The replacement for the spectra, the Forte is Kia's answer to the likes of the Honda Civic, Toyota Corolla, and the Mazda 3. The Forte was a new model in 2010 and Kia is touting it as a viable competitor to the Japanese imports.
The Forte Sedan offers two different options for engines. A 2.0 liter four with available 5 speed stick or 4 speed auto, producing 156 horsepower. They also offer the top line 2.4 liter four with a 6 speed transmission in either automatic or manual flavors. This larger engine produces 173 horsepower. Kia has added a new model to their Forte lineup for 2011. A five door featuring the same wheelbase as the sedan and similar dimensions in general except for when it comes to storage capacity.
The hatchback model shares its engine with the upper end sedan options. This can again be mated to a 6 speed transmission in either manual or automatic configuration. It is likely similar trim levels will be available as well, including the LX, EX, and the top of the line SX.
Body styles: Sedan, four-door hatchback
Engines: 2.0L I-4, 2.4L I-4
Transmissions: 6-speed manual, 5-speed manual, 6-speed automatic, 4-speed automatic
Models: LX, EX, SX
The Forte Five-Door is new for 2011. This is the hatchback version of the Forte sedan, with 2.0-liter and 2.4-liter engines, plus the option of six-speed manual or automatic. It's about the same size as the sedan and will most likely get the same three trim levels. The 2011 sedan gets changes as well, including the six-speed manual or automatic transmissions as an option, paddle shifters, and navigation.
The Forte models are sporty and attractive, and have quality touches that suggest they're strong competitors for Honda and Mazda. The Forte gets 15-inch wheels as standard equipment; 16- and 17-inch wheels and tires are optional.
The Forte's cabin is a clean layout with standard items such as auxiliary jack, Bluetooth, and tilt steering wheel. Go up one trim level to EX and air conditioning, power windows and locks, and six-speaker audio upgrade are standard.
Performance & Handling
We haven't driven the Forte hatch yet, but have tested the sedan in EX form. With the 2.0-liter engine and four-speed automatic, the sedan reached 60 in 10.3 seconds, which is slower than some of its competitors; not only would the larger engine help, but so would the manual transmission. There's body roll in turns, and handling is not best in class.
Dual front airbags, dual front seat-mounted side airbags, and full-length side curtain airbags are standard. Four-wheel disc brakes with ABS, brake assist, and electronic brake-force distribution, stability control, and traction control are also standard.
EPA Fuel Economy
LX, EX: 25-27 mpg city/34-36mpg highway
SX: 22-23 mpg city/31-32 mpg highway
- Crisp styling
- Great value
- Spacious rear seats
- Solid structure
You Won't Like
- Body roll
- Air conditioning optional
- Anemic base engine
Much better, but still not the best
If You Like This Vehicle
- Honda Civic
- Ford Focus
- Toyota Corolla