There's a lot to like in the Kia Forte for those in the market for a small car. Unassuming in nature yet considerably more refined than previous Kia compact sedans, the Forte feels mature and solid, thanks to having a quiet cabin and one of the most comfortable rides in its class. The spacious, nicely finished interior also wins praise. Braking performance is excellent. Overall, the Forte is now one of the top-rated cars in the category. It slightly outscores the Hyundai Elantra that shares the same platform and engine.
Controls are quite simple -- impressive for a car that is brimming with the latest connectivity features. The 1.8-liter engine provides adequate power. Despite a cornucopia of standard features, our Forte LX is quite reasonably priced at $19,570. Stepping up to the EX trim level adds a bigger 2.0-liter engine plus available luxury-class options, like a heated steering wheel and ventilated seats, that are uncommon in this class.
A hatchback version, called the Forte5, is also offered. The standard engine is a 173-hp 2.0-liter four cylinder; up-level trim lines get a 201-hp 1.6-liter four cylinder. Standard equipment includes a rearview camera, keyless entry and heated mirrors.
That doesn't mean the Forte is for everyone. Buyers who want a sporty small sedan will be disappointed; the Forte's soft suspension compromises agility. They'd be better off with a Ford Focus or Mazda3. Considering that there's now several midsized sedans that get more than 30 mpg, the Forte's 28 mpg overall isn't anything to write home about.