$5,905 - $7,663

2012 Kia Forte Performance Review

Note: This performance review was created when the 2012 Kia Forte was new.


Performance: 7.5

The automotive press admits that the 2012 Kia Forte isn’t powerful and that the sport-tuned SX trim isn’t as fast or refined as they thought it would be. But at its price point, they are satisfied with its practicality that translates into decent performance and good fuel economy.

  • "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
  • "This is Forte's primary weakness. The SX's 2.4-liter engine is buzzy while accelerating and never fully goes away at cruising speeds. Any wind noise is masked by the loud engine and copious amounts of road ruckus. The hatchback's open cargo area exacerbates the latter issue." -- Consumer Guide

Acceleration and Power

The 2012 Kia Forte has two four-cylinder engine options: a 2.0-liter engine that produces 156 horsepower and a 173-horsepower 2.4-liter engine that is standard on the sport-tuned SX trim. Both engines have six-speed manual transmissions, with the option of a six-speed automatic. The hatchback is the only model with a standard automatic transmission.

Reviewers have varying opinions regarding the 2012 Forte’s performance. Some say it has zippy acceleration, while others say it’s a bit sluggish. They also have issues with the manual and automatic transmissions in the Forte. For the manual, the clutch is not smooth, and the shifter 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.

There is one thing reviewers really like about the 2012 Forte, and that’s fuel economy. According to the EPA, the Forte can average up to 26/36 mpg city/highway with the 2.0-liter engine and an automatic transmission. With a 2.4-liter engine, the Forte averages up to 23/32 mpg with an automatic transmission. Finally, the Eco Forte has the highest fuel economy ratings of 27/37 mpg.

  • "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." -- Washington Post
  • "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
  • "Our pick for the SX is the new 6-speed automatic. It provides smooth shifts with no discernible acceleration penalty. Our only criticism is that this transmission can take a moment to find the right gear when more muscle is needed for passing or merging." -- Consumer Guide
  • "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

Handling and Braking

The 2012 Forte SX is the sportiest trim, but reviewers who’ve tested it don’t think the SX is sporty enough because its steering is numb. But if you want something that’s more engaging than the base Forte, you may like this trim. On lower trims, reviewers say that steering is heavy, and that the Forte has a lot of body roll in turns. Despite these flaws, members of the press think the Forte is a practical car for highway and city commutes, which should suit the Forte’s target audience.

  • "While not as buttoned down as its main Japanese rivals, Forte more than holds its own. Steering feel is fine on the highway, but it's a bit heavy at low speeds. Braking control is good, but one test car suffered from a touchy pedal." -- Consumer Guide
  • “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
  • "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." -- Edmunds

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