tb-two* photo galleries
Just about everyone knows someone who has been bullied, in ways big and small. Understandably, though, many victims are reluctant to speak about their experiences. We found some who aren't.
By Tyler Hall Holcombe, Lakewood High, and Olivia Smith, St. Pete High
2011 Kia Forte | starts at $19,395; as tested, $23,640 | 23 mpg city, 32 highway
TYLER HALL HOLCOMBE, Lakewood High
DATING FACTOR: If you’re a guy, your date might burst out laughing at this ride. The car isn’t a hot pink Volkswagen Beetle, but its exterior isn’t masculine. Couple the exterior with the rather large trunk, which brings to mind a middle-aged mom going grocery shopping, and you’ve got a car that won’t impress your bros.
IMPRESS YOUR FRIENDS FACTOR: I’m just going to put this out there: this car has a feminine look to it on the outside. For this reason alone, I wouldn’t consider it for my personal vehicle, however the story changes on the inside. With dark gray fabric upholstery stitched in red and trimmed in leather, it’s obvious where all the testosterone in the vehicle went. The dashboard is lit up with a bright red light, which reminded me vaguely of the big red eye in the Droid Does commercials. There are other cool things on the inside, like the optional Sirius XM Radio/iPod dock/radio. The clarity of the sound is great, and the touchscreen options to browse your iPod music without even touching the iPod were very easy to use. Plus, it has a sunroof! If that doesn’t impress your friends, get new friends.
COMFORT DRIVING FACTOR: Our professional driver says the steering was a little firmer than usual, but that’s something to be expected in a car at this price point. The Kia Forte sports a manual mode, activated by pushing the gearshift to the left. You can then toggle it up and down to change the gear, or just use the steering wheel paddles to do the same. Also, for all those cold Florida days, there’s optional temperature-controlled seats. All very nice.
OLIVIA SMITH, St. Petersburg High
“QUICK, OPEN THE WINDOW” FACTOR: I am not usually car sick, but the Kia Forte might make Danica Patrick feel a bit unsettled. Every pothole and speed bump was accentuated by this car’s firm suspension. Also, though Patrick might like this, the revving is very loud.
JAM FACTOR: My favorite thing about this car is the killer sound system. No doubt. I would even go so far to say it is better than my beloved iHome. There are two speakers in the front and two speakers in the back. On the easy, touch screen display, you can pinpoint where exactly in the vehicle you want the sound to reach, and it is totally iPod compatible. Plug your device into the built-in dock, and scroll through your songs and playlists on a jukebox-like flipper. But, the sound system is a minor part of a car, and if that is my favorite part, well . . .
ROAD TRIP FACTOR: This car can fit five teenagers no problem (although I do recommend the shorter ones sit in the back, where the roof sort of cuts close). The air conditioning leaves a little to be desired. It is average in the front seat, but the back seat passengers get relatively squat, mostly below their knees. You’d have no problem fitting all your friends’ duffles in the roomy trunk.