As if the Forte model lineup was lacking of sorts, which is arguable, Kia has introduced an all-new hatchback version for 2011. Two trims are available: the 2.0-liter EX develops 156 horsepower @ 6200 rpm and 144 pounds-feet of torque @ 4300 rpm, and the sporty 2.4-liter SX puts out 173 hp @ 6000 rpm and 168 pounds-feet of torque @ 4000 rpm. Both get an inline-4 cylinder engine, which allows for quick acceleration from any speed with road and wind noise kept to the minimum.
Transmission has been rightly overhauled with the previous and somewhat-lacking 4-speed auto and 5-speed manual/auto replaced by a 6-speed auto, which provides for seamless shifts. The Korean carmaker has also sport tuned the independent MacPherson strut front and torsion beam rear suspension in the SX for an even livelier and enjoyable ride.
When compared to its sibling sedan, the Forte excels in the cargo (astounding 19.4 cubic feet) and passenger (laudable 97.5 cubic feet) department. Stowage functionality is further enhanced by a huge glove box, center console with armrest, respectably large under-floor storage bin and open cubby under the dashboard. An auxiliary/USB jack and 12-volt power outlets are located within easy reach and view of the driver.
Pricing starts at an affordable $16,895 for the 2.0-liter 6-speed manual and creeps up to just $19,395 for the 2.4-liter 6-speed auto. And who can forget fuel savings as gas still hovers over $3 a gallon? EPA estimates drivers behind the 2.0-liter engine can eke out 25/34 and 23/32 city/highway in the 2.4 liter.
If looking for a boldly designed and reasonably priced ride that comes with genuine, daily practicality, this Kia hatchback is worth a test drive. You very well may have found your 'Forte.'
Wheelbase: 104.3 inches
Length: 170.9 inches
Steering: rack-and-pinion electric