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September 23, 2009 > Auto Review: 2010 Forte by Kia

Auto Review: 2010 Forte by Kia

The Forte is Kia's all-new, 4-door, compact sedan built for 5 people. It's available in three models: the LX, EX, and a higher performance SX. The lowest cost Forte is only $13,695, and all models come with Kia's 10-year, 100,000 mile power train warranty (5-year, 60,000 basic warranty).

Our test car was an EX model. The Forte is not a sport sedan, but it does have a very nice ride. Its handling is fine for a compact car however crosswinds significantly affected the car's straight line stability. The SX has sport-tuned suspension settings to give it a firmer feel and better handling. It also gets larger (17") wheels/tires and larger front brakes.

The interior is nicely done and includes everything you need in a compact car. It even has a 6-speaker surround sound system as standard equipment. Visibility is very good in all directions. Our EX was very peppy to drive and performed well. My wife and I both thought the Forte was a good looking car.

One interesting feature is the "Eco Light" on the dashboard. If you want to focus on high mileage per gallon, this light helps you do that. As long as it is green, Forte is operating economically. As you power up, the light will change to tell you that you are "wasting" gas.

The Forte is a front wheel drive platform with your choice of two different engines. Both the LX and EX share a 2.0-liter, 4-cylinder engine that develops a class-leading 156 HP and 144 foot pounds of torque. It is interesting to note that both the 5-speed manual and 4-speed automatic produce the same 25/34 MPG in their EPA testing.

A 2.4-liter, 173 HP unit slipped into the SX version. With its 6-speed manual transmission, its rating is 22/32 mpg; the 5-speed automatic version's rating is 23/31. Both fuel injected engines use Continuously Variable Valve Timing to increase power output while improving fuel economy.

A special Fuel Economy Package is available on the EX that boosts EPA ratings by 2 mpg in both city and highway tests. The package includes an automatic transmission, a "smart" alternator, aerodynamic body changes, special tires, and an electronic steering system.

Forte EX begins at $15,795. It includes power windows and door locks, air conditioning, remote keyless entry, and other items. In addition to the larger engine and revised suspension, the SX gets a telescoping steering column and leather trimmed controls. It starts at $17,195.

Kia adds more safety features to the Forte that you would expect in a compact sedan. Most compacts don't have active front headrests (they move forward to help reduce injuries in an accident), but the Forte has them. Four wheel disc ABS brakes, electronic stability control, tire pressure monitoring and traction control are other "bonus" systems. Kia also throws in their 5-year, 60,000 mile roadside assistance plan.

With all these features and the low price, you can buy a brand new car for less than the cost of many used cars. If you are looking for basic transportation, it looks like the Forte may be the way to go.

By Dick Ryan
Freelance Automotive Journalist
Member of the Western Automotive Journalists

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