Car Review: 2013 Kia Forte 5-Door SX


The all-new Forte 5-door SX’s eye-catching, European-inspired hatchback design makes a clear statement that Kia means business! The understated attitude of the 2013 Kia Forte 5-Door SX comes to life when you get behind the wheel and realize just how much swagger this car possesses.


Our test model was delivered in some snowy conditions, but the crimson red paint looked stunning in the white winter snow falling from the sky. Born from the Kia design studio in Seoul and overseen by Kia’s global chief of design, Peter Schreyer, the Forte 5-door’s sophisticated hatchback profile, large wheels and aggressive posture give it a distinctly European appearance that speaks to its performance intentions. The chiseled body commands attention and continues Kia’s tradition as a design leader in the industry.

Like its Forte sedan counterpart, the Forte 5-door’s swept headlights stretch deep into the front fenders and the raked windshield and broad shoulders give the front end a sleek, sporty appearance. LED positioning lights add a premium look to the front fascia. Moving around the vehicle, the large 18-inch wheels filled the wheel wells on our loaner SX, and the hatchback profile affords a performance-oriented European personality. Around back, the rear hatch glass opens to reveal 23.2 cubic feet of usable cargo space. LED tail lights complete the premium feel of the exterior and a sporty rear valance with twin chrome exhaust tips maintains the Forte 5-door’s edgy demeanor. Together, these design cues reveal how far Kia has come in just a few years!

The SX trim ups the ante with standard dual chrome exhaust tips and LED tail lights. The Forte 5-door SX also offers an aggressive front fascia with larger bumper and grille openings and black gloss grille inserts. The lower front fascia and rear valance also feature carbon fiber-look trim pieces.


When I first entered the cabin, there was more room than I had envisioned and the fit and finish appeared upscale. The Forte 5-door features premium materials and soft touch points. Large, easy-to-read white-on-black gauges nestle deeply into the instrument cluster. Chrome accents around the HVAC controls and optional push-button start, along with carbon fiber-like textures on the dash and seats, add a sporty touch. A leather-wrapped steering wheel and shift knob are further evidence of the Forte 5-door’s performance aspirations. Class-exclusive available features such as front and rear heated outboard seats, an air-cooled driver’s seat and driver-selectable electric steering further set the Forte 5-door apart from its competition.

The hatchback provides plenty of storage space, and when you fold down the rear seats, you can move a family of four, although that may be a stretch.



As much as the exterior design and interior impressed us, it was the performance of the 2013 Kia Forte 5-Door SX that stood out from her rivals. The Forte 5-door SX is the most powerful Forte built by Kia to date, utilizing a 1.6-liter GDI turbocharged four-cylinder that help improve performance. Power is seamlessly transferred to the front wheels via a six-speed manual or automatic transmission. The GDI powerplant produces 201 horsepower at 6,000 rpm and 195 lb.-ft. of torque between 1,750-4,500 rpm. The advanced powertrain features double overhead cams with dual continuously variable valve timing to help improve efficiency and performance. To help further improve performance, the Forte 5-door features a sport-tuned suspension with a McPherson strut setup in front and a multilink rear design. The Forte 5-door rides on standard 205/55R-16 tires, while 225/40R-18 tires are included with the SX trim for an even more sporting driving experience. Fuel efficiency is solid, coming in at 23mpg in the city and 32mpg in highway driving. Considering the amount of power in the 2013 Kia Forte 5-Door SX, the thought of also averaging 32mpg on the highway will put a smile on your face. And for those who enjoy an automatic transmission but miss the sun of switching gears, you’ll be thrilled to know that steering wheel paddle shifters are available on the SX automatic.


The 2013 Kia Forte 5-Door SX is a great looking car without trying too hard, and that isn’t always accomplished in the car business. The SX package will come in at a price around $19,000, which is practically a steal in today’s marketplace, as this kind of power and performance usually accompanies a much more expensive price point. The Forte nameplate has only been around for three years, but Kia looks to be well ahead of the others when it comes to clean styling and top-line handling.