The Kia Forte line gave the sleepy compact segment a wakeup call that reverberates into 2012 with added amenities. The wedge-like body lines, roomy interior, powerful engines, high fuel economy and outstanding value remain in place for 2012 Kia Forte models.
The strongest part of a sword’s blade is called the “forte,” which makes that a wholly appropriate name for the Kia line of compacts. The Kia Forte sedan stepped in to challenge such long-running favorites as the Honda Civic and Toyota Corolla, and you don’t take on that fight meekly. The Kia Forte dazzles with upscale design, delights with near-midsize roominess and dashes with more power and performance than those competitors.
The extra-practical Forte 5-Door joined the Forte sedan and Koup models for 2011. The 2012 Forte sedan offers LX, EX and SX trims; Koup and 5-Door models each come in EX and SX versions. For 2012, the 5-Door has a Sportmatic® six-speed automatic transmission standard. The sedan and Koup offer the choice between a slick-shifting six-speed manual and the six-speed automatic. It seems almost unfair to compare the Forte to the Corolla on that count, since the Corolla offers just a five-speed manual or a four-speed automatic. Sporty Forte SX models come with steering wheel paddleshifters for more driving fun; don’t even bother looking for those on Civic and Corolla.
Such comparisons get even more lopsided (in favor of the Kia Forte) when you look at powertrain choices. Maybe most people don’t buy a compact sedan or even a sporty coupe based on horsepower alone, yet a power advantage can make a car more engaging to drive, as well as help make highway merging maneuvers smoother.
The Forte delivers a substantial fun factor thanks to a standard 156-hp 2.0-liter engine and, for SX models, a 173-hp 2.4-liter unit. The class-leading power of the 2.0-liter Forte comes with up to 37 mpg on the highway with the available Fuel Economy Package, putting it on par with the less powerful, 138-hp Honda Civic and ahead of the 132-hp Toyota Corolla. The difference in power, coupled with the superior flexibility of a six-speed transmission, makes the Kia Forte a joy to drive.
Kia owners also find joy in Kia value, which notches upward for the 2012 Forte. EX trims gain a standard tilt-and-telescopic steering wheel, which makes it even easier to set a comfortable driving position. With the optional Technology Package, the EX also gains the distinctive Supervision™ gauge cluster, which lends an upscale, sporty look to the interior.
Kia value comes through in an extensive roster of standard features for all Forte models, yet true value begins with a roomy, well-appointed cabin. With 96.8 cubic feet of passenger space and 14.7 cubic feet of trunk capacity, the Kia Forte sedan earns the EPA’s “midsize car” classification, compared to “compact” for the Civic and Corolla. Rear passengers will find a generous 35 inches of legroom. The five-door offers nearly 20 cubic feet of storage space behind the rear seats.
True to Kia value, the Forte LX starts out with air conditioning, a six-way adjustable driver’s seat, SIRIUS® Satellite Radio (with three months complimentary service), MP3 connectivity, hands-free Bluetooth® connectivity and steering wheel-mounted audio controls among its standard features.
Moving up the line to the Forte EX and SX brings more amenities. The SX also adds more sportiness with larger front brakes, 17-inch alloy wheels and big, low-profile 215/45R17 tires. The Forte Koup is built on a shorter wheelbase for enhanced agility, yet its design provides more room than some other coupes, especially rear-seat headroom.
Kia has been making bold moves to add luxury into its affordable cars, and not just the top-end models. The 2012 Forte exemplifies that trend with available EX and SX Technology Packages, which include navigation, automatic temperature control, push button start and automatic headlights. You can add the available SX Leather Package to get leather seat trim, heated front seats and an auto-dimming rearview mirror.
If you think the 2012 Kia Forte line looks good on paper (and your computer screen), come in for a test-drive and see how good you look in a Forte sedan, 5-Door or sporty Koup.