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The Kia Forte is a cheap yet handsome compact sedan. Newer models are some of the best economy cars money can buy and even provide a bit of speed in certain trim levels. But enough about the impressive 2023 Kia Forte. Buyers may not want to drop $25,000 on the brand-new model and instead fare their luck on the second-hand market. However, some model years must be avoided due to significant mechanical failures and recalls. The following are the five best model years for a used Kia Forte.

1. 2016 Kia Forte

Second-generation used Kia Fortes can be found in four trim levels—LX, S, EX, and SX. Base models are stocked well for a car that debuted under $20,000. They even offered some of the same driver’s assistance and safety features seen in ultra-safe Toyotas.

Forte owners on CarComplaints cite a loss of engine power while driving as the most significant concern for the 2016 model year. Only one owner reports needing a new 2.0-liter engine for their Forte EX. Otherwise, problems couldn’t be reproduced by dealerships. The National Highway Traffic and Safety Administration (NHTSA) has fielded dozens of complaints but only issued a recall on a failing emergency trunk release.

2. 2018 Kia Forte

a used kia forte is a good decision
2018 Kia Forte | Kia

This was the last year of the second-generation Forte. Still offering fuel economy in the high 20s in the city and the mid to high-30s on the highway, it boded well against the compact competition.

Owners bemoaned further engine issues as the biggest problem, but it seems to be a problem different than the 2016 model year. Ignition coils are the culprit for a few, but there doesn’t seem to be a pattern. The only NHTSA recall out of three dealing with the drivetrain was for particles inside the oil pump of the 2.0-liter four-cylinder.  

3. 2020 Kia Forte

The GT-Line and GT trim levels were added for the 2020 model year, but Kia said goodbye to the S trim level and the six-speed automatic transmission. The LX trim was also renamed the LXS. Also new was the turbocharged 1.6-liter four-cylinder that, in the top-spec, put down 201 horsepower.

Following problems in the first year after the redesign for the third-generation Forte sedan, the 2020 model year doesn’t have major issues. It didn’t have any recalls, either. Yet, some owners assert that the wiper arms scrape on the hood when changing the windshield wipers. But this was a seldom complained about issue.

4. 2021 Kia Forte

Those seeking a used Kia Forte will enjoy the 2021 model year’s attractive facelift. Kia integrated additional LED lighting signatures into the front fascia, and more standard safety features were added.

The 2021 model year has few complaints levied against it. Two NHTSA recalls were issued on this model year, one for an unsecured steering column, the other for the airbag occupants detection system failing.

5. 2022 Kia Forte

If one doesn’t want to pick up a brand-new 2023 Forte, they can opt for an equally impressive used Kia Forte from 2022. For instance, the 2023 Forte is a carryover model, and the fantastic features can be had for a bit cheaper. Every used Kia Forte has seating for five, plus over 15 cubic feet of storage space. The base trim also comes with wireless smartphone integration, an eight-inch touchscreen infotainment system, plus an abundance of safety features. Yet, the range-topping GT has the potent turbo-four.

No matter which trim level is chosen, however, potential buyers of a used Kia Forte from 2022 will enjoy a car with few complaints. The lone government recall deals with the previous model year’s steering column issue creeping into 2022.

Are used Kia Fortes reliable?

Kia used to be the laughingstock of the American automotive market, but those days are long behind. In fact, this year, Kia took home first place in J.D. Power’s 2023 U.S. Vehicle Dependability Study. The consumer automotive analysis agency revealed that Kia is the most reliable mass-market brand, even beating out Toyota.

When it comes to the Forte, J.D. Power gave the 2023 Kia Forte an 87 out of 100 in quality and reliability. The rating is unchanged from the 2022 model year and up from 84 in 2021. Therefore, any recent used Kia Forte will likely be a car that lasts beyond 200,000 miles.


Edmunds Says This 2023 Kia Forte Trim Level Is the Most Popular