POSTED: Friday, November 20, 2009 - 9:38pm
UPDATED: Wednesday, March 17, 2010 - 12:06pm
Cheap and cheerful...
The British have a phrase for cars like this. They call them “cheap and cheerful.” As it happens, that perfectly describes the little Kia Forte.
The new KIA Forte takes the place of the late, unlamented Spectra, which had all the charm and distinctiveness of your average office stapler. It was functional but don’t expect to see one at the Barrett Jackson Auction in 50 years.
But this…well just look at it. I find the new Forte exceptionally good looking. It is a clean, ungimmicky shape without a lot of design cues that make stylists happy but usually look like Lady Gaga on wheels.
Inside, the Forte is as roomy as my old college apartment, only with better carpet, and our EX model had the optional $1000 leather package and $800 sunroof. They add an elegance to the whole effort that makes it seem like something more than a sub-$20,000 car.
Under the hood resides a twin-cam, 2-liter four cylinder engine cranking out 156-fairly eager horses. The sportier Forte SX gets the 2.4-liter engine with 173 horsepower. But the smaller mill is peppy and will hit 60 miles per hour in just over 8 seconds while burning a gallon of precious middle eastern go-juice every 25 miles in the city, and every 34 on the highway.
Satellite radio, Bluetooth hands-free capability and electronic stability control are all standard.
And the cost? Well, hey it’s a KIA. The EX model starts at $16,795 with an automatic transmission, and our options took it to $19,200.
Cheap and cheerful? Well it certainly is that, and it also happens to be a pretty darned nice piece of work.