$5,174 - $7,511

2011 Kia Forte Performance Review

Note: This performance review was created when the 2011 Kia Forte was new.


Performance: 7.9

In the performance department, the 2011 Kia Forte’s drive reflects its intended audience: people who want a dependable daily commuter and aren’t in the market for a sports car. The automotive press admits that the Forte isn’t a powerful car, but at its price point, reviewers are satisfied with its enthusiastic attitude, accuracy and refinement on the road.

  • "Forte's performance, road manners, and overall refinement are pleasant, though not as polished as class leaders." -- Consumer Guide
  • "But the Forte sedan and coupe have so far impressed us by not being total bores behind the wheel, and we have similar hopes for the hatch." -- Car and Driver
  • "Although the Forte's performance isn't exactly ground-breaking, its speed-sensitive steering is accurate and progressive, its four-wheel disc brakes are up to the job, and its suspension, which was tuned in the U.S. for American road conditions, absorbs bumps well without unsettling the ride." -- Automobile Magazine

Acceleration and Power

The 2011 Kia Forte has two four-cylinder engine options: a 2.0-liter that produces 156 horsepower and a 2.4-liter that produces 173 horsepower. Both engines offer six-speed manual and automatic transmissions.

Reviewers have varying opinions regarding the Forte’s performance. Some say it has zippy acceleration, while others say it’s a bit sluggish. The automotive press does agree, however, that the Forte has great fuel economy. It averages an EPA-estimated 25/34 mpg city/highway, and does just fine on the road for a car that isn’t focused on performance.

Reviewers have issues with the manual and automatic transmissions. For the manual, the clutch uptake is not smooth and the stick shift feels imprecise. Also, some members of the automotive press say the throttle is overaggressive, making the car feel sloppy rather than sporty. Others state that the throttle isn’t aggressive enough. With the Forte, reviewers have issues with the manual and automatic transmissions. 

  • "It proved a competent powertrain in virtually any day-to-day driving situation, and boasts more power with better fuel economy (23 city/31 highway) than its Mazda3s and Corolla XRS trim-level rivals." -- Motor Trend
  • "We all marveled over the car's zippy acceleration, delivered via the Forte EX's 2-liter, 156-horsepower, inline four-cylinder engine. But we were more impressed with its fuel economy: 25 miles per gallon in the city and 34 miles per gallon on the highway running on regular unleaded gasoline." -- The Washington Post
  • "Clutch take-up is smooth in the six-speed, but the shifter feels imprecise and has a fair amount of play in it. And someone needs to tell Kia that aggressive throttle tip-in does not make a car sporty. It only makes a driver annoyed at the difficulty in being smooth." -- Car and Driver
  • "The 2.4-liter power plant was sluggish to respond to throttle input, and it wheezed and gasped at anything above 3,500 rpm. Surprisingly, the six-speed manual transmission didn't earn our affection either." -- Autoblog
  • "It's no Mazda 3 when it comes to performance, but it never was designed for that kind of driving. This is the car that can carry you through the daily grind, the working man's commuter." -- The Detroit News
  • "Both engines are noisy in fast acceleration, but are reasonably quiet at cruise. Coarse highway surfaces can bring about intrusive tire thrum." -- Consumer Guide

Handling and Braking

When critics address the Forte’s handling and braking, they are quick to note that it isn’t intended to handle like a sports car. It understeers, and there is a significant amount of body roll. Despite these flaws, members of the press state that the Forte is perfect as a highway driver, which is what most consumers will use the car for.

  • "The Kia Forte isn't exactly a driver's car, even in sport-tuned SX form. There's lots of body roll during enthusiastic cornering, and the steering is rather numb. The ride is comfortable enough, however, and with the exception of intrusive road noise on some surfaces, the Forte is a confident highway cruiser." -- Edmunds
  • “Driving the Forte around Seattle, I found it comfortable and agreeable on all types of roads. On the highway, it was quiet and handled the road well. On back twisty roads through Washington's steep mountains, it felt sure-footed and balanced." -- The Detroit News
  • "As a daily driver, the Koup SX is as pleasant and rewarding as anything in its class." -- Motor Trend 
  • "It felt somewhat tighter than an EX we drove later, but the sum of all that equipment wasn't something we'd really call sporty. Turn-in was fairly aggressive, which was nice, but the tires and the suspension seemed to give up by midcorner, where the car would begin to plow like it was the start of planting season." -- Car and Driver

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