Kia Forte often gets overlooked because it is in a competitive segment against Focus, Elantra, and Cruze, but it definitely is a strong contender and worthy of consideration. There are two engines to choose from and they are both somewhere between decent and impressive. LX and Ex models get a 2.0-liter four-cylinder good for 156 horsepower and 144 pound-feet of torque. With the six-speed automatic it returns 26 mpg in the city and 36 mpg on the highway in the sedan. Coups and sedans with a manual transmission are just a bit under this. The Eco trim is 11 mpg better. Those opting for the SX model will appreciate 173 horsepower and 168 pound-feet of torque from the 2.4-liter four-cylinder. This engine reaches 60 mph in 8.8 seconds, an average speed for this segment. Fuel economy is mildly affected, yielding 23 mpg in the city and 32 mpg on the highway. As far as handling goes, it is nothing to get excited about. The ride is comfortable, but handling is commonly described as -doughy.- It simply lacks a little sophistication.
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• Audio - As you might expect, the base audio system only has four speakers, but it does include an iPod interface, CD player, auxiliary audio jack, and satellite radio. An upgrade six-speaker version with steering wheels controls comes in EX and up.
• Navigation - Adding the Technology package is well worth the expense, as it includes a very user-friendly navigation system with real-time traffic.
• Bluetooth - Receive, send, and end calls without taking your eyes off the road with this hands-free calling experience.
• Rearview Camera - Also included in the Technology package is a rearview camera that lets you see behind your car when in reverse.
There are no complaints regarding safety. The 2013 Kia Forte received top safety scores from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety in roof, front, and side-impact protection. When braking was tested, coupe models did extremely well, stopping from 60 mph in a short 118 feet. Hatchback was slightly longer, but still respectable at 122 feet. A few noteworthy safety features include:
• Turn signal mirrors
• Emergency braking assist
• Tire pressure monitoring
• Daytime running lamps
• Stability control
• Electronic brakeforce distribution
• Emergency interior trunk release
• Child seat anchors
• Traction control
• Dusk sensing headlamps
The 2013 Kia Forte is available as a sedan, coupe, and five-door hatchback, so there is something for everyone. It is not an overly showy car, but it does offer sporty styling that gives it a little edge over some of the competition. The standard 15-inch wheels are nice, but both the 16 and 17-inch wheels are almost worth upgrading trims for alone. Projection headlamps and body-colored door handles are appreciated on the base model, but EX get a lot of nice details, such as LED positioning lights, chrome door handles, and chrome exhaust tips.
Although Forte's interior is not quite in the same league as Golf, Elantra, or Focus, it is still comfortable with a thoughtful control center. Most drivers will appreciate that the controls are easy to identify and use with barely a glance. The seats are average, but not as supportive as someone with a long commute might prefer. There is plenty of room in the front row, and even the rear seat in sedan is roomy, but adults will struggle back there in coupe models.
There is a surprising amount of cargo space in the 2013 Forte. Coupe offers 12.6 cubic feet while sedan boasts a 14.7-cubic foot trunk. The hatchback has an impressive 19.4 cubes of space.