Unlike the bargain-bin Spectra that it replaces, the new 2010 Kia Forte is good enough to compete against perennial segment stars from Honda, Mazda
Penned by a former Audi designer, the 2010 Kia Forte's sleek exterior signals that it's no longer business as usual in Kia's compact sedan department. The Forte's predecessor, the Spectra, was known for its cut-rate pricing and little else, but the new car announces its presence with authority thanks to crisp overall lines and unusual details like an upswept kink at the A-pillar. There are also derivative elements -- the nose is distinctly Civic-like, for example -- but the Forte is undoubtedly one of the best-looking small cars on the market. The question is whether the car itself is as good as the wrapper it comes in.
As it turns out, this Kia is actually a very competitive car, from its 156-horsepower base engine to its impressive fuel economy. The interior is pleasant, too, with plenty of standard features on most trim levels and decent-quality materials. As with the old Spectra, you get a lot for your money (including a 10-year/100,000-mile powertrain warranty), but this time around you're not going to feel as if you're driving a red-tag special. There's even a sharp-looking two-door "Koup" version that heaps an extra helping of two-door style onto the sedan's underpinnings.
As with any car, of course, things aren't perfect with the Forte. For one thing, the base 2.0-liter engine's four-speed automatic transmission -- the powertrain arrangement we expect most Forte buyers will be opting for -- is saddled with extraordinarily tall gearing. This helps fuel economy, of course, but it also means that you may not be able to summon those 156 horses when you need them. Additionally, the Forte's handling is uninspiring in the LX and
All things considered, the 2010 Kia Forte makes a strong case for itself as a legitimate alternative to established all-stars like the Honda Civic, Mazda 3, Scion tC and Toyota Corolla. From fuel economy to backseat space, this Kia is remarkably solid -- and in SX trim, it's also one of the most enjoyable economy cars to drive. There can be little doubt that the 2010 Forte marks Kia's arrival as a serious player in this hotly contested segment.