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#18

in Used Small Cars $14K and up

Avg. Price Paid: $12,777 - $16,101
Original MSRP: $15,400 - $19,800
MPG: 26 City / 36 Hwy
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2013 Kia Forte Performance

This performance review was created when the car was new. Some links may no longer point to an active page.

The automotive press admits that the Forte isn’t powerful and that the sport-tuned SX trim isn’t as fast or refined as its exterior suggests, but at its price point, they are satisfied with the Forte’s adequate power. They add that lower trims stand out for their good fuel economy and smooth ride, which makes them better commuter cars compared with the higher SX trim.

  • "Under the hood, the standard 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine may not achieve that flashy 40-mpg highway number touted in the ads of rivals, but at 37 mpg, it's still properly efficient. If you're willing to sacrifice some mpg for a little mph, the SX trim delivers handling on par with anything in the class. The ride can be unpleasantly firm, though, which isn't the case for some of its newer competitors." -- Edmunds
  • "On the open road, the 2013 Kia Forte is the master of its domain - so long as the road to that domain remains straight and level. Toss in a few curves, however, and the Forte LX and EX, with their smaller engine and wheel/tire combo, aren't as much fun to drive as the more powerful SX trim." -- Kelley Blue Book

Acceleration and Power

The 2013 Kia Forte can come with one of two inline four-cylinder engines. Standard is a 2.0-liter engine that makes 156 horsepower, while a 173-horsepower, 2.4-liter engine is optional. A six-speed manual transmission is standard on the base model, and a six-speed automatic is optional. With the base engine and an automatic transmission, Forte models average 26/36 mpg city/highway, according to the EPA. There is an optional Eco package that increases fuel economy to 27/37 mpg.

Reviewers say rivals like the Ford Focus and Mazda3 surpass the Forte with more powerful engines, smoother manual transmissions and sharp handling. Of the Forte’s two available engines, reviewers prefer the 2.4-liter for its higher horsepower rating. They also favor the smooth automatic transmission, which can be paired with either engine. Several test drivers agree that the Forte is a good commuter car.

See the full 2013 Kia Forte specs »

  • "The Forte's engine choices might also not be as sophisticated, but nevertheless deliver competitive power and fuel economy regardless of whether you opt for the 2.0-liter or 2.4-liter. Obviously, the latter is stronger. We highly recommend the automatic transmission, as the manual is both unpleasant and difficult to use." -- Edmunds 
  • "Don't get us wrong; the Forte is not terribly slow or devoid of feedback to the driver, it's just that the sporty exterior had us hoping for a bit more performance." -- Kelley Blue Book
  • "It's no Mazda 3 when it comes to performance, but it never was designed for that kind of driving. This is the car that can carry you through the daily grind, the working man's commuter." -- The Detroit News
  • "Our pick for the SX is the new 6-speed automatic. It provides smooth shifts with no discernible acceleration penalty. Our only criticism is that this transmission can take a moment to find the right gear when more muscle is needed for passing or merging." -- Consumer Guide (2012)

Handling and Braking

For the best handling in the model line, reviewers suggest the SX trim, which has accurate steering. However, they note that you will have to put up with a bumpy ride. If you choose one of the lower trims, reviewers say there’s a different tradeoff: LX and EX models have a smoother ride, but their handling is dull. The brakes, however, are strong on the SX model.  

  • "Its ride and handling also lack a certain sophistication. You either get doughy handling and a comfortable ride with the LX and EX, or sharp handling and a harsh ride with the SX." -- Edmunds 
  • "While the 2013 Kia Forte LX and EX may appear sporty, their overall ride and handling aren't as tight or refined as the Ford Focus or VW Jetta. The exception here is the SX trim, which has a more responsive suspension and a stronger engine." -- Kelley Blue Book
  • "Braking control is good, but one test car suffered from a touchy pedal." -- Consumer Guide (2012)