2015 Kia Forte Review & Ratings | Edmunds

2015 Kia Forte Review

2015 Kia Forte

Edmunds Summary Review of the 2015 Kia Forte Forte5 EX

  • Upscale design, quality and value underscore the 2015 Kia Forte's appeal. It's certainly a great choice for a small sedan, hatchback or coupe.

  • Pros

    Spacious interior for both sedan and coupe; many features available; strong engines on EX and SX trims; easy-to-use controls; lengthy warranty coverage.

  • Cons

    Below average fuel efficiency; ride quality sometimes unrefined; middling frontal-impact safety scores.

  • What's New for 2015

    For 2015, the Kia Forte makes slight gains in fuel economy, but is essentially carried over. Kia's Uvo telematics system is no longer standard on the EX trim.


To better compete in the small car segment, Kia redesigned the Forte last year. We were pretty impressed with the result, and it earned an Ford Focus and Mazda 3 are class leaders for their sophisticated blend of comfort, dynamism and impressive real-world fuel economy. Also notable are the Honda Civic, Kia's cousin the Hyundai Elantra and the 2015 Volkswagen Golf. These are well-rounded models with lots of refinement and comfort. But with its roomy interior, upscale features, strong engine lineup and sharp styling, the 2015 Kia Forte, which earns a spot in both our 2015 Sedan and Coupe Buying Guides, is an excellent choice if you're shopping for an affordable sedan, coupe or hatchback.

Body Styles, Trim Levels, and Options

The 2015 Kia Forte is available as a sedan in LX and EX trim levels. The two-door coupe (Koup) and four-door hatchback (Forte 5) are available in EX and SX trims.

Standard features on the LX sedan include 15-inch steel wheels, heated mirrors, air-conditioning, full power accessories, a trip computer, a tilt-and-telescoping steering wheel, a height-adjustable driver seat, a 60/40-split-folding rear seat, Bluetooth phone and audio connectivity and a four-speaker sound system with a CD player, satellite radio, a USB/iPod interface and an auxiliary input jack.

Optional for the LX is the Popular package, which includes keyless entry, cruise control, two additional speakers, upgraded seat trim and other interior upgrades, including extra storage, a sliding console armrest and a fold-down rear center armrest.

Spring for the EX, and you get all of the above plus a more powerful engine, 16-inch alloy wheels, adjustable steering effort, foglights, LED running lights, power-folding outside mirrors, a leather-wrapped steering wheel and a cooling glovebox.

Both Forte sedans are available with Kia's Uvo eServices infotainment system with a rearview camera and upgraded wheels (16-inch alloy wheels for the LX and 17s on the EX).

For the EX the optional Premium package adds a sunroof, keyless ignition and entry, leather upholstery, heated front and rear seats, a heated steering wheel, a ventilated eight-way power driver seat with memory (still a manual-adjustment seat on the Koup), an auto-dimming rearview mirror and illuminated exterior door handles.

The EX Technology package includes xenon headlights, LED taillights, an upgraded display screen, dual-zone air-conditioning, rear seat vents, a navigation system, HD radio and upgraded Uvo functionality.

The EX hatchback and coupe essentially mirror the sedan. The SX versions include those features but with a sportier mission and mechanicals: a turbocharged engine, 18-inch wheels and unique front and rear styling. Option packages for the coupe and hatchback essentially echo those for the EX sedan.

Powertrains and Performance

The Forte LX is powered by a 1.8-liter four-cylinder engine making 145 horsepower and 130 pound-feet of torque. Power runs to the front wheels through a six-speed manual or six-speed automatic transmission. The EPA fuel economy estimates for the Forte LX sedan are 31 mpg combined (26 city/39 highway) for the 1.8-liter engine and automatic transmission. With the manual transmission it's rated at 30 mpg combined (25/37).

The EX gets a 2.0-liter four-cylinder generating 173 hp and 154 lb-ft of torque. On the sedan and hatchback, this engine comes only with the six-speed automatic, but on the coupe, you can also get it with the manual transmission. Forte EX sedans with the 2.0-liter engine rate 29 mpg combined (25 city/36 highway), but we were impressed with the 32 mpg the Forte EX achieved on our Edmunds evaluation route. EX hatchbacks and automatic-equipped EX coupes rate 28 mpg combined, but have slightly lower highway figures. Manual-shift Forte EX coupes come in at 27 mpg combined (24/33).

The SX versions of the Forte Koup and Forte 5 have a turbocharged 1.6-liter four-cylinder good for 201 hp and 195 lb-ft of torque. On both body styles, you have a choice of the six-speed manual or six-speed automatic. Kia Forte SX hatchbacks rate 24 mpg combined (21/29) with either transmission. For the Koup, fuel economy estimates stand at 25 mpg combined (22/29) with the manual and the same 25 mpg combined (22/30) with the automatic, which gives an extra 1 mpg on the highway.

In Edmunds testing, a Kia Forte EX sedan accelerated from zero to 60 mph in 8.1 seconds, while a Forte SX Koup with a manual transmission did the sprint in 7.0 seconds. Both times are exceptionally quick for the compact car segment.


Every 2015 Kia Forte comes standard with antilock disc brakes, traction and stability control, front side airbags and side curtain airbags. A rearview camera is optional. The optional Uvo telematics service includes roadside assistance, emergency crash notification and secondary driver (i.e., teenage) monitoring features including notifications for exceeding curfew, vehicle speed and vehicle location limits.

In Edmunds brake testing, a Forte EX sedan came to a stop from 60 mph in 121 feet, while a Forte SX Koup turned in a 118-foot effort. Both are slightly better than average for this segment.

Government crash tests of the 2015 Forte sedan saw it earn a top overall score of five stars (out of five), with four stars for overall frontal-impact protection and rollover performance and five stars for overall side-impact protection.

The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety awarded the Forte its highest score of "Good" in its moderate-overlap frontal-offset impact test as well for the side-impact, roof-strength and whiplash protection (seatbelts and head restraints) tests. In the agency's small-overlap frontal-offset impact test, however, the Forte scored the second-lowest rating of "Marginal."

Interior Design and Special Features

Far from being an economy car stuffed with gadgets, the new Kia Forte boasts a handsome cabin furnished with quality materials that, in the higher trim levels, would give premium-brand compacts a run for their money. What's more, the Forte's high-tech features are well designed and easy to use. The touchscreen interface, with its large, logically positioned "buttons," is one of the best examples of this technology, regardless of market segment or price range.

Seat comfort front and rear is very good thanks to thick, well-bolstered seats. Even 6-foot adults should be comfortable sitting in back. The Forte sedan is also very generous when it comes to cargo capacity, boasting a trunk capacity of 14.9 cubic feet. The Forte 5 hatchback offers 23.2 cubic feet.

Even the two-door Koup is surprisingly practical, with a 13.3-cubic-foot trunk that rivals many compact sedans. Its backseat is also spacious enough for adults and reasonably easy to reach. Unfortunately, the driver seat is mounted a bit high, and as a result some of our taller editors found it difficult to get comfortable behind the wheel.

Driving Impressions

The 173-hp four-cylinder in the 2015 Kia Forte EX is one of the stronger engines you'll find in this class. This output doesn't translate to blazing acceleration, but in general, the EX is quicker than the norm. The only downside is that the 2.0-liter sounds and feels a bit buzzy during hard acceleration. The available 201-hp turbocharged 1.6-liter engine makes for a lively experience in both the hatchback and coupe and is one of the strongest engines you'll find in the class.

The automatic transmission provides smooth gearchanges, and it's surprisingly responsive with downshifts during typical passing and merging situations. The slick-shifting six-speed manual is also quite a bit of fun if you're so inclined.

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, unlike rivals like the Focus and Mazda 3, both of which have a more isolated ride over broken pavement. Those cars are also sportier when going around turns; the Forte feels steady, but not particularly engaging.

Reviews from owners of the 2015 Kia Forte Forte5 EX

Average Consumer Rating (See all 16 reviews) Write a Review

Don't buy !

by on
Vehicle: 2015 Kia Forte

I got this car 6 months ago . The motor blew and the dealer blamed me for an obvious issue with the car I told them of prior . Warranty didn't cover so car is now headed to the junk yard and I'm out 21,000 dollars . Stay away from this brand ! They get you to buy with false claims of backing your warranty !

Bad hesitate bad ... dangerous

by on
Vehicle: 2015 Kia Forte

sticky steering , not centering , real bad hesitation at lower speed , taking off . I had it to the floor at one time for at least 4 sec. before getting out of the way!

Love my forte

by on
Vehicle: 2015 Kia Forte

The car drives great really love the interior design. The touch screen radio is plus and the back up camera. Cowboy kia did a great job on finding the right for me. Definitely would recommend them to anyone.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

Great cheaper alternative

by on
Vehicle: 2015 Kia Forte

This is a little unknown hot hatch. I didnt even know Kia made this car until some online new car browsing. Got a great deal and was actually pretty hard to find one which means you stand out since rare to see another. Turbo engine has great pick up at any speed or gear! 6 speed manual trans is alittle too geared towards city driving vs hwy. 5th and 6th just isnt a hwy gear it should be. I average 30mpg with high octane gas. Car hates cheap gas. Great build quality and warranty!! The zip and handing makes it fun. I even embarressed a GTI on hwy. This is a low car so getting out and in provides some hand support from the seat. Options galore on the SX model like heated and cooled seats in front and heated in back which is rare for this class of car. Heated steering wheel . Mine didnt come with the Nav and Hid headlights but not spending the extra $$$ on a in dash Nav with phones these days. Only two main gripes with this car is radio just sucks for sound and loudness and steering is electric with is very touchy with any input makes you wander. Also it seems to have a "sticky" feeling when driving straight . Its brief but alarms you when u go to turn . Otherwise been a great,reliable fun car!

3 of 3 people found this review helpful

I love my kia forte 5 door ex hatchback

by on
Vehicle: 2015 Kia Forte

Let me start by saying I LOVE my 2015 Forte Hatchback. It's probably the best car I ever owned. Are there things about it I don't like? Yes, that's why I only gave it 4 stars (didn't know how to give it 4 1/2 stars). Having said that, I would buy another one in a heartbeat. PROS 1. This is the 2nd KIA I've owned and both of them have been perfect mechanically. I haven't had one mechanical issue. It just cannot get any better than that. I also know two other people who had KIAs for at least 3 years and neither one of them had a single mechanical problem. 2. The car is sleek and people constantly tell me how cool it looks. I love looking at it every time I approach my car. 3. It's extremely comfortable and I thoroughly enjoy driving it. Is it fun to drive? I think so. 4. The A/C system works great in a very hot, southern climate. It even came with front seats which can be heated (I don't need that where I live) and/or cooled. 5. The UVO system is terrific and very easy to use. 6. The instrument panel is clear, easy to read, and very informative. I could do almost everything I wanted without ever looking at the manual. 7. I love my Sirius XM Satellite Radio. 8. Lots of storage space with 5 door Hatchback plus the special storage container under the normal floor in the rear is very handy. 9. My KIA dealer treats the customers like gold. 10. Very affordable but it has the quality of a more expensive car. 11. Very good highway mileage 12. Nobody beats the KIA warranty. I feel great because I had no problems, but if I did, it's always covered under the warranty. CONS 1. Wind noise, especially on the highway (seems to be a problem with KIAs) 2. Poor city stop and go mileage. Maybe it's because I'm always taking very short trips with lots of traffic lights where I accelerate briskly? It's hard to tell if it's my driving style or the vehicle. I think it's a combination of both. 3. The standard tires are just OK but very noisy. I'm used to riding on Michelins which are far superior. 4. The instrument panel is very cool but one gauge says MPH instead of MPG for the average miles per gallon 5. With one exception the navigation system works great, plus it has a large, easy to read screen. That one exception,unless I have a specific address to punch in, is it's often difficult to find what I'm looking for . For some unknown reason it's hard to find venues. In other words, it isn't user friendly.

1 of 8 people found this review helpful

Hesitation when accelerating slowly

by on
Vehicle: 2015 Kia Forte

this car has been to dealer twice it still hesitates never again

Edmunds Insurance Estimator

The Edmunds TCO® estimated monthly insurance payment for a 2015 Kia Forte in VA is:

$61.00 per month*

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