By KBB.com Editors
The Honda Civic and Toyota Corolla are the co-captains of the compact sedan segment. Refined over several decades and many generations, they've been the two best-selling cars in the category for what seems like forever. But today there are more viable alternatives than ever, and one of the very latest is the 2010 Kia Forte. More than a replacement for the Kia Spectra, the stylish and solid Forte represents a giant leap for Kia as an automaker. The lineup started with a sedan, continued with a coupe and should eventually grow to include a wagon.
If stylish, tech-savvy and affordable are among your key compact car wants, give the 2010 Kia Forte a spot on your short list.
Although it has sporty style and class-leading horsepower, the 2010 Kia Forte isn't as engaging as category performance standouts like the MAZDA3 or Mitsubishi Lancer.
With the introduction of the 2010 Forte, Kia has moved another chess piece across the threshold of style and perceived quality that typically separates a category's successful veterans from its revolving name-changers.
Driving Impressions The 2010 Kia Forte is most impressive on the highway, least impressive when pushed hard and pretty darn good at all points in between. Out on the open road, we've...found it to be one of the category's quieter and more comfortable cruisers. On tighter, twistier asphalt, the Forte is quick when pushed and corners confidently, but isn't as fun to drive as competitors like the MAZDA3 or VW Jetta. Even in the more powerful, sport-tuned SX version, the Forte's steering, pedal and shifter feel don't really promote or reward enthusiastic driving. We'd also give up some of the SX's class-leading horsepower for a little more low-end torque and off-the-line response. Around town, the Forte simply drives like the solid little compact sedan it is, with our biggest complaint being a larger-than-average blind spot that can make backing out of parking spaces a bit dicey.
Comprehensive Audio System
Every 2010 Kia Forte boasts a flexible AM/FM/CD/MP3/Sat/Aux/USB audio system. When matched with the upgraded speakers, it's among the best sound systems in the segment.
The 2010 Kia Forte features the same great iPod connection point we first loved on the Kia Soul: An open bin, in plain view and within easy reach, with readily accessible power and connection ports.
Stylish sheetmetal isn't enough: To compete with the best compact sedans today you also must have an interior with contemporary style and an absence of overtly cheap materials. The Forte's impressive passenger compartment goes even further than that, adding the roomiest interior in its class (more room than a Nissan Maxima, in fact) and a bigger trunk than the BMW 7 Series. Seat comfort is improving across the Kia line but continues to be a weak point for some folks of various sizes, so you might want to pay attention there.
If you want to play with the big boys, you've got to look the part. Fortunately for Kia, the 2010 Kia Forte is among the most attractive cars in its class. The signature design element is a unique character line that drops down from the side mirror and extends all the way to the rear. We like the Forte's wide, low-profile stance, which adds to the sporty character and helps it stand out in a crowd of ever-taller compact cars. The Forte EX and SX trims sport side mirrors with integrated turn signals - a nice touch - and even the base LX has body-color side mirrors and door handles instead of the black plastic features you'll find on some base-level compact sedans.
Kia is quick to point out that even the cheapest 2010 Kia Forte includes Bluetooth phone connectivity, iPod integration and an impressive suite of safety equipment including six airbags, electronic stability control and a sophisticated brake system. Don't expect to pay base price, though, if you want power windows, remote keyless entry or air conditioning.
The 2010 Kia Forte is among the growing number of compact sedans that offers leather seating. Unlike many of its competitors, however, the Forte does not offer a navigation system. Other amenities available for a price include a sunroof, heated seats, cruise control, steering-wheel audio and cruise buttons, upgraded speaker system and a 60/40 split-folding rear seat.
The front-wheel-drive Forte offers a 156-horsepower, 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine that can be matched with a five-speed manual or four-speed automatic transmission. The top-line, sport-tuned SX trim features a 173-horsepower, 2.4-liter four matched with a six-speed manual transmission or a five-speed automatic with manual control. The mid-trim EX is also offered with a Fuel Economy Package that includes the five-speed automatic plus Motor Drive Power Steering, a load-managing "smart" alternator, high-silica low-rolling-resistance tires and unique aero enhancements to boost its EPA numbers to 27/36 mpg and deliver class-leading city/highway combined fuel economy of 30 miles per gallon.
2.0-liter in-line 4
156 horsepower @ 6200 rpm
154 horsepower @ 6200 rpm (SULEV)
144 lb.-ft. of torque @ 4300 rpm
138 lb.-ft.of torque @ 4600 rpm (SULEV)
EPA city/highway fuel economy: 25/34 (5-speed manual, 4-speed auto), 27/36 (5-speed auto)
2.4-liter in-line 4 (Forte SX)
173 horsepower @ 6000 rpm
165 horsepower @ 6000 rpm (SULEV)
168 lb.-ft. of torque @ 4000 rpm
161 lb.-ft. of torque @ 4000 rpm (SULEV)
EPA city/highway fuel economy: 22/32 (6-speed manual), 23/31 (five-speed auto)
By Baker on Friday, July 18, 2014
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 25,000overall rating 10 of 10rating details
Pros: "All +++++"
Cons: "Power is good, for Gas savings!"
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 9
"This is an excellent vehicle for those who have thrift in mind and yet want all the features in more expensive models. Gas economy is excellent, 27.5 in city driving, Highway driving 30 with the air on, can go to 33 without air or even better. Mechanically I have owned it for three years as good as the day I drove it out of the show room. In the city it's good and on the highway it performs well. Ride is good, sensitive steering electric power steering is very responsive. Once you go to Cruise control gas savings go up even with air on. Sound system could be a bit better but it is good. Great car mini limo for less cost. Great for young people as a starter, but you will always appreciate it's cost savings no matter what you own in the future!"
3 people out of 5 found this review helpful
By GTEPro51 on Tuesday, July 08, 2014
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 52,000overall rating 6 of 10rating details
Pros: "Handling, Traction, Interior"
Cons: "Reliability, Transmission Systems"
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 4
"This car is great for handling in the summer and rain months, however, don't drive in the snow, especially in Chicago. My car has had three (3) transmissions, that's right, three transmissions. The first was a leak in the sealing, causing fluid to leak at a decent rate. The second was replaced because a ground blew, and the car remained in 3rd gear, even when in park or reverse. I've had 9 tyres replaced, because the camber continues to return to a poor state. I've tried to "baby" this car, but, I've spent more in repairs after the 36,000mi/3yr warranty at intial in 2010, than I've paid for used cars at 90K miles. This one has about 57K miles on the car, and the transmission is going again. I don't even live or drive in the city, so she gets proper gear shifting. Good interior I would say."
By Houston123 on Monday, July 07, 2014
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 30,900overall rating 7 of 10rating details
Pros: "Looks and sounds cool"
Cons: "Tires cause problems"
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 5
"Got a good deal on this car 4 years ago, and have had minor issues. The main issues I have had are the tires. They are the low profile tires, which doesn't work well on many roads (highways or pot-hole roads). It is a good car, that looks really cool, but I probably wouldn't get one again. It surprisingly has a lot of leg room inside. It's just not made for tall people because there is little head room since it's a short car."
By 5thwarder on Monday, July 07, 2014
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 19,000overall rating 8 of 10rating details
Pros: "Good get up and go!"
Cons: "Not a lot of leg room in the rear seats."
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 7
"I am pleased with the overall performance of my Kia Forte. I like the looks and I feel its safe for me and my family. The only thing I would change is I'd get a sun roof. I'm not totally pleased with the rear seat leg room but that's a sacrifice made by not getting the Optima! My next car will be a more fuel efficient one possibly a hybrid."
By Peggy on Tuesday, July 01, 2014
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 21,838overall rating 10 of 10rating details
Pros: "Right size, right fit and right price"
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 10
"I am taking over my husband's Kia Sorento and don't need to have 2 cars. That is the only reason I am selling my Kia Forte."
3 people out of 4 found this review helpful
By Cat on Saturday, June 28, 2014
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 40,000overall rating 10 of 10rating details
Pros: "30 mpg approx highway"
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 10
"Bought this car new 3 yrs ago and never had any problems other than I cannot sync my garage door opener with it and not sure if that is the car or the door."
2 people out of 4 found this review helpful