2010 Kia Forte EXPosted on June 10th, 2009
All-new compact sedan is a value-packed offering
By Nina Russin
Compact sedans are Kia’s bread-and-butter. The all-new Forte, which replaces the Spectra, is the automaker’s volume leader: Kia expects to sell about 70,000 units per year. More than any other model, the new sedan reflects Kia’s dramatic evolution since arriving in the US sixteen years ago.
Kia’s first US model was the Sephia: the predecessor to the Spectra. At the time, Kia’s ace-in-the hole was value pricing. Buyers who normally couldn’t afford a new car could buy a Sephia.
The Sephia’s fit and finish couldn’t compete against comparable Toyota and Honda models; nor was it a particularly safe car. But since Sephia buyers couldn’t afford Toyota or Honda’s price of admission, they were happy to get behind the wheel of a new Kia.
Kia has maintained its value pricing strategy: the Forte has an exceptionally high level of content for a $14,000 sedan. But unlike its predecessors, it’s also a very solid, safe automobile. The Forte offers equivalent power and performance to competitors such as the Corolla, Civic and Mazda3, and is expected to receive a five-star federal crash test rating. Standard safety features include antilock brakes , six standard airbags, electronic stability and traction control.
Three trim levels plus a fuel economy package
The Forte comes in three grades: the base LX, volume-leading EX, and sporty SX. The LX starts at $13,695, not including a $695 destination charge. EX buyers can opt for a fuel economy package, which includes a five-speed automatic transmission, electric power steering, “smart” alternator, silica tires and aero enhancements. The package increases the model’s average gas mileage from 28 to 30 miles-per-gallon.
Power for the LX and EX comes from a 2-liter inline aluminum engine, rated at 156 horsepower. The SX gets a more powerful 2.4-liter, 173 horsepower engine. There are four available transmissions. LX and all EX models except the fuel economy version come with either a five-speed manual or four-speed automatic transmission. The more powerful SX features a six-speed manual or five-speed automatic transmission with manual gear selection.
Four-wheel disc brakes, standard on all grades, give the front-wheel drive Forte better stopping power in rain and snow. A hydraulic-assist rack-and-pinion steering system, standard on all but the fuel economy model, has surprisingly positive response. The Forte’s 33.8 foot turning radius makes the occasional U-turn a non-issue. The sedan easily slips into the average parallel parking spot.
Ground clearance is 5.9-inches: not enough to take the Forte off-road, but adequate for traveling on unimproved dirt roads. All models share an independent front suspension with MacPherson struts and torsion beam rear axle. Stabilizer bars on both axles improves the car’s cornering performance.
Test drive in Seattle
I recently had the opportunity to test drive the Forte EX at a media event in Seattle, Washington. Base price on the test car was $16,795. The car came with sixteen-inch wheels, an upgrade from the standard fifteen-inch rims.
A leather trim package on the test car includes front seat heaters ($1000). The wheels and power sunroof add $800 to the base price, bringing the MSRP to $19,290.
Standard comfort and convenience features on the EX include remote keyless entry, power windows and door locks, air conditioning, tinted solar glass, and an AM/FM/CD audio system with MP3 plug-in. Buyers in warm climates should note that the base LX model does not come with standard air conditioning. That, plus the addition of keyless entry, power windows and door locks, makes the EX a better option for those who can afford it.
Our drive route took us on a combination of city streets highways, and some rural roads north of the city. The two-liter engine had plenty of power for the highway, and enough on the low-end for good acceleration in the 20-to-50 mile-per-hour range.
Since our car was equipped with the four-speed automatic transmission, acceleration on uphill grades was a little anemic. The manual transmission gives drivers willing to do some extra work better control over the engine’s power.
Visibility is quite good all the way around the car. I was impressed by the lack of wind and road noise inside the cabin. Engineers minimized noise intrusion by adding insulation around the firewall and dashboard, and adding sub frame reinforcements.
By using high strength steel throughout the body, designers were able to enhance the car’s rigidity without adding weight. The chassis stayed nice and flat in the corners, with excellent steering response. The sixteen-inch wheel upgrade enhanced the car’s highway performance, especially on some of the rougher roads. The larger wheels create bigger contact patches with the ground, that also improve the sedan’s stopping power.
Standard audio, Bluetooth and cruise control buttons on the steering wheel minimize driver distraction. The standard tilt steering column enables smaller drivers to maintain a clear forward view.
Although the optional sunroof makes the car sportier, there’s plenty of ambient light inside the car without it. Six-way manual adjustments on the driver’s seat are easy to use. I found both front seats had adequate lower lumbar support for drives several hours in duration.
The Forte’s interior is clean and attractive. Audio and temperature controls on the center stack are easy to reach from either front seating position. The optional iPod jack is located at the base of the center stack. It allows the driver to read playlists on the central information screen, and make selections using the car’s audio controls.
Front doors have map and bottle holders: both rows of passengers get access to cupholders. The gate shifter on the floor console is well designed. A two-piece center console bin under the armrest stores small electronic devices up top and compact discs below. There is a sunglass holder in the overhead console, next to the reading lamps. Two twelve-volt power points at the base of the center stack recharge portable electronic devices.
Access and egress to the back seats is good. The floor tunnel is small enough to allow three to sit in the back on short drives. The Forte is relatively wide, considering its short wheelbase, translating to increased hip and shoulder room.
A standard rear pass-through extends the trunk floor for loading in longer items. The Forte isn’t bicycle friendly, but it can hold skis, snowboards, and golf clubs. The seatback releases are near the trunk opening, so the driver doesn’t have to strain his back folding the seats flat.
With the rear seats in place the trunk has plenty of room for a week’s worth of groceries or luggage for a weekend get-away.
Kia’s standard ten year/100,000 mile warranty adds value to all of its vehicles. The plan includes a five-year/60,000 mile limited powertrain warranty with free roadside assistance.
The Kia Forte sedan is rolling into dealerships nationwide. The sporty two-door Forte Koup arrives later this summer.
Likes: A solid, safe compact sedan with an exceptionally high level of standard safety, comfort and convenience features. Kia’s standard 100,000 mile warranty is the industry leader.
Dislikes: Air conditioning, remote keyless entry and floor mats are not standard on the LX model.
Model: Forte EX sedan
Base price: $16,795
As tested: $19,290
Horsepower: 156 Hp @ 6200 rpm
Torque: 144 ft.-lbs. @ 4000 rpm
Antilock brakes: Standard
Side curtain airbags: Standard
First aid kit: N/A
Bicycle friendly: No
Fuel economy: 25/34 mpg city/highway
5 responses to “2010 Kia Forte EX”
The Forte is all around a practical vehicle. Looks like Kia has been working hard… Definitely impressive!
whatasurprise October 19th, 2010 at 15:41
really surprised how quite the interior is on highway. lot of power, comfortable ride. i have the ex, well worth the money.
Kurt J July 4th, 2011 at 14:10
For once, a fair review of the Kia Forte by an automobile magazine!! It gets boring and monotonous hearing car “enthusiasts” bragg about how the Forte is “nice” but doesn’t quite maesure up to a Mazda3, Honda Civic, or Toyota Corrolla. Are you kidding me??? Kia’s new offering is much better than a Civic or Corrolla, and more on par with the Mazda or Hyundai Elantra! I this were baseball, I’d say KIA has definitely hit a triple with the Forte!
I just purchased my KIA Forte Ex, and I love it….I am comfortable driving. I expect great things and cannot complain at this time. It’s affordable, has a good warranty and looks good (with me in it ofcourse). For that in my book the Forte is a (forte)gift!
2010 Forte Ex
aSHLEIGH December 1st, 2011 at 17:52
I have a 2010 kia forte ex..and I LOVE IT! This car is amazing! It is so worth the money! I love that I hardly ever see another one on the road, and mine is in a eggplant purple color so it’s more unique. I’d rather have a car that not EVERYONE on the street is driving. Definitly reccomend this car to anyone.
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