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 among the top-rated cars in the category.
Controls are quite simple -- impressive for a car that is brimming with the latest connectivity features. The four-cylinder engine provides adequate power. Despite a cornucopia of standard features, our Forte LX is quite reasonably priced at just under $18,000. Stepping up to the S trim level adds a sport-tuned suspension and 16-inch alloy wheels. Moving up to the top-shelf EX brings a more powerful engine and luxury-class features like leather-covered heated seats -- somewhat uncommon in this class.
A hatchback version, called the Forte5, is also offered. The standard engine is a 164-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. At least the Forte's 33 mpg overall is competitive.