Kia Forte Hatchback: Models, Years, Specifications & More

Kia Forte Hatchback: Models, Years, Specifications & More

The Kia Forte Hatchback is a compact car that was first introduced in South Korea in 2008 as the Kia Cerato. It came to North America in 2009 and replaced the Kia Spectra. The Forte Hatchback offers a sporty, versatile alternative to the traditional Forte sedan. Over its three generations, the Forte Hatchback has been available in multiple trim levels ranging from budget-friendly LX models to sportier SX versions. Key highlights across the generations include stylish designs, fuel efficient engine options, high safety ratings, and lots of standard tech and convenience features even on base models.


The Kia Forte Hatchback has gone through two generations since it was first introduced in 2010:

First Generation (2010-2013)

The first generation Kia Forte Hatchback, also known as the Kia Forte5, was introduced for the 2011 model year. This first generation model came with a 2.0L 4-cylinder engine producing up to 156 horsepower. It was available in LX and EX trims. Key features included Bluetooth, satellite radio, and a USB port (Kia Forte5 Generations: All Model Years, n.d.).

Second Generation (2014-2021)

The second generation Kia Forte Hatchback debuted for 2014 with a sleeker, more modern design. Engine options included a 1.8L or 2.0L 4-cylinder. This generation introduced the turbocharged Forte5 SX model in 2016 with 201 horsepower. Tech features became more advanced with options like a 7-inch touchscreen, Android Auto, Apple CarPlay, and autonomous emergency braking. The Forte line received a mid-cycle refresh for 2018 (Kia Forte5 Generations: All Model Years, n.d.).


The Kia Forte Hatchback has been available in various models and trim levels since it was first introduced for the 2014 model year. Here is an overview of the main models and trims:

The base LX model comes well equipped with features like air conditioning, a 5″ touchscreen display, Bluetooth, and power windows and locks. Moving up to the EX adds desirable upgrades like a sunroof, keyless entry, heated front seats, and a 7″ touchscreen display.

In 2018, Kia introduced the high-performance Forte5 GT model with a 201-horsepower turbocharged engine, sport-tuned suspension, 18″ wheels, and GT-exclusive styling tweaks. This model slots above the EX trim and also adds amenities like dual-zone climate control, LED lighting, and a Harmon Kardon premium audio system.

Pricing varies for the different models and trim levels. The base LX has a starting MSRP around $18,000 while the top EX and GT trims can range from $22,000-$25,000 depending on options. Kia frequently runs incentives that can lower real-world transaction prices.

Key differences across the lineup include engine power, fuel economy, standard equipment, available high-tech safety features, and overall performance capabilities. Lower LX and EX models cater more towards economy while the GT emphasizes sporty driving dynamics.


The Kia Forte Hatchback features two main engine options. The standard engine is a 2.0-liter 4-cylinder that produces 147 horsepower and 132 lb-ft of torque when paired with the standard 6-speed manual transmission. With the available 6-speed automatic transmission, the power output is lowered slightly to 145 horsepower (Car and Driver).

The upgrade engine available is a turbocharged 1.6-liter 4-cylinder that generates 201 horsepower and 195 lb-ft of torque, when paired with the 7-speed dual-clutch automatic transmission. This high-output turbocharged engine debuted in 2018 (Car and Driver 2023).

In terms of fuel economy, the base 2.0L engine with manual transmission gets an EPA-estimated 27 mpg city/37 highway/31 combined. With the automatic transmission the ratings are 29/38/33 mpg. The turbocharged engine is rated at 28/38/32 mpg with the 7-speed dual-clutch transmission (Car and Driver).

The Forte Hatchback offers good acceleration and responsive handling for a compact car. Models equipped with the turbocharged engine and dual-clutch transmission deliver swift acceleration and sporty driving dynamics.


The Kia Forte hatchback features a sporty and aerodynamic exterior design. Since its introduction in 2009, the Forte hatchback has seen two generations with updates to styling and dimensions.

The first generation Forte hatchback from 2009-2012 had a sleek, coupe-like shape with a sweeping roofline and rounded front and rear ends. It measured about 4.4 meters long and 1.7 meters wide with a 2.6 meter wheelbase. The drag coefficient was rated at 0.30 making it quite aerodynamic.

The second generation Forte hatchback debuted in 2014 with a more aggressive and angular front fascia with a hexagonal grille. The headlights were updated to projector beams and LED accents. The body retained a rounded, fastback shape but with sharper creases and lines. Overall length grew slightly to 4.5 meters. The drag coefficient improved to 0.27. (Zigwheels)

In 2018, the Forte hatchback received a mid-cycle refresh with tweaked front and rear fascias. The tiger nose grille was widened and the headlights made even more aggressive. The rear received updated LED taillights and a small decklid spoiler. Overall dimensions remained the same.


The Kia Forte Hatchback offers a stylish and spacious interior with room for up to 5 passengers. It features comfortable front seats with 6-way manual adjustment and optional leather upholstery and heating. The rear seats can fold down in a 60/40 split to expand cargo space from 19.4 cubic feet to 39.4 cubic feet.

The interior styling shows attention to detail with touches like available two-tone color schemes, piano black and chrome trim accents, and LED mood lighting. The standard 7-inch touchscreen display provides access to the audio and entertainment features. Higher trims upgrade to a 10.25-inch touchscreen with navigation and UVO telematics.

Some of the tech features available include wireless device charging, Bluetooth, Android Auto and Apple CarPlay compatibility, voice recognition, and a 6-speaker audio system. The EX and GT trims add amenities like dual-zone climate control, push button start, and a power sunroof.

Overall, the Forte Hatchback combines practicality, comfort, and style with its flexible cargo space, seating for 5, and range of tech features (Source). The interior balances form and function in an attractive package for drivers.


The 2023 Kia Forte has received strong safety ratings from both the NHTSA and the IIHS. According to the NHTSA, the Forte sedan earned an overall rating of 4 out of 5 stars in frontal crash tests. The IIHS gave the Forte its highest rating of Good in all crashworthiness tests.

The Forte comes standard with a comprehensive suite of active safety features, including forward collision warning and automatic emergency braking with pedestrian detection, lane keeping assist, lane departure warning, and driver attention warning. Blind spot collision warning and rear cross traffic collision warning are available.

Additional advanced driver assistance features like adaptive cruise control, lane centering assist, forward collision avoidance assist, and high beam assist are offered on higher trims and packages. With its combination of high safety scores and abundant standard and available safety tech, the Forte provides drivers with confidence on the road.

Notable Features

The Kia Forte Hatchback stands out for its luxury features and high-tech options uncommon in its class. All models come well-equipped with features like dual-zone automatic climate control, push button start, and a tilting and telescoping steering wheel (1). Higher trims add amenities like LED cabin lighting, heated and ventilated front seats, a power sunroof, Harman Kardon premium audio, and a wireless phone charger (2).

On the tech side, the Forte Hatchback impresses with its standard 8-inch touchscreen, Apple CarPlay/Android Auto integration, Bluetooth, and available navigation. Upgrades include a 10.25-inch touchscreen, UVO infotainment system with smartphone app connectivity, a 320-watt Harman Kardon premium audio system with Clari-Fi music restoration technology, wireless device charging, and a head-up display (2).

Advanced safety features include forward collision warning, lane keeping assist, driver attention warning, and high beam assist on all trims. Upgrades add blind spot collision warning, rear cross traffic alert, parking distance warning, and adaptive cruise control (1).

With sporty handling, upscale features, and the latest tech, the Forte Hatchback punches above its weight in a competitive segment dominated by stalwarts like the Honda Civic and Toyota Corolla.


Pricing for the Kia Forte Hatchback has ranged over the years depending on the model year, trim levels, and options.

The base MSRP for the 2018 Kia Forte Hatchback started at $18,300 and went up to $26,100 for the top EX trim level according to Carsession.

For the 2017 model year, Kia offered three trim levels for the Forte Hatchback according to CarIndigo. Pricing started at $17,795 for the base LX manual trim and topped out at $22,195 for the EX automatic transmission model.

In 2018, Kia again offered three trim levels spanning a base MSRP range of $18,600 for the LX manual to $22,100 for the EX automatic based on CarIndigo’s report.

Overall, the Kia Forte Hatchback has typically been priced very competitively in the compact car segment, offering a good value for buyers looking for an affordable, practical hatchback.


Here are some frequently asked questions and answers about the Kia Forte Hatchback to help buyers:

What are the key differences between the LX, EX, and SX trim levels? The base LX trim focuses on the essentials like a 2.0L 4-cylinder engine, 6-speed manual transmission, and basic tech features. The mid EX adds nicer amenities like a sunroof, heated front seats, and more safety tech. The top SX includes upgrades like a turbocharged 1.6L engine, 7-speed dual clutch transmission, premium Harman Kardon audio, and additional creature comforts.

How reliable is the Forte Hatchback? Kia vehicles consistently rank above average for predicted reliability according to J.D. Power. The Forte competes with reliable models like the Honda Civic and Toyota Corolla. Forte owners report few major issues, especially when proper maintenance is followed.

Does the Forte Hatchback have good cargo space? Yes, it offers 19.4 cubic feet of cargo space behind the rear seats. Folding the 60/40 split rear seats down opens up a maximum of 45.8 cubic feet, which is ample room for most buyers’ needs.

Is this a good commuter car? Definitely – the Forte shines as an affordable, efficient daily driver. The cabin is comfortable and quiet. Fuel economy reaches up to 32 mpg city and 40 mpg highway. Available driver assistance features like lane keep assist and smart cruise control make commute stress-free.

Which engine is better, the 2.0L or the turbo 1.6L? The turbo engine provides more power (201 hp vs 147 hp), allowing for quicker acceleration. However, the base 2.0L offers strong fuel economy. Go with the turbo for a sportier drive, or the 2.0L to maximize mpg.

Does it come in AWD? No, the Forte hatch is front-wheel drive only. For AWD, consider the related Kia Forte5 SX.

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