By KBB.com Editors - Updated Date: 8/24/2012
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.You'll Like This Car If...
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.You May Not Like This Car If...
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 It 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.Favorite Features
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.Notable Standard Equipment
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.Notable Optional Equipment
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.Under the Hood
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)
For 2013, the Kia Forte sedan has a Manufacturer's Suggested Retail Price (MSRP) starting just over $16,000 and topping out at about $25,000 fully loaded. The 5-door model ranges from around $19,000 to $25,000, while the Koup starts at around $18,000 and goes to about $24,000. Be sure and check our Fair Purchase Price to see what the Kia Forte is selling for in your area. In a feature-based comparison, the 2013 Kia Forte sedan offers more for the money than many cars in the segment, including the Honda Civic and Mazda3. Substandard resale values have traditionally erased Kia's up-front price advantages, but the Forte's resale outlook is significantly better than that of the Kia Spectra it replaced, making Kia's newest compact car its most compelling ever.