The 2013 Kia Forte is kind of like an iPhone 4 living in an iPhone 5 world. The 4 still works great (I mean, I still have one) and has most of the features of the new one, but it's missing the sleekness and sexiness of the new one.
The 2013 Kia Forte 5-Door is competent and performs well, but it's lacking in the desirability department.
The Korean automaker will be addressing this with its redesigned 2014 Forte sedan and hatchback, which is due in dealerships this summer. Read the 2014 Forte's review.
In the 2013 Forte, Kia delivers a lot of bang for the buck, making it worth a look for budget-conscious families looking to stretch their dollar, and dealers might be offering deals on the 2013 model to make way for the redesigned 2014. I test drove the 2013 Forte 5-Door, which ups the cool factor a little, and the hatchback really comes in handy on family duty. Unfortunately, the feeling behind the Forte's steering wheel is mediocre.
I was expecting a little more zip to pair with Kia's young, fresh image, and it had it, but the steering was a little loosey-goosey for my taste. The 2.4-liter four-cylinder's acceleration and the Forte's handling weren't a problem when I drove it for a week, but I have driven Forte competitors that handled much better.
The 2013 Forte starts at $16,175 for the sedan and $19,075 for the 5-Door, but my upgraded SX hatchback test car with navigation, traffic and a leather interior cost $24,250, including a $775 destination charge.
There seems to be two camps when it comes to hatchbacks: People typically love them or hate them. I find that the body style can add a little youthfulness to the car's design. However, the Forte 5-Door looks basic to me and doesn't have some of the sportier design elements that the Ford Focus, Mazda3 or even the Volkswagen Golf does.
However, looks aren't everything. The hatchback makes shopping easy by providing easy-breezy access to the cargo area. Older kids can easily help parents load sports equipment or overnight bags. With the Forte 5-Door, there's more cargo room — it measures a whopping 19.4 cubic feet — than the Forte sedan's 14.7 cubic feet. We drove the car up to the mountains for the weekend and it handled our overnight bags and baby gear just fine. A double stroller probably won't fit in the Forte hatchback, but grocery bags, luggage and single strollers can easily be accommodated. The 60/40-split folding backseat allows for expansion of the cargo area.
The Forte 5-Door sits low to the ground, making it easy for little ones to get in and out of it easily. My toddler did great getting inside the car independently. I also liked that the design wasn't so drastic that I risked hitting my head when getting her strapped into to her child-safety seat, which is a common problem for me in many cars these days.
The Forte has a standard 156-horsepower, 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine that gets 26/36 mpg city/highway. The top-of-the-line SX gets more power from a 2.4-liter four-cylinder that makes 173 hp. I found its fuel-economy estimates of 23/32 mpg to be high; I came in considerably lower than that during my weeklong test drive.
SENSE AND STYLE
Family Friendly (Not Really, Fair, Great, Excellent): Great
Fun-Factor (None, Some, Good Times, Groove-On): Some
The Forte 5-Door's interior features many of the automaker's strengths. Kia provides a lot of features at a value price, which is one of my favorite things about it.
Because the 2013 Forte is in its final year of its current generation, the navigation graphics looked dated, but everything works all the same. I found the center stack and controls straightforward and easy to use. I was pleased to find my upgraded test car had push-button start and keyless entry as well.
The Forte isn't a large car — this compact hatchback seats five — but it doesn't feel small inside. I didn't feel cramped behind the wheel, and my husband had enough legroom in the front passenger seat. However, families with children in rear-facing safety seats may want to wait to get into a car like the Forte until their child graduates to a facing-forward child-safety seat.
The Forte comes equipped with an ample amount of storage space, considering its size. It has four cupholders — two in front and two in the backseat — along with additional bottleholders in the front-door cutouts, a decent-sized cubby under the center stack and a center console.
IT'S THE LITTLE THINGS THAT COUNT
Storage Compartments (Puny, Fair, Ample, Galore): Ample
Cargo/Trunk Space (Puny, Fair, Ample, Galore): More than fair/less than Ample
The 2013 Kia Forte has been named a Top Safety Pick by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety. It earned the top score of Good in moderate-overlap front-impact, side-impact, rear and roof-strength crash tests. It hasn't undergone IIHS' latest small-overlap frontal crash test. It received an overall safety score of four stars out of five from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. It earned four stars in frontal, side and rear tests, but in the side-impact crash test, the rear door hit the torso of the crash-test dummy positioned in the backseat.
The Forte has standard front-wheel drive, four-wheel-disc antilock brake with brake assist, an electronic stability system with traction control, active head restraints and six airbags, including side curtains for both rows. A backup camera is optional.
The five-seater has two sets of lower Latch anchors in the backseat. They're deeply set into the seat cushions but didn't cause me any grief when installing my daughter's car seat. Installation went quickly and painlessly. A maximum of two car seats can fit in the Forte's backseat.
Get more safety information on the 2013 Kia Forte 5-Door.