2011 Kia Forte

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Flash Drive: 2010 Kia Forte EX

This 2010 review is representative of model years 2010 to 2013.
By Staff of MSN Autos

View Pictures:  2010 Kia Forte EX

Following the innovative Soul, the all-new Kia Forte does what South Korean automakers seem to excel at - it offers plenty of standard equipment wrapped up in a stylish package, all for a price lower than the competition. The Forte's clean design won't necessarily stand out in the crowded small-car market — I admit to mistaking our test car for a Honda Civic — but it is still a good-looking sedan. Nice materials and a 2-tone color scheme make the interior feel somewhat upscale; our Forte was equipped with comfortable leather seats. The trunk is large, and the back seat is definitely usable by at least two adults. Most surprising was that the Forte is fun to drive. The engine is peppy and, working well with the 5-speed automatic transmission, provides good acceleration for a car in this class. Larger in almost every interior dimension than a Civic but priced considerably less, the Forte is a must-drive for anyone considering a new, entry-level sedan. —Perry Stern

Kia's new Forte compact sedan is the latest example that design is a top priority at Kia. It has a great-looking and distinctive exterior design, a lot of thought seems to have gone into the layout of the controls, and the quality of the materials used in the interior feels upscale. The 2.0-liter engine and 4-speed automatic transmission deliver enough power to merge with traffic, while still getting close to 30 mpg combined city and highway driving. The steering wheel tilts but doesn't telescope. This made it hard for me to reach the wheel once I had the seat in a comfortable position. A really nice feature is a deep, open bin in front of the shifter, which is a perfect place to store anything that you might need to access while driving and includes USB and auxiliary inputs and a power port. —Mike Meredith

The Kia Forte is a smart-looking vehicle. The styling is fresh and stands out against the Honda Civic and Toyota Corolla, thanks to the wrap-around headlights and the chiseled body lines. You can feel the solidness of the car by just opening and closing its door. Clearly, Kia has built this car well. Inside the Forte, the controls are easy to read and the quality of materials is good. There is good headroom and legroom in both the front and back seats. The rear seat is comfortable for two adults, and it is easy to take infants in and out of their child seats. Driving the car during commuting is a pleasure because the Forte is a miser at the pump, even with a 4-speed automatic transmission. I achieved 30 mpg in mixed driving. While the Forte is slightly underpowered, that sacrifice is worth it to achieve better fuel economy. —Joe Chulick

Kia would have you believe that the Forte is a well-equipped luxury car for a bargain-basement price; that a full feature set equates to luxury. I was skeptical. Does that mean that Walmart is a luxury store because it sells so many different items? And would all those features imply much lower quality to meet the price target? Well in reality, the Kia Forte is not so well-equipped; there was nothing in this $19,000 car (as tested) that seemed like a luxurious feature. However, it didn't feel like a cheap car either. In fact, the Forte is impressive. Kia has simply built a car that can compete on any criteria, not just price. I found myself unable to pinpoint why the Forte isn't best-in-class in this segment, but it's not. It is very good but somehow just doesn't have character enough to stand out. —Paul Hagger

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BB04 - 4/20/2014 4:00:20 AM