2010 Kia Forte

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Key Specs
Our Take
Road Test
Photos
Reviews
Safety & Recalls
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Key Specs

of the 2010 Kia Forte. Base trim shown.

  • Body Type:
  • Combined MPG:
    27-29 Combined MPG
  • Engine:
    156-hp, 2.0-liter I-4 (regular gas)
  • Drivetrain:
    Front-wheel Drive
  • Transmission:
    5-speed manual w/OD
  • View more specs

Our Take

From the Cars.com Vehicle Test Team

The Good

  • Base engine's performance
  • Interior quality
  • Backseat space
  • Gas mileage
  • Generous warranty

The Bad

  • Four-speed automatic too eager to upshift
  • Numb steering
  • Optional heated seats only have one setting
  • Optional leather steering wheel feels like vinyl

Notable Features of the 2010 Kia Forte

  • New for 2010
  • Standard USB port
  • Standard Bluetooth cell phone connectivity
  • Standard stability system
  • Available Fuel Economy Package

2010 Kia Forte Road Test

Mike Hanley
The 2010 Forte is an all-new compact sedan from Kia, but if you've experienced Honda's Civic, the car will seem very familiar, both in the way it looks and — in some respects — the way it drives. Taking aim at the Civic isn't a bad move at all, since it's one of the leaders in its segment in terms of sales, refinement and execution.

Having said that, there remains room for the Forte to improve, particularly where its optional four-speed automatic transmission is concerned. When you take everything into account, though — gas mileage, refinement, standard safety features and starting price — the Forte is a credible value-oriented alternative to familiar names like Civic, Corolla and Focus.

Going & Stopping
I tested a midlevel EX trim with the base engine, a 156-horsepower, 2.0-liter four-cylinder, and found it to have plenty of power for around-town and highway driving — even with four adults onboard. This engine offers good gas mileage with either the standard five-speed manual or available four-speed automatic — 25/34 mpg city/highway, regardless of the transmission — but Kia also offers a $600 Fuel Economy Package for automatic EX models that boosts gas mileage to 27/36 mpg, thanks to enhancements like a five-speed automatic instead of a four-speed, plus low-rolling-resistance tires and aerodynamic improvements. Assuming gas is $2.50 a gallon and that you drive 12,000 miles a year, it would take about 8.5 yea...

The 2010 Forte is an all-new compact sedan from Kia, but if you've experienced Honda's Civic, the car will seem very familiar, both in the way it looks and — in some respects — the way it drives. Taking aim at the Civic isn't a bad move at all, since it's one of the leaders in its segment in terms of sales, refinement and execution.

Having said that, there remains room for the Forte to improve, particularly where its optional four-speed automatic transmission is concerned. When you take everything into account, though — gas mileage, refinement, standard safety features and starting price — the Forte is a credible value-oriented alternative to familiar names like Civic, Corolla and Focus.

Going & Stopping
I tested a midlevel EX trim with the base engine, a 156-horsepower, 2.0-liter four-cylinder, and found it to have plenty of power for around-town and highway driving — even with four adults onboard. This engine offers good gas mileage with either the standard five-speed manual or available four-speed automatic — 25/34 mpg city/highway, regardless of the transmission — but Kia also offers a $600 Fuel Economy Package for automatic EX models that boosts gas mileage to 27/36 mpg, thanks to enhancements like a five-speed automatic instead of a four-speed, plus low-rolling-resistance tires and aerodynamic improvements. Assuming gas is $2.50 a gallon and that you drive 12,000 miles a year, it would take about 8.5 years to recoup that cost based on the EPA's combined mileage ratings.

Compact Sedan Gas Mileage
Base engines and transmissions (city/highway, mpg)
ManualAutomatic
2009 Honda Civic26/3425/36
2010 Toyota Corolla26/3526/34
2009 Nissan Sentra24/3126/34
2010 Kia Forte25/3425/34
2010 Chevrolet Cobalt25/3724/33
2009 Ford Focus24/3524/33
2010 Mazda325/3324/33
Source: EPA

The Forte's base engine is spirited, offering good power even at higher vehicle speeds, where some engines start to fade, but the optional four-speed automatic it teams with is a downer. Its problem is not one of shift quality, which is smooth and refined, but rather its eagerness to upshift to 4th gear. This keeps engine rpm low — for lower noise and higher mileage — but also robs the four-cylinder of power. Even when cruising at just 30 mph, the transmission would be in 4th gear. It wasn't always easy to make the transmission kick down into a lower gear. Doing so requires a deep prod of the gas pedal. Buyers looking for more power can step up to the SX trim, which has a 173-hp, 2.4-liter four-cylinder engine.

The four-speed automatic's gated gear selector includes a clutchless-manual mode, which gives you the option of controlling gear changes yourself. It was useful for keeping the engine out of 4th and instead cruising along in 3rd to improve engine response, even if it hurt gas mileage.

The Forte has disc brakes at each wheel and comes standard with ABS. Brake pedal feel is good, which helps to make smooth stops second-nature.

Ride & Handling
The Forte offers taut ride quality that's similar to the Civic's. You know when you're driving over rough patches because you can feel the car reacting to it, but the suspension provides enough damping. With three other people along for the ride, the car rides notably smoother, and even with the additional passenger weight the suspension didn't bottom out on bigger bumps. Take the car up to interstate speeds, and it still feels poised.

One of the benefits of the Forte's firmer suspension is that body motions are well controlled when cornering, which makes you feel confident when driving it hard. When you are cornering, however, the steering system isn't very inspiring, as it doesn't offer adequate feedback. If you're looking for an engaging compact car in this class, the Mazda3 is a better choice, but its starting price is higher.

The Inside
Considering that the Forte costs less than most of its competitors, you might cut it some slack if its cabin weren't quite up to snuff, but you don't have to — its interior quality rivals the better examples in this segment.

The dashboard makes use of mostly hard rather than soft-touch surfaces, but the plastic has nice graining and isn't excessively shiny, and the trim pieces meet snugly together. There's really nothing to remind you that the Forte is a value choice in its class.

Like the Civic, the Forte can be optioned with upscale features like heated leather seats. Seat comfort is decent, but the tilt-only steering wheel forced me to reach forward too far once I'd adjusted the seat where I wanted it. (A tilt/telescoping steering wheel comes only in the top, SX trim level.) Also, the heated seats have only one level — on — as opposed to a range, or the typical low and high settings.

For a compact sedan, the Forte's backseat is accommodating for adult passengers. You wouldn't call it roomy, but it provides enough space to carry your friends or go on a double date without making those riding in back ornery. There's tolerable legroom thanks partly to the flexible backsides of the front seats, which give a little when your knees touch.

Safety
The Forte comes standard with six airbags, including side curtain airbags. It also has an electronic stability system, an important safety feature designed to prevent the driver from losing control of the car on slippery roads. For a full list of safety features, visit the Standard Equipment & Specs page.

Cargo
The Forte's trunk measures 14.7 cubic feet, which makes it one of the largest in its class. Lifting the trunklid reveals a good-sized opening. A 60/40-split folding backseat is part of a $1,500 Convenience Package available for the base LX model, but there's no separate charge for it on EX and SX trims. It incorporates a folding center armrest. With the seat folded, there's a slight ledge of about 3 or 4 inches between the trunk floor and the backs of the folded seats.

Forte in the Market
Compact cars are appealing to budget-conscious shoppers for lots of reasons. Their sticker prices are among the lowest on the market, and their smaller engines tend to get better mileage, which saves money down the road. There was a time, however, when choosing an economy car meant forgoing some of the comfort and refinement offered by larger models.

Those times are mostly gone, as evidenced by models like the Civic and Mazda3. Higher prices, however, come with these cars' premium outlook. That leaves an opening for a refined car like the Forte, which costs less to start and likely will remain affordable thanks to its generous warranty, which includes 10-year/100,000-mile powertrain coverage. In the end, the Forte should help you keep more money in your pocket, and isn't that what we're all trying to do?

Send Mike an email 



2010 Forte Video

Cars.com's Mike Hanley takes a look at the 2010 Kia Forte.

Latest 2010 Forte Stories

Consumer Reviews

Exterior Styling
(4.7)
Performance
(4.4)
Interior Design
(4.6)
Comfort
(4.5)
Reliability
(4.6)
Value For The Money
(4.7)

What Drivers Are Saying

(5.0)

The car has been so nice. Reliable and excaly what

by Lilislandgirl from Chambersburg on October 9, 2018

Car meets all my needs and is a smooth ride. Its needs very little work and has been very dependable. Very spacious and is a pleasure to drive Read full review

(4.0)

great car

by AricaShep from Bristol, Tennessee on September 18, 2018

I?ve had my Kia Forte for 8 years now. It has amazing space throughout the vehicle. The trunk is wonderful especially when you go on vacation. I don?t have many complaints about the car except the ... Read full review

Safety & Recalls

Recalls

The 2010 Kia Forte currently has 2 recalls

IIHS Crash and Rollover Test Ratings

Based on 2010 Kia Forte LX

IIHS rates vehicles good, acceptable, marginal, or poor.

Head Restraints and Seats

Dynamic Rating
good
Overall Rear
good
Seat Head/Restraint Geometry
good

Moderate overlap front

Chest
good
Head/Neck
acceptable
Left Leg/Foot
good
Overall Front
good
Restraints
good
Right Leg/Foot
good
Structure/safety cage
good

Other

Roof Strength
good

Side

Driver Head Protection
good
Driver Head and Neck
good
Driver Pelvis/Leg
good
Driver Torso
acceptable
Overall Side
good
Rear Passenger Head Protection
good
Rear Passenger Head and Neck
good
Rear Passenger Pelvis/Leg
good
Rear Passenger Torso
acceptable
Structure/safety cage
acceptable
Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) is a nonprofit research and communications organization funded by auto insurers.

Manufacturer Warranties

Backed by Kia
New Car Program Benefits
  • Bumper-to-Bumper

    60 months / 60,000 miles

  • Powertrain

    120 months / 100,000 miles

  • Roadside Assistance

    60 months / 60,000 miles

Certified Pre-Owned Program Benefits
  • Maximum Age/Mileage

    5 years or newer/less than 60,000 miles

  • Basic Warranty Terms

    12 months/12,000 miles

  • Powertrain warranty

    10 years/100,000 miles

  • Dealer Certification Required

    164-point inspection

  • Roadside Assistance

    Yes

  • View All Program Details

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Cars.com Car Seat Check

Certified child passenger safety technicians conduct hands-on tests of a car’s Latch system and check the vehicle’s ability to accommodate different types of car seats. The Forte received the following grades on a scale of A-F.*
* This score may not apply to all trims, especially for vehicles with multiple body styles that affect the space and design of the seating.

Warranty FAQs

What is a Bumper-to-Bumper warranty?

Often called a basic warranty or new-vehicle warranty, a bumper-to-bumper policy covers components like air conditioning, audio systems, vehicle sensors, fuel systems and major electrical components. Most policies exclude regular maintenance like fluid top offs and oil changes, but a few brands have separate free-maintenance provisions, and those that do offer them is slowly rising. Bumper-to-bumper warranties typically expire faster than powertrain warranties.

What is a Powertrain warranty?

Don't be misled a 10-year or 100,000-mile powertrain warranty doesn't promise a decade of free repairs for your car. It typically covers just the engine and transmission, along with any other moving parts that lead to the wheels, like the driveshaft and constant velocity joints. Some automakers also bundle seat belts and airbags into their powertrain warranties. With a few exceptions, powertrain warranties don't cover regular maintenance like engine tuneups and tire rotations.

What is included in Roadside Assistance?

Some automakers include roadside assistance with their bumper-to-bumper or powertrain warranties, while others have separate policies. These programs cover anything from flat-tire changes and locksmith services to jump-starts and towing. Few reimburse incidental costs like motel rooms (if you have to wait for repairs).

What other services could be included in a warranty?

Some automakers include free scheduled maintenance for items such as oil changes, air filters and tire rotations. Some include consumables including brake pads and windshield wipers; others do not. They are typically for the first couple of years of ownership of a new car.

What does CPO mean?

A certified pre-owned or CPO car has been inspected to meet minimum quality standards and typically includes some type of warranty. While dealers and third parties certify cars, the gold standard is an automaker-certified vehicle that provides a factory-backed warranty, often extending the original coverage. Vehicles must be in excellent condition and have low miles and wear to be certified, which is why off-lease vehicles feed many CPO programs.

See also the latest CPO incentives by automaker