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 Kenia on Wednesday, January 14, 2015
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 76,000overall rating 10 of 10rating details
Pros: "Very reliable, great price and fun to drive"
Cons: "no complaints"
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 10
"I have 2010 Kia Forte EX burgundy (aka Lola) paid cash for it 2months ago. I read all the reviews, I had my mechanic look at it, he said it passed all his tests. It is very fun to drive. My family loves it. Very spacious. I love the Bluetooth and extras on steering wheel. Surprised on big trunk and extra compartments. I get many compliments. Great on gas, I put $20 every 2 weeks. I drive every day, around town and out of town a few times. It drives great uphill, on bad roads and rain, no noise whatsoever. I am in Oregon and it definitely has passed all the tests here."
3 people out of 7 found this review helpful
By dbs on Monday, December 22, 2014
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 47,000overall rating 9 of 10rating details
Pros: "Good price and solid performance."
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 7
"Mine was a nice car in metallic bronze/brown. No mechanical prob. other than that of my own doing(only a couple hundred bucks). Has a bit of power and solid daily driver. Want an SX for a bit of a sportier ride. We'll see."
8 people out of 13 found this review helpful
By KiaUp on Thursday, December 11, 2014
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 28,400overall rating 5 of 10rating details
Pros: "Fast, cheap to get, nice looking."
Cons: "Bad value retention, bad suspension, bad paint."
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 2
"Car is fast but very uncomfortable ride. I got for $12,373 on 10/2014 and now, 12/2014 has a trade in value of $8,521. So, I just have a loss of $3,852.30 in just about 40 days."
7 people out of 15 found this review helpful
By Forte Newbie on Friday, December 05, 2014
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 117,000overall rating 10 of 10rating details
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 10
"After 4 years and over 110K miles. Did not open the hood, even once. My "guys" at GoodYear do all the oil change, lubes and other little check ups. Changed all 4 tires once . 2 Air filters. Nothing more done to the car. Extremely economical ratio dollar/miles driven. Gas mileage (mostly highway) 36-38 mpg in winter and exceeding 40mph in summer with smooth driving. Comfort: let's say it's not Cadillac. You get what you pay for. Sound System: Again, it's not a recording studio and with windows open, sound is really not at its best. Handling: Very easy and with stick shift, there might be a slight dead "timing" between Second and Third gear. Good acceleration in 5th Gear - even uphill."
6 people out of 9 found this review helpful
By Chris on Friday, November 21, 2014
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 74,836overall rating 10 of 10rating details
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 10
"This car as been great for how we use it. I've had it for over 3 years now and about 75,000 miles and have never had an issue with it. The only thing I would say is a negative is that the headrests jut forward to the point that long trips become somewhat straining on your neck. (works to flip the headrest backwards) Other than that it is at the top of its class. Good gas mileage, I average 32 mpg on a tank, 36-42 on long trips depending on the type of driving. Great value."
7 people out of 11 found this review helpful
By Disappointed on Thursday, November 20, 2014
I don't own this caroverall rating 3 of 10rating details
Pros: "great air conditioning and heaters."
Cons: "Needed a lot of servicing per dept."
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 1
"I am leasing this car. I got it in December 2011 and my lease is up March 2015. This car is awful in the snow, rain, any weather that is not sunny, really. It is too small. It is very uncomfortable, especially on long trips. The tires that came with the car only lasted about 15-20,000. I had to buy new tires on a leased car.. that makes no sense to me. I am not sure if it is just the dealership I used, but maintenance was crazy. Every time I went in for an oil change, the service department found other things that "needed to be done" that cost at least $100 more than expected. I had to get a "transmission tune-up" per the service department and after it was done, the car seems to shift worse."
5 people out of 12 found this review helpful