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:

    Brakes and clutch
    Checking brake/clutch fluid level Check the fluid level in the reservoir periodically. The fluid level should be between MAX and MIN marks on the side of the reservoir. Before removing the res ...

    Explanation of scheduled maintenance items
    Engine oil and filter The engine oil and filter should be changed at the intervals specified in the maintenance schedule. If the car is being driven in severe conditions, more frequent oil and fi ...

    Driving your vehicle
    Before driving Key positions Starting the engine Manual Transaxle Automatic transaxle Brake system Cruise control system Economical operation Special driving conditions Winter driving Traile ...