Generations Timeline, Specs and Pictures
Kia refreshed its small-segment sedan contender, the Forte.
When Chevrolet and Ford axed most of their lower-priced sedans, the Korean carmaker charged ahead and brought premium features in a class where the price was the most critical selling point.
The Korean carmaker introduced the facelift for the Forte’s third generation in 2020 for the 2022 model year. Even though it was during the world pandemic situation, Kia tried to keep its promises to its clients. With a refreshed front fascia that featured narrower headlights, with an option for LED foglights, depending on the trim level. Also, it included redesigned LED taillights. The carmaker added new light-alloy wheels with 16” and 17” sizes for the drivetrain, depending on the trim level.
Inside, all versions received a new TFT instrument cluster that replaced the analog-dial system featured on the 2018 model year. An 8” or 10.25” touchscreen was installed on top of the center stack, depending on the trim level. Kia also offered a Harman Kardon sound system, usually found in premium vehicles. Kia added a set of leather-wrapped front bucket seats with red logos embroidered on the seatbacks for the newly introduced GT trim level.
All Forte versions came fitted with six standard ADAS (Advanced Driving Assistant Systems) and up to 15 available as an option for the safety department.
Under the hood, the carmaker offered the Forte with a choice of two engines, which provided 147 hp and 201 hp, respectively. A six-speed manual was fitted as standard, while a seven-speed automatic (dual-clutch) was available as an option.
The third generation of the Forte was introduced at the 2018 North American International Motor Show and it included cues inspired by the Stinger.
The Forte was the Elantra’s sibling built by Kia and designed by Peter Schreyer. The Forte was launched as a 4-door sedan or a 5-door fastback, featuring the same shape as the Hyundai Elantra Fastback from other continents. Thus, the two twin vehicles covered most of the body versions for the compact segment, apart from a station-wagon and a convertible.
The sedan version of the compact Forte was the Kia equivalent for the Elantra, but with a sportier look. The headlights design showed the inspiration from the Stinger. The “tiger-nose” grille was already a signature design for the Kia brand and it was successfully applied on the Forte as well.
Inside, the Forte featured a spacious interior, due to an increase in the cabin height and a longer wheelbase than its predecessor. In order to receive higher grades from the IIHS, even the base model was fitted with features such as automatic emergency braking and active lane control. Adaptive cruise control, blind-spot monitors, and automatic high-beam headlights were optional. For the infotainment system, an 8” touch-screen display was on the options list.
For the powertrain, the 2018 Forte sedan was offered with only one engine in Atkinson Cycle mated to a 6-speed manual for the base model, or a CVT (named IVT by KIA) for the rest of the trim level.
The last facelift for the second generation of the Kia Forte was launched in 2016 as a 2017 model.
A year later the entire generation was changed. Thus, the modification over the non-facelift version was minimal.
It takes an expert eye to notice the differences between the 2015 and 2017 model year, especially from the rear. On the front, the headlights were different, with a longer “tail” extended on the front fenders. The taillights though, had the white reverse lamp on the bottom, while the non-facelift version had that lamp in the middle, like a horizontal white line. The new taillights were available with an option of LED.
Inside the 2017 Forte, the differences are for the trims equipment. All versions received a drive-mode select, which improved the engine response according to the driver’s need for comfort, economy or sportiness. The safety features had Autonomous Emergency Braking, Front Collision Warning, Lane Change Warning, Blind spot detector, and Rear-Cross Traffic Alert.
Strangely, the former 1.8-liter engine was replaced with a 2.0-liter Atkinson cycle engine, which was mated to either a six-speed manual or a six-speed automatic. The Atkinson engine is known for its efficiency, but only under certain circumstances which can hardly be achieved by a regular driver with a stick-shift gearbox. The 2017 Forte sedan was the first vehicle build by Kia in the new factory in Monterrey, Mexico.
The 2014 Kia Forte was a very practical and well equipped compact sedan.
Available with two engine options, the Forte offered great fuel efficiency and decent power to make long journeys comfortable.
The LX trim level came with a 1.8-liter engine developing 148 hp. The LX had a starting price of only $16.000 and even in the standard configuration, it came with power locks and mirrors, air conditioning, bluetooth and an iPod interface.
The higher EX trim level came with a 2.0-liter engine producing 173 hp. Its price was little under $20.000 and the quality of the materials used increased considerably. A rear view camera and a better audio system were added.
The higher specs of the Kia Forte included leather upholstery, soft touch materials everywhere, a heated leather-wrapped steering wheel and 8-way power adjustable seats.
The forte had lots of storage spaces and the controls were easy to use while driving, being intuitively placed. The voice commands worked well also.
The rear seats offered good legroom and headroom and the trunk of the Forte was a good size, still average for the class.
The Kia Forte competed with the Ford Focus, Mazda 3, Honda Civic and the Hyundai Elantra.
The surprisingly good looking Kia Forte continued the brand’s revival with its launch in 2009.
The Forte featured lots of elements characteristic to more expensive cars, but was at the same time among the least expensive small sedans on the market.
The Forte had a smooth clean look from the front and from the back, with the trim proportions being just right.
The cabin of the Forte gave an upscale feel with the tall roof and the wider body that offered great room for the passengers.
Headroom and legroom were good for the front passengers, however, the legroom in the back seats was limited.
Standard features included bluetooth, an auxiliary input jack, steering wheel controls and voice activation.
With one of the biggest trunks for its class, the Forte could’ve easily been a great companion on longer journey. For longer items, the rear seats could be folded to extend the load area.
The Forte was an inexpensive car to drive, and even if the engines offered were not the most powerful, the Forte was agile and had a good fuel consumption.
The hydraulic steering was decent, however, it was a little stiff at lower speeds and got lighter with higher speeds, which was not exactly the correct setup.
The sportiest Forte was available in the SX trim level, with a 2.4-liter engine that developed 172 hp.
The safety features offered were standard across the trim levels and included dual airbags, full side curtain airbags, ABS with brake assist and electronic stability control.