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2011 Kia Forte

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$2,773 — $11,613 USED
23
Photos
Sedan
5 Seats
27-31 MPG
(Combined)
Key specs of the base trim
 — 
Compare 3 trims

Overview

Is this the car for you?

The Good

  • Crisp, clean styling
  • Linear braking
  • Powerful 2.4-liter four-cylinder
  • Sensibly arranged controls
  • Hatchback versatility

The Bad

  • Firm ride
  • Raspy four-cylinder engines
  • Six-speed automatic holds low gears too long
  • Backseat legroom
  • Optional heated front seats only have one level
2011 Kia Forte exterior side view

What to Know

about the 2011 Kia Forte
  • Newly optional six-speed automatic for 2011
  • Sedan, coupe or hatchback
  • Choice of four-cylinder engines
  • Standard USB port
  • Optional push-button start

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Our Take

from the Cars.com expert editorial team

Cars.com's Mike Hanley takes a look at the 2011 Kia Forte.

By Mike Hanley

Kia's compact Forte gains a four-door hatchback version for 2011. Along with a sedan and a coupe, buyers have three body styles to choose from, which is more than most competitors offer.

It's true that cars have gotten a lot better lately, but that doesn't mean they're all equal — and the compact-car segment illustrates this perfectly. There's a clear gap between the impressive redesigned Hyundai Elantra and the Toyota Corolla, a car that's fallen considerably behind the competition.

The 2011 Kia Forte is an acceptable, midpack small car, but as the compact class improves, it doesn't distinguish itself.

I tested two versions of the 2011 Forte: an EX sedan with an as-tested price of $19,040, and an SX hatchback that stickered at $23,685.

Clean Lines
I've liked the Forte's design since its 2010 debut. The car's crisp, clean lines give it an upscale appearance that belies its low starting price. A number of stylish competitors have entered the mix since then, including redesigned versions of the Ford Focus and Elantra, but the Forte's lines still hold up well.

Those same good looks carry over to the hatchback, which retains the creased design theme of the sedan and coupe. Finishing touches on our SX trim level included a small liftgate spoiler and 17-inch alloy wheels.

Four-Cylinder Power
With the standard 2.0-liter four-cylinder, the Forte EX sedan is as quick as an Elantra, but the engine is noticeably coarser. For 2011, ...

Kia's compact Forte gains a four-door hatchback version for 2011. Along with a sedan and a coupe, buyers have three body styles to choose from, which is more than most competitors offer.

It's true that cars have gotten a lot better lately, but that doesn't mean they're all equal — and the compact-car segment illustrates this perfectly. There's a clear gap between the impressive redesigned Hyundai Elantra and the Toyota Corolla, a car that's fallen considerably behind the competition.

The 2011 Kia Forte is an acceptable, midpack small car, but as the compact class improves, it doesn't distinguish itself.

I tested two versions of the 2011 Forte: an EX sedan with an as-tested price of $19,040, and an SX hatchback that stickered at $23,685.

Clean Lines
I've liked the Forte's design since its 2010 debut. The car's crisp, clean lines give it an upscale appearance that belies its low starting price. A number of stylish competitors have entered the mix since then, including redesigned versions of the Ford Focus and Elantra, but the Forte's lines still hold up well.

Those same good looks carry over to the hatchback, which retains the creased design theme of the sedan and coupe. Finishing touches on our SX trim level included a small liftgate spoiler and 17-inch alloy wheels.

Four-Cylinder Power
With the standard 2.0-liter four-cylinder, the Forte EX sedan is as quick as an Elantra, but the engine is noticeably coarser. For 2011, Kia replaced the previous year's optional four-speed automatic transmission with a six-speed automatic. The four-speed automatic was one of my chief problems with the car when I first reviewed it, but the new six-speed automatic just trades one problem for another.

Unlike the four-speed automatic, which was eager to shift into 4th gear, thereby sapping engine power, the new automatic stays in 1st and 2nd gears longer than a six-speed should need to — and longer than others in the segment do. As a result, you hear the raspy engine more.

The optional 2.4-liter four-cylinder quickly accelerated the SX hatchback. Like the sedan, the hatchback has a touchy gas pedal, which can sometimes overstate an engine's power, but kickdowns nonetheless produced a burst of speed. Most compact-car shoppers won't want for power with this engine, though it's just as coarse as the 2.0-liter four-cylinder I tested in the sedan.

The 2.0-liter four-cylinder and the 2.4-liter four-cylinder get an EPA-estimated 26/36 mpg city/highway and 23/32 mpg, respectively, when paired with the automatic. Those are respectable numbers, but they've been surpassed by automatic-transmission versions of the 2011 Elantra (29/40 mpg) and the 2012 Honda Civic (28/39 mpg).

Ride & Handling
On the whole, the Forte offers controlled suspension responses, but bigger bumps can be jolting; the cabin shudders slightly when you hit particularly large ones. This is a firm-riding car, no matter if you're considering an EX sedan or an SX model like our hatchback, which comes with a sport-tuned suspension. The 2012 Civic does a better job of cushioning blows from broken pavement.

The steering, meanwhile, doesn't live up to the expectations set by the Forte's firm suspension. You expect it to be sporty, but in reality it doesn't do much to engage you. The Forte goes where you point it, but it doesn't encourage you to drive it hard. For the enthusiast-oriented compact-car buyer, the Mazda3 remains one of the best choices out there.

The Inside
Interior quality has become a battleground in the compact segment, and you can see the results of manufacturers' efforts in the 2011 Chevrolet Cruze, 2011 Elantra and 2012 Focus. Where a high-grade interior was once a way for an automaker to stand out from the rest of the class — like Volkswagen with its Jetta — it's now part of the price of entry.

While decent, the materials in the Forte are a half-step behind some of the newer competition, like the Elantra and Cruze, but the intuitively placed, logically designed controls help make up for that: It's easy to get in the Forte and understand all the controls after just a quick look around the dash. That might not seem like much, but the new Focus, for one, has stereo buttons that are hard to use.

Our EX sedan had nice-looking woven seat fabric, while the SX hatchback had an optional Leather Package with heated leather front seats that added $1,000 to the car's price. The front seats are comfortable.

The backseat offers more headroom for adult passengers than the Elantra, but the bench seat's thigh support isn't as good as you'll find in a Civic. Taller occupants will encounter limited legroom.

The hatchback body style increases the Forte's cargo-carrying capability, but not as much as you might expect. The sedan's trunk measures 14.7 cubic feet, while the hatchback has 19.4 cubic feet. Still, the hatchback — with its larger cargo opening and taller cargo area — provides a level of versatility versus the sedan that people like.

Safety
The 2011 Forte sedan earned 2011 Top Safety Pick status from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, having received Good overall scores in frontal-offset and side-impact crash tests, as well as IIHS' roof-strength and whiplash-protection tests. The designation also demands that an electronic stability system be offered, and one is standard on the Forte.

In National Highway Traffic Safety Administration tests, the Forte received four out of five stars in frontal, side-impact and rollover tests. Marring those results is a safety concern stemming from the side-impact crash-test results: During the test, the cabin door panel hit the torso of the dummy in the rear seat, increasing the chance of injury.

Additional standard safety features include antilock brakes, side-impact airbags for the front seats, side curtain airbags for both rows of seats, and active front head restraints.

For a full list of safety features, visit the Standard Equipment & Options page.

Forte in the Market
The Forte is a perfectly acceptable car, but being acceptable is no longer enough in the compact class, which is populated by overachievers. A look at the results of our recent Compact Sedan Shootout tells the story: The Forte placed fourth out of five cars. The Forte has only been around a few years, but it's already time for Kia to go back to the drawing board.

Send Mike an email  


 

Consumer Reviews

What drivers are saying

4.6
41 reviews — Read All reviews
Exterior Styling
(4.6)
Performance
(4.4)
Interior Design
(4.5)
Comfort
(4.5)
Reliability
(4.7)
Value For The Money
(4.7)

Read reviews that mention:

(5.0)

xxxx Good Car!

by Showard from Hurst on June 14, 2018

I like our 2011 Kia Forte. It has been very reliable and the look of it is really nice. I am not to crazy about the resale value, but that is just due to the market. The interior is spacious as is the ... Read full review

(5.0)

This Kia is my Forte!

by larhit from Los Angeles, California on May 24, 2018

This car has been the backbone of my travels since I was 16 and freshly on the road. From sleepy morning commutes to school, to providing a safe drive for the kids I babysit, to cross-country road ... Read full review

Safety

Recalls and crash tests

Recalls

The 2011 Kia Forte currently has 2 recalls


Crash and Rollover Test Ratings

Based on 2011 Kia Forte LX

IIHS rates vehicles good, acceptable, marginal, or poor.

Head Restraints and Seats

Dynamic Rating
good
Overall Rear
good
Seat Head/Restraint Geometry
good

Moderate overlap front

Chest
good
Head/Neck
good
Left Leg/Foot
good
Overall Front
good
Restraints
good
Right Leg/Foot
good
Structure/safety cage
acceptable

Other

Roof Strength
good

Side

Driver Head Protection
good
Driver Head and Neck
good
Driver Pelvis/Leg
good
Driver Torso
good
Overall Side
good
Rear Passenger Head Protection
good
Rear Passenger Head and Neck
good
Rear Passenger Pelvis/Leg
acceptable
Rear Passenger Torso
good
Structure/safety cage
acceptable
Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) is a nonprofit research and communications organization funded by auto insurers.

Warranty

New car and certified pre-owned programs by Kia

New Car Program Benefits

  • Bumper-to-Bumper

    60 months / 60,000 miles

  • Powertrain

    120 months / 100,000 miles

  • Roadside Assistance

    60 months / 60,000 miles

Certified Pre-Owned Program Benefits

Latest 2011 Forte Stories

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Cars.com Car Seat Check

Certified child passenger safety technicians conduct hands-on tests of a car’s Latch system and check the vehicle’s ability to accommodate different types of car seats. The Forte received the following grades on a scale of A-F.*
* This score may not apply to all trims, especially for vehicles with multiple body styles that affect the space and design of the seating.

Warranty FAQs

What is a Bumper-to-Bumper warranty?

Often called a basic warranty or new-vehicle warranty, a bumper-to-bumper policy covers components like air conditioning, audio systems, vehicle sensors, fuel systems and major electrical components. Most policies exclude regular maintenance like fluid top offs and oil changes, but a few brands have separate free-maintenance provisions, and those that do offer them is slowly rising. Bumper-to-bumper warranties typically expire faster than powertrain warranties.

What is a Powertrain warranty?

Don't be misled a 10-year or 100,000-mile powertrain warranty doesn't promise a decade of free repairs for your car. It typically covers just the engine and transmission, along with any other moving parts that lead to the wheels, like the driveshaft and constant velocity joints. Some automakers also bundle seat belts and airbags into their powertrain warranties. With a few exceptions, powertrain warranties don't cover regular maintenance like engine tuneups and tire rotations.

What is included in Roadside Assistance?

Some automakers include roadside assistance with their bumper-to-bumper or powertrain warranties, while others have separate policies. These programs cover anything from flat-tire changes and locksmith services to jump-starts and towing. Few reimburse incidental costs like motel rooms (if you have to wait for repairs).

What other services could be included in a warranty?

Some automakers include free scheduled maintenance for items such as oil changes, air filters and tire rotations. Some include consumables including brake pads and windshield wipers; others do not. They are typically for the first couple of years of ownership of a new car.

What does CPO mean?

A certified pre-owned or CPO car has been inspected to meet minimum quality standards and typically includes some type of warranty. While dealers and third parties certify cars, the gold standard is an automaker-certified vehicle that provides a factory-backed warranty, often extending the original coverage. Vehicles must be in excellent condition and have low miles and wear to be certified, which is why off-lease vehicles feed many CPO programs.

See also the latest CPO incentives by automaker

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