Packed Cabin

But what the Forte five-door lacks in dynamic refinement is perhaps made up for with creature comforts. Starting at $19,090, the five-door Forte SX has everything from the $17,590 EX—including power windows and locks, keyless entry, a six-speaker stereo, and cruise control—while piling on SX-specific gauges, a telescoping steering wheel, “metal finish” interior accents, and a leather-wrapped steering wheel and shift knob. On our car, the automatic transmission added $1000 to the tab, as did the optional Leather package, which extends cowhide to the seating surfaces and adds front seat heaters. The $1800 Tech package encompasses a reasonably intuitive, voice-activated touchscreen navigation/infotainment system, as well as automatic headlamps, keyless start, and chrome door handles. Our car’s final option was a $750 sunroof, bringing the grand total to a semireasonable $23,640. It must be said, though, that one can get into any number of decently equipped mid-size family sedans for the same money.

But against its main competitor, the Kia lives up to its reputation for value: a comparably equipped Mazda 3 hatch runs $26,440. Is the Mazda’s masterfully tuned chassis worth almost three grand? Likely not for your everyday compact-hatchback customer, especially if his or her shopping comparisons are limited to equipment rundowns. Factor in Kia’s superstar warranty, and the Forte hatch’s on-paper advantage grows, which should make life for Kia salesmen a little easier. Still, if you’re someone who loves to drive, the 3 is the way to go. In that department, this Kia is close, but not quite there.

    See also:

    Overview
    Kia 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, K ...

    Large Trunk
    The large trunk has a low, wide opening and a lid that raises easily on gas struts. Rear seatbacks can be flipped forward for more cargo space, but they don't sit entirely flat. The pass-through a ...

    If you have a flat tire
    The spare tire, jack, jack handle, front towing hook, wheel lug nut wrench are stored in the luggage compartment. Move the carpeting out of the way to reach this equipment. Removing the spare ...