First impressions count for a lot in life, whether they happen during a business meeting or on a blind date. They are the most difficult perceptions to erase from a person’s memory and the same can be true of a first impression of a new car. For instance I remember when I went and test drove the all new 1994 Sephia sedan from a new Korean brand called Kia.
While there was no catastrophic mechanical failure during my test drive I did find the power a bit underwhelming, the shift action to be rubbery and some of the trim appeared a bit flimsy. But I found something endearing about its affordably priced transportation ethos and simple yet resolutely cute styling.
Yes, for some reason that first Sephia always intrigued me despite its flaws and as I have watched the Kia brand expand, grow and improve to a true industry powerhouse I have always been a bit of a dorky fan. Why this happened to me I have no idea. And now I have the opportunity to revisit that old “first impression” of Kia with a weeklong test of the 2010 Forte EX sedan-a vehicle that is truly the spiritual successor to that original Sephia in the current Kia lineup.
While I have seen plenty of 2010 Kia Forte EX sedans on the road I had as of yet not had the chance to drive one for an extended period. While I am still in the midst of testing the Forte I figured I would honor Kia’s start in the United States with another set of first impressions of a 2010 Kia Forte EX sedan.
The Exterior is Stylish
Kia really is starting to become a real design leader among Asian automakers thanks to the help of ex-Audi designer Peter Schreyer who also penned the TT. In the exterior styling of the Forte I even see shades of a 1990’s Maserati Quattroporte-a hugely stylish sedan that was similarly angular and Italian in appearance. But as I am talking about an old Maserati there is little doubt that this Kia has something it definitely did not-solid build quality.
This Car is Frugal
My test vehicle came equipped with the $600 fuel economy package which affords the 2010 Forte EX EPA fuel economy ratings of 27 city/36 highway. This is all the more impressive considering that the 2010 Kia Forte EX comes with a 2.0 liter 156 horsepower 4-cylinder with plenty of power.
The Fuel Economy package adds a smooth shifting 5-speed automatic (a 4-speed automatic is used in regular Forte EX models), electric power steering, a regenerative alternator management system and low rolling resistance a silica tires. Just considering the addition of the five speed automatic (which makes the Forte a very quiet highway cruiser) is enough to make this a very worthwhile option package. It also improves the Forte’s fuel economy by 2 miles per gallon on the city/highway cycle.
Kia (and Hyundai) Offer Terrific iPod Integration
Why do so few automakers have iPod systems that are as easy to use as the ones found in Hyundai/Kia models like the Forte? Not only is your iPod controllable through the standard steering wheel audio controls but this function is also standard with the car (as is Bluetooth). Add in a very impressive 6-speaker audio system and this is possibly the best standard stereo system in any car for the price.
Kia Needs to Offer More Interior Colors for the Forte EX
While I think the grey interior in my Forte is very handsome I wonder why Kia doesn’t offer a nice beige or black interior scheme as well. As I prefer black interiors I would probably stump up the extra cash for the SX variant which is available with black upholstery (and gets a bigger 2.4 liter engine).
The only other color option for the interior of a Forte EX is an odd-reddish brown that they call “Coffee.” Suffice it to say, a coffee colored interior is (pardon the bad pun) not my cup of tea. But one does have to applaud Kia for their bold interior color offerings.
The Dashboard Design is a Refreshing Return to Simplicity
Simply put, the dashboard of the Forte EX is a modernist example of how a dashboard should look. The knobs for the climate control and chunky and easy to use, the radio is clearly marked and easy to use and the overall look is sporty without being obnoxious. Kia really is doing a great job with its interior designs of late and this classically styled dashboard is evidence of that fact.
Source: Kia Motors America
Vehicle Provided by: Kia Motors America