Last year, a new hatchback model brought some fresh features to the Forte lineup. This year, Kia is sticking pretty closely to what the company brought out for the 2011 model year. For 2012 there are only minor mechanical changes to the Forte five-door and minimal changes to the interiors of the Forte Koup and sedan. There is an impressive list of features meant to take Kia away from its reputation as a budget brand. Since its introduction, the Forte has offered leather, heated seats, and Bluetooth. Push-button start, shift paddles, and navigation are optional. Power comes from a 2.0-liter or a 2.4-liter four-cylinder engine, and the two transmission choices are a six-speed manual or a six-speed automatic. All available powertrains deliver good performance and return respectable fuel economy. The top SX model aims for a sporty feel inside with black surfaces accented by silver trim and red lighting. Unfortunately, driving the SX, or any of the Forte models, is far from a dynamic experience. Plenty of competitors in the small-car segment are more composed, refined, and fun. Manufacturers have gotten much more serious about their small cars lately, and models like the Mazda 3, the Ford Focus, and the Hyundai Elantra -- to name a few -- have really raised the bar in refinement, dynamics, and efficiency. That has left the handsome Forte playing catch-up.
Trim levels: Forte Koup EX, Forte Koup SX, Forte LX, Forte EX, Forte SX, Forte 5-door EX,
Forte 5-door SX
Body styles: Sedan, coupe, hatchback, 5-passenger
Engines: 2.0L I-4, 156 hp, 144 lb-ft
2.4L I-4, 173 hp, 168 lb-ft
Transmissions: 6-speed manual, 6-speed automatic
Passenger volume: (coupe/sedan/hatch) 90.7/96.8/97.5 cu ft
Cargo space: (coupe/sedan/hatch) 12.6/14.7/19.4 cu ft
Not much has changed on the Forte Koup, sedan, or hatchback. Inside, a telescopic steering wheel comes standard on Forte sedan and Koup EX models. The Forte hatch is now available only with an automatic transmission.
Dual front, side, and side curtain air bags; front active headrests; ABS; electronic brake-force distribution; brake assist; and stability and traction control are all standard.
EPA Fuel Economy
All: 22-25 mpg city/31-34 mpg highway
- Long list of available features
Both transmissions are six-speeds
You Won't Like
- Dynamics behind the leaders
Still trying to catch up to competition
Still a good value, but not a lot is new.
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