By Cars.com EditorsAugust 5, 2009
About the video
Cars.com's Mike Hanley takes a look at the 2010 Kia Forte.
Cars.com Auto Reviews. Hi, I'm Mike Hanley with cars.com Kia's latest entry in the compact car segment is the Forte, which debuts for 2010. There's a clear leader in this segment already, and that's the Honda Civic.
And it takes direct aim at it in the way it looks and drives. But does it have what it takes to dethrone the Honda. Let's take a look. The Spectrum has been Kia's small car up until recently, and it had styling that was softer and a little smoother, but the new Forte has a pretty chiseled look overall, and it's a pretty attractive small car. You don't have to look hard though to see similarities between it and the Civic. Just take a look at this front grill and headlight design. It's very reminiscent of what's on the Civic coupe. The Forte is offered in three trim levels. There's a base LX mid-level EX and up-level SX. This is an EX model and it has upscale features like these turn signals integrated into the side mirrors. It's also equipped with an optional premium package, which adds things like a moonroof and 16 inch alloy wheels. The LX and EX versions of the Forte are powered by a 2 liter 4 cylinder engine. That makes a pretty strong response for a smaller motor. It makes 156 horsepower, it does have pretty decent fuel economy. It's rated at 25 miles per gallon in the city and 34 on the highway. Inside, the Kia Forte shows that you don't have to spend a lot of money to get a nice cabin. The material quality is pretty good in this car, even though it features hard plastic, it has a nice finish to it. It's not overly shiny. And the center controls are well within reach of the driver for the air conditioning and the stereo. Now the Honda Civic offers some of the better fit and finish in this segment, but the Forte stacks up pretty well in comparison. The forte comes with a standard height adjustable driver's seat, which is a nice touch, but not standard are these leather seats. They come in the optional EX leather package and they include, besides the leather upholstery itself, a leather shift knob, leather steering wheel and heated front seats. Couple issues though, with this, is that the leather steering wheel, it doesn't feel much like leather at all. And the heated seats only have an on-off setting. Like many of its competitors, the Forte has a small back seat. That's not ideal for taller adults, but it's doable in a pinch. Right now, I have the front seat adjusted for where I would be driving and have just enough space in the back and that's thanks to the front seats, which give a little bit here to allow me to have some knee room. EX and SX models of the Forte has a center armrest and back, which is nice to have, and they also have a split folding backseat. So there were levers to release the back. You're looking in the trunk, the seat just falls down. So it's nice to have feature when you're going to be carrying large cargo items in this car. In terms of the overall driving experience, the forte still has some things to learn from competitors like the Civic and the Mazda3. So I don't think we're ready to call it the champ yet, but having said that it offers a nice highway ride, good power and gas mileage from its base engine. It lots of standard safety features. And perhaps most importantly in this class is price, and at less than $14,000, the forte undercuts competition, like the Civic, Ford Focus and Toyota Corolla by significant margins. For more car related news, go to cars.com or our blog kickingtires.net.