2018 Kia Forte Review
2018 Kia Forte Review
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Edmunds' Expert Review
Senior Editor and Content Strategist, CarMax
Will Kaufman has worked in the automotive industry since 2017. He has written hundreds of car-related articles and reviews over the course of his career. Will is a senior editor and content strategist for CarMax at Edmunds. Will has been featured in the Associated Press and a number of major outlets on the topics of infotainment and vehicle data, vehicle subscription services and autonomous vehicles. Will started his career in online publishing by writing and editing standardized test guides, but he has a lot more fun writing about cars.
- 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
The Forte enters 2018 with only minor changes to trim level packages.
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.
Calculate my fuel costs
Cost to DriveCost to drive estimates for the 2018 Kia Forte LX 4dr Sedan (2.0L 4cyl 6M) and comparison vehicles are based on 15,000 miles per year (with a mix of 55% city and 45% highway driving) and energy estimates of $3.11 per gallon for regular unleaded in Virginia.
Monthly estimates based on costs in Virginia
$134/mo for Forte LX
Avg. Compact Car
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
Edmunds' Expert Rating8.1 / 10
The 2018 Kia Forte is one of our favorite picks for a small sedan or hatchback. It offers an extensive list of available features and technology options, plenty of passenger and cargo space, an exceptional warranty, and a selection of engines to match your desired performance level.
|Overall||8.1 / 10|
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 & vibration8.0
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.
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.
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 use8.0
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 out8.5
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 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 accommodation7.5
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.
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 & navigation7.5
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
4.0 out of 5 stars
Most helpful consumer reviews
4 out of 5 stars
My second Forte
Forte Pro, 11/15/2016
2017 Kia Forte LX 4dr Sedan (2.0L 4cyl 6M)
Bought a 2010 Forte LX (5 speeds manual) back in 2010. 160K miles later, I had to trade it in for a 2017 Forte LX (manual 6 speeds). What an improvement ! First of all, not one problem, itch or snooze on my previous Kia. Never opened the hood. All oil changes done by professionals. I already had great mpg, but this new one ? Even better. Manual says 32 city/39 Highway. I get 41 city/45 … Highway. Of course, my commute (120 miles per day - 20% city and 80% Thruway) is pretty much on flat road (no hills) and the temperatures are constantly over 40 degrees. Good dry conditions. Speed of 70-75 mph when Tach read 2,750 rpm. This car purrs and swallows the miles one by one. Comfort is what you can expect from a "small" car. Everything being new, you need some time to get used to it, or for the car to get used to you. Now, odd enough, no spare tire nor donut in the back trunk. Just some kind of fix-your-flat-yourself-kit with a plug-in pump (and patch?), enough for 50 miles to get to a station (?).The dash boards illuminates nicely and I still have not figured out why the outside temperature reading starts flashing when it get under 40 degrees F (or everytime it drops under 30, 20 etc...). Acceleration is nice, although there seem to be a soft spot when starting in 1st gear which obliges you to push and reach 4,000 rpm or shift into second very quickly. The sound is definitely not premium. Automatic windows is a nice upgrade from my previous Kia and the electronic lock/unlock is also a nice addition. I hope to have it last a long time. From previous experience, it will. Update after owning this Forte for 7 Months: Winter is over. No special tires, just the ones this car came with and no problem on the snow (and God knows that Rochester, NY, can have plenty of it). No sliding. Really happy about the mileage per gallon. Constantly hitting the 47.5 mpg, although this little car doesn't seem to like the rain (or the cold). At 2,500 rpm, on highway, you should easily get 50 mpg without pushing your gears too much (of course, no extra weight/passengers/luggage). Still a "dead spot" when starting in 1st gear and I suspect a "bad" electronic distribution, but not enough to put that car through computer testings. So far so good. Reliable it is. A year has passed. Mileage per gallon is still the same 47-48 miles per gallon, although I suspect that this will change with the cold weather coming. Still, no problem and hood is staying closed (besides oil changes done by pros). Still very happy with the purchase. Update - Dec 1st, 2018 Still very good car. Roughly 52K on it. No more long and evening long commutes (120 miles total). Found employment much closer to home (3 miles). Of course it changes my gas consumption. It dropped from 47 miles/gal to 32/34 mpg. Still one full tank will last a month. It is a very economical car. No problems with brakes. Put the car at the Dealership for its 50K miles inspections and even after a couple hoses were changed (they looked like they could have lasted longer), and this car's engine looked like a diamond. Again, if you're looking for no frills - no super gadgets, economical, safe... This is the car to own. Update June 2019. Forte still running strong. I will not change my ratings from last update. I still didn't open the hood. This is the car to own (great price, not expensive to maintain). December 2019 I want to write a negative update so bad, just to balance my enthusiastic mood of the past, but I can't. Still working and I still have to open the hood. No "engine light" at all. (Maybe that bulb is burnt). I am so please that I actually bought a KIA Sportage 2018 for my wife. December 2020. Same as before, although mileage consumption has changed, but that will happen when driving in the city. Brakes, exhaust, sensors have not been touched. No repairs, no breakdowwns. Wife's Kia is still going strong. See you in 6 months ?
5 out of 5 stars
Much research--paid off
Frank E., 06/27/2018
2018 Kia Forte 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!
4 out of 5 stars
Nice car to own and ride
2017 Kia Forte LX 4dr Sedan (2.0L 4cyl 6A)
I leased 2017 KIA forte LX for only 79$ per month for 3 yrs. I am very happy about the car. Fuel economy is great, interior is good and when it comes to exterior it does not look like a cheap car at all. Brake system exceeded my expectation. However,My comment on performance is different. Acceleration for this 2.0 L engine is weak. When it comes to merging into traffic make sure you have … enough room with incoming cars because you are not able to speed up quickly! But overal it is such a good car to ride and worths every penny you spent.
5 out of 5 stars
2017 Kia Forte LX 4dr Sedan (2.0L 4cyl 6M)
I have a 2017 Kia forte. I have read about transmission problem and missing problems. I had these problems as well. My car has 78000 miles on it. I am a lift driver that is the reason I have so many miles on it. Anyways I don't know if this will help anyone. But I took it to the dealer and was told I needed a three point fuel claening. Had that done witch I am Shure I needed anyways. I … changed the spark plugs witch looked real bad. Still trans and shaking continue. Kia kept checking into it. They told me it was the upper right hand motor mount. I still didn't think this would solve the problem. Went and picked up a motor mount and had it put in as a result it solved all the shaking and the transmission is fine. The car is running as the day in took it off the lot. Very happy. Thanks to Jack at Lincolnwood Kia. Hope this review is helpful to someone 😁
We have a limited number of reviews for the 2018 Kia Forte, so we've included reviews for other years of the Forte since its last redesign.
2018 Forte Highlights
|Combined MPG||28 MPG|
|Cost to Drive||$134/month|
|Cargo Capacity |
All Seats In Place
|Drivetrain||front wheel drive|
|Warranty||5 years / 60,000 miles|
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 Rating5 out of 5 stars
The National Highway Transportation Safety Administration offers independent analysis.
- Frontal Barrier Crash RatingOverall4 / 5Driver4 / 5Passenger4 / 5
- Side Crash RatingOverall5 / 5
- Side Barrier RatingOverall5 / 5Driver5 / 5Passenger5 / 5
- Combined Side Barrier & Pole RatingsFront Seat5 / 5Back Seat5 / 5
- RolloverRollover4 / 5Dynamic Test ResultNo TipRisk Of Rollover10.3%
The Insurance Institute of Highway Safety uses extensive crash tests to determine car safety.
- Small Overlap Front Driver-Side TestGood
- Small Overlap Front Passenger-Side TestAcceptable
- Moderate Overlap Front Test – OriginalGood
- Moderate Overlap Front Test – UpdatedNot Tested
- Side Impact Test – OriginalGood
- Side Impact Test – UpdatedNot Tested
- Roof Strength TestGood
- Rear Crash Protection / Head RestraintGood