My brother has a Kia Rio. It's a throwaway car. You have to replace the timing chain as a precautionary measure at 100,000 miles.
I admit to a bias against the Kia name. It's not my fault. Kia has always meant "cheapest car you can buy" in Korean. The Soul was the first eye-opener, and the Forte Koup is a total eye-opener. Solid doors, real trim, fat steering wheel, nice gauges, cool looking, fairly snappy performance, although I admit I was so astonished by how much more REAL the car looked inside that I wasn't really thinking about it. Which means it wasn't a total dog. My brother should get this car.
Jean Jennings, President and Editor-In-Chief
Kia seems to be using the SX badge to denote the highest-performance variants of its models. The Sportage SX and Optima SX are fitted with a spectacular turbocharged four-cylinder that produces a lot of power and still delivers good fuel economy. Having experienced those SX models first, the Forte coupe (I refuse to spell it with a "K") seems quite underwhelming. The main problem with the Forte is it that debuted as the first new-look Kia, with appealing styling by way of new head designer Peter Schreyer, but it rode on the same soggy chassis and suspension we've traditionally experienced in Korean cars.
I'm not sure how much Kia can improve this generation of the Forte with a mid-cycle refresh, but the suspension needs an upgrade. I'd like the car to feel more solid at highway speeds. As it is now, it's kind of nervous and bumps transmit too much jolt through to the cabin. I know Kia can do a better job with suspension tuning since the Optima rides so much better.
Perhaps the shoppers in this segment will be so delighted with the well-executed interior that the the vehicle's ride won't matter to them. Kia makes it very easy to listen to an iPod, satellite radio, or any regular radio stations through the stereo by giving physical knobs to change the track or station. I wish you didn't have to push the tuner knob to actually select a station after you find it, but it would probably become second nature for owners. Kia's navigation system is also much nicer than what Honda offers in the Civic.
Phil Floraday, Senior Web Editor