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Longevity is a hard thing to come by. With much of life’s objects now made in disposable form, many cars seem to have taken a turn for the temporary. Not for one Korean compact sedan, however, as some are saying they can eke 300,000 miles out of the Kia Forte. Is that true?

What is high mileage for a Kia?

The 2019 Kia Forte is a Korean compact sedan that has gotten more reliable and cheaper to fix over the years
2019 Kia Forte EX | Kia Media

According to Vehicle History, Kia Forte owners claim to surpass the 200,000-mile threshold with ease. Their analysis says the Korean compact sedan should provide 17 years of service to its owner, operating 250 miles per week on average. But could it last for longer? One apparently has.

Although it’s unconfirmed, Forte Forums—yes, there’s a forum for everything—asserts one has done 381,000 miles. This “old Forte,” owned by someone’s “sister-in-law,” may not be a prime example on which to base potential ownership, but are there any others worth their merit?

Is this Korean compact sedan a reliable car?  

The 2021 Kia Forte is a Korean compact sedan that is one of the cheapest base model car on sale.
2021 Kia Forte GT Sport | Kia Media

RepairPal gives the Forte 4 out of 5 stars, and for a Korean compact sedan with a starting MSRP under $20,000, it’s an excellent value proposition. Moreover, the cost of repairs is going down over time. In 2017, the average annual repair cost for a new Kia Forte was $451. It’s a decrease from $481 in 2012 and $452 in 2015.

If you factor in the verity that Fortes now have more and more standard features and the cost of inflation, build quality has risen well. That doesn’t mean all Kia Fortes are reliable, though. Some are quite bad.

Kia Forte common problems

The Kia Forte is a Korean compact sedan that boasts premier reliability, apart from a few model years
2017 Kia Forte EX | Kia Media

Like any car, the inexpensive Korean compact sedan has its faults. CarComplaints indicates that one of the biggest issues with the Kia Forte is the 2.4-liter Theta four-cylinder in the first-generation sedan ending in 2012. Yet, the first years of the second-generation Korean compact sedan are riddled with engine faults, mainly the 2.0-liter engine. The following are five with more owner-reported problems and recalls than others:

  • 2012
  • 2013
  • 2014
  • 2015
  • 2019

The main issue plaguing the 2019 version of the Korean compact sedan is the continuously variable automatic transmission (CVT). Newer CVTs are known to fail, some after as little as 10,000 miles.  

Which model year Kia Forte is best?

To mitigate as many of the issues with cheap and cheerful builds as possible, certain model-year Fortes turned out to be better than others. The following are the five best with the least owner-reported problems and recalls:

  • 2016
  • 2018
  • 2020
  • 2021
  • 2022

Is the Kia Forte a good car?

Let’s be honest. Manufacturers don’t make bad cars anymore. Easily stolen, yes, but that has nothing to do with reliability. And that Kia characteristic stopped suddenly on November 1, 2021, interestingly.

Pending legal mysteries aside, the Kia Forte is a reliable car. However, much of that depends on the driver. Bending a high-speed Korean compact sedan across four lanes of interstate traffic to make an exit isn’t going to bode well for those front control arms, or any other mechanical component for that matter. Regular maintenance explained in the manufacturer-provided owner’s manual and mature driving will.

Will the budget Korean compact sedan last 300,000 miles?

Does this mean you should buy a Kia Forte or any other Korean compact sedan with 200,000 miles and begin a determined but calm trek for another 100,000? Probably not. Many of these high-mileage claims in the run-up to the double century are one-owner cars. Therefore, they’ve known their Forte since they took the keys at the dealership.

Many require new engines or transmissions for those who exceed 200,000 miles and have kept going. This is another point of contention. Once you replace the drivetrain, is it really the same car anymore? Without wasting time on existentialism, all that costs a pretty penny.

All those pennies add up to a nice down payment on a brand-new Kia Forte. So, even if you could go 300,000 miles on factory parts, given the relative inexpensiveness of a new one and an industry-leading 10-year, 100,000-mile warranty, why would you?


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