$10,039 - $13,239

2016 Kia Forte Performance Review

Note: This performance review was created when the 2016 Kia Forte was new.


Performance: 7.4

Test drivers like the 2016 Kia Forte for its decently comfortable ride quality and choice of more powerful engines. However, they think that it’s not as engaging to drive as other cars in the class. 

  • … despite the 201-horsepower 4-cylinder available in the Forte Koup 2-door and Forte5 hatchback, enthusiasts will still prefer driving the Mazda3, Honda Civic Si, or Volkswagen Jetta or GTI." -- Kelley Blue Book
  • The Forte feels steady on winding roads, but it's not particularly engaging." -- Edmunds
  • "On the road, the Kia feels as if it's trying to drive as sporty as it looks, but a few things let it down in the fun-to-drive department." -- Motor Trend (2015)
  • Kia personnel referred to ‘spirited performance,’ but in truth, there was nothing about the Forte's dynamics that rated as really noteworthy. The car's handling is competent and comfortable, and the structure is solid. But the Forte doesn't deliver a memorable driving experience." -- Car and Driver (2014)

Acceleration and Power

The 2016 Kia Forte sedan comes standard with a 1.8-liter four-cylinder engine that makes 145 horsepower. Hatchback (Forte5) and coupe (Koup) models come standard with a 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine with 173 horsepower. The 2.0-liter engine is optional in the sedan. A 201-horsepower, turbocharged 1.6-liter four-cylinder engine is standard in SX coupes and hatchbacks. The Forte comes standard with a six-speed manual transmission, and a six-speed automatic is available. According to the EPA, a 2016 Forte sedan with the base engine and an automatic transmission gets 26/39 mpg city/highway, which is about average for the class. Sedans with the 2.0-liter engine get 24/35 mpg city/highway.

Test drivers say the mid-level 2.0-liter makes the Forte faster than most of its rivals, and they add the turbocharged 1.6-liter is even more powerful, though some complain that it is too noisy when you rev it. The automatic transmission shifts smoothly, according to critics, though it sometimes downshifts too slowly.

  • There are three different engines for the 2016 Kia Forte, two of which offer competitive power and acceleration. The 2.0-liter four-cylinder makes the Forte one of the quickest cars in the segment, while an even stronger, turbocharged 1.6-liter four is available on SX versions of the coupe and hatchback." -- Edmunds
  • The little 1.6-liter turbocharged I-4 is willing, with plenty of power, but it isn't much fun to rev out, sounding rough and noisy." -- Motor Trend (2015)
  • "The Forte is deceptively quick—the trip to 60 mph takes 7.4 seconds, beating the performances of the Chevrolet Cruze, Ford Focus, Hyundai Elantra, and Volkswagen Jetta (all with automatics) in a recent comparison test." -- Car and Driver (2014 2.0-liter engine)
  • The automatic transmission is a generally smooth operator, but--again class-typical--it often hesitates to kick down for passing or ascending long grades, making the manual-shift feature quite helpful." -- Consumer Guide (2014)

Handling and Braking

Critics say the 2016 Kia Forte has a comfortable ride for the most part, though some say it's shakier over rough pavement than rivals like the Mazda3, Ford Focus and Volkswagen Golf. Reviewers also note that the Forte isn't as agile as those rivals. The Forte feels secure when going around corners, they say, but not particularly fun. The 2016 Forte comes standard with an adjustable steering system with Standard, Sport and Comfort modes. Test drivers add that the Forte has numb steering, even in Sport mode.

  • Most shoppers in this segment will likely be satisfied with the Forte's overall ride quality. But the Forte's suspension is occasionally a bit firm and unrefined. Rougher roads produce a somewhat busy ride, whereas rivals like the Focus, Mazda 3 and Volkswagen Golf feel relatively isolated over broken pavement. They're also typically more precise when negotiating turns." -- Edmunds
  • Handling is safe and predictable, but not exactly sporty or engaging - those seeking a fun drive should probably look elsewhere." -- Left Lane News (2015)
  • "We felt that the electric steering system's FlexSteer setup offered varying levels of numbness; the comfort setting was too light, the sport setting too tight, and the medium setting passable in terms of effort but lacking feel overall, which sometimes led the car to wander in its lane at highway speeds." -- AutoTrader (2015)
  • "Steering feel has traditionally been a Kia weak point and it continues to be in the 2015 Forte5. … Though the Kia rides comfortably enough, it doesn't have the body control or response of some of the sportier offerings in this segment." -- Motor Trend (2015)

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