If you’re looking for a reliable new car, the Kia Forte is a very compelling option.
Not only is it the most affordable compact car in its segment, it also comes with lots of value-added features relative to its price.
It even comes in a sportier GT trim for those looking for more driving fun.
In this article we’ll take a closer look at the average lifespan of the Kia Forte.
Read on to find out more…
Table of Contents
Here is the short answer to how long a Kia Forte will last:
The Kia Forte is a durable, compact sedan that can last between 250,000 – 300,000 miles when well maintained and driven conservatively. If you drive 15,000 miles a year, it can last 16 to 20 years. It also comes with a 10-year/100,000-mile warranty and has excellent reliability scores.
How Many Miles Can You Expect from a Kia Forte?
The Forte is already in its third generation which has given Kia plenty of time to iron out many of the common complaints found on the earlier models.
Given its affordable price, you will also find lots of used models sold for cheap because Kia just doesn’t have the brand recognition as some of its competitors.
The Kia Forte actually uses the same platform as the Hyundai Elantra, so the drivetrain and chassis are going to be pretty solid for well over a decade.
The Forte has been out since 2010 (in the U.S.) and many have reached over 200,000 miles with only basic maintenance, so later generation models should last even longer as they’ve learned to refine the platform.
Quality materials and vehicle design will play a key role in how long a vehicle can last – but most automotive experts will tell you it comes down to a few key factors at the ownership level.
How you drive your Forte will play a major role in how long it continues to drive.
Being too aggressive with the gas and brake pedals and overworking the engine can be hard on any vehicle.
The regular maintenance of a car also can add thousands of available miles to the odometer.
The life expectancy of your Kia Forte will be cut short if you avoid:
- Routine oil changes
- Tire rotations
- Service appointments
- Checking fluid levels
How Soon Should You Expect Rust on a Kia Forte?
Kia has received a few customer complaints over the years regarding its paint quality however rust on a new vehicle is out of the ordinary.
If you experience early signs of rusting you should contact your dealer as it will likely be covered under warranty.
Some owners have reported tiny rust spots appearing on the body of the vehicle, as well as inside of door jambs and trunk panels.
These were likely caused by rock chips, which exposed the bare metal causing oxidation.
If you encounter any rock chips it’s best to apply some touch-up paint or if it’s beyond a DIY fix have a professional look at it.
If you live somewhere that’s coastal or somewhere that uses lots of road salt, the Forte might start showing surface rust spots in around 3 to 5 years.
Rust can be much more of an issue for those residing in coastal areas due to the salt in the air, similarly, those who live in regions where roads are aggressively salted during the winter will also be more at risk – salt buildup on vehicle surfaces is corrosive.
To help keep rust at bay, we recommend the following:
- Regular car washes
- Keeping the car’s interior dry
- Ceramic paint coatings
- Rust-proofing treatments
- Keeping your Forte parked in a garage
Related: Kia Forte 5 Worst Problems
How Long Does the Kia Forte Last Compared to Similar Car Models?
In this section we’ll compare the Kia Forte to some of its competitors.
Kia Forte vs. Volkswagen Jetta
The Jetta is a tasteful, sporty, and sleek sedan from German automaker VW.
- The average VW Jetta can last 200,000 miles which is less than what we’d expect of the Forte
- RepairPal gives the Kia Forte 4.5 out of 5 for reliability which is higher than the Jetta’s 4 stars.
- Annual maintenance costs for the Forte is much lower at $451 versus the Jetta’s $609
If you’re looking for lower maintenance costs and more miles on the odometer choose the Kia Forte.
You may also be interested in our article: How Long Do VW Jetta’s Last?
Kia Forte vs. Honda Civic
If you’re looking for a reliable and affordable vehicle, you can’t go wrong with the Honda Civic.
It’s already gone through more than 10 generations, so Honda has a lot of experience with the platform.
If you compare it with the Kia Forte:
- The Honda civic and Kia Forte are both expected to last between 250,00 – 300,000 miles
- RepairPal gave the Forte and the Civic the same 4.5 stars for reliability
- The Honda Civic is much cheaper to maintain at an average of $368 annually
The venerable Honda Civic and the Kia Forte are pretty much neck and neck when it comes to reliability. But the Civic might be a little cheaper to maintain over the years.
Kia Forte vs. Mazda 3
The Mazda 3 is known for its sporty handling and excellent build quality.
- The Mazda 3 can last bewteen 200k – 250k miles which is less than the Fortes 250k – 300k
- RepairPal gave the Forte 4.5 stars while the Mazda 3 only got 4 stars
- The Mazda 3 costs $433 annually to maintain while the Forte costs $451
The Forte tops out the Mazda just a bit when it comes to reliability and annual maintenance.
You may also be interested in our article: How Long Do Mazda3 Last?
|Make & Model||Reliability Score (2021)||Annual Maintenance Cost(RepairPal)|
How Reliable is the Kia Forte?
The Kia Forte is an extremely reliable vehicle overall.
Compared to other compact cars in its class, it’s above average when it comes to reliability.
RepairPal gave the Kia Forte a Reliability Rating of 4.5 stars out of 5 which is considered ‘Excellent’. The average rating for compact cars is only 4 stars.
The website also ranks the Kia Forte as the 6th best compact car out of 36 other models from other brands.
J.D. Power gave the 2021 Kia Forte a 90/100 for Quality & Reliability which is a bit higher than the 2019 model’s 89.
Kelley Blue Book also gave the 2020 Kia Forte high marks, placing it as the 4th best compact car in its class. It also got 4 out of 5 stars for reliability which is based on 25 consumer reviews.
The Kia Forte also has a 5-year/60,000-mile warranty and a very long 10-year/100,000-mile powertrain warranty.
Reliability Compared to Other Cars
|Toyota Corolla||4.5 / 5.0|
|Kia Forte||4.5 / 5.0|
|Honda Civic||4.5 / 5.0|
|Toyota Matrix||4.5 / 5.0|
|Chevrolet Cobalt||4.5 / 5.0|
|Hyundai Elantra GT||4.5 / 5.0|
|Hyundai Elantra||4.5 / 5.0|
|Mazda3||4.0 / 5.0|
|Ford C-Max||4.0 / 5.0|
|Kia Forte Koup||4.0 / 5.0|
|Hyundai Elantra Coupe||4.0 / 5.0|
|Chevrolet HHR||4.0 / 5.0|
|Nissan Sentra||4.0 / 5.0|
|Buick Verano||4.0 / 5.0|
|Dodge Caliber||4.0 / 5.0|
|Dodge Avenger||4.0 / 5.0|
|Chevrolet Cruze Limited||4.0 / 5.0|
|Hyundai Veloster||4.0 / 5.0|
|Mitsubishi Eclipse||4.0 / 5.0|
|Volkswagen Jetta||4.0 / 5.0|
|Mazda5||4.0 / 5.0|
|Nissan 370Z||4.0 / 5.0|
|Volkswagen Beetle||4.0 / 5.0|
|Volkswagen Golf||4.0 / 5.0|
|Chevrolet Cruze||4.0 / 5.0|
|Ford Focus||4.0 / 5.0|
|Dodge Dart||4.0 / 5.0|
|Mitsubishi Lancer||3.5 / 5.0|
|Chrysler PT Cruiser||3.5 / 5.0|
|Volkswagen Golf SportWagen||3.5 / 5.0|
|Subaru WRX||3.5 / 5.0|
|Subaru Impreza||3.5 / 5.0|
|Volkswagen GTI||3.0 / 5.0|
|Volkswagen Eos||3.0 / 5.0|
|Subaru WRX STI||2.5 / 5.0|
|Avg. Compact Car||4.0|
What is Considered High Mileage for a Kia Forte?
A Kia Forte with over 150,000 miles is considered high mileage and a riskier investment although there are many factors to take into consideration, most importantly the vehicle’s maintenance history.
If you’re looking at buying used, anything over 150k can be considered ‘high’ although buying a Forte with more miles than this doesn’t necessarily mean a sour outcome.
Some important factors to consider are:
- Service history. That the vehicle was properly serviced and the owner can provide proof of this.
- How many owners there were. As a general rule less is better. More owners usaully means more wear and tear. If one family owned it and drove the full 120k miles and serviced the car, then you can almost guarantee they took good care of it throughout ownership.
- Check the CarFax. This doesn’t guarentee anything but can help give a clearer picture of wear and tear. Make sure it has minimal damage, if any. Analyze the data to make sure if something did happen, it wasn’t engine related or mechanical.
- How long you are planning on keeping the car. If you’re planning on keeping the car for many years, you have to ask yourself – do the short-term savings outweigh spending a little extra into something more reliable.
- How many miles the car has done relative to its age. As a general rule cars should be averageing around 12k – 15k miles per year, anything significantly higher than this should be considered a red flag, so be extra careful when making an assesment.
You might also be interested in our article: how long do Hyundai Elantra last?
The Best and Worst Years for the Kia Forte
The Kia Forte has been sold for over a decade and is already in its third generation.
Looking through Edmunds for long-term owner reviews for the first generation Kia Forte, we’ve found that people are extremely happy with its overall reliability.
Many who have gone over 200,000 miles have reported that they’ve only had to spend for basic maintenance items such as oil, tires, brakes and batteries.
Below we’ll outline the best and worst years…
Kia Forte Worst Model Year
Based on data from the Car Complaints website, the 2012 Kia Forte seems to be the least reliable model year.
It received a total of 39 complaints, followed closely by 37 complaints from the 2010 model year.
The most common complaint is engine knock or rod knock which requires replacing or rebuilding the engine.
Other than that, we only see minor complaints regarding the interior and electrical accessories.
Kia Forte Best Model Year
Based on our research, we have identified the 2019 and up (3rd generation) models of the Kia Forte as the best model years, since they’ve recorded no complaints at all so far.
This is quite impressive and truly shows how much the Kia Forte has improved over the years.
The third-generation models not only come with more tech than the previous years but also seem to be completely free of issues even after being on the road for a couple of years.
J.D. Power also gives the 2020 and 2021 Kia Forte an overall score of 84/100, while the 2016 got 81 and the 2012 model got 79.
Quality & Reliability ratings for the latest models have also gone up from just ‘Average’ in 2012 to ‘Great’ in 2021.
Here are the number of recorded complaints for every model year of the Kia Forte as reported by the Car Complaints website.
|Model Year||Recorded Complaints|
|2010 Kia Forte||37|
|2011 Kia Forte||15|
|2012 Kia Forte||39|
|2013 Kia Forte||21|
|2014 Kia Forte||21|
|2015 Kia Forte||9|
|2016 Kia Forte||7|
|2017 Kia Forte||29|
|2018 Kia Forte||4|
|2019 Kia Forte||0|
|2020 Kia Forte||0|
|2021 Kia Forte||0|
What About Recalls for the Kia Forte?
According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) Recall database, the Kia Forte has had a total of 11 recall campaigns over the past decade across all three generations.
Recalls are manufacturing repairs that are offered at no cost to the consumer.
One of the latest recalls for the Forte is a fix that will prevent engine fires.
It affects 1st and early 2nd generation Kia Fortes and other older Kias like the Soul, Sorento, Sportage and Optima.
To find out if your Kia Forte has been subject to a recall you can check the Kia owners portal on their website, you’ll need your car’s 17-digit VIN.
Here are the number of recall campaigns for the different model years of the Kia Forte since 2010.
|Model Year||Recall Campaigns|
|2010 Kia Forte||2|
|2011 Kia Forte||2|
|2012 Kia Forte||3|
|2013 Kia Forte||4|
|2014 Kia Forte||3|
|2015 Kia Forte||1|
|2016 Kia Forte||0|
|2017 Kia Forte||1|
|2018 Kia Forte||1|
|2019 Kia Forte||2|
|2020 Kia Forte||0|
|2021 Kia Forte||1|
Kia Forte Model Year List
Below is a list of the Kia Forte’s model years (based on the US market):
First Generation (2010 – 2013)
- 2010 Kia Forte
- 2011 Kia Forte
- 2012 Kia Forte
- 2013 Kia Forte
Second Generation (2014 – 2018)
- 2014 Kia Forte
- 2015 Kia Forte
- 2016 Kia Forte
- 2017 Kia Forte
- 2018 Kia Forte
Third Generation (2019 – present)
- 2019 Kia Forte
- 2020 Kia Forte
- 2021 Kia Forte
Is the Kia Forte Expensive to Maintain?
According to RepairPal, the Kia Forte has an estimated annual maintenance cost of $451 — much lower than the average for compact cars which is $526.
Aside from being a pretty solid platform with no widespread issues, the Kia Forte is also quite cheap to maintain, you can find a full breakdown of ownership costs here.
|Model||Avg. Annual |
|Frequency of |
|Probability of |
|Hyundai Elantra GT||$397||0.3||9%|
|Kia Forte Koup||$469||0.3||11%|
|Hyundai Elantra Coupe||$497||0.4||9%|
|Chevrolet Cruze Limited||$498||0.4||11%|
|Chrysler PT Cruiser||$641||0.2||14%|
|Volkswagen Golf SportWagen||$606||0.8||11%|
|Subaru WRX STI||$758||0.5||21%|
|Avg. Compact Car||$526||0.3||11%|
How Long Do the Brakes of the Kia Forte Last?
The Kia Forte is a pretty light car so it doesn’t need too much braking power to slow it down. This translates to less wear and tear on your brake pads.
While it’s generally recommended to change them every 50,000 miles, some have reported going up to 70,000 miles before changing the pads.
If you drive conservatively, you can possibly get 6 to 7 years out of your original brake pads.
If you drive in a lot of stop-and-go traffic, you can expect your brake pads to wear out faster.
How Long Do the Tires of the Kia Forte Last?
Despite being a light vehicle, the Kia Forte’s stock tires tend to wear out pretty fast.
You might have to have them replaced at around 15,000 to 20,000 miles if you want optimum grip out of your vehicle.
You can swap them out for better tires which should last you much longer.
You should also rotate your tires every 5,000 miles to make them wear out evenly and get the most life out of them.
How Long Do the Transmissions of the Kia Forte Last?
The Kia Forte’s transmission doesn’t have any widespread issues. They should easily last over 150,000 miles if the vehicle is maintained properly, although on average we expect major failures to occur around 250,000 miles.
In addition, the Forte also comes with a 10-year/100,000-mile powertrain warranty so any premature transmission problems will be easily fixed by the dealer at no cost to you.
How Long Do the Spark Plugs of the Kia Forte Last?
The Kia Forte’s spark plugs can last over 100,000 miles.
This means you can probably expect around 6 to 10 years out of them if you drive an average amount.
Thanks to advancements in engine technology, the Kia Forte doesn’t really need a traditional tune up every year.
It just needs preventative maintenance to check for premature wear.
What About Insurance Costs for the Kia Forte?
The Kia Forte should be fairly cheap to insure. Even with comprehensive insurance, average rates are at $1,352 per year or $113 per month.
Of course this all depends on your age, policy, location and driving record, so make sure to shop around for the best rates.
Tips to Prolong the Life of Your Kia Forte
- Keep up to date with factory scheduled maintenance.
- Check your tire pressure regularly and rotate your tires
- Drive smoothly and don’t abuse the vehicle.
- If you drive more than 20,000 miles annually, bring it in for checks at least once a year.
- Have the vehicle rust proofed if you live in a salty area.
- Keep the battery charged especially during the winter.
- Check your tire pressure regularly and rotate your tires