The 2015 Kia Forte sits between the subcompact Rio and midsize Optima. It’s really a family of three 5-passenger compact cars: The Forte 4-door sedan, the Forte 5 4-door hatchback and the Forte Koup 2-door. The Forte was all-new for 2014 — longer, lower and wider than previous models with flowing bodywork inspired by the larger Optima. In 2015, updates were limited to slightly improved fuel economy in some versions. The Forte offers several luxury features and options, such as heated rear seats, a heated steering wheel and a ventilated driver’s seat that are uncommon among compact cars.
The 2015 Forte sedan, Forte 5 hatchback and 2-door Forte Koup present good used-car values, delivering styling flair, comfort, roominess, driving fun and fuel efficiency for a reasonable price.
What We Like
Great warranty; sporty styling; good fuel economy; quiet, roomy interior; interior materials; Forte 5’s hatchback versatility
What We Don’t
Rearward visibility; decreased rear headroom; lack of steering feel
Fuel Economy & Engine Specs
The 2015 Kia Forte LX sedan comes standard with a 1.8-liter double overhead camshaft 16-valve 4-cylinder engine. It generates 145 horsepower and 130 lb-ft of torque on regular unleaded fuel. It’s available with either a 6-speed manual or 6-speed automatic transmission. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) rates it at 25 miles per gallon in the city and 36 mpg on the highway with the manual gearbox and 26 mpg city/37 mpg hwy rating with the automatic.
The Forte sedan, Forte 5 hatchback and Koup with EX trim are powered by a direct-injected 2.0-liter DOHC 4-cylinder generating 173 horsepower and 154 lb-ft of torque. It’s EPA rated at 25 mpg city/36 mpg hwy in the sedan with 6-speed automatic transmission, 25 mpg city/33 mpg hwy in the automatic gearbox hatchback, 25 mpg city/34 mpg hwy in the Koup automatic and 24 mpg city/33 mpg hwy in the Koup with a 6-speed manual transmission.
The Forte 5 hatchback and Koup with SX trim get a turbocharged direct-injected 1.6-liter DOHC 4-cylinder outputting 201 hp and 195 lb-ft of torque. EPA estimates are 21 mpg city/29 mpg hwy for the Forte 5 hatchback with either the 6-speed automatic transmission, 21 mpg city/28 mpg hwy for the hatchback with the manual gearbox. Koup models run 22 mpg city/29 mpg hwy regardless of transmission choice.
Standard Features & Options
The 2015 Kia Forte sedan is available in base LX and uplevel EX trim and the Forte 5 hatchback and Koup come in EX or sporty SX trim.
LX trim is basic, but includes air-conditioning, a tilt-telescopic steering wheel with remote audio controls, a 4-speaker AM/FM/CD stereo with an MP3 decoder and iPod/USB jacks, Bluetooth connectivity, cloth upholstery, a split fold-down rear seat, an outside-temperature display, a trip computer, intermittent wipers, power locks, windows and mirrors, 15-inch steel wheels anti-lock 4-wheel disc brakes, dual front- and side-impact airbags, overhead airbags and stability and traction control. Popular LX options include cruise control, a garage-door opener, keyless entry, an auto-dimming rearview mirror and 16-in alloy wheels.
EX gains the larger 173-hp engine, auto headlamps, cruise control, keyless entry, fog lamps, a 6-speaker audio system, SiriusXM, a leather-wrapped steering wheel and shifter and 16-in alloy wheels. EX options include automatic climate control, navigation, backup camera, leather seat trim, a ventilated power driver’s seat with memory, heated front and rear seats, a heated steering wheel, a power moonroof and 17-in alloys.
SX features the same standard and optional items as EX but adds the 201-hp turbo engine, a rear spoiler, 18-in alloys, larger brakes and dual exhaust.
The Forte is one of the best-selling cars in Kia’s lineup, so there should be a good supply of used examples available for purchase at moderate prices. Forte 5 hatchbacks and the 2-door Koup are harder to find than the sedan because fewer of those models were built. Regardless, Forte prices hold up well along with the brand’s reputation due to its rising JD Power quality ratings and across-the-board 10-year/100,000-mile powertrain warranty.
To get a good idea of the 2015 Forte’s price range, check out KBB.com. You can also search the Autotrader Classifieds to see which models are for sale in your area.
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) issued no recalls for the 2015 Forte.
Recall repairs are required by law even if the vehicle is out of warranty. Your dealer can check to see if the repairs were performed, and if not, they will fix the car at no charge to you.
Safety Ratings & Warranties
NHTSA gave the 2015 Forte sedan a 4-star overall rating with three stars for frontal impacts, five for side impacts and four for rollover resistance. It also gave the Forte 5 hatchback five stars for side impacts and four for rollover resistance. It didn’t rate the 2015 Forte Koup.
The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) gave the 2015 Forte sedan a Marginal rating for small-overlap front impacts, but Good ratings for side- and moderate-overlap front impacts, head restraints and seats, as well as roof strength. It didn’t rate the 2015 Forte 5 hatchback or Koup.
Kia sold the 2015 Forte with a 5-year/60,000-mile bumper-to-bumper warranty including roadside assistance, an industry-leading 10-year/100,000-mile powertrain warranty (for original owners only) and a 5-year/100,000-mile corrosion-perforation warranty.
A Kia certified pre-owned vehicle can’t be more than five years old or have more than 60,000 miles on the odometer. Every certified pre-owned Forte gets a 150-point inspection. Each receives a 1-year/12,000-mile bumper-to-bumper warranty and the remainder of the vehicle’s original 10-year/100,000-mile powertrain warranty. Also included is a Carfax vehicle-history report and roadside assistance.
Other Cars to Consider
2015 Ford Focus — Revised for 2015 with a facelifted exterior and updated but confining cabin, the fun-to-drive Focus is available as a 4-door sedan or 5-door hatchback. Engine choices include a 123-hp 1.0-liter EcoBoost 3-cylinder or 160-hp 2.0-liter 4-cylinder, both available with a manual or 6-speed dual-clutch automatic transmission. The sensational Focus ST model sports a manually shifted 252-hp 2.0-liter turbo 4-cylinder but suffers from torque steer.
2015 Toyota Corolla — Toyota’s Corolla sedan got rebooted back in 2014 with a stylish, Camry-like exterior, as well as greatly increased rear-seat headroom and legroom. It also added the latest touchscreen infotainment and an LE Eco model with a CVT EPA-rated at 40 mpg hwy. It continues to be a top seller in the compact segment due to its reputation for good fuel economy, trouble-free operation and solid resale value.
The 2015 Forte sedan is a solid, roomy, fuel-efficient used-car choice especially in EX trim which comes standard with the larger 2.0-liter engine, cruise control, remote keyless entry, auto headlamps, 16-inch alloys, a leather-wrapped steering wheel and shifter as well as an upgraded 6-speaker stereo. For a sportier take, the Forte 5 hatchback offers great cargo versatility, the 2-door Koup brings classic coupe proportions and both offer sport suspension and the lively 201-hp 1.6-liter turbo engine from the Hyundai Veloster. Selecting a Kia certified pre-owned car is a smart choice, because the buyer can assume the remainder of the outstanding 10-year/100,000-mile powertrain warranty. Otherwise, look for a low-mileage Forte that’s been well-maintained. And check with the dealer to ascertain that any applicable recall repairs have been performed.