The 2018 Kia Forte leaves eco-performance to rivals; it focuses on safety and luxury touches.
The 2018 Kia Forte is a compact sedan or hatchback that competes with heavy-hitters of the industry. The Forte trades on its roomy interior, good fuel economy, but cars like the Honda Civic and Toyota Corolla have a longer history and name recognition with economy shoppers.
The Forte nevertheless gives compact-car shoppers a good choice, if it’s top safety ratings and easy to use infotainment they seek.
Sold in Forte LX, Forte S, and Forte EX trims for the sedan and LX, EX, and SX trims in the hatchback, we give the lineup a 6.5 out of 10. (Read more about how we rate cars this year.)
With its last redesign, the Forte gained a little bit of width and length, but not height; and that works especially well in the handsome, elongated roofline and profile of the sedan. The hatchback’s stubby rear end has more drama, for sure. The Forte’s interior feels simpler and more straightforward than those of Kia’s larger vehicles; it’s a sporty look, with a clean layout, effective infotainment systems, displays that have a hooded array of analog gauges and just a hint of sport-sedan style.
Performance is run of the mill with either of the Forte’s 4-cylinder engines. Base inline-4 models have better fuel economy than the higher-output versions with direct injection. Acceleration is smooth but predictably, relentlessly average. A 6-speed manual transmission can be fitted, but given the Forte’s straightforward economy-car handling, we’d stick with the 6-speed automatic. If you’re stuck on a manual, can we show you something in a Ford Focus or Mazda 3?
There’s ample space inside the 2018 Forte, but passengers deserve better than its short, low-set seats. Four adults can fit, no problem, but head room suffers thanks to a low roof and where it’s ordered, the thick-mounted sunroof. Small-item and trunk space are great, and the Forte goes to some effort to present high-quality plastic trim and to reduce road noise.
Safety scores are very good, and the Forte can be fitted with the latest safety gear on most of its trim levels. A rearview camera still is an option on the base LX, though power features, air conditioning, and a CD player are included. Spend a little more and the Forte can be had with leather upholstery, navigation, touchscreen infotainment that rightly leans on your smartphone for data, and Android Auto and Apple CarPlay for app content.