isn't very exciting. The Forte5 hatchback is available with a 201-horsepower, turbocharged 1.6-liter four-cylinder engine. A six-speed manual transmission is standard, and a six-speed automatic is available.

The Mazda3's base four-cylinder engine (155 horsepower), like the Forte's, has adequate power, but its larger optional 184-horsepower four-cylinder delivers more satisfying acceleration. The Hyundai Elantra's 147-horsepower base four-cylinder engine could use more power. The Elantra GT hatchback is the only model available with additional engine options: a fuel-efficient 128-horsepower four-cylinder engine or a 201-horsepower four-cylinder.  

Forte Gas Mileage: Just Average

The Forte delivers average fuel efficiency with its base manual transmission and engine, earning 25 mpg in the city and 34 mpg on the highway. These figures improve with the Forte’s optional automatic transmission, which gets 29 mpg in the city and 38 mpg on the highway.

If you're buying a compact car with the hope of saving money at the pump, there are more fuel-efficient vehicles available, including the Mazda3, which earns 27 mpg in the city and 37 mpg on the highway. The Hyundai Elantra Eco trim earns some of the highest fuel economy estimates in the class at 32 mpg in the city and 40 mpg on the highway.

Forte Ride and Handling: Humdrum Handling

When it comes to handling, the Forte feels secure and easy to maneuver around a turn. Still, its driving dynamics are no match for a corner carver like the Mazda3, which delivers one of the more exciting performances in the class. The Mazda3 also has a comfortable ride, so you can enjoy both comfort and exhilaration behind the wheel. If you want a compact car with an emphasis on comfort, the Hyundai Elantra's smooth, cushioned ride will satisfy.

The Forte S, the second trim level, comes with a sport-tuned suspension and drive select mode, so you can fine-tune your ride between three modes: Normal, Eco, and Sport.

Read more about performance »

Forte Reliability

Is the Kia Forte Reliable?

On its five-point rating scale, J.D. Power and Associates gives the Forte a four, so it's expected to be much more dependable than other cars. That means, over time, you shouldn’t have to spend too much time or money on repairs. The Forte is predicted to be more reliable than rivals like the Mazda3, which earns a score of 2.5. The Hyundai Elantra, however, scores an impressive 4.5.

Kia Forte Warranty

Kia covers the 2017 Forte with a five-year/60,000-mile limited basic warranty and a 10-year/100,000-mile limited powertrain warranty. That's one of the better warranties in the class, and the Hyundai Elantra's has the same terms. The Mazda3's warranty, on the other hand, covers less miles. It has a three-year/36,000-mile warranty and a five-year/60,000-mile powertrain warranty.

Read more about reliability »

Forte Safety

Forte Crash Test Results

Safety is an important factor for all cars, but even more so with compact cars because they’re susceptible to more damage than larger vehicles when an accident occurs. In National Highway Traffic Safety Administration testing, the 2017 Forte receives four out of five stars in the front and rollover crash tests and five stars in the side crash test, for an overall five-star safety rating. The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety gives the Forte its highest score, Good, in four crash tests.

While the Forte's crash test scores are good, the Mazda3's are better. The IIHS gives it perfect scores in all five crash tests, and it earns the designation of Top Safety Pick+. The Mazda3 also receives a five-star overall rating from the NHTSA. The Hyundai Elantra sedan earns four stars from the NHTSA. It receives perfect crash test scores and a Top Safety Pick+ designation from the IIHS.

Forte Safety Features

The 2017 Forte doesn’t come with any active safety features. Depending upon the model, however, you can add a rearview camera and rear cross traffic alert. These allow you to see and receive warnings about objects behind you or approaching you. Lane departure warning, lane keep assist, forward collision alert, and autonomous emergency braking are also available. These keep you from drifting out of your lane, alert you to potential front-end collisions, and apply the brakes if you don’t react. That's a lot of available safety technology to help give you peace of mind on the road.

While that’s a good amount of features for the class, many rivals offer just as many, including the Mazda3. It's available with adaptive cruise control, which maintains a consistent distance between you and the car in front of you, while the Forte is only available with regular cruise control. The Hyundai Elantra also offers some safety features the Forte doesn’t, including available pedestrian detection and adaptive cruise control.

Read more about safety »

Which Kia Forte Model Is Right for Me? 

The Kia Forte S, the second trim level, comes with many more modern amenities than the base trim, making it worth the cost to upgrade. For just $2,600 more than the base Forte, you get a rearview camera and cruise control in the Forte S. Technology buffs will enjoy the standard Apple CarPlay and Android Auto smartphone connectivity, while performance junkies will appreciate the sport-tuned suspension and the ability to select between drive modes for a fine-tuned ride. If you want a faster Forte, step up to the next trim level, the Forte EX, which comes with a four-cylinder engine that produces 17 more horsepower.  

The 2017 Forte is currently available in two body styles: Forte sedan and Forte5 hatchback. There are three trim levels – LX, S, and EX – available depending on the body style and powertrain you choose. The two-door Forte Koup will be reintroduced later in 2017.

Kia Forte LX

The base Forte LX starts at $16,600 and comes with a 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine. A six-speed manual transmission is standard, and a six-speed automatic is available for $1,010. The Forte LX comes standard with Bluetooth, a four-speaker stereo, satellite radio, and a USB port.

Kia Forte S

The Kia Forte S, starting at $19,200, comes with a rearview camera, cruise control, LED headlights, a sport-tuned suspension, a leather-wrapped steering wheel, Kia's UVO infotainment system with a 7-inch touch screen, Apple CarPlay, and Android Auto. This trim also gives you the ability to select between three drive modes: Normal, Eco, and Sport.

Kia Forte EX

The top-of-the-line Forte EX is priced at $21,200. It comes standard with a convenient Smart Trunk feature that automatically opens the lid when you stand behind the car for more than a few seconds with the keys on your person. Also standard is push-button start, dual-zone automatic climate control, leather upholstery, and heated front seats. If you want navigation, you'll have to purchase a $4,490 package that includes autonomous emergency braking, blind spot detection, a sunroof, heated and ventilated front seats, and a 10-way power-adjustable driver's seat. Forte EX models also come standard with a more powerful 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine.

Kia Forte5 LX

Shopping for a hatchback? The 2017 Forte5 hatchback is available in three trims. The base LX hatchback starts at $18,090. It has the same upgraded engine as the Forte EX sedan, as well as a six-speed automatic transmission. Standard features include heated outside mirrors, a six-speaker stereo, satellite radio, Bluetooth, a USB port, and a tilt-and-telescopic steering wheel.

Kia Forte5 SX

For $23,690, you can get the Forte5 SX, the top hatchback trim. It's the only trim available with a turbocharged 1.6-liter four-cylinder engine. That engine is mated to a seven-speed dual-clutch automatic transmission with paddle shifters. A six-speed manual transmission will cost you an extra $2,200. The SX also comes standard with a sport-tuned suspension, leather front sport seats, as well as unique exterior styling features like 18-inch wheels and dual chrome exhaust tips.

Who Makes the Kia Forte?

The Forte is made by Kia Motors, headquartered in Seoul, South Korea. The Kia Forte sedan will be produced at Kia’s new state-of-the-art manufacturing facility in Monterrey, Mexico, making it the first vehicle to be built at the automaker’s second North American plant.

Check out our U.S. News Best Price Program for great savings at your local Kia dealer. You can also find excellent manufacturer incentives on our Kia deals page.

See 2017 Kia Forte specs and trims »

The Final Call

The Kia Forte is not only one of the least-expensive compact cars, but it’s also a good car for those who want a lot of cabin space. Its interior is good-looking and provides plenty of seating space for those in the front and the back – that’s rare for the class. The spaciousness doesn’t end there, however, as the Forte has one of the biggest trunks in the class, whether you're comparing sedans or hatchbacks. The Forte comes with a long list of available features. However, some competitors, like the Mazda3, offer a standard rearview camera, which the Forte does not. And the Hyundai Elantra is available with adaptive headlights, adaptive cruise control, and pedestrian detection, while the Forte offers none of these.

While it may not be thrilling behind the wheel, the Forte is a solid buy for those who care more about dependability, features, and price than about performance.

Don’t just take our word for it. Check out comments from some of the reviews that drive our rankings and analysis.

  • "Compact cars aren't usually known for offering the latest and greatest technology and features, but that's not the case with the 2017 Kia Forte. It has plenty to offer along with a very reasonable price that makes it worth considering if you're in the market for a small sedan or hatchback." -- Edmunds
  • "While we love the sedan and hatchback's new looks and tech, the reality is that the Forte still comes up short when it comes to the kind of agility and power that gets enthusiasts' blood pumping. Also, those base prices are low, but they rise quickly as you add options." -- Kelley Blue Book
  • "While the 2017 Forte S fails to stand out by any particular metric, it does do just about everything well, and proves quite likable overall." -- Consumer Guide

Research Prices: 2017 Kia Forte

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