Make us your home page
The Daily Drivers | By Peter Couture and Lyra Solochek, Times Staff Writers

The Daily Drivers: 2010 Kia Forte SX is its forte indeed

South Korean automaker Kia is trying to increase its visibility in the minds of consumers — think offbeat commercials and life-size sock monkeys. So, quick, name a Kia model. Still thinking? Then maybe the Forte small sedan (there's also a two-door "Koup") will be the name that sticks in your mind.

Appearance: When Lyra first saw a Forte on the road, she did a double-take. That's a Kia? Unlike its previous small sedan, the Spectra, the Forte has a more European-influenced design, and it looks edgier than some other Asian compact sedans in its class.

Interior: The Forte has an attractive, if generic, interior with a mix of hard plastics and textured vinyl befitting a car in its price range. The cockpit features simple, easy-to-read gauges — except for a too-small radio display — and black leather seats and red-stitched door panels that reminded Peter of the last Pontiac he drove. The Forte has ample headroom, but it can be slightly cramped for taller passengers in an otherwise spacious backseat. Something else that's nice: a long list of standard features in the sporty SX model that includes Bluetooth, auto-dim rearview mirror and Sirius satellite radio. Our tester had optional heated front seats. There also are four cup holders up front.

Performance: The good news is that the Forte SX's 2.4-liter, 173-horsepower four-cylinder has surprising pull — we had to double-check that it wasn't a six- cylinder mill. Combine that with its light weight and a sport-tuned suspension, and we both found the Forte to be a more-than-able interstate cruiser with plenty of passing power. Then there's the mileage, which is rated at 22 in the city and 32 on the highway. Now the bad news: We drove a Forte equipped with a six-speed manual transmission. We normally love us some shifting, but this one frustrated us in a way that none of the performance cars we've driven ever did. The clutch action is so light that the car is ridiculously easy to stall. Peter drove the Forte on a couple of spring-training trips, to Port Charlotte and Kissimmee, and it took him all weekend to figure out exactly how the car liked to get out of first gear. Better give it plenty of gas before you even think of letting out that third pedal. And when you do, let it out slowly.

Our 3 favorites

Peter Couture

Trunk space: It's really roomy for this class — 14.7 cubic feet.

Safety: Standard features include air bags, curtains, stability controls and ABS.

Price: The base LX starts at $13,695.

Lyra Solochek

MPG: 22 city, 32 highway. Not bad.

Sporty ride: 173 horsepower on a lightweight car, along with the sport-tuned suspension, give you lots of pep.

European look: Design team led by Peter Schreyer (formerly of Audi/VW).

The bottom line: The Forte should help establish Kia in a competitive class of small sedans. But the manual transmission leaves a lot to be desired. Although we haven't driven the automatic, we'd be inclined to go with that option.

2010 Kia Forte SX

Price: $17,495 SX base, $21,070 as tested

Powertrain: 2.4-liter four-cylinder six-speed manual with sport-tuned suspension, FWD

Horsepower: 173 at 6,000 rpm

Torque: 168 pound-feet at 4,000 rpm

Curb weight: 2,853 pounds


in inches:

Wheelbase, 104.3

Length, 178.3

Width, 69.9



22 miles per

gallon city, 32 mpg highway

Fuel type: Regular unleaded


features: Six air bags and curtains, front active headrests, electronic stability control, traction control, brake assist, crumple zones, side-impact door beams, front fog lights.

Trim levels:

LX from $13,695, EX from $15,995

Options worth considering: Automatic transmission, power window, leather seats

Web site:

The Daily Drivers: 2010 Kia Forte SX is its forte indeed 04/09/10 [Last modified: Thursday, April 8, 2010 11:37pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. Under Republican health care bill, Florida must make up $7.5 billion


    If a Senate bill called the Better Care Reconciliation Act of 2017 becomes law, Florida's government would need to make up about $7.5 billion to maintain its current health care system. The bill, which is one of the Republican Party's long-promised answers to the Affordable Care Act imposes a cap on funding per enrollee …

    Florida would need to cover $7.5 billion to keep its health care program under the Republican-proposed Better Care Reconciliation Act of 2017.  [Times file photo]
  2. Amid U.S. real estate buying binge by foreign investors, Florida remains first choice

    Real Estate

    Foreign investment in U.S. residential real estate recently skyrocketed to a new high with nearly half of all foreign sales happening in Florida, California and Texas.

    A National Association of Realtors annual survey found record volume and activity by foreign buyers of U.S. real estate. Florida had the highest foreign investment activity, followed by California and Texas. [National Association of Realtors]
  3. Trigaux: Tampa Bay health care leaders wary of getting too far ahead in disruptive times


    Are attempts to repeal Obamacare dead for the foreseeable future? Might the Affordable Care Act (ACA), now in dire limbo, be revived? Will Medicaid coverage for the most in need be gutted? Can Republicans now in charge of the White House, Senate and House ever agree to deliver a substitute health care plan that people …

    Natalia Ricabal of Lutz, 12 years old, joined other pediatric cancer patients in Washington in July to urge Congress to protect Medicaid coverage that helped patients like Ricabal fight cancer. She was diagnosed with Ewing's sarcoma in 2013 and has undergone extensive treatments at BayCare's St. Joseph's Children's Hospital in Tampa. [Courtesy of BayCare]
  4. The Iron Yard coding academy to close in St. Petersburg


    ST. PETERSBURG — The Iron Yard, a code-writing academy with a location in downtown St. Petersburg, will close for good this summer.

    Instructors (from left) Mark Dewey, Jason Perry, and Gavin Stark greet the audience at The Iron Yard, 260 1st Ave. S, in St. Petersburg during "Demo Day" Friday, Oct. 7, 2016, at The Iron Yard, which is an immersive code school that is part of a trend of trying to address the shortage of programmers.  The academy is closing this summer.  [LARA CERRI   |   Times]
  5. Florida's unemployment rate drops for fourth straight month


    Unemployment in Florida hit a 10-year low in June, clocking in at 4.1 percent, down from 4.3 percent in May. The state added 19,400 jobs over the month, and saw growth in most industries. But there's one glaring missing piece to the economic recovery puzzle: wage growth.

    Florida's unemployment level dropped to 4.1 percent in June from 4.3 percent in May. |  [Times file photo]