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The Kia Forte is a front-wheel drive compact that comes in four-door sedan and five-door hatchback versions. The Forte sedan offers an appealing design with a dramatically curved roofline.
The latest-generation Forte was launched as a 2014 model, and little has changed for 2016. Keyless entry is standard on 2016 Forte models, and Popular Plus and Premium Plus option packages are available. (The previously offered Eco model has been dropped.)
Forte fares well in value, but it faces competition from the Ford Focus and Mazda 3. Compared with the Ford and Mazda, the Kia’s levels of refinement seem reminiscent of the best compacts from the 1990s. The Forte is noisier and less refined than the best compacts, and interior comfort isn’t the best. Forte lacks active-safety features now expected in the compact class, and its crash-test scores are below par.
Two engines are offered. Forte LX models use a 1.8-liter four-cylinder engine that makes 145 horsepower. A 2.0-liter, 173-horsepower four-cylinder goes into the Forte EX model.
Best fuel economy is from a Forte LX automatic with an EPA estimate of 26/39 mpg City/Highway, or 31 mpg Combined, from its 1.8-liter engine. Forte EX with the larger engine rates only 24/35 mpg City/Highway.
Exterior styling adds to the Forte’s appeal. Overall, the hatchback conveys a bit more character; but the four-door sedan comes close.
Interior styling is simple and tasteful but subtly sporty. Sharp detailing, including hooded analog instruments, suggests more costly sports sedans, and the cockpit has an almost upscale feel, helped by a bit of metallic trim.
In its crash-test program, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration gave Forte a four-star overall rating: up from just three stars, but many cars now get five-star scores. The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety raised its score in its small overlap rating from Poor to Marginal, which is better but not great.