By Keith Buglewicz
KBB Expert Rating: 8.7
The 2016 Kia Forte is one of the most comprehensive compact-car lineups you'll find. With 4-door sedan, 2-door coupe or 5-door hatchback body styles, a surprising amount of features, and an available 201-horsepower turbocharged engine, the 2016 Forte comes in almost any flavor you want. There's the inexpensive Forte LX 4-door sedan, which won't leave you feeling shortchanged. The sporty Forte Koup is a 2-door model available with a turbocharged 1.6-liter 4-cylinder that makes 201 horsepower. The Forte5 hatchback offers a cargo-friendly, Euro-look hatchback, and is available with the turbocharged engine. It's a strong lineup when pitted against the Honda Civic, Toyota Corolla and Ford Focus, and it makes picking a good compact car that much harder.
Whether you pick the practical 4-door, European-feeling 5-door hatchback or the sporty 2-door Koup, the 2016 Forte offers a generous warranty, lots of features even on base models, and a decent starting price.
Looks can be deceiving, and while the 2016 Kia Forte family looks sporty, there are quicker and sharper-handling options out there for the true enthusiast. Additionally, while the base prices are good, they escalate quickly when you start adding options, making them less than a bargain than you might think.
KBB Expert Ratings
The 2016 Kia Forte lineup expands this year with the addition of a new lower-end LX model for the 2016 Forte5 hatchback. Additionally, all LX models get standard keyless entry. Other changes include navigation available on the EX Premium Package, upgraded audio and a few new colors and wheels.
The 2016 Kia Forte lineup is a great choice if you're looking for a comfortable, feature-filled and sporty-looking sedan, coupe, or hatchback. Note we said sporty-looking; despite the 201-horsepower 4-cylinder...
... available in the Forte Koup 2-door and Forte5 hatchback, enthusiasts will still prefer driving the Mazda3, Honda Civic Si, or Volkswagen Jetta or GTI. Still, we like the added power, and if you're among the 99 percent of buyers who just want a solid daily driver, it won't matter. Around town and on the highway, the Forte sedan, coupe and hatchback are all excellent choices. Multiple creature comforts coddle driver and passenger alike, and even the base engine feels plenty of power; the turbo is just gravy. Regardless, the Forte lineup is a solidly economical choice as a daily driver.
Like many Kia vehicles, its integrated telematics system UVO is one of the highlights. Among its many capabilities, it will use your connected phone to automatically call 911 if an airbag deploys. You can also send directions from your phone to the navigation system.
You can count the number of affordable compact hatchbacks on one hand – if you skip crossover SUVs – and we're happy that Kia remains committed to serving this small but fanatical niche of the market.
The 2016 Kia Forte interior mixes tech, comfort and even a little whimsy with the ripples on the passenger-side dash. That dash is soft-touch, by the way, an example of the overall quality of materials you'll find inside. The comfortable driver's seat is available with heating and cooling, and there's also an available heated steering wheel. The rear seat is roomy for the class, and also offers optional heating for the outboard positions, a rarity at this price point. If you need more cargo room than the standard 15-cubic-foot trunk, the Forte5 hatchback offers 23 cubic feet.
It's hard to believe that the 2016 Kia Forte and the Hyundai Elantra are cousins under the skin. However, despite being not quite as flashy as the Hyundai, we think the 2016 Forte will look fresh longer than the Elantra has. The LED headlight accents are a nice touch, and the 2-door Forte Koup and hatchback Forte5 manage to add more style to the lineup without undermining the conservative aesthetic. Here, Kia's healthy addiction to category-first features manifests itself in power-folding exterior mirrors, puddle lamps and illuminated door-handle pockets.
The 2016 Kia Forte LX sedan and Forte5 hatchback both come with keyless entry this year, in addition to standard features like Bluetooth and USB smartphone connectivity, air conditioning and a split-folding rear seat. Note that the base model lacks many of the class-leading features that distinguish the Forte, and even comes with steel wheels and a manual transmission. A better bet is the EX trim level, available on all three body styles, that includes things like aluminum-alloy wheels, at a higher price, of course. A full complement of active and passive safety features are standard on every Forte.
There are a lot of options available for the 2016 Kia Forte: navigation, leather upholstery, dual-zone climate control and Kia's UVO infotainment system. It's all included in the Forte's Premium Plus package. Forte Koup and Forte5 models offer an even higher trim level than EX called SX that adds the 1.6-liter turbocharged 4-cylinder with 201 horsepower, as well as 18-inch wheels. The Technology Package on this model adds navigation, heated and cooled seats, and other niceties like a power moonroof. However, that loaded Forte5 also costs more than $27,000, stretching the definition of affordable nearly to the breaking point.
The base model 2016 Forte LX sedan has a 1.8-liter 4-cylinder putting out 148 horsepower. It's a good reason to start your Forte Sedan shopping at the EX level, where you get the more robust 173-horsepower 2.0-liter 4-cylinder that's standard in the Koup and Forte5 hatchback, including the Forte5 LX. Available on the Forte Koup SX and Forte5 SX is a 1.6-liter turbocharged 4-cylinder with 201 horsepower. All 2016 Forte models are front-wheel drive, with power transmitted through either a 6-speed automatic transmission, or in some models, a 6-speed manual. The little 1.8-liter 4-cylinder gets 39 mpg on the highway, and that good number may be its saving grace. For the most part, though, the Forte's fuel economy trails many of today's compact cars.
1.8-liter 4-cylinder ( Kia Forte Sedan LX)
148 horsepower @ 6,500 rpm
131 lb-ft of torque @ 4,700 rpm
EPA city/highway fuel economy: 25/37 mpg (manual), 26/39 mpg (automatic)
2.0-liter 4-cylinder (Kia Forte Sedan EX, Koup EX, Forte5 EX)
173 horsepower @ 6,500 rpm
154 lb-ft of torque @ 4,700 rpm
EPA city/highway fuel economy: 24/33 mpg (manual Koup), 25/34 mpg (automatic Koup), 25/36 mpg (Sedan), 25/33 mpg (Forte5)
1.6-liter turbocharged 4-cylinder ( Kia Forte Koup SX, Forte5 SX)
201 horsepower @ 6,000 rpm
195 lb-ft of torque @ 1,750-4,500 rpm
EPA city/highway fuel economy: 22/29 mpg (manual Koup), 22/30 mpg (automatic Koup), 21/29 mpg (Forte5)
The least expensive 2016 Kia Forte is the LX sedan with a manual transmission, which has a Manufacturer’s Suggested Retail Price (MSRP) starting about $16,800, including the $825 destination charge, with an automatic adding $1,700. We prefer the Forte EX, which for just under $21,000 comes with a bigger engine and automatic transmission. The 2016 Forte5 LX hatchback starts at about $20,000, and comes with the 2.0-liter engine. Add about $1,600 if you want the Forte5 SX with the turbo engine and an extra $1,000 to that if you want an automatic. Forte Koup prices haven't been set yet, but will probably stay close to last year's $19,400 for the EX, and $21,400 for the SX. Be sure to check the KBB.com Fair Purchase Price to see what others in your area are paying. On the resale front, the Forte models are expected to have below-average residual values.