Kia Forte LX: Mucho Car for Minimal Cash

Kia Forte LX

Vehicle layout: 2.0-liter inline 4 (147 hp), 6-speed automatic, FWD

MSRP base price: $18,495 (as tested: $19,395)

MPG, city/hwy/combined: 29/38/32

Basic warranty: 5 years/60,000 miles

Crash-test ratings: NHTSA: 5 stars overall. IIHS: good (all categories)

Spare tire: Tire-inflator kit

Final assembly: Mexico

Interior of Kia Forte LX

Let’s cut to the chase: The Forte is a very good car—no ifs, ands, buts, or other qualifiers. 

For starters, it’s good-looking inside and out, in a sporty, mini-Optima sort of way. Its spacious, well-appointed interior has comfortable seats and simple, easy-to-use controls. And it gets outstanding gas mileage—32 mpg overall in this trim level. 

Numerous desirable features come standard even at the base level: satellite radio, remote keyless entry and trunk opener, steering wheel–mounted audio controls, and USB/auxiliary input jacks.

But best of all, the Forte drives bigger than the compact car it is. A new 2.0-liter inline 4 and a 6-speed automatic transmission move you smoothly and quietly down the road. Sporty and exciting, it’s not. But it is reassuring and satisfying, handling driving duties with aplomb. It feels solid and planted, and a three-hour drive doesn’t engender the buyer’s remorse you can experience with smaller entry-level cars. 

Kia’s above-average reliability and excellent 5 year/60,000 mile bumper-to-bumper and 10 year/100,000 mile powertrain warranties are added perks. And if you don’t mind dropping a little more dough, the Forte’s higher trim levels offer more desirable amenities (for example, heated front seats, HID headlights, power sunroof) and advanced safety features (such as blind-spot monitoring, automatic emergency braking), unusual for this class. The Forte is also available with a more powerful engine and as a five-door hatchback.

Photographs by Bruce Benedict for Kia Motors America

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