The 2013 Kia Forte earns a below average Total Car Score for the Compact Sedans & Wagons segment.
It’s been just four short years since Kia introduced us to its Forte vehicle family. Back then the Forte’s sharp styling and long list of amenities were a revelation and breathed new life into the Kia brand. But during the intervening years, domestic and foreign competitors have raised the bar in the compact sedan segment, and the Forte finds itself something of an also-ran -- still a good quality, well appointed car, but without some of the attributes or flashier styling offered by other makers. An all-new Forte will be introduced for the coming model year, and from what we’ve seen, the new car will address some of the current model’s shortcomings.
Until then, though, the Forte soldiers on into the ’13 model year with few changes. There’s a new 16-inch wheel design for the 5-Door and Koup (optional on the sedan), LED daytime running lights are now standard on SX models and optional on EX versions, SX and EX models get power folding exterior mirrors, and new Crimson Red and Metallic Bronze colors are available.
Reviews of the Forte tend to be tepid, with critics finding both powerplants to be capable, but not overly powerful; the ride quality is described as either firm or harsh, depending on who you read; and the cabin has ample room for four, but not five. The Forte’s bright spot is its list of standard tech features, which includes Bluetooth, satellite radio, and iPod and auxiliary jacks even in the base LX models.
The 2013 Kia Forte is offered in three body styles -- four-door sedan, a hatchback called the 5-Door and a two-door Koup -- in several trim levels and with a choice of two engines.
The base engine is a 2.0-liter four-cylinder that makes 156 horsepower and 144 pound-feet of torque. Also available is a 2.4-liter four-cylinder good for 173 hp and 168 lb-ft. In Forte sedans both engines can be paired with either a six-speed manual or six-speed automatic transmission; in 5-Door and Koup versions both engines are equipped with six-speed automatics only.
Kia has organized the Forte’s trim levels so that the sedan is available in LX, EX and SX versions, while the 5-Door and Koup models come in EX and SX trim.
Standard equipment found on the Forte LX sedan includes 15-inch alloy wheels, cloth upholstery, air conditioning, and an AM/FM/CD/MP3/satellite radio audio system with USB and auxiliary input jacks and Bluetooth connectivity.
EX sedan models receive cruise control, steering-wheel-mounted audio controls, power windows and door locks, and six speakers for the audio system. EX 5-Doors and Koups also gain 16-inch alloy wheels.
The SX models have the 2.4-liter engine, 17-inch alloy wheels, a sport-tuned suspension, sport seats with special cloth upholstery, paddle shifters and metal pedals.
Not surprisingly, the Forte Eco sedan, with its “smart” alternator and low-rolling-resistance tires, gets the highest fuel economy of the Forte lineup, delivering 27 mpg city, 37 mpg highway and 30 mpg combined in the EPA’s testing. Standard Forte sedan and hatchback models with the 2.0-liter engine and automatic transmission aren’t far behind at 26/36/29 mpg, while manual transmission sedans earned 25/34/29 ratings. Sedans and hatchbacks with the 2.4-liter engine and automatic return 23/32/26 mpg, while the 2.4/manual combination in the SX sedan returned 22/32/26 mpg. Fuel economy for Koup models falls at or just below their sedan/hatch brothers.
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