Light years ahead of Civic and Corolla
I had the opportunity today to test drive one of these while I was assisting a friend who was looking for a domestic brand vehicle a few buildings away.
I'm an avid car enthusiast who reads up on all makes and loves to test drive different cars. I've read very good reviews on the Kia Forte, and although I'd never buy a foreign car new, I wanted to check out this very attractive little car. I'd test driven a Rio and a Rondo a few years ago, and couldn't run fast enough getting away from the dealer's lot. I was NOT impressed with either of those tinny and dog-slow vehicles.
Kia hit this one out of the ballpark. I wanted to drive the basic 2.0 because I like to compare base models with the smallest engine. This car was IMPRESSIVE!!
I found the interior well laid-out, convenient and not remotely cheap looking. Controls were well-located for easy access, and all gauges were well-placed and easy to read. The seats were very comfortable for a small, economical car, and offered a good range of adjustments. I'm a big guy and I didn't feel cramped in the least. The materials did not look or feel cheap. The interior impressed me more than the interior in my much more expensive Mustang.
Even the 156 horsepower 2.0 engine is plenty peppy. I was impressed with the power even with the base engine. I made several flat-out takeoffs and took some fast corners. The car ride surprisingly well and took fast corners like a much more expensive and sportier car. My wife, who was with me, felt that the ride was a bit harsh. I didn't. I found it smooth. Of course this may be due in part to the fact that her car is a luxury SUV and my car is a bone-jarring Mustang.
The fit and finish on this car was excellent. Both Hyundai and Kia owe no one apologies when it comes to build quality and fit and finish. Like some automotive reviewers I've read, I have to agree that this car is a better car in just about every way than the over-rated Honda Civic.
The car was amazingly quiet inside. For a very inexpensive car (the fully loaded top-of-the-line car on the showroom floor was less than $20,000) this basic model had a much more expensive feel than the Honda Civic, and was light years ahead of the tinny and poorly built Toyota Corolla.
I wanted to test drive a manual, but all they had were automatics. The automatic has a feature similar to the BMW's "paddle shifters". It has a mode where you can set the transmission for manual upshifts and simply just bump a little handle (by the gear selector) to upshift. Not being familiar with this feature, I kept FORGETTING to bump it and over-revving the engine. Once one was used to it, I'm sure it would prove fun, but I opted to just put it back on fully automatic mode rather than revving the little engine's guts out. It was so quiet even revving the engine near red-line was not all that loud.
I have no basis for assessing long-term reliability. My best friend owns a 2005 Hyundai Accent and it has proven flawless. At 70,000 miles it has never required a single repair. I feel that Kia (being the same company basically as Hyundai) will offer just as much in the way of reliability.
I'd never buy ANY car built by a foreign company new because we need to support our OWN industries, but in a year or two I just may try to find one of these little jewels used and buy it then.
Would you buy another car from this manufacturer? Don't Know
Review Date: 28th November, 2009