Kia is going full speed ahead with is new image. The Soul is erasing the memories of the soulless Rio, and now the Forte is adding style that the Spectra never had. prices range from $13,695 to $18,495.

The 2010 Forte is being offered in three different trims: EX, LX and SX. Forte LX and EX are powered by a 2.0 Liter DOHC four cylinder engine, producing 156 HP and 144 lb-ft of torque, that features Continuously Variable Valve Timing (CVVT) and multi-port electronic fuel injection. The SX features an upgraded 2.4 Liter inline four cylinder engine, also with CVVT, which delivers 173 HP.

Why are we excited about a new little Kia? Well, budget-friendly Kia seems to be starting to turn a corner. Its Euro-only Cee’d has been getting good reviews for style and performance. This Forte looks great inside and out compared to the Spectra it replaces, and so our hopes are high.

Press release after the jump.

Press release

On the heels of announcing the widely acclaimed, all-new Kia Soul, Kia Motors America (KMA) today introduced the all-new 2010 Kia Forte (pronounced for-tay) compact sedan at the 2009 Chicago Auto Show. Forte blends Kia’s exciting new design direction under the tutelage of Peter Schreyer, Kia Motors’ chief design officer, with a multitude of standard features. The 2010 Kia Forte will go on sale in North America in late spring or early summer of 2009.

“Kia Motors’ product line is rapidly evolving and the Forte compact sedan is another head turner,” said B.M. Ahn, group president and CEO, KMA and KMMG. “The Forte is an aggressively stylish blend of comfort and practicality – and with a host of standard features it provides the great quality and value that consumers have come to expect from Kia vehicles.”

2010 Kia Forte High Resolution Exterior
- image 346722

Style in Motion

Sporting stylish and aggressive design cues, the new Forte firmly establishes itself as a strong contender in its segment. With a bold look set apart by crisp lines, swept-back headlamps and a sleek profile, Forte exudes a confident stance that conveys motion both while cruising the highway and parked in the driveway. Available in three trim levels (LX, EX and SX), Forte offers a sleek, sophisticated design. The sportier SX trim offers a more athletic profile with 17-inch alloy wheels paired with P215/45R17-sized premium tires and a rear spoiler.

Smooth and Comfortable Ride

With a wheelbase of 104.3 inches, an overall length of 178.3 inches, an overall width of 69.9 inches and overall height of 57.5 inches, Forte offers one of the roomiest interiors in its class with seating for up to five passengers. The Kia-engineered body achieves high torsional stiffness giving Forte better handling, smoother ride quality and greater refinement than its competitors, with a specially tuned suspension adjusted perfectly for responsive handling on curvy roads. Additional refinements are fitted throughout Forte to help ensure a comfortable ride with good noise, vibration and harshness (NVH) reduction qualities.

2.0-liter DOHC four-cylinder engine, 156 hp and 144 lbs-ft of torque; 2.4-liter, inline four-cylinder, 173 hp and 168 lbs-ft

Built on a front-wheel-drive unibody frame, Forte utilizes an independent front suspension with MacPherson struts and a stabilizer bar and a torsion beam rear suspension with struts and coil springs. This combination helps provide the optimal balance of handling and comfort. An engine-speed-sensitive, power-assisted rack-and-pinion steering system adds the finishing touch for precise handling by providing the most advantageous amount of assist for varying road conditions. In keeping with the sporty essence of the SX model line, a sport-tuned suspension gives the chassis a firmer feel and responsiveness resulting in a sportier and more spirited ride. The SX model also features larger front brakes for improved stopping capabilities.

2010 Kia Forte High Resolution Interior
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Attractive and Practical Interior

Forte boasts a class-leading¹ 96.8 cubic feet of passenger volume, while driver and passengers have an impressive 40.0 inches of headroom and 43.3 inches of legroom in the front seats and 37.8 inches of headroom and 35.0 inches of legroom in the rear seats. Forte’s trunk also offers an impressive 14.7 cubic feet of cargo space, one of the largest in its class, perfect for luggage for weekend getaways.

Capitalizing on its spacious interior, Forte pampers its riders with a host of interior features, starting with comfortable, nicely appointed full cloth seats. A six-way adjustable driver’s seat, tilt steering column, rear defroster and dual 12-volt power outlets in the center console are driver- and passenger-conscious luxuries standard on every vehicle.

EX and SX models offer a number of additional standard luxurious touches such as: power windows and door locks; remote keyless entry; air conditioning; map lamps; steering wheel-mounted audio and cruise controls; dual front and rear cup holders; and floor mats. Forte EX and SX models also include standard cruise control with an optional sunroof and leather-trimmed seats. Also standard on SX models is a telescoping steering column as well as sport cloth seats adorned with red stitching, further enhancing its energetic persona.

Peppy Performance

2010 Kia Forte High Resolution Drivetrain
- image 346742

Forte LX and EX are powered by a 2.0-liter DOHC four-cylinder engine, producing 156 horsepower and 144 pound-feet of torque, that features Continuously Variable Valve Timing (CVVT) and multi-port electronic fuel injection, both of which provide for greater performance and fuel economy. The SX features an upgraded 2.4-liter inline four-cylinder engine, also with CVVT, which delivers 173 horsepower – more than the most powerful versions of the Toyota Corolla¹ or even the 2010 Mazda3.

Two transmission options are offered for the 2010 Forte: a standard five-speed manual transmission or an optional electronically controlled four-speed automatic transmission (LX and EX models). The SX model features a standard six-speed manual transmission and an optional five-speed automatic transmission with Sportmatic®.

The optional Fuel Economy Package, available with the 2.0-liter powerplant, will include the five-speed automatic transmission, Motor Drive Power Steering and low-rolling resistance tires with aero enhancements. These improvements result in class-leading combined fuel economy of 36 mpg (highway).

Music that Moves

2010 Kia Forte
- image 285359

Forte comes with a standard four speaker AM/FM/CD/MP3 audio system outfitted with SIRIUS Satellite Radio capabilities with three months complimentary service². Standard on all models is an auxiliary audio input jack and USB port for connecting personal MP3 players. Standard Bluetooth® connectivity enables hands-free operation for compatible cell phones. For true audiophiles, the EX and SX packages also add a standard six speaker surround audio system and steering wheel controls.

Standard Kia Motors Safety

Forte offers a class-leading level of standard safety equipment, with features such as active front headrests, advanced two-stage airbags, front seat-mounted and side curtain airbags, four-wheel disc brakes with an antilock brake system (ABS), electronic stability control (ESC) and traction control (TCS), and a tire pressure monitoring system (TPMS).

Industry-Leading Warranty

Like all Kia models, Forte is covered by a comprehensive warranty program, which offers unprecedented consumer protection. Included in this program are a 10-year or 100,000-mile limited powertrain warranty, a five-year or 60,000-mile limited basic warranty, and a five-year or 100,000-mile anti-perforation warranty. A five-year/60,000-mile roadside assistance plan is also part of the comprehensive coverage program.

2010 Kia Forte
- image 285342


  • Body configuration Compact sedan
  • Body type Steel unibody  
  • Drivetrain layout Front engine, front drive
  • Passenger capacity 5
Type 2.0-liter, inline four-cylinder, aluminum block and head 2.4-liter, inline four-cylinder, aluminum block and head
Valve Gear DOHC, four valves/cylinder w/ CVVT DOHC, four valves/cylinder w/ CVVT
Horsepower (hp @ rpm) 156 @ 6200 (SULEV: 154 @ 6200) SX: 173 @ 6000 (SULEV: 165 @ 6000)
Torque (lb.-ft. @ rpm) 144 @ 4300 (SULEV: 139 @ 4600) 168 @ 4000 (SULEV: 161 @ 4000)
Bore x stroke (mm) 86.0 x 86.0 88.0 x 97.0
Displacement (cc) 1998 2359
Compression ratio 10.5:1 10.5:1
Emissions rating 50-state: LEV-II (ULEV) Tier-2 (Bin 4) CAL: LEV-II (SULEV PZEV) 50-state: LEV-II (ULEV) Tier-2 (Bin 4) CAL: LEV-II (SULEV PZEV)
Fuel tank capacity (gal.) 13.7 13.7
Engine oil capacity (qt.) 4.1 4.5
2010 Kia Forte High Resolution Interior
- image 346739


  • LX & EX: Five-speed manual
  • SX: Six-speed manual
  • LX & EX: Electronically controlled four-speed automatic
  • EX w/ Fuel Economy Package: Electronically controlled five-speed automatic
  • SX: Electronically controlled five-speed automatic w/ Sportmatic™

LX & EX 2.0L

Gear Ratios (:1) M/T 4-A/T 5-A/T
1st 3.308 2.919 3.939
2nd 1.962 1.551 2.093
3rd 1.189 1.000 1.349
4th 0.905 0.713 0.962
5th 0.702 0.713
Reverse 3.583 2.480 3.347
Final Drive 4.188 3.681 3.099
Clutch Type Single dry plate w/ hydraulic control Single dry plate w/ hydraulic control Single dry plate w/ hydraulic control

SX 2.4L

Gear Ratios (:1) M/T A/T
1st 3.267 3.939
2nd 1.931 2.093
3rd 1.636 1.349
4th 1.216 0.962
5th 1.027 0.713
6th 0.829
Reverse 3.588 3.347
Final Drive 4.063 (1, 2, R)
2.955 (3, 4, 5, 6)
Clutch Type Dual mass flywheel w/ hydraulic control Torque converter
2010 Kia Forte
- image 285357


  • Front Independent, MacPherson struts, coil springs, stabilizer bar
  • Rear Torsion beam w/ struts, coil springs, stabilizer bar


  • Type Engine-speed-sensitive, power-assisted rack-and-pinion
  • Turning circle, curb-to-curb (ft.) 33.8


  • Exterior:  
  • Overall length 178.3
  • Overall width 69.9
  • Overall height 57.5
  • Wheelbase 104.3
  • Track, front/rear 61.3 / 61.6
  • Ground Clearance 5.9
  • Interior:  
  • Headroom, front/rear 40.0 / 37.8
  • Shoulder room, front/rear 55.7 / 54.7
  • Legroom, Front 43.3 / 35.0
  • Front hip room, front/rear 53.0 / 53.3
  • Interior volume (cu. ft.) 96.8
  • Cargo volume (cu. ft.) 14.7
2010 Kia Forte High Resolution Exterior
- image 346716


  • Type Hydraulic, power-assisted vacuum w/ four-sensor, four-channel; ABS, ESC, BAS and EBD
  • Front LX & EX: 11.0-inch ventilated discs; SX: 11.8-inch ventilated discs
  • Rear 10.3-inch solid discs


Prices and Options


2.0 M/T
Base Price $13,695 $14,695
Convenience Package $1,500 $1,500
Fuel Economy Package n/a n/a
Leather Package (EX only) n/a n/a
Leather Package (SX only) n/a n/a
Moonroof + 16" Alloys n/a n/a
Moonroof n/a n/a
Carpeted Floor Mats $95 $95
Wheel Locks $45 $45
Cargo Net $40 $40
Cargot Tray $75 $75
EC Mirror w/Compass $180 $180
EC Mirror w/Compass & Homelink $250 $250
Destination Charge $695 $695
2010 Kia Forte High Resolution Exterior
- image 346719


2.0 M/T
Base Price $15,995 $16,995
Convenience Package n/a n/a
Fuel Economy Package n/a $600
Leather Package n/a $1,000
Moonroof + 16" Alloys $900 $900
Moonroof n/a n/a
Carpeted Floor Mats STD STD
Wheel Locks $45 $45
Cargo Net $40 $40
Cargot Tray $75 $75
EC Mirror w/Compass $180 $180
EC Mirror w/Compass & Homelink $250 $250
Destination Charge $695 $695


2.4 M/T
Base Price $17,495 $18,495
Convenience Package n/a n/a
Fuel Economy Package n/a n/a
Leather Package $1,000 $1,000
Moonroof + 16" Alloys n/a n/a
Moonroof $700 $700
Carpeted Floor Mats STD STD
Wheel Locks $45 $45
Cargo Net $40 $40
Cargot Tray $75 $75
EC Mirror w/Compass $180 $180
EC Mirror w/Compass & Homelink $250 $250
Destination Charge $695 $695
2010 Kia Forte High Resolution Exterior
- image 346723

Competitors and press reviews

"If you can avoid stalling the engine as you leave the stoplight, you’ll find the 2.4-liter turns out to have a pretty nice power band with useful midrange torque and a smooth delivery. There’s not much going on at the top end, though, so you’ll likely reach for the next gear before the redline at 6,500 rpm. But quick gearchanges aren’t really possible in the 2010 Kia Forte SX, as the engine hangs onto revs while rocking around in its soft mounts. Kia says the Forte SX will run to 60 mph "in the 7s." We expect a very abusive launch will be required and we’re not sure we want to be there. We also get some time with a Forte EX sedan with the four-speed automatic and find this combination even less to our liking, as excessively tall gearing blunts whatever oomph the 2.0-liter four might have to offer." (InsideLine)

2010 Kia Forte
- image 285340

"The steering is tight and the both the gas and brake pedals provide plenty of feedback. This dynamic will certainly appeal to younger buyers, although the touchiness of the controls might be a turn-off to more mature ones. As for handling, it’s just ok, and the Forte tends to feel a bit vague in the corners at speed. I hate to rag on the car’s torsion-beam semi-independent rear suspension setup too much, as generally most driver’s, under most driving conditions, aren’t likely to feel the difference between it and the fully-independent kind. Still, it has issues; and not in terms of handling, but in regards to comfort." (AutoGuide)

"While the base engine was up to snuff, we came away disappointed with the 2.4-liter inline-4 found in the SX model. With 173 horsepower and 168 lb-ft torque, the Forte SX looked like it would be able to outpace a Mazda3. Unfortunately, those numbers didn’t translate to the real world. The 2.4-liter powerplant was sluggish to respond to throttle input, and it wheezed and gasped at anything above 3,500 rpm. Surprisingly, the six-speed manual transmission didn’t earn our affection either. Shifting feel was vague at best, and we had problems with smoothly modulating the clutch due to a relatively low engagement point combined with a hesitant throttle. An aftermarket shift kit could go a long way toward alleviating our reservations here. The good news is that the Forte SX still manages to get fantastic fuel economy even with the extra engine displacement. Cars equipped with the six-speed manual are rated at 22/32 mpg, and those with five-speed automatics get 23/31." (AutoBlog)

2010 Kia Forte High Resolution Exterior
- image 346728


Honda Civic Sedan

The 2010 Honda Civic is offered with a choice of four engine and four transmission choices range from a 140-hp, 1.8-liter i-VTEC engine (Civic DX, DX-VP, LX, EX and EX-L), with either a 5-speed manual or an available 5-speed automatic transmission, to a 197-hp, 2.0-liter i-VTEC engine (Civic Si) with a 6-speed manual transmission. Prices range from $15,655 to $24,455.

Ford Focus Sedan

The 2011 Ford Focus is powered by a fuel efficient 2.0 Liter four cylinder engine that makes 155 HP and 145 lb-ft of torque, made with Ford’s patented Twin Independent Variable Camshaft Timing (Ti-VCT) and direct injection (DI) as well as a gas sipping dual-clutch PowerShift transmission. Prices for the 2011MY haven’t been announced yet; the 2010 models is priced at $16,290.

Toyota Corolla

The 2010 Corolla comes in five grades – Standard, LE, XLE, the sporty S, and the performance-driven XRS. The Standard, LE and XLE models will be equipped with an all-new 1.8-liter engine. The 16-valve, DOHC four-cylinder engine with Dual VVT-i (Variable Valve Timing with intelligence), produces 132 hp at 6,000 rpm and 128 lb-ft of torque at 4,400 rpm. The XRS version is powered by a 16-valve DOHC engine with VVT-i produces 158 hp at 6,000 rpm and 162 lb-ft of torque at 4,000 rpm. Prices start at $15,450 and go up to $18,960.

Chevrolet Cobalt

The 2010 Cobalt sedan is powered by an Ecotec 2.2L VVT I4 engine with an output of 155 hp at 600 rpm and a peak torque of 150 lbs-ft at 4900 rpm. Prices start at $14,990 and go up to $17,840.

2010 Kia Forte High Resolution Exterior
- image 346731


With the 2010 Forte, Kia has made a step forward. A new exterior styling, an improved interior and upgraded powertrains, the new Forte is a strong competitor on the market. But is it better than the most successful compact cars on the market, the Toyota Corolla and the Honda Civic?

No doubt it is the best looking in its class. But how about driving? Both 156 hp and 173 hp engines develop enough power for a compact car, and a fuel economy of 27 mpg city and 36 mpg highway is quite reasonable. The most logical choice would be the SX with a six-speed manual, but it would be better to also take a look to the EX version. It offers a supple ride and cruising is simply and fun.

Alina Moore
Alina Moore
Alina Joined the team in the early 2000s as one of the outlets very first experts, and she’s been with ever since. Over the years, she’s served various roles, but today she’s is relied on heavily to verify automotive facts, assist with formatting, and discover new and engaging topics.  Read full bio
About the author
What do you think?
Show Comments


  (449) posted on 01.31.2011

Did this guy real just say, "Thankfully it came with a auto stick and not a sloppy manual transmission"?! I think most guys who enjoy driving would take a manual trans in something attempting to be sport tuned... I think this website and its writers have completely lost touch with reality.

  (613) posted on 01.31.2011

I couldn’t agree more. I’m simply impressed with the leaps and bounds Kia is making. Though the Civic is familiar and well-trusted, it’s all too familiar. What I mean is it’s boring now and the Forte Koup picks up the slack well. I’m actually considering getting one myself. I think as long as Kia keeps this sort of behavior up, they’ll have no problem being a top contender in the marketplace looks straightforward out-of-door but hard-hitting inside. and it would be better if they suggested it with turbo.

  (937) posted on 12.6.2010

looks straightforward out-of-doors but hard-hitting inside. and it would be better if they suggested it with turbo

  (647) posted on 03.8.2010

That car is a real lousy. Can’t imagine myself inside that ridiculous thing.

  (1022) posted on 02.25.2010

no i see the reason why honda civic has added more HP, it’s because they don’t want kia to overwhelm their Civic.

  (542) posted on 02.24.2010

Sorry to say this guys but you’ll need a Big star endorser to support this one. Your saying that it’s a new image. Sorry I dont think so.

  (442) posted on 02.15.2010

well quite powerful than the Honda Civic, looks simple and affordable and yet it can still compete with the best japanese counterparts.

  (1332) posted on 02.10.2010

The one thing that I really like about the manufacturer Kia is that their cars and vans are very affordable and they perform well on the road. This car is not that bad and it can be compared to other cars such as Honda’s or Toyota’s.

  (807) posted on 01.11.2010

definitely better looking than the spectra, it is more agile, aggressive and sporty looking vehicle, hopefully it can perform quite good like the honda civic and scion.

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