The Auto Channel
The Largest Independent Automotive Research Resource
The Largest Independent Automotive Research Resource
Official Website of the New Car Buyer

2011/2012 Kia Forte SX Sedan Review and Road Test By Larry Nutson

PHOTO (select to view enlarged photo)
2011/2012 Kia Forte

Kia Specs, Prices and Comparisons - Kia Buyers Guide

Euro-styled and competent
By Larry Nutson
Senior Editor, Chicago Bureau
The Auto Channel

The stylish Forte, introduced in 2010, is a very competent compact sedan. For 2011 an all-new 5-door hatchback was added. For 2012 it is pretty much carry-over with a few minor changes.

The Forte’s entry price is low and the standard amenity list is long. The exterior might be categorized as a Euro-look. I found the interior on my SX sedan test car to be very handsome and comfortable. Response from the 2.4L 4-cylinder was more than adequate for Chicagoland city streets and highway on-ramps as well as cruising the expressway City dwellers will like its practical size, excellent visibility and tight turning radius. The 5-door is even better suited to city life with it being shorter than the sedan.

PHOTO (select to view enlarged photo)

Since its debut in Summer 2009, the Forte compact sedan has racked up an impressive list of accolades, including being named a 2010 "Top Safety Pick" by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS), named to MSN Autos "Top 10 Cars Under $15,000" list, and named a "Consumers' Top Rated Vehicle" and "Top Recommended Vehicle" by placed the 2011 Kia Forte 5-door on their recent list of the "Top 10 Urban Cars."

Both the sedan and 5-door offer numerous standard comfort and convenience features depending on trim level, including power windows, power door locks with remote keyless entry and hands-free Bluetooth wireless technology connectivity. Added flexibility comes with the 5-door hatchback’s 19.4 cubic foot cargo area. The sedan offers 14.7 cubic feet of cargo room.

Available in LX, EX and SX trim levels for the Forte sedan and EX and SX versions for the Forte 5-door, pricing for the sedan starts at $14,995 for the base trim, while pricing for the hatchback begins at $16,895. Both the sedan and 5-door offer standard convenience features including air conditioning, SIRIUS Satellite Radio capabilities with three months complimentary service, MP3 connectivity and Bluetooth wireless technology and steering wheel-mounted audio controls.

PHOTO (select to view enlarged photo)

Both EX and SX models offer a number of additional standard luxurious touches such as: power windows and door locks; remote keyless entry; air conditioning; map lamps; steering wheel-mounted audio and cruise controls; tweeter speakers; dual front and rear cup holders; and floor mats. New for 2011, steering wheel paddle shifters come standard on all SX trims.

Forte sedan and 5-door EX models also offer an optional Premium Package that includes a power sunroof with tilt and 16-inch alloy wheels outfitted with 205/55R16 tires. The power sunroof with tilt also is an available option stand-alone for all SX trims and the EX trim on the Forte 5-door.

The sporty SX model that I drove brings even more standard features for the sedan and 5-door, including a unique black interior with sport cloth fabric adorned with red stitching…subtle enough so as not to overwhelm, a telescopic steering column, “Supervision” gauge cluster, leather-wrapped steering wheel and shift knob and metal-finish trim and pedals.

PHOTO (select to view enlarged photo)

Forte offers a high level of standard safety equipment, with features such as front active headrests, dual advanced front airbags, front seat-mounted and side curtain airbags, full-length side curtain airbags, side impact door beams, front and rear crumple zones, four-wheel disc brakes with an Antilock Brake System (ABS), Electronic Brake-force Distribution (EBD) and a Brake Assist System (BAS), Electronic Stability Control (ESC), a Traction Control System (TCS) and a Tire Pressure Monitoring System (TPMS).

PHOTO (select to view enlarged photo)

The LX and EX trims are powered by a 2.0-liter DOHC four-cylinder engine, producing 156 horsepower and 144 pound-feet of torque, that features Continuously Variable Valve Timing (CVVT) and multi-port electronic fuel injection, both of which provide for greater performance and fuel economy. The SX features an upgraded 2.4-liter inline four-cylinder engine, also with CVVT, which delivers 173 horsepower.

New for 2011, Forte now offers six-speed manual and six-speed automatic transmission options. Forte LX comes standard with the six-speed manual while EX and SX trim levels offer a standard six-speed automatic transmission with Sportmatic clutchless shifting (optional on the LX trim). This six-speed automatic transmission is a proprietary design for Kia Motors that was engineered and built specifically for Kia vehicles.

The 2.0-liter engine is EPA rated at 25 city and 34 highway mpg when mated to either the manual or automatic transmissions, while the 2.4-liter engine is EPA rated at 22 city and 32 highway mpg when coupled with the manual transmission and 23 city and 32 highway mpg for the sedan and 23 city and 31 highway mpg for the 5-door with the automatic transmission.

The optional Fuel Economy Package, available on the EX sedan model with the 2.0-liter powerplant, includes the six-speed automatic transmission, Motor Drive Power Steering (MDPS), "smart" alternator, new low-rolling resistance silica tires and aerodynamic enhancements. These improvements result in 27 city mpg and 37 highway mpg ratings.

The EX and SX Technology Packages, available on both sedan and 5-door models, includes navigation, fully automatic temperature control, push button start, fog lamps (EX package only), automatic headlamps and chrome exterior door handles. The available SX Leather Package offers additional luxurious enhancements, including leather seat trim, heated front seats and an electro-chromic rear view mirror.

All Forte models are covered by Kia’s comprehensive warranty program. Included are a 10-year or 100,000-mile limited powertrain warranty, a five-year or 60,000-mile limited basic warranty, and a five-year or 100,000-mile anti-perforation warranty. A five-year/60,000-mile roadside assistance plan is also part of the comprehensive coverage program.

Final Words: Don’t ignore this viable entry that will fit in very well in most anyone’s urban lifestyle.

Larry Nutson