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2018 Kia Forte Review

The 2018 Kia Forte ranks in the top quarter of the competitive compact car class. The Forte has an upscale and roomy cabin, good safety scores, and easy-to-use features.

Pros & Cons

  • Lots of seating and cargo space
  • Quality, upscale interior
  • User-friendly infotainment system
  • Firm ride quality




Critics' Rating: 8.6
Performance: 7.5
Interior: 8.6
Total Cost of Ownership: 8.9
Safety: 9.3
J.D. Power Ratings Logo

2018 Kia Forte Overview

Is the 2018 Kia Forte a Good Used Car?

The Kia Forte is a great option if you’re shopping for a used compact car.

The 2018 Forte has many highlights:

  • Sedan and hatchback body styles
  • Roomy seating
  • Quality cabin materials
  • Large cargo area in hatchback models
  • User-friendly infotainment system
  • Refined four-cylinder engine options
  • Good predicted reliability rating
  • High safety scores
  • Numerous available safety features
  • Low average price for the class

It does have a couple drawbacks:

  • Lower gas mileage than top competitors
  • Jittery ride quality on rough pavement

If you’re looking for a compact car with excellent fuel economy and a smoother ride, you may want to consider alternatives like the 2018 Honda Civic and 2018 Chevrolet Cruze.

Compare the Forte, Civic, and Cruze »

Why You Can Trust Us

U.S. News & World Report has been ranking and reviewing vehicles since 2007, and our Best Cars team has decades of experience in the auto industry. Though we’re passionate about cars, we’re even more committed to providing helpful consumer advice. To maintain objectivity, we don’t accept expensive gifts or trips from car companies and a third party handles our advertising.

We’ve analyzed 43 Kia Forte reviews, as well as hard data points like reliability scores and cost of ownership estimates, to help you make the best car-buying decision possible.

How Much Is the 2018 Kia Forte?

Based on listings for the 2018 Kia Forte on our site, the average list price is $14,300, which is low for the class. Prices range from $12,100 and $16,900 and vary depending on the vehicle's condition, mileage, features, and location.

See the Best Used Car Deals »

How Much Does the 2018 Kia Forte Cost to Own?

The Forte’s five-year costs for gas, insurance, repairs, and maintenance are projected to be around $21,600, or $4,320 per year. That’s average for a compact car.

Is It Better to Buy a Used or New Forte?

The 2019 Kia Forte is fully redesigned and starts at around $17,800. This new model boasts sleeker styling inside and out, a longer list of standard tech and safety features, and improved fuel economy (up to 31 mpg in the city and 41 mpg on the highway).

Other changes are less appealing. The hatchback Forte5 model is no longer available, and the 2019 model doesn’t have multiple engine options; all trims come standard with a 147-horsepower four-cylinder. Stick with a used 2018 Forte if these are deal breakers for you.

Read about the new Kia Forte »

You may also want to consider a 2014 through 2017 Forte. The 2014, 2015, and 2016 models have similar interior styling and are likely less expensive than newer models. The 2017 Forte received several important updates. These include available Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, and advanced safety features like forward collision warning and blind spot monitoring. The 2017 and 2018 models are nearly identical.

Compare the 2016, 2017, and 2018 Forte »

See the Best New Car Deals »

See the Best New Car Lease Deals »

How Reliable Is the 2018 Kia Forte?

The 2018 Forte has an above-average predicted reliability rating of four out of five from J.D. Power.

Read more about Forte reliability »

2018 Kia Forte Recalls

At the time of writing, no recalls have been issued for the 2018 Kia Forte.

See more information on Kia Forte safety recalls »

Which Used Kia Forte Trim Is Right for Me?

The 2018 Kia Forte is available in two body styles (Forte sedan and Forte5 hatchback) and four trim levels (LX, S, EX, and SX). The base model Forte LX is a bit slim on convenience features. Consider opting for an S or EX model if you want amenities like a touch-screen infotainment system or a rearview camera.

  • Kia Forte LX: The entry-level LX trim comes in both sedan and hatchback body styles. Standard features include satellite radio, a CD player, Bluetooth, a USB port, remote keyless entry, cloth upholstery, heated and power-adjustable side mirrors, and 15-inch steel wheels.
  • Kia Forte S: The S trim is only available as a sedan, and it adds a 7-inch touch screen, Apple CarPlay, Android Auto, a rearview camera, a leather-wrapped steering wheel, automatic headlights, and 16-inch alloy wheels.
  • Kia Forte EX: The EX trim is available with both body styles, and it includes leather seats, heated front seats, push-button start, fog lights, and 17-inch alloy wheels. The EX sedan models add blind spot monitoring and dual-zone automatic climate control (optional for the EX hatchback).
  • Kia Forte SX: The sporty SX trim is only available as a hatchback. It adds a turbocharged engine, a stiffer sport-tuned suspension, and 18-inch wheels.

Available features include a navigation system, a sunroof, and ventilated front seats. A suite of active safety features is also available, but only for S and EX sedan models. These include forward collision warning, lane departure warning, and lane keep assist, among others.

See 2018 Kia Forte trims and specs »

What Does Kia's Certified Pre-Owned Warranty Cover?

Kia offers a certified pre-owned program for vehicles five years old or less and with fewer than 60,000 miles. Eligibility is determined by the vehicle’s initial sale date. Kia’s certified pre-owned vehicles receive the balance of the original 10-year/100,000-mile new-car powertrain warranty, plus a one-year/12,000-mile comprehensive Platinum warranty on non-powertrain parts after the five-year/60,000-mile new-car warranty expires. Every CPO Kia must pass a 164-point inspection. Additional benefits like towing and roadside assistance may be available, so read the Kia warranty page carefully.

According to our analysis, Kia has one of the best CPO programs among affordable car manufacturers.

See the best CPO programs »

How Safe Is the Forte?

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration gave the 2018 Forte sedan a five-star overall safety rating out of five. The Forte received five stars for side impact safety and four stars for frontal crash and rollover safety.

The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety named the Forte a 2018 Top Safety Pick+. The Forte earned a top rating of Good in nearly every area tested. It received the second-highest rating of Acceptable for passenger-side small overlap front crash safety.

In front crash prevention testing, properly equipped Forte models received a top score of Superior for their forward collision warning and automatic emergency braking systems, which were able to avoid a collision at speeds of 12 and 25 mph.

The Forte’s standard headlights received the lowest rating of Poor for how well they illuminate the road ahead, but EX trims with the Premium Plus package received the second-best rating of Acceptable.

Available advanced safety features:

  • rearview camera
  • blind spot monitoring
  • rear cross traffic alert
  • forward collision warning
  • automatic emergency braking
  • pedestrian detection
  • lane departure warning
  • lane keep assist
  • adaptive pivoting headlights

See Forte safety scores »

2018 Kia Forte Versus the Competition

Which Is Better: 2018 Kia Forte or 2018 Toyota Corolla?

The Kia Forte and 2018 Toyota Corolla are fine used-car options. Both earn good safety and reliability ratings, and both are often similarly priced. Opt for the Forte if you want zippier acceleration or tech features like Apple CarPlay. Go with the Corolla if you desire a smoother ride. The Corolla also comes standard with more safety features, such as forward collision warning.

Which Is Better: 2018 Kia Forte or 2018 Mazda3?

The 2018 Mazda3 is another great option in the compact car class. It's athletic handling and peppy engine performance help make it fun to drive, and it boasts a top-notch interior. Both cars yield similar fuel economy. The Forte is a bit more practical, however. It has a better predicted reliability rating and a lower average price, and the hatchback variant has a larger cargo area.

Compare the Forte, Corolla, and Mazda3 »

2018 Forte Performance

How Does the 2018 Kia Forte Drive?

The 2018 Forte is a fine companion for everyday driving. It feels reasonably agile and balanced around turns. Its steering is responsive, and the brakes provide firm stopping power. The Forte offers a few four-cylinder engine options, and each scoots the car around town confidently. The standard 147-horsepower engine yields better fuel economy, but the available 164-horsepower engine allows the Forte to accelerate with a bit more gusto on the highway.

Consider the SX hatchback if you’re looking for better performance. Its turbocharged engine feels punchy, and it eagerly hustles the Forte5 up to speed.

One of the Forte’s few drawbacks is its ride quality. Its suspension soaks up most road bumps without issue, but longer spans of rough pavement can make the car shimmy, which can be tiresome on lengthy road trips.

  • Base engine: 147-horsepower 2.0-liter four-cylinder (LX and S sedan)
  • Available engines:
    • 164-horsepower 2.0-liter four-cylinder (LX and EX hatchback; EX sedan)
    • 201-horsepower turbocharged 1.6-liter four-cylinder (SX hatchback)
  • Drivetrain: front-wheel drive
  • Transmission:
    • standard six-speed manual; available six-speed automatic; available seven-speed dual-clutch automatic (SX only)
Does the 2018 Kia Forte Get Good Gas Mileage?          

Overall, the Forte gets average fuel economy for a compact car. Gas mileage varies, however, by engine and transmission type.

  • 2.0-liter I4, automatic: 29/37 mpg city/highway (LX and S sedan)
  • 2.0-liter I4, manual: 25/34 mpg (LX sedan)
  • 2.0-liter I4, automatic: 25/33 mpg (EX sedan)
  • 2.0-liter I4, automatic: 25/34 mpg (LX and EX hatchback)
  • 1.6-liter I4 turbo, automatic: 25/30 mpg (SX)
  • 1.6-liter I4 turbo, manual: 23/29 mpg (SX)

Read more about Forte performance »

2018 Forte Interior

How Many People Does the 2018 Forte Seat?

The 2018 Kia Forte is available in two body styles: a four-door sedan and a five-door hatchback (Forte5). Both have five seats. The front seats are soft and supportive, and the driving position is comfortable. The rear seats are cozy and offer adequate space for adults, which isn’t always the case in the compact car segment. The Forte’s cabin is handsomely styled, and many of its surfaces feel high quality, especially on upper trim levels.

Standard seating features:

  • cloth seats

Available seating features:

  • leather seats
  • heated front seats
  • ventilated front seats
  • power-adjustable driver’s seat
How Many Child Car Seats Fit in the 2018 Kia Forte?

The Forte has two full sets of LATCH connectors for securing child car seats. This setup is fairly user-friendly, though some of the anchors are located too deep within the seat cushions. The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety gave the setup a second-best rating of Acceptable for ease of use.

2018 Kia Forte Features

The standard Forte LX model is sparsely equipped and provides simple buttons and knobs for controlling climate and audio features. All higher trims add a 7-inch touch screen, which runs Kia’s UVO infotainment system. This system is user-friendly, and it has crisp graphics and fast response times. It also supports Apple CarPlay and Android Auto integration.

  • Standard infotainment features: four speakers, satellite radio, a CD player, Bluetooth, and a USB port
  • Available infotainment features: a 7-inch touch screen, a six-speaker stereo, Apple CarPlay, Android Auto, and a navigation system
  • Additional standard features: remote keyless entry, power windows, and cruise control
  • Other available features: push-button start, dual-zone automatic climate control, and a sunroof

See 2018 Kia Forte specs »

Read more about Forte interior »

2018 Kia Forte Dimensions

Kia Forte Cargo Space

The Forte sedan has 14.9 cubic feet of trunk space, which is about average for a compact car. The rear seats can fold to fit longer items. The Forte5 hatchback has 23.2 cubic feet of cargo space behind its rear seats and a roomy 56.4 cubic feet with these seats folded. That’s excellent by class standards, and it’s eclipsed only by the 2018 Kia Soul hatchback.

2018 Kia Forte Length and Weight
  • Length: 14 feet, 3 inches to 14 feet, 11 inches
  • Curb weight: 2,811 to 3,113 pounds

Where Was the 2018 Kia Forte Built?

Kia built the 2018 Forte in South Korea and Mexico.


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