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!FORTISSIMO!

This article is from our archives and has not been updated and integrated with our "new" site yet... Even so, it's still awesome - so keep reading!

Published on Fri, Apr 23, 2010

By: The LACar Editorial Staff

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By Bill Wright Who are those guys? When I first asked the question a while back, I was referring to auto manufacturers from Korea—Kia, in particular. Now, five years later, I still am. Back in 2005, I was fascinated by how far Kia had come in its 12 years in America. Now, as I analyze the week I spent driving the 2010 Kia Forte SX, it’s become apparent that no grass grows under the feet of the folks at Kia.

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It didn't take a lot to convince me to get behind the wheel of the Forte. To paraphrase Renée Zellweger’s line to Tom Cruise in Jerry Maguire, they had me at "six-speed manual transmission.” I get odd looks whenever I say something like that around here, only a masochist asks to drive a manual in Southern California traffic, but hey, I spend a lot of time in Europe and my daily driver on that side of the pond happens to be a five-speed manual, so a six-speed must be 20 percent more fun. The Forte SX is quite a jump, style-wise, from its predecessor, the Spectra. The Spectra was truly an 'Econobox.' Its styling was safe (read boring) and it didn't do anything particularly well except being a good value. The Forte is Kia’s way to show that they’re raising the bar. From the “Shocking Blue” color (Kia actually calls it Corsa Blue, but I think that it is somewhat bluer than that) to clean lines of the new styling. This is “not your father’s econobox.”

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The comfort of the occupants has certainly not been overlooked. It has optional leather seat trim and heated front seats along with a convenient sunroof. The standard version also comes with quite the laundry list of features, including: power windows, power external mirrors, power door locks with keyless remote access, cruise control, six speaker stereo with Satellite Radio, and a lot of cup holders. Also available is the convenient Bluetooth Hands-free connectivity and USB + Aux input capability—a feature even old guys like me, finds very handy. The Forte SX sports a 173 horsepower engine with 168 pound feet of torque which is channeled through the aforementioned six-speed manual transmission before arriving at the 17 inch wheels. The Forte’s handling is also not like that of its predecessor, and is therefore a lot more fun to drive. The torsion beam, stabilizer bar and other bits that go into the “Sport-Tuned Suspension” are apparent the first time that a corner is approached aggressively.

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Dual front airbags, front seat-mounted side airbags, combined with full length side curtain airbags are on hand just in case the unforeseen happens on the road. Other safety measures include: Anti-Lock Brakes with Brake Assist, Electronic Brake-Force Distribution, Electronic Stability Control, Traction Control and Tire Pressure Monitoring Systems. This is not the sort of standard feature list that one expects to see on a vehicle where the MSRP is less than $20,000, which makes this vehicle quite the steal, given its low price.

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For more information about Kia products, go to kia.com

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SPECIFICATIONS Name of vehicle: 2010 Kia Forte SX sedan Price: $13,695 (base LX model) $19,490 (as tested SX model) EPA rated fuel economy (city/highway miles per gallon): 22/32 Engine: 2.4-liter 16-valve DOHC CVVT four-cylinder engine Horsepower: 173 at 6000 rpm Torque: 168 pound-feet at 4000 rpm Transmission: Six-speed manual Drive configuration: Front-wheel drive Steering: Power-assisted rack and pinion Suspension: Sport-tuned independent front with stabilizer bar and torsion beam rear, electronic stability control Brakes: Antilock braking system (ABS) with brake assist (BAS) and electronic Brake Force Distribution (EBD), Traction Control System (TCS) Wheels and tires: 17-inch alloy wheels and P215/45R17 tires Dimensions Length: 178.3 inches Width: 69.9 inches Height: 57.5 inches Curb weight: 2853 pounds

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