- Honda Civic knock-off and
- Buzzy four banger
came flooding into my mind as I contemplated spending a week with the new Korean compact car.Let me put it as plainly as possible, I was dead wrong.
The Kia Forte EX is a pleasure to drive, and the exceptional level of refinement of the Asian import came as a pleasant surprise.
Normally at this point in a review I would try to dissect the car’s handling and driving dynamics, perhaps write a few sentences about the road manners and road feel, and finish with a description of the engine’s power band.
I believe that if you are in the market for a Kia Forte, you probably want what most people want when shopping for a new car.
- Good Value
- Style and of course safety
On all of these crucial points the Kia Forte scores a ten out of ten.
Let’s start with value. At a base price of $16,795. the Forte certainly won’t bust your budget and for that price you get the turkey with all of the trimmings.
My tester had such “high end” options as leather upholstery, Bluetooth connectivity, heated front seats, and even iPod and external hard drive inputs. Granted, the car’s radio yelled orders at me like a angry dominatrix when connecting the Bluetooth to my iPhone but once set-up I was a legal happy hands-free phoning machine.
The other pleasant surprise of my week with the Forte was just how comfortable and useful it was as a daily driver.
The Forte is not just exceptionally easy to drive, but for a guy who’s getting a little tired (and perhaps even a little old) for such jungle gym cars like the Tesla Roadster, the Forte is a painless pleasure when it comes to hoping in and out of the car for that critical Christmas shopping.
Kia also seems to have nailed the sweet spot when it comes to the perfectly sized compact car. Or perhaps Honda nailed it with the Civic, and Kia followed in its Asian competitor’s footsteps.
And speaking of the Honda Civic, you’d be hard pressed not to notice a strong resemblance between the two rival cars. So which came first?
The Honda Civic of course but if Kia is going to borrow some style cues from a rival automaker, they could do much worse than the Honda Civic.
In the past some Korean car manufactures have blatantly copied much more expensive competitors like the Mercedes Benz or Jaguar, but the Forte only takes the better design cues from the Civic and builds on them with a unique, original, and dare I say a sexy spin on the standard Civic.
Of course there are some problems with the Kia.
Perhaps the most obvious and annoying is the hair-trigger throttle. Just caress the car’s gas pedal with your big toe and the engine will scream to redline like a well-whipped stagecoach horse team from an old Hollywood Western on the run from the marauding Indians.
OK, so maybe I’m exaggerating just a wee bit, but come on Kia….as The Who likes to sing, “We won’t be fooled again.”
Just because the car’s throttle is the proverbial “itchy trigger finger” doesn’t mean the car is a top fuel dragster in compact car disguise.
In fact the Kia Forte is pretty slow to 60 mph. I recorded a 0-60 time of 13.76 with a quarter mile going by in 19.96 seconds at 5430 feet above sea level..,and that’s with the EX model’s bigger 173-hp, 2.4-liter four banger. The LX model gets a smaller 156-horsepower, 2.0-liter four-cylinder.
On the other hand the Kia did stop from 60-0 in a very safe and respectable 113 feet.
And when it comes to safety, the Kia brings a bevy of airbags to the party along with 5 out of 5 stars government driver impact crash rating while only getting 3 out of 5 stars for the passenger.
Standard safety features include antilock brakes , six standard airbags, electronic stability and traction control.
So no, the Forte won’t win many impromptu stoplight drag races, but that’s not why most people will buy the Forte.
They’ll buy the Kia because it affords the value, dependability, comfort, style, and safety they except from a modern car at an MSRP that won’t bust the typical budget.
Engine, Transmission: 2.0 16-Valve DOHC CVVT 4-Cylinder engine with 4-speed automatic transmission
G-Tac as tested Data at 5420 feet above sea level
1/4 Mile: 19.96 second at 75 mph
0-60 mph: 9.15 sec
60-0 stopping: 113 feet
Max Acceleration: .42 g's
EPA Fuel Economy Estimates
City: 25 mpg
Highway: 34 mpg
Combined: 28.0 mpg
As tested: 27.9 mpg
CO2 per year: 7,826 lbs
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Roman Mica is a columnist, journalist, and author, who spent his early years driving fast on the German autobahn. When he's not reviewing cars for the active set, you can find him training for triathlons and writing about endurance sports for, EverymanTri.com.