2018 Kia Forte Review

Type:

Pros & Cons

  • Feels roomy inside for a compact car
  • Many desirable standard and available features
  • Easy-to-use controls and straightforward touchscreen interface
  • Lengthy warranty coverage
  • The EX returns lackluster fuel economy for the class
  • Ride quality can be overly firm at times
List Price Range
$10,207 - $11,629

Used Forte for Sale
Select your model:
See all for sale

Get More For Your Trade-In

Get More For Your Trade-In

Edmunds shoppers get on average $235 more for their trade-in.
Receive offers from our dealer partners fast.
See your car's value

Which Forte does Edmunds recommend?

Kia offers several Forte variants, so picking one largely depends on what you're looking for. But for a practical and well-equipped car, we'd simply opt for the LX. It's the Forte's base model yet delivers strong value. Ideally, get it with the Popular package, which adds the Uvo infotainment system (including Apple CarPlay and Android Auto integration) and some interior upgrades.

Edmunds' Expert Review

Overall rating

8.1 / 10

Last year's refresh has helped keep the 2018 Kia Forte competitive in a class with much newer rivals. Kia made updates to the Forte's interior quality, infotainment system, active safety features and horsepower. All complemented the Forte's existing strengths: spacious seating and cargo space and tons of value.

It's true that newer compact cars have made gains in acceleration, fuel efficiency, interior space, handling and technology features. That means the Forte isn't the standout it once was. But the Forte's long list of available features, competitive price and outstanding warranty coverage continue to make it a compelling choice for a compact sedan or hatchback. It even offers a sporty SX hatchback trim level with an engine making more than 200 horsepower, putting it in a league with only a few other compacts.

If the Forte isn't quite for you, you might want to check out the Honda Civic. It offers an excellent driving experience and rivals the Forte for passenger space and technology features. There's also the snazzy Mazda 3 and the capable Subaru Impreza to consider. But even with such strong competition, we think the Forte is worth a test drive if you're in the market for a well-equipped compact car

2018 Kia Forte models

The 2018 Kia Forte is available as a sedan in LX, S and EX trim levels, while the hatchback (the Forte5) is offered in LX, EX and SX trims. The base LX trim is reasonably equipped, while the EX has a more extensive list of equipment. The S sedan and EX and SX hatchback offer some sporty touches, and the SX even comes with a powerful turbocharged engine.

The Forte LX and S sedans are powered by a 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine with 147 horsepower and 132 pound-feet of torque. For most trims, power runs to the front wheels through a six-speed automatic transmission. The base LX comes standard with a six-speed manual, with the automatic available as an optional upgrade.

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, and a four-speaker sound system with a CD player, satellite radio, USB connectivity and an auxiliary audio jack.

Optional for the LX (but only with the automatic transmission) is the Popular package, which includes automatic headlights, cruise control, upgraded interior upholstery and trim, a sliding front armrest, a rear seat armrest, a rearview camera, a 7-inch touchscreen with Android Auto and Apple CarPlay, Kia's Uvo telematics service and a six-speaker stereo. There's also the Popular Plus package, which adds LED taillights, special alloy wheels and a leather-wrapped steering wheel.

The S sedan starts with most of those items and upgrades to a sport-tuned suspension, 16-inch alloy wheels, LED running lights, a rear spoiler, a chrome exhaust outlet, adjustable drive modes (including steering effort), unique black cloth upholstery with white contrast stitching, a leather-wrapped steering wheel and shift knob, and the 7-inch touchscreen system.

The S sedan's Technology package adds foglights, a sunroof, LED taillights, and keyless entry and ignition plus a few safety technologies (lane departure warning and prevention, blind-spot monitoring and automatic emergency braking).

The EX sedan drops the sport-themed extras but adds a 2.0-liter four-cylinder generating 164 hp and 151 lb-ft of torque, a six-speed automatic, foglights, 17-inch alloy wheels, LED turn signal indicators on the mirror housings (and puddle lamps underneath), LED taillights, keyless entry and ignition, ambient interior lighting, leather upholstery, heated front seats and dual-zone automatic temperature control with rear vents. For 2018 the EX also receives some active safety features as standard equipment, including blind-spot monitoring and rear cross-traffic alert.

For the EX, there's an optional Premium Plus package that adds a sunroof, a power-adjustable driver seat, adaptive xenon headlights, a navigation system, ventilated front seats and driver-seat memory settings. Forward collision alert and automatic emergency braking are also part of this package.

From a features standpoint, the hatchback's LX and EX trims largely mirror the sedan's, with minor differences.

The SX hatchback adds a turbocharged 1.6-liter four-cylinder rated at 201 hp and 195 lb-ft of torque, paired with either a six-speed manual or a seven-speed dual-clutch automatic transmission. It comes standard with 18-inch wheels, a sport-tuned suspension, dual exhaust tips, and sporty front and rear styling.

Driving

8.5
Whether it's the strong acceleration, satisfying brake pedal feel or ability to transition from open road to city traffic, the Forte5 is a genuine surprise. Real development went into this car, and Kia should be applauded for no half-measures. And it comes with a great manual transmission.

Acceleration

9.0
Equal measures of potency and tractability make this 1.6-liter engine a pleasant surprise. It possesses enough power that a full-throttle launch causes wheel hop and spin all the way through first gear. A slick six-speed manual makes the most of the 200 horsepower and helped the Forte5 hit 60 mph in 7.5 seconds.

Braking

8.0
The short, firm brake pedal action makes it feel like it belongs in a sports car. It's just as easy to modulate braking force in stop-and-go traffic as it is on a canyon road. The 125-foot stopping distance from 60 mph reflects more on the all-season tires than the Forte5's brakes.

Steering

7.5
There's not much to say about the steering in the Forte5, and that's not necessarily a bad thing. There's not a lot of feel, but it's far from lifeless. The effort is well-judged, being slightly heavier than in other cars in the class, and overall accuracy is good. The wheel itself is a bit slippery.

Handling

8.0
The dull tires are definitely the weak link because the chassis feels good. The stability control system is well-sorted, and while the steering doesn't give you much feedback, it's easy enough to determine your level of grip through the seat. The car is not heavy, so it doesn't mask its dynamics. It's easy fun.

Drivability

9.0
This engine isn't the least bit finicky, and the Kia is both livable and forgiving in town or on the highway. Credit goes to the peppy and smooth engine, predictable clutch, short gearing and quick shifter. It makes you wonder why more people don't drive stick.

Comfort

8.0
Compact cars generally scrimp on something, be it seating surfaces, seat construction or even adequate climate control. Yet the Forte5 leaves very little to be desired, even for the rear passengers. It's hard to ask for more from a car in the class.

Seat comfort

7.0
The front seatbacks are a bit on the narrow side and lack proper bolstering. The rear seat is surprisingly spacious for two 6-foot-tall adults. The SX's leather-upholstered seats look and feel good to the touch.

Ride comfort

8.0
The Forte5 exhibits good body composure around corners. It also handles rough city roads fairly well despite its low-profile tires. Excessive bouncing on big freeway bumps suggests a lack of rear damping, but the suspension seems well-tuned overall for the real world.

Noise & vibration

8.0
Wind noise is commendably low, and the engine is well-isolated at idle. Tire noise can dominate the cabin at freeway speeds, but it's not so loud that it can't be overpowered by the stereo. An open sunroof can be a bit loud at higher speeds, but it's not excessive.

Climate control

8.5
The dual-zone climate control is a simple combination of large knobs, easy-to-push buttons and a readable digital display. The vents, which rear passengers also get, have a nice range of adjustment. Heated and powerfully ventilated seats supplement the climate control well.

Interior

7.5
The Forte5's simple and straightforward cabin is a virtue because it means there are no tricks to figuring out its controls or all of its technology. It's hard to beat the traditional gauges in the instrument panel, too.

Ease of use

8.0
The Forte5's cabin controls are intuitive and well-placed. It's refreshing to see a manufacturer not overthink an interior. Only the audio control knobs could use improvement, as they're on the small side. But all the buttons are clearly labeled and easy to press — even the virtual ones.

Getting in/getting out

8.5
The front doors open wide and expose seats that are easy to slide across and into. The backseat passengers will have little to no trouble getting in or out, either, as there's not much wheelwell intrusion and the doors open generously.

Driving position

6.0
Most drivers found the seating position to be much too high and wished the seat would drop another 2 inches, but not for a lack of headroom. The flat-bottom steering wheel is slick to the touch, and some found the spokes a bit low and uncomfortable. The 10-way power-adjustable seats were easy to dial in.

Roominess

8.0
There's ample room all around for both front-seat occupants, and the sunroof doesn't eat into usable headroom. Rear passengers enjoy a decent amount of legroom and shoulder room, but adding a third passenger could make things a bit tight.

Visibility

7.5
Since this is a five-door hatchback, there's plenty of glass and good visibility in all directions. A backup camera only adds to the ease of parking. The windshield pillars dominate the line of sight on twisty roads.

Quality

8.0
The Forte5 seemed to be pretty well screwed together with tight panel gaps inside and out and no squeaks or rattles anywhere throughout the cabin. The doors and rear hatch all closed with a solid thunk.

Utility

8.5
A hatchback should be practical, and this little Kia checks all the boxes. It makes good use of space, not only for the passengers but their stuff as well. It's practical enough with the seats up, and with the seats down there's plenty of room for larger objects. But we wish the seats folded flat.

Small-item storage

8.5
With a center console between the seats and a bin beneath the HVAC controls, there's plenty of room up front for small items. The door pockets are decently sized, too. Rear passengers have less door storage but get a fold-down center armrest with cupholders.

Cargo space

8.5
Cargo room is rated at 23.2 cubic feet, which is more than you get from the Mazda 3 hatchback, Mini Hardtop 4 Door and Volkswagen Golf. The liftover height is low, and the load floor is fairly wide without any rear intrusions. The rear seatbacks fold easily but don't go completely flat.

Child safety seat accommodation

7.5
LATCH anchors are supplied, well marked and easy to reach, located just under the surface of the seatbacks. There's also enough room behind the front seats for larger child seats.

Technology

7.5
There's a lot of equipment in the Forte5, and at the SX trim level, much of it is standard. Kia has embraced Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, and it's refreshing to see when cars costing twice this much still go without. Only the lackluster audio system hurts it here.

Audio & navigation

7.5
The Kia's infotainment interface is well-thought-out and easy to use, but you still have the option of Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. The 7-inch screen is clear and easy to read, but the sound quality was a bit of a disappointment, lacking power and clarity.

Smartphone integration

8.0
Apple CarPlay and Android Auto supplement Kia's already easy-to-use native system. Connecting a phone via Bluetooth was straightforward, and we never experienced any drops in connection. USB and power ports are concealed in a bin below a sliding shield, making it possible to conceal a device.

Driver aids

7.5
Along with the standard stability control and antilock braking, our test car had blind-spot detection, rear cross-traffic alert and lane change assist. A clear rearview camera was helpful in tight spots, too.

Voice control

6.5
The Kia's voice controls are quick to respond but had a problem with numbers, especially when used in a street name, such as "190th Street." Otherwise, they weren't much of a hassle to use.

EdmundsScorecard

Overall8.1 / 10
Driving8.5
Comfort8.0
Interior7.5
Utility8.5
Technology7.5

Consumer reviews

Read what other owners think about the 2018 Kia Forte.

Trending topics in reviews

Most helpful consumer reviews

Much research--paid off
Frank E.,06/27/2018
LX 4dr Sedan (2.0L 4cyl 6A)
Heavily researched this car, esp. relying on CR tests. They rated this car tops in the compact class (overall score) tied with the Toyota Corolla. However, the Forte road score was higher. ( My own figures put this car out in front too, in this compact class.) Also, we test drove a Corolla for a week in 2014 and it drove like a bus in comparison. So, CR was right: car is a gem. Over 40 mpg pump to pump in all types of driving including plenty of hills (we live in the Adirondack Park of NY State.) Highlights are: great ride for comfort and lack of road noise. (Switching out the OEM tires for Continental True Contacts may have helped.) Also, we stuck with the original wheel size, i.e. 195/65R15, for which there are many advantages such as: less costly tire replacements, better ride (more rubber between rim and road,) better in snow and better mpg's with narrower tires, lighter and stronger than bigger rims, etc. etc. This car drives like a dream. Can't think of much to complain about. I'm 6'2" but plenty of headroom in front even with seat in highest position. Could actually go an inch higher, but driver's comfort and view out is first rate. Bought this 2018 in end of April of that year, and only have c. 5000 on it as of June 2019. and so far could not be happier. Good choice. All that research paid off! We liked the folks at the dealer too (Della Kia in Plattsburgh, NY). Car is very nice looking (deep, rich, garnet red) and the price very right--recommend it indeed. 8/30/19 update: Nothing new to add except that comments made in the original review still hold. This is a wonderful car for us. Too bad they changed it in 2019 as the comfort/ride/noise and overall score by CR is lower. But have not driven the new 2019 model so perhaps it is OK--worth checking out. I get 41 PLUS mpg in the summer and the new model is supposed to be better marginally if it's that important to you. (MPG's are very important to me, but I'll take 41 plus any day.) By the way, as I think the case with many cars, the dashboard mpg's are somewhat lower than the actual pump to pump measurement and it is the latter figure that I use to calculate the mpg's so it is very accurate. Kia seems to make very good cars now--at least to CR brand comparisons. I am very happy with this car!
My new car. . . .a KIA Forte
Jean Golden,08/12/2018
LX 4dr Sedan (2.0L 4cyl 6M)
I was looking for a car that was a bit smaller than the one I had been driving for 10 years (a Toyota Camry). I also wanted a back-up camera and a few other new features. I have only had the car for about 1 month, but so far I am more than happy with it. It has exceeded my expectations.
What a great car and value!
Adam Bushman,06/05/2018
S 4dr Sedan (2.0L 4cyl 6A)
The best features are the smoothness of the drive, the quiet interior, the entertainment system, the safety features. The trunk is HUGE: lots of cargo space. Legroom is surprisingly very good. The car is bigger on the inside than it appears on the outside. I love the keyless ignition. I don't need to even take out my key (FOB); the locks sense the fob, and the door unlocks. You still have the option of pressing the unlock button on the fob itself. Then get in roomy driver's seat, put your foot on the brake, push the ignition button, and you're ready to go. The acceleration is awesome, but the downshift is pretty intense. The price of the car was amazing. I got the S model: sunroof, extra safety features. Just fantastic.
2028 Kia Forte S
Mike,08/25/2018
S 4dr Sedan (2.0L 4cyl 6A)
Lots of features, technology for under $20,000; great safety features; changed the tires as I thought they were average at best

Features & Specs

MPG
25 city / 34 hwy
Seats 5
6-speed shiftable automatic
Gas
164 hp @ 6200 rpm
MPG
25 city / 34 hwy
Seats 5
6-speed shiftable automatic
Gas
164 hp @ 6200 rpm
MPG
23 city / 29 hwy
Seats 5
6-speed manual
Gas
201 hp @ 6000 rpm
MPG
25 city / 30 hwy
Seats 5
7-speed automated manual
Gas
201 hp @ 6000 rpm
See all Used 2018 Kia Forte features & specs

Safety

Our experts like the Forte models:

Automatic Emergency Braking
Applies the brakes automatically to avoid a collision with an obstacle in front of the vehicle.
Blind-Spot Detection
Alerts the driver to the presence of other vehicles in the car's blind spots.
Rear Cross-Traffic Alert
Monitors for moving traffic behind the vehicle when in reverse.

NHTSA Overall Rating

The National Highway Transportation Safety Administration offers independent analysis.
  • Frontal Barrier Crash Rating
    Overall4 / 5
    Driver4 / 5
    Passenger4 / 5
  • Side Crash Rating
    Overall5 / 5
  • Side Barrier Rating
    Overall5 / 5
    Driver5 / 5
    Passenger5 / 5
  • Combined Side Barrier & Pole Ratings
    Front Seat5 / 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 2018 Kia Forte
Used 2018 Kia Forte Overview

The Used 2018 Kia Forte is offered in the following submodels: Forte Hatchback, Forte Sedan. Available styles include LX 4dr Sedan (2.0L 4cyl 6A), S 4dr Sedan (2.0L 4cyl 6A), EX 4dr Sedan (2.0L 4cyl 6A), LX 4dr Sedan (2.0L 4cyl 6M), EX 4dr Hatchback (2.0L 4cyl 6A), LX 4dr Hatchback (2.0L 4cyl 6A), SX 4dr Hatchback (1.6L 4cyl Turbo 6M), and SX 4dr Hatchback (1.6L 4cyl Turbo 7AM).

What's a good price on a Used 2018 Kia Forte?

Price comparisons for Used 2018 Kia Forte trim styles:

  • The Used 2018 Kia Forte LX is priced between $8,300 and$13,998 with odometer readings between 7500 and59529 miles.
  • The Used 2018 Kia Forte S is priced between $13,000 and$16,900 with odometer readings between 16593 and36001 miles.
  • The Used 2018 Kia Forte EX is priced between $14,997 and$14,997 with odometer readings between 41090 and41090 miles.

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.

Which used 2018 Kia Fortes are available in my area?

Shop Edmunds' car, SUV, and truck listings of over 6 million vehicles to find a cheap new, used, or certified pre-owned (CPO) 2018 Kia Forte for sale near. There are currently 61 used and CPO 2018 Fortes listed for sale in your area, with list prices as low as $8,300 and mileage as low as 7500 miles. Simply research the type of car you're interested in and then select a used car from our massive database to find cheap prew-owned vehicles for sale near you. Once you have identified a used vehicle you're interested in, check the AutoCheck vehicle history reports, read dealer reviews, and find out what other owners paid for the Used 2018 Kia Forte.

Can't find a used 2018 Kia Fortes you want in your area? Consider a broader search.

Find a used Kia Forte for sale - 4 great deals out of 8 listings starting at $23,492.

Find a used Kia for sale - 5 great deals out of 14 listings starting at $10,903.

Find a used certified pre-owned Kia Forte for sale - 4 great deals out of 20 listings starting at $20,526.

Find a used certified pre-owned Kia for sale - 11 great deals out of 20 listings starting at $22,732.

Should I lease or buy a 2018 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.

Check out Kia lease specials
Check out Kia Forte lease specials