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. Carrollwood fitness center employs scientific protocol to help clients


    In 2005, Al Roach and Virginia Phillips, husband and wife, opened 20 Minutes to Fitness in Lakewood Ranch, and last month they opened the doors to their new location in Carrollwood.

    Preston Fisher, a personal fitness coach at 20 Minutes To Fitness, stands with an iPad while general manager/owner Angela Begin conducts an equipment demonstration. The iPad is used to track each client's information and progress. I also included one shot of just the equipment. The center recently opened in Carrollwood. Photo by Danielle Hauser.
  2. Olive Tree branches out to Wesley Chapel


    WESLEY CHAPEL — When it came time to open a second location of The Olive Tree, owners John and Donna Woelfel, decided that Wesley Chapel was the perfect place.

    The Olive Tree expands its offerings of "ultra premium?€ extra virgin olive oils (EVOO) to a second location in Wesley Chapel. Photo by Danielle Hauser.
  3. Massachusetts firm buys Tampa's Element apartment tower

    Real Estate

    TAMPA — Downtown Tampa's Element apartment tower sold this week to a Massachusetts-based real estate investment company that plans to upgrade the skyscraper's amenities and operate it long-term as a rental community.

    The Element apartment high-rise at 808 N Franklin St. in downtown Tampa has been sold to a Northland Investment Corp., a Massachusetts-based real estate investment company. JIM DAMASKE  |  Times
  4. New York town approves Legoland proposal


    GOSHEN, N.Y. — New York is one step closer to a Lego dreamland. Goshen, a small town about fifty miles northwest of the Big Apple, has approved the site plan for a $500 million Legoland amusement park.

    A small New York town, Goshen approved the site plan for a $500 million Legoland amusement park. Legoland Florida is in Winter Haven. [Times file  photo]
  5. Jordan Park to get $20 million makeover and new senior housing

    Real Estate


    Times Staff Writer

    ST. PETERSBURG —The St. Petersburg Housing Authority, which bought back the troubled Jordan Park public housing complex this year, plans to spend about $20 million to improve the 237-unit property and construct a new three-story building for …

    Jordan Park, the historic public housing complex, is back in the hands of the St. Petersburg Housing Authority. The agency is working to improve the 237-unit complex. But the latest plan to build a new three-story building for seniors will mean 31 families have to find new homes. [LARA CERRI   |   Tampa Bay Times]