2010 Kia Forte Preview

Jeff Youngs | Dec 31, 2009
FAST FACTS
  • Replaces the Kia Spectra
  • Available in LX, EX and SX trim levels
  • Up to 36 mpg highway with optional Fuel Economy package
  • Larger inside than many compact segment competitors
  • Trunk is as big as some midsize sedans
  • Bluetooth, a USB port, an auxiliary input jack, and 3 free months of Sirius satellite radio come standard
  • Side curtain air bags and stability control are standard
  • Designed by Peter Schreyer, formerly with Audi and Volkswagen
  • On sale early in the summer of 2009

Introduction

Kia aims to firm its competitive footing with the all-new 2010 Forte, a small sedan that promises big value. The 2010 Kia Forte replaces the all-but-forgottenSpectra in the Korean automaker's lineup, slotting above the Rio and below the Optima.Larger inside than many of the models against which it will compete,such as the Honda Civicand ToyotaCorolla, the new 2010 Kia Forte goes on sale early in the summer of2009.

All 2010 Kia Fortes will come standard with a 5-year/60,000-milebumper-to-bumper warranty, 10-year/100,000-mile powertrain warranty,and free roadside assistance for 5 years or 60,000 miles.

Design

Designed by Peter Schreyer, formerly with Audi and Volkswagen, the newForte is the first mainstream product from Kia to display the company's new styling language. Key among these traits are the Forte's black mesh grille, pinched grille surround treatment, swept-back headlights, crisp body lines, and the tall rear deck.

Inside, the interior is "one of the roomiest in its class," according to Kia. At 96.8 cubic feet, it's larger than the Honda Civic and ToyotaCorolla. It's roomy inside the trunk, too, where 14.7 cubic feet of space provides as much cargo carrying capability as many midsize sedans.

ModelLineup

Three trim levels will be available: standard LX, well-equipped EX, and sporty SX. The LX includes a 6-way adjustable driver's seat, tilt steering wheel, rear defroster, and a CD player. However, perhaps more important for shoppers in the $15,000 price range, every Kia Forte includes an auxiliary input jack, a USB port, Bluetooth wireless connectivity, and 3 months of free Sirius satellite radio.

Stepping up to the EX model adds power door locks, power windows,remote keyless entry, air conditioning, map lights, cruise and audio controls on the steering wheel, floor mats, rear cup holders, and6-speaker surround sound audio. A power sunroof and leather seats are optional on the Forte EX.

Drivers looking for a little performance will want to choose the SX,which, in addition to a more powerful engine, includes 17-inch wheels,P215/45R17 tires, sport suspension, larger brakes, rear spoiler,telescopic steering wheel, and sport cloth seats with red stitching.Like the EX, the Forte SX can be optioned with leather seats and a power sunroof.

Hardware

Kia offers two engines on the 2010 Forte. The Forte LX and EX are equipped with a 2.0-liter 4-cylinder engine making 156 hp and 144lb.-ft. of torque. A 5-speed manual transmission is standard, and a4-speed automatic transmission is optional, each delivering power to the front wheels. On the LX and EX, an optional Fuel Economy package includes the automatic transmission, electric power steering system,low-rolling-resistance tires, and aerodynamic tweaks for a 36-mpg EPA highway rating.

The 2010 Kia Forte SX gets more power, thanks to its 173-hp, 2.4-liter4-cylinder engine. A 6-speed manual transmission is standard with this powerplant, with a 5-speed automatic optional. The automatic includes a manual shifting mode called Sportmatic.

Unless the Fuel Economy package is selected, the Kia Forte is equipped with an engine-speed-sensitive hydraulic power steering system, which typically delivers better "road feel" than an electric-assist steering setup. The Forte also employs an independent front suspension withMacPherson struts, and a simple torsion beam rear suspension.

Safety

Proof that all cars on the market, no matter how inexpensive they are,should come standard with a full complement of safety features is delivered by the 2010 Kia Forte. Even the base LX model is equipped with dual-stage front air bags, side-impact air bags for the front-seat occupants, and side curtain air bags for both rows of seats.Furthermore, the Forte includes 4-wheel disc brakes with anti-lock feature (ABS), traction control, and a stability control system. Active front headrests are designed to help minimize whiplash injury in a rear-impact crash, and a tire-pressure monitor lets the driver know when the rubber is meeting too much of the road.


Technology

The 2010 Kia Forte is no technology tour de force, but at a starting price around $15,000, neither is it expected to be. Nevertheless, every Kia Forte comes equipped withBluetooth cell phone pairing for hands-free conversation, auxiliary input jack for portable MP3 players, USB port, and a free 3-month subscription to Sirius satellite radio. Not too shabby for an economy car, and just what the target Generation Y buyer wants.
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