By KBB.com Editors
KBB Expert Rating: 6.2
Kia has been on a roll as of late, and nowhere is its momentum more obvious than in the 2013 Forte. Available as a sedan, 5-door hatch and coupe (Kia spells it "Koup"), the Forte takes direct aim at the segment leaders Honda Civic and Toyota Corolla, and beats them in just about every category. While not as stylish or fun to drive as Ford's Focus or Mazda's Mazda3, the Forte nevertheless can hold its own against most compacts. It offers an impressive list of available features, including a navigation radio with rear backup camera, Bluetooth hands-free calling and keyless access with push-button start. There's also Kia's standard 10-year/100,000-mile powertrain warranty, which is still one of the best in the business.
If your budget says mac and cheese, but your self-worth demands prime rib, one of the three 2013 Kia Forte compacts is sure to satisfy both demands. Good resale and reliability ratings should ease worries for first-time Kia buyers, as should the robust standard warranty.
Looks can sometimes be deceiving. While the 2013 Kia Forte LX and EX may appear sporty, their overall ride and handling aren't as tight or refined as the Ford Focus or VW Jetta. The exception here is the SX trim, which has a more responsive suspension and a stronger engine.
For 2013, the Kia Forte receives only minor changes. There are new 16-inch wheels for the Koup and 5-door, while power-folding side mirrors are added to the EX and SX trims. All models receive a low washer-fluid warning light, and LED daytime running lights are offered on the EX and made standard on the SX.
Driving Impressions On the open road, the 2013 Kia Forte is the master of its domain – so long as the road to that domain remains straight and level. Toss in a...few curves, however, and the Forte LX and EX, with their smaller engine and wheel/tire combo, aren't as much fun to drive as the more powerful SX trim. Even in its most aggressive SX suit, the Forte won't deliver the kind of seat-of-your-pants cornering found in the Ford Focus or Mazda3, and its manual transmission is nowhere near as refined. Don't get us wrong; the Forte is not terribly slow or devoid of feedback to the driver, it's just that the sporty exterior had us hoping for a bit more performance. Most drivers will likely appreciate the Forte's ability to prevent wind, engine or road noise from making their ways into the cabin.
COMPREHENSIVE AUDIO SYSTEM
Every 2013 Kia Forte boasts a flexible AM/FM/CD/MP3/satellite audio system with USB and auxiliary ports. When matched with the upgraded speakers, it's among the best sound systems in the segment.
An option reserved for most high-end models, Kia makes Bluetooth connectivity standard on every 2013 Kia Forte. Are you listening, competition?
The 2013 Kia Forte is given a visually appealing dash and seat setup, with lots of colorful instruments, a big LCD screen for the audio and plenty of soft-touch materials throughout the cabin. We think a bit more attention could have been paid to the seats, which lack support for the lower back and thighs. Despite its small size, the Kia Forte sedan and hatchback (and to a lesser degree, the Koup) provide surprisingly large cabins, with more interior volume than a Nissan Maxima. The big back seat offers lots of legroom, but headroom is cut short due to the low-slung roofline.Exterior
In the compact car class, the 2013 Kia Forte's styling falls somewhere mid-pack. Not as modern or aggressively styled as the Ford Focus or Mazda3, the Forte easily outshines the tepid Toyota Corolla and Nissan Sentra. Although the Forte Koup steals the show, the sedan and hatchback both share the signature Kia grille and headlight design as well as handsome wheel choices. Base-model cars don't look the part, rejecting the unpainted bumpers, mirror caps and door handles of lesser cars and replacing them with properly painted parts for a more harmonious exterior statement.
Even the most basic Kia Forte for 2013 will include Bluetooth phone connectivity, iPod integration, an AM/FM/CD/MP3/SiriusXM 4-speaker stereo, color-keyed manual side mirrors, 60/40-split rear seat with folding armrest, a tilt steering wheel and an impressive array of safety equipment including six airbags and electronic traction and stability control. Unfortunately, if you want such simple pleasures as power windows, remote keyless entry or cruise control, you'll have to pony up a bit more cash and move up to the EX or SX trims, which also bring a 6-speaker AM/FM/MP3/SiriusXM audio head unit, heated power side mirrors and a tilt-telescopic steering wheel.
Options for the 2013 Kia Forte are limited to the EX and SX trims and include a number of packages as well as some stand-alone features. The Forte EX sedan offers a Premium Package that adds alloy wheels and a power sunroof, as well as a Technology Package (sedan/hatchback/Koup) that includes navigation with Sirius real-time traffic updates, a rearview camera, automatic climate control, smart-key entry with push-button start, foglights and automatic headlights. Options for the SX trim include leather seating surfaces, heated front seats and an auto-dimming rearview mirror.
The front-wheel-drive 2013 Kia Forte offers a 156-horsepower, 2.0-liter 4-cylinder engine that can be matched with a 6-speed manual or 6-speed Sportmatic automatic transmission. On top-line, sport-tuned SX trims the standard engine is a 173-horsepower, 2.4-liter engine. The Forte's automatic transmission has a manual-shift mode and is standard on SX and EX sedan and hatchback models, and available on the Koup. The mid-trim EX is also offered with a Fuel Economy Package that includes the 6-speed automatic plus Motor Drive Power Steering, a load-managing "smart" alternator, low rolling-resistance tires and unique aero enhancements to boost its EPA numbers to 27/37 mpg and deliver class-leading city/highway combined fuel economy of 30 mpg.
156 horsepower @ 6,200 rpm (Super Ultra Low Emission Vehicle [SULEV]: 154 @ 6200 rpm)
144 lb-ft of torque @ 4,300 rpm (SULEV: 139 @ 4600 rpm)
EPA city/highway fuel economy: 25/34 mpg (manual), 26/36 mpg (automatic), 27/37 mpg (Economy Package), 24/33 mpg (manual, coupe), 25/34 mpg (automatic, coupe)
173 horsepower @ 6,000 rpm (SULEV: 165 @ 6000 rpm)
168 lb-ft of torque @ 4,000 rpm (SULEV: 161 @ 4000 rpm)
EPA city/highway fuel economy: 23/32 mpg (automatic, sedan), 22/32 mpg (manual), 23/31 mpg (automatic, Koup)
By Chuck on Tuesday, August 12, 2014
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 40,500overall rating 9 of 10rating details
Pros: "Nice looks, reliable, good mpg. Great audio sys."
Cons: "Touchy throttle."
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 7
"I bought the "High MPH" option, with low rolling resistance tires. Those tires did yield about 36mpg, but wore out quickly (about 22Kmi) & were terrible in the snow. I now have regular tires on the car & get about 33mpg avg driving. The car rides well & can easily stay with traffic. Love the sound system, although I don't subscribe to the satellite service. The BlueTooth phone interface is nice. I like the rear fold-down seats for hauling long things. A couple of minor driving issues; 1] The initial acceleration from a stop is very aggressive. The car tends to jump with very little pedal push. Makes smooth starts touchy, especially when teaching my son to drive! 2] The electric pwr steering doesn't return to neutral position as reliably as my previous vehicles did. This makes constant steering adjustments necessary to stay on course. I view those issue as minor in relation to the overall reliability & quality of the car."
By Rich on Monday, July 28, 2014
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 45,000overall rating 9 of 10rating details
Pros: "Standard features"
Cons: "Ride with the OEM tires was not that great."
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 9
"Love the standard features on the Forte Koup - shiftable automatic transmission, four-wheel ABS disc, great looks & style, good gas mileage, etc. Car has been very reliable without a single hiccup so far. I do keep maintenance up on the car as I want it to last."
3 people out of 6 found this review helpful
By Baker on Friday, July 18, 2014
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 25,000overall rating 10 of 10rating details
Pros: "All +++++"
Cons: "Power is good, for Gas savings!"
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 9
"This is an excellent vehicle for those who have thrift in mind and yet want all the features in more expensive models. Gas economy is excellent, 27.5 in city driving, Highway driving 30 with the air on, can go to 33 without air or even better. Mechanically I have owned it for three years as good as the day I drove it out of the show room. In the city it's good and on the highway it performs well. Ride is good, sensitive steering electric power steering is very responsive. Once you go to Cruise control gas savings go up even with air on. Sound system could be a bit better but it is good. Great car mini limo for less cost. Great for young people as a starter, but you will always appreciate it's cost savings no matter what you own in the future!"
4 people out of 6 found this review helpful
By GTEPro51 on Tuesday, July 08, 2014
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 52,000overall rating 6 of 10rating details
Pros: "Handling, Traction, Interior"
Cons: "Reliability, Transmission Systems"
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 4
"This car is great for handling in the summer and rain months, however, don't drive in the snow, especially in Chicago. My car has had three (3) transmissions, that's right, three transmissions. The first was a leak in the sealing, causing fluid to leak at a decent rate. The second was replaced because a ground blew, and the car remained in 3rd gear, even when in park or reverse. I've had 9 tyres replaced, because the camber continues to return to a poor state. I've tried to "baby" this car, but, I've spent more in repairs after the 36,000mi/3yr warranty at intial in 2010, than I've paid for used cars at 90K miles. This one has about 57K miles on the car, and the transmission is going again. I don't even live or drive in the city, so she gets proper gear shifting. Good interior I would say."
1 person out of 2 found this review helpful
By Houston123 on Monday, July 07, 2014
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 30,900overall rating 7 of 10rating details
Pros: "Looks and sounds cool"
Cons: "Tires cause problems"
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 5
"Got a good deal on this car 4 years ago, and have had minor issues. The main issues I have had are the tires. They are the low profile tires, which doesn't work well on many roads (highways or pot-hole roads). It is a good car, that looks really cool, but I probably wouldn't get one again. It surprisingly has a lot of leg room inside. It's just not made for tall people because there is little head room since it's a short car."
By 5thwarder on Monday, July 07, 2014
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 19,000overall rating 8 of 10rating details
Pros: "Good get up and go!"
Cons: "Not a lot of leg room in the rear seats."
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 7
"I am pleased with the overall performance of my Kia Forte. I like the looks and I feel its safe for me and my family. The only thing I would change is I'd get a sun roof. I'm not totally pleased with the rear seat leg room but that's a sacrifice made by not getting the Optima! My next car will be a more fuel efficient one possibly a hybrid."