Last year, Kia sent me the new (at the time) Forte sedan to review, and I was impressed with its ability to compete with the big players in this market, namely the Honda Civic, Mazda3, Nissan Sentra, and Toyota Corolla. Still in the 2010 model year, Kia sent another Forte my way, similarly trimmed and optioned.
The 2010 Kia Forte starts off at $13,695 for the LX trim with a 4-speed manual transmission and 2.0-liter 156 hp four-banger. Upgrade to the EX trim for $2,300 and get A/C, power accessories, a six-speaker sound system, cruise, a center armrest, a 60/40-split-folding rear seat (in the sedan,) and more options. The EX also has an optional Fuel Economy Package, which adds another gear to the automatic transmission, a “smart alternator,” Motor-Driven Power Steering, and low rolling-resistance tires to increase fuel economy around 2 to 3%. The trim level of interest (for me at least) is the SX. For another $1,500, you’ll get a bigger 2.4-liter engine producing 173 hp, a 6-speed manual transmission (or 5-speed auto,) a sport suspension, 17-inch alloys, fog lights, tilt-and-telescoping steering column, leather-wrapped steering wheel and shift knob, a better gauge cluster, nicer cloth upholstery and metallic interior trim.
The Forte Kia sent is the EX with $1000 leather package adding heated leather front seats, and leather-wrapped steering wheel and shift knob. The leather package requires the addition of the $900 Premium package, adding a power sunroof and 16-inch alloy wheels.
The 2010 Kia Forte is a surprising car, overall. It looks great inside and out, gets great fuel economy (25/34 for the EX,) and feels like a quality car. We did notice that the doors sound a bit “tinny” when closing, which made a couple of passengers question the Forte’s quality. No matter the trim level, Kia includes two 12V power outlets and an aux/USB input up front, which is great for gadgets and MP3 players. Kia (and Hyundai’s) audio setup across their lineup needs to be emulated by other car makers.
Room inside the Forte sedan is typical – adequate but a bit tight in the rear for grown adults. Trunk space is surprisingly huge for a small car.
Since our model is an EX trim and doesn’t include the fuel economy package, it’s equipped with a 4-speed automatic transmission, and I can’t say I love it. It’s OK, sort of, but I really wish Kia would just drop the 4-speed altogether.
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Before You Buy
I could go on about the Forte and how well it competes in this segment, but all you need to know is if you’re looking for a compact sedan like the Mazda3, Civic, Ford Focus, Corolla, or Sentra, you’d be doing yourself a disservice if you didn’t check out the 2010 Kia Forte. I’m excited to see the changes for next year, and even more excited to check out the Forte Koup, which is more my style. Check out our last review of the 2010 Kia Forte for more details and thoughts.