2018 Kia Forte Expert Review

4.2 Overall Score
Performance 4.0 Comfort 3.8 Styling 3.8 Value 4.3

Editor's Overview

Kia’s entry in the competitive and crowded compact-car class is available in two body styles, the stylish 2018 Kia Forte sedan and the even sexier Forte5 hatchback. Both are refined, fuel-efficient and packed with features. Each offers high-quality interiors, impressive infotainment systems and a choice of three trim levels, while the top-of-the-range Forte5 SX features a turbocharged engine with over 200 horsepower.

You'll Like The 2018 Kia Forte If...

The 2018 Forte lineup offers you a choice of a practical 4-door or Euro-styled 5-door hatchback, each replete with a generous warranty, lots of standard features and a decent price. If you’re looking for an attractive, stylish, comfortable and well-equipped compact with the highest crash-test safety ratings, you’ll like the Kia Forte.

You May Not Like The 2018 Kia Forte If...

If you’re looking for a diesel engine in this class, the Kia Forte is not for you; check out the Chevy Cruze. If all-wheel drive is on your wish list, shop the Subaru Impreza or the VW Golf SportWagen. If a hybrid interests you, shift over to the Kia Niro. The Kia Forte is also light on rear-seat legroom compared to the Honda Civic.

What's New

For 2018 Kia has improved in the Forte’s list of luxuries. The Forte LX now has standard cruise control and available Apple CarPlay and Android Auto connectivity. The Forte S gets new 16-inch wheels and the Technology Package now includes a sunroof. The Forte EX gets standard Rear Cross Traffic Alert and Blind Spot Detection with Lane Change Assist.

Interior Features

Much like its exterior, the interior of the 2018 Kia Forte and Forte5 is simple and a bit understated, but interesting, attractive and artistically detailed. Control layout is intuitive and the soft-touch dash and high-quality materials add an upscale ambiance. Seat comfort is excellent and four adults can ride in comfort. EX models get standard leather and there are heating and cooling seats available, as well as a 10-way-power driver’s seat with power lumbar support. Even the rear seat offers a center armrest with cup holders. Then there's the Forte5's excellent 23 cubic feet of cargo space, in case the sedan's 15-cubic-foot trunk isn't enough.

Exterior Features

Kia has forgotten how to make ugly cars. The Korean automaker is now a style and design leader, with trendsetting sedans like the Optima and Stinger and cool-looking SUVs like the Soul and Sportage. The 2018 Forte and Forte5 are also lookers, with tight bodywork, LED accent lights and athletic proportions. Kia also gets the stance right, and the Forte looks right on the road. Although the two body styles share a nose, the Forte5 hatchback is the better-looking of the two with its short rear overhang and rear spoiler. Overall, it's a fresh and good-looking group of cars with a number of luxurious features like power-folding exterior mirrors, puddle lights and illuminated door-handle pockets.

Driving Impressions

There’s a pleasing and satisfying entertainment value to the driving characteristics of the Kia Forte. This is not a boring car to drive. It isn’t an exciting hot rod either, but the Forte’s steering, engine, transmission and suspension are all tuned well and they feel lively and responsive. This is not by chance; Kia engineers like their cars to have a sporty feel. That said, there are sportier and more thrilling cars in this class. Despite the available 201-horsepower engine in the Forte5, enthusiasts should check out the Mazda3, Honda Civic SI, Ford Focus ST, Volkswagen Jetta GLI or VW Golf GTI for their fix. For the rest of us, the Forte’s 147-horsepower 2.0-liter 4-cylinder engine is adequate. The 164-horsepower version of the engine in the Forte LX sedan, and Forte5 LX and EX models is better and it works well with the 6-speed automatic transmission. Around town and on the highway, the Forte sedan and hatchback are all excellent choices.

Pricing Notes

Prices for the 2018 Kia Forte lineup start at about $17,600 (Manufacturer’s Suggested Retail Price/MSRP) for the low-end Forte Sedan LX model with a manual transmission. That includes the $850 destination charge; an automatic transmission adds about $1,000 to the price. The new Forte Sedan S model starts at about $20,000, while the top-end EX sedan starts at around $22,500. Prices for the Forte5 hatchback start just over $19,000 and can reach close to $27,000 for a loaded version of the powered-up SX. That's a solidly competitive price structure for the compact Kia, right in line with offerings from Honda, a little above Nissan and Toyota, and a little below Mazda. Be sure to check the KBB.com Fair Purchase Price to see what others in your area are paying. On the resale front, the Forte models are expected to have below-average residual values.

Notable Equipment

All 2018 Forte sedan and Forte5 hatchback models come with keyless entry, standard Bluetooth and USB smartphone connectivity, air conditioning and a split-folding rear seat. The base LX model Forte sedan is fairly dressed down, even offering steel wheels and a manual transmission. A new mid-level S model sedan offers nicer interior appointments at a lower price than the EX. A full complement of active and passive safety features is standard on every Forte. The 2.0-liter 4-cylinder base engine in the Forte LX sedan makes 147 horsepower, while the more expensive Forte5 LX hatchback starts with a 164-horsepower version.

Notable Options

Options for the 2018 Kia Forte lineup include navigation, leather upholstery, dual-zone climate control and Kia's UVO infotainment system. Most of that's included in the Forte's Premium Plus package, although leather is now standard on EX sedans. Many features are bundled by trim level, and the Forte5 models offer a level above the sedan called SX that adds a 1.6-liter turbocharged 4-cylinder with 201 horsepower, as well as 18-inch wheels. A Technology Plus Package includes a power moonroof, Autonomous Emergency Braking, Forward Collision Warning, Lane Keep Assist, Blind Spot Detection, Rear Cross Traffic Alert, push-button start, fog lights, LED taillights and other features.

Favorite Features


Much like similar systems found in more expensive cars like the BMW 3 Series and the Cadillac CT6, Kia’s Drive Mode Select system allows the Forte’s driver to choose among three settings, Normal, Eco and Sport depending on mood and the driving situation. Each adjusts the car’s engine, transmission and steering, maximizing comfort, fuel economy or performance.


This important safety technology is optional on the 2018 Kia Forte S and EX. The system reads the road ahead for obstacles in your path, including vehicles or pedestrians. If it determines a collision is imminent and the Forte’s driver is not taking action, it will apply the vehicle’s brakes for you.

Under the Hood

The base engine for the 2018 Forte and Forte5 is a 2.0-liter 4-cylinder with 147 horsepower and 132 lb-ft of torque. It's standard in the LX and S models of the Forte sedan. The other 2.0-liter engine is a direct-injection 4-cylinder that puts out a more robust 164 horsepower. Transmission choices in the sedan are a 6-speed manual or a smooth and responsive 6-speed automatic. The Forte5 gets just the more powerful 2.0-liter, while the 1.6-liter turbocharged 4-cylinder in the Forte5 SX can be paired with a 6-speed manual or 7-speed dual-clutch automatic transmission.

2.0-liter 4-cylinder (Forte Sedan LX, S, EX)

147 horsepower @ 6,200 rpm

132 lb-ft of torque @ 4,500 rpm

EPA city/highway fuel economy: 25/34 mpg (manual), 29/37 mpg (automatic)

2.0-liter 4-cylinder (Forte5 LX, EX)

164 horsepower @ 6,200 rpm (ULEV-II)

160 horsepower @ 6,200 rpm (SULEV)

151 lb-ft of torque @ 4,000 rpm (ULEV-II)

149 lb-ft of torque @ 4,700 rpm (SULEV)

EPA city/highway fuel economy: 25/34 mpg

1.6-liter turbocharged 4-cylinder (Forte5 SX)

201 horsepower @ 6,000 rpm

195 lb-ft of torque @ 1,750-4,500 rpm

EPA city/highway fuel economy: 23/29 mpg (manual), 25/30 mpg (automatic)

Editors' Notes

Kia’s entry in the competitive and crowded compact-car class is available in two body styles, the stylish 2018 Kia Forte sedan and the even sexier Forte5 hatchback. Both are refined, fuel-efficient and packed with features including available driver-assist systems. Each offers high-quality interiors, impressive infotainment systems that incorporate Apple CarPlay and Android Auto and a choice of three trim levels, while the top-of-the-range Forte5 SX features a turbocharged engine with over 200 horsepower. Prices start just under $18,000 for a Forte LX sedan with a 6-speed manual transmission. Under the hood is a 2.0-liter 4-cylinder engine good for 147 horsepower. An optional 6-speed automatic transmission is available and kicks up fuel-economy ratings to 29-mpg city and 37 mpg on the highway. Competitors include the Honda Civic, Chevy Cruze, Hyundai Elantra, Mazda3 and Toyota Corolla.

Road Test Video Reviews

2018 Kia Forte Owner Reviews

208 Reviews
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Why my Kia stay down for the ride.

The problem I have most with my vehicle is that my version of the car is set really low so going over speed-bumps that are really high, will hit the bottom of my car. When pulling into parking spots, if the curb is high, you cannot pull in as close to the curb or it will scrape the bottom front part of the vehicle. The performance of my car though is excellent, it rides smooth and engine is quiet. The tank is also efficient within its miles per gallon, it can last a long time and it very cost efficient as it does not cost much to fill up. The seats in the car are very comfortable as they are made out of soft breathable material with the option of both driver and passenger seats having the ability to be adjusted to comfort. The features I have on my vehicle involves a touch-screen radio system that can connect to Wifi or Bluetooth with the option of having Sirius XM radio. The car also comes with a back seat pull-down cup holders and an ample amount of space in the trunk to fit any needs. It contains apple carplay and connectivity for androids through a USB connection that mimics the home-screen of your phone. My car also has the cruise control feature and a rear-view camera that will appear on touch-screen that. Overall, my Kia forte has an ample amount of features that are to my comfort that provides a comfortable drive.

- Sarah B

My Kia forte is a great car that is very inexpensive to buy and maintain.

The forte I drive is extremely good on gas getting around 36 miles per gallon. It has a smooth ride and is extremely comfortable to dive in for long periods of time. There are only a few problems I have had with my forte since I purchased it a little over three months ago. First I have had problems tethering my cellphone to my car and keeping it hooked up. For some reason it will just stop working and I need to reprogram it. Also does not download all of my contacts from my phone. It also has a problem with connecting to my phone when I get in and start my car. It also will cut phone calls off in the middle of the conversation and or have a problem with the microphone so whoever your talking to cannot hear you or vise Versa. The other problem is with the key fob not working all the time. The batteries are brand new so it is not like they do not have the power it must be the transmitter or the receiver. It does this for periods of time sometimes as long as a week or as short as a few hours. All in all I am very pleased with my Kia forte.

- Joe J

Kia Forte satisfied buyer review

The 2018 Kia Forte is a great vehicle. It has three modes eco, sport and traditional. The gas mileage is amazing. The get up and go of this vehicle, even in eco, is great. The air conditioning is wonderful, but I don't like that level 1 and 2 is almost like nothing then you bump to 3 or 4 and it is blasting. After a few moments the volume of the forced air is annoying. Although it is very good at cooling. The vents also have a dial to where you can close the vent off completely which works great when my hubby and I are driving together as I am always cold. The seats are very comfortable, but a bit low and can be difficult for some to get in and out of. The car-phone capabilities are awesome! We love it. We have noticed when we go to pump gas, the lever to open the gas tank sometimes does not release the trigger. And we have to go back and pull the lever again. We find this odd for only having the vehicle a year. Other than these few finicky items we really love our Kia Forte and have discussed buying another one.

- Brooke H

Great car would really recommend.

The Kia forte lands midpack among compact sedans. Though it brings simple controls and impressive fuel economy, it suffers from an overly stiff ride; passengers feel every bump. And the car is very loud to boot. The engine pulls adequately and the continuously variable transmission provides unobtrusive progress, but the engine is raucous. At 34 mpg overall, fuel economy is excellent. Handling is responsive, thanks to the forte's willingness to tackle corners. The drab interior is Spartan, but it is nice to have automatic climate control. The seats are rather uncomfortable in the mid trim lxs. The infotainment system is simple and easy to use, and is compatible with apple CarPlay. It is commendable that forward collision warning, automatic emergency braking, lane departure warning, and lane keeping assist are standard.

- Genesis A

For starters, the entire interior of the Kia Forte has been reworked,

None great car 2018 Kia Forte. Borrowing the contours and design elements from the luxury sports sedan, Kia Stinger, the 2018 Kia Forte arrives to a class of vehicles that is content to be adequate, offering the highest value style on the market. Additionally, the 2018 Kia Forte brings several changes to the compact car that make it an even more reliable and impressive traveling companion. For starters, the entire interior of the Kia Forte has been reworked, bringing the 2018 Forte's stunning stretched-out dashboard with floating infotainment screen in line with the offerings from entry-luxury brands. Additionally, Kia has upped the game for efficiency on the 2019 Kia Forte which now has a projected combed fuel rating of 35 MPG.

- Chanel C

The car has many options for charging and using cell phones.

There is only one problem with the car. I am a male and the drive seat is low and the sides are curved up. When getting in or out of vehicle can be difficult because of testicles. This is not a joke. I am 6 ft tall and have to take a big step in an sit directly in the middle of the seat or I risk a short lived but painful injury. Other than that problem it is the best vehicle due to great gas Mileage normally between 38 and 42 mpg. The car has bluetooth and easy to access steering wheel controls for hands free or minimal use for driving. 20,000 miles in and not a single complaint about the car even drove it to California and back from the Midwest with perfect performance.

- Cody D

A practical and reliable car.

We are quite satisfied with our 2018 Kia forte. It has a nice ride and is relatively quiet. We do notice some wind noise when traveling at highway speeds (~70 mph), but it is not too worrisome. We also have some ongoing issues syncing our mobile devices. Sometimes it takes a free tries to sync successfully. We have not had any maintenance issues so far. We take it into the dealership for regular oil changes at the recommended intervals, and they have not found any issues during their routine checks. There are plenty of more exciting cars on the road, but we needed something reliable and practical. The forte fits the bill perfect.ly for us.

- Ben T

The touch screen panel in the middle console of the car is awesome!

I recently got this car less than a year ago after getting in an accident. The Bluetooth to connect your phone is awesome, with a touch screen and backup camera (that makes parking and backing up ten times easier!!). The car itself drives smooth and does well on gas mileage. The large difference between this car and my old Kia spectra is the brakes are extremely sensitive. After driving for a few weeks the brake felt completely normal, but if I had one complaint it would be the sensitivity of the brake (but at the end of the day I would rather my brakes be sensitive than my gas pedal!).

- Samantha H

It is a sedan but the back seats fold down.

My Kia forte is a wonderful car to drive. It has very good gas mileage. I have not had any issues mechanically with my car. It comes with Sirius radio and a touch screen for the radio. The best feature is that even though it is a sedan, the back seats fold down so you have more cargo space. It also comes with hands free cell phone and you can hook up your phone so you can listen to your playlist. The only downside is it does not have heated seats. I like heated seats because it helps my back on long rides. For a small sedan it has lots of features you would not expect.

- Karen T

Great affordable vehicle that is in your budget. Sleek and comfortable.

Its is nice and sleek. Drives very comfortable on the road. I love the bucket seat and the interior. The performance on the road handles it pretty well. I am not to thrilled about the sound quality when I first got the car but I manage to fix that. One of the most striking feature about this vehicle is how it performed in all types of weather conditions. I live in the Midwest so we get a heavy winter storm and this car was able to drive through slush of snow and even through sleek roads. I was very impressed by what this car can do with these type of harsh conditions.

- Epi M

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