The versatile 2011 Kia Forte is available in sedan, coupe (called the "Forte Koup") and hatchback body styles, and is considered to be a formidable competitor to well-regarded compact sedans like the 2011 Honda Civic (Base MSRP: $15,605 to $25,490) and 2011 Mazda3 (Base MSRP: $15,800 to $23,010).
While experts generally feel that the Kia still sits a notch below the economy car leaders, it's not far behind especially considering its lower base price, good standard equipment and stellar warranty coverage. The Forte sports attractive, modern styling and provides good fuel economy and interior ergonomics. Reliability is predicted to be average by a leading consumer publication.
The Kia Forte was an all-new model last year, and we have a comprehensive report on the 2010 Kia Forte. Still, there are some notable upgrades for the 2011 model year. The five-door hatchback body style is new and a new six-speed automatic replaces the old four-speed. The Forte hatchback also gets an Eco trim package for increased fuel efficiency.
Even without the Eco trim package, fuel economy for the 2011 Kia Forte is good with either the base 2-liter four-cylinder or the more powerful 2.4-liter four-cylinder. The Environmental Protection Agency rates the base Forte at 29 mpg in mixed overall driving for models equipped with either manual or automatic transmissions. The more powerful 2.4-liter engine delivers 26 mpg in mixed driving, while the 2-liter Forte Eco delivers an EPA-rated 30 mpg in combined use. Newer competitors like the 2011 Chevrolet Cruze (Base MSRP: $16,275 to $22,225) and the 2012 Ford Focus (Base MSRP: $16,270 to $22,765) have even higher fuel-efficiency ratings.
The Kia Forte is an Insurance Institute for Highway Safety Top Safety Pick, getting the highest rating of Good in front-, side- and rear-impact tests in addition to roof-strength tests. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration tested the 2011 Kia Forte sedan as well, giving it a 4-star rating for front- and side- impact occupancy protection and rollover risk. NHTSA testers note that on side impact, the interior rear door panel struck the torso of the rear passenger dummy. Still, the 2011 Forte garners a 4-star (out of 5) overall safety rating. Stability control, front airbags, active head restraints, side and side curtain airbags, and antilock brakes are all standard safety equipment.
This detailed overview from Edmunds.com gives driving impressions, specification information and a comprehensive look at what the Forte has to offer. Editors like its low price, style and the excellent handling of the optional and sportier SX trim level. They determine the Forte is a fine choice in the budget sedan category.
Review: 2011 Kia Forte, Editors of Edmunds.com
Many new models are reviewed and ranked by ConsumerReports.org, one of the most respected sources for automotive reviews. ConsumerReports.org tests a 2010 Forte sedan, which is applicable to the 2011 model aside from the old four-speed automatic transmission, which has been replaced by a new six-speed unit.
Review: New Cars: Small Cars, Editors of ConsumerReports.org
3. Insurance Institute for Highway Safety
The 2011 Kia Forte is an IIHS Top Safety Pick, meaning it receives the highest rating of Good in four crash-test scenarios (front, side, rear and roof strength). Eleven other small cars receive the Top Safety Pick award.
Review: Small Cars, Editors of the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration gives the 2011 Kia Forte an overall safety rating of 4 stars out of 5 even though the rear interior door panel struck the test dummy during side-impact testing.
Review: 5-Star Safety Ratings, Editors of SaferCar.gov
The Kia Forte gets good fuel economy and is rated at 29 mpg combined for the base engine and 26 mpg combined for the larger 2.4-liter engine. This is on par with its competitors, though some 2011 models perform better than average in terms of fuel consumption. The "Eco" trim model ekes out one more mile per gallon overall from the base engine.
Review: 2011 Kia Forte, Editors of FuelEconomy.gov
Our full report on the 2010 Kia Forte examines expert opinions in detail and discusses safety and fuel-economy ratings.
Review: 2010 Kia Forte, Editors of ConsumerSearch.com, March 2010