Used 2012 Kia Forte Hatchback

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2012 Kia Forte
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2012 Kia Forte

Pros

  • Wide variety of body styles
  • affordable pricing
  • long warranty
  • excellent handling in SX trim.

Cons

  • Tepid handling except for SX
  • intrusive road noise
  • lackluster interior
  • rear seat short on legroom.

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Edmunds' Expert Review

The 2012 Kia Forte is a bit outclassed by newer competitors, but it still has a lot to offer in terms of value and style.

vehicle overview

When the Kia Forte debuted a few years ago, we were pretty impressed with this new small car, finding it offered levels of style, engineering and overall quality that were on par with more well-known Japanese competitors. For the 2012 Kia Forte, the game has changed, as other manufacturers have rallied and made notable improvements. But overall the Forte still holds appeal.

Of particular merit, the 2012 Forte is offered in coupe, sedan and four-door hatchback body styles, one of the few small cars to offer such a selection. If you're interested in something sporty, the Forte coupe (the "Koup") will likely satisfy thanks to its sharp styling and firmer suspension tuning. If it's practicality you desire, Kia's got you covered with the roomy Forte hatchback. The Forte has other positive qualities as well, including long warranty coverage, plenty of standard features and high fuel economy when equipped with the optional Fuel Economy package.

That said, we consider some newer small cars to be more appealing overall. The Hyundai Elantra, for instance, has a nicer interior and better fuel economy no matter how you equip the car. The new Ford Focus is another well-regarded choice, as are the revitalized Mazda 3 and Volkswagen Golf hatchback. But if you're looking for something sporty, practical or just high on value, the 2012 Kia Forte is worth a look.

2012 Kia Forte configurations

The 2012 Kia Forte is available in sedan, four-door hatchback and coupe (or "Koup" in Kia-speak) body styles. The sedan is offered in three trim levels including the entry-level LX, midrange EX and sporty SX trim levels, while the hatchback and coupe are available in EX and SX trims only.

Standard equipment on the LX base model includes 15-inch steel wheels, a six-way-adjustable driver seat, a 60/40-split-folding rear seat, a tilt steering column, Bluetooth and a four-speaker sound system with a CD player, satellite radio, a USB/iPod interface and an auxiliary audio jack.

Step up to one of the EX models and you get keyless entry, air-conditioning, cruise control, a trip computer, a tilt-and-telescoping steering wheel, illuminated vanity mirrors, full power accessories and a six-speaker sound system. The EX coupe adds 16-inch alloy wheels, firmer suspension tuning, front sport seats and a more robust exhaust note.

The SX comes equipped with a more powerful 2.4-liter engine, a sport-tuned suspension, 17-inch alloy wheels, foglights, unique cloth upholstery and metallic interior trim, and a leather-wrapped steering wheel and shift knob. The SX coupe also gets 17-inch alloy wheels, a sportier version of the SX sedan's suspension, and illuminated red speaker surrounds that can blink in time to the beat.

Options on LX models are limited to air-conditioning. The EX has a longer list of available extras, including 16-inch alloy wheels (sedan only) and a sunroof. A Fuel Economy package for the EX sedan and hatchback adds electric power steering, low-rolling-resistance tires and aerodynamic enhancements. SX options include a sunroof and leather upholstery with heated front seats. A Technology package that bundles keyless ignition/entry, automatic climate control, a navigation system and chrome exterior door handles is also available on the EX and SX.

2012 Highlights

For 2012, the Kia Forte lineup returns largely unchanged save for the midrange EX model, which gets a tilt-and-telescoping steering wheel. Revised gauges have also been added to the EX Technology package.

Performance & mpg

The 2012 Kia Forte LX and EX are powered by a 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine that makes 156 horsepower and 144 pound-feet of torque. The sportier SX gets a 2.4-liter four-cylinder that puts out 173 hp and 168 lb-ft of torque. A six-speed manual transmission is standard on LX models and the Koup, while EX and SX models come equipped with a six-speed automatic that's also offered as an option on the LX. In Edmunds performance testing, an SX hatchback with an automatic went from zero to 60 mph in 8.8 seconds, which is on par with similarly powered cars. The Koup is a bit quicker. With the manual it hits 60 in 7.6 seconds.

The EPA fuel economy estimates for the LX and EX with the manual transmission are 25 mpg city/34 mpg highway and 29 mpg combined. Those numbers edge up to a respectable 26/36/29 with the automatic. Opting for the EX Fuel Economy package ups those numbers to 27/37/30. The more powerful Forte SX isn't too shabby either, with EPA estimates of 22/32/26 with the manual and 23/32/26 with the automatic. The two-door Koup returns estimates within 1 or 2 mpg (some higher, some lower) of the sedan and four-door hatchback numbers noted above.

Safety

The 2012 Kia Forte's list of standard safety equipment includes antilock disc brakes, stability and traction control, front-seat side airbags, side curtain airbags that cover both rows of seats, and active front head restraints. In Edmunds brake testing, a Forte Koup SX came to a stop from 60 mph in an excellent 118 feet. An SX hatchback stopped in a still above-average 122 feet.

In government crash tests, the Kia Forte earned four stars (out of a possible five) in overall safety, with four stars for overall frontal-impact safety and four stars for overall side-impact safety. The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety gave the Forte sedan the top score of "Good" in that agency's frontal-offset, side-impact and roof strength tests.

Driving

When it comes to the fun-to-drive factor, the 2012 Kia Forte is a mixed bag. The softer suspension underpinning LX and EX models allows for a little too much body roll in spirited driving, and the relatively numb steering feel doesn't help matters any. Both are perfectly passable in everyday motoring, although folks who put a premium on solid handling will want the firmer sport-tuned suspension that's standard on SX models. With it, these are legitimately fun little cars.

Ride comfort is generally good either way you go. Similarly, the smaller engine under the hood of LX and EX models will suit most folks just fine, but the larger 2.4-liter engine powering SX models feels noticeably stronger. We highly recommend the automatic transmission, as the manual is both unpleasant and difficult to use.

Interior

The Kia Forte's interior is a fairly comfortable place, with good room up front and backseats with legroom that, while not great, is about par for the category. One notable exception is the coupe's rear seat, which is a tight squeeze by anyone's standards. The quality of the interior is certainly acceptable, but it's a noticeable step down from what you'll find in a Focus, Elantra or Volkswagen Golf. Some Forte test cars we've sampled have also suffered from haphazard construction.

Both the coupe and sedan have a good amount of cargo room, with 12.6 cubic feet and 14.7 cubic feet, respectively. The hatchback version is even better, with 19.4 cubic feet of space behind the rear seats that expands to 44.2 cubic feet with those seatbacks folded down to make a flat load floor.


Consumer reviews

Read what other owners think about the 2012 Kia Forte.

Overall Consumer Rating

Most helpful consumer reviews

Great value at a very good price!
bd21,02/24/2012
The Kia Forte is a well engineered vehicle that I believe is best in class for the price. I paid $17,713.00 out the door for a EX 5-door in Titanium with stone interior. My car was equipped with auto-dimming mirror w/compass, wheel locks, rear bumper applique, cargo net, cargo tray, spashguards and an i-pod cable. I had no trade-in and the price included 6% sales tax and all dealer fees. I did get $2,000.00 in rebates. This car is fun to drive around town and on the interstate. I'm very impressed with the design, quality and functionality of this car. I don't think you will find a better car under $21K.
So far, great purchase
fallis,06/06/2015
Let me first say that I'd never thought I'd look twice at a Kia until recently. THey've certainly improved their vehicles in every way. Purchased a certified 2012 Forte EX 5-door at a Kia dealer w/ 27k miles after trading in 07 Toyota Rav. This is a great design as a small wagon. Seems like a best kept secret too, since I don't see too many out there. Great looks, great mileage (30 average, more on hiway), and MUCH better acceleration than my Honda Fit. I was doing hiway speeds of 75 mph, and the tach was still under 2500 rpm! I've had it for 1 1/2 months and already put almost 3k miles, no probs. Can't beat the warrantee either. Way to go Kia. Hi again. It's now been 3 years owning this vehicle (June 2018) and I now have 105k miles on it. So total so far from purchase I've driven approx. 80k miles with no major problems with the car. I've purchased a set of tires, brakes all around, and regular check ups/oil changes. Still getting great mileage, so it's a keeper for at least another year.
Wow, this car was a great ride!
connelly.carol@gmail.com,12/29/2015
For the first 56,000 miles, this car is dependable and looks great; however, do not be fooled by the "normal" KIA noise coming from the engine. I live in Tampa, Florida, and dealership support has been poor thus far. The clicking sounds in the engine base ended up needing a tension pulley at 60,500 miles, just 500 out of warranty. Kia USA agreed to honor and pay as it was 600 $ for repairs. I still heard a metal whirling sound, but was told that was a "normal" KIA sound...what? At any rate, about 3000 miles later, the whirling sound is getting louder and now it has been diagnosed as needing a new compressor..haha. seriously? I still like the car; it handles a little better than the Honda fit (which is out of my league, it seems pricewise), but the Forte is still the riff raff of the hatchbacks, and honestly? With this happening at 60,000 miles, holy moly, I do not see the car having any value whatsoever at 100,000. P.S. I had an Isuzu Trooper 290,000. It was the sweetest 20,000$ I ever spent. I feel I was a bit rough with the scoring, but if I was to get mezmerized and sucked in on a 100,000 power train warranty, it would be with an Elantra. Right now with the boom shakalaka noise and rattle and roll, anything is better than what I am dealing with...1200$ for a compressor, wow!
Great Compact Car!
Alan Sloan,01/26/2016
Keep in mind this is a compact car. You are not going to get ride/room or power of a mid-size car. We purchased our Forte 5 door new on 6/2012 and have 50,000 miles on it. THE GOOD - a/c, engine power, drives nicely, cup holders and storage room, big back seat (5 door), blue tooth, only one repair - the key would not unlock the driver's door but the remote has always worked. Also a great warranty - 10 yr/100,000 mi We live in Texas and the a/c can handle the hottest days. I am 6'3" and I have room in the back seat. THE BAD - No Water Temperature gauge (has light), head rests are very uncomfortable, and the fuel mileage. If I use the cruise control I get poor fuel mileage. If I drive into a head wind I get poor fuel mileage. Keeping the speed at 70 mph or less with a tail wind and accelerating down hill and backing off going uphill I have gotten 35 mpg as advertised or better several times.
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Features & Specs

MPG
26 city / 36 hwy
Seats 5
6-speed shiftable automatic
Gas
156 hp @ 6200 rpm
MPG
23 city / 32 hwy
Seats 5
6-speed shiftable automatic
Gas
173 hp @ 6000 rpm
See all Used 2012 Kia Forte Hatchback features & specs

Safety

NHTSA Overall Rating

The National Highway Transportation Safety Administration offers independent analysis.
  • Frontal Barrier Crash Rating
    Overall4 / 5
    Driver5 / 5
    Passenger3 / 5
  • Side Crash Rating
    Overall4 / 5
  • Side Barrier Rating
    Overall4 / 5
    Driver3 / 5
    Passenger5 / 5
  • Combined Side Barrier & Pole Ratings
    Front Seat3 / 5
    Back Seat5 / 5
  • Rollover
    Rollover4 / 5
    Dynamic Test ResultNo Tip
    Risk Of Rollover10.3%
IIHS Rating
The Insurance Institute of Highway Safety uses extensive crash tests to determine car safety.
  • Side Impact Test
    Good
  • Roof Strength Test
    Good
  • Rear Crash Protection / Head Restraint
    Good
  • IIHS Small Overlap Front Test
    Not Tested
  • Moderate Overlap Front Test
    Good

More about the 2012 Kia Forte
Used 2012 Kia Forte Hatchback Overview

The Used 2012 Kia Forte Hatchback is offered in the following styles: EX 4dr Hatchback (2.0L 4cyl 6A), and SX 4dr Hatchback (2.4L 4cyl 6A).

What's a good price on a Used 2012 Kia Forte Hatchback?

Shop with Edmunds for perks and special offers on used cars, trucks, and SUVs near Ashburn, VA. Doing so could save you hundreds or thousands of dollars. Edmunds also provides consumer-driven dealership sales and service reviews to help you make informed decisions about what cars to buy and where to buy them.

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Used 2012 Kia Forte Hatchback Listings and Inventory

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Find a used Kia Forte for sale - 11 great deals out of 17 listings starting at $10,949.

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Should I lease or buy a 2012 Kia Forte?

Is it better to lease or buy a car? Ask most people and they'll probably tell you that car buying is the way to go. And from a financial perspective, it's true, provided you're willing to make higher monthly payments, pay off the loan in full and keep the car for a few years. Leasing, on the other hand, can be a less expensive option on a month-to-month basis. It's also good if you're someone who likes to drive a new car every three years or so.

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