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Kia markets its compact model as the Forte (sedan), Forte Koup (coupe), and Forte5 (hatchback). The Forte is available in LX, EX and SX trims, depending on the body style and model year.
The Forte LX sedan is powered by a 1.8-liter four-cylinder engine making 145 horsepower and 130 pound-feet of torque. This engine comes paired with a six-speed manual transmission or a six-speed automatic.
The Forte EX sedan, the Koup EX and the Forte5 LX and EX are powered by a 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine making 173 horsepower and 154 pound-feet of torque. This engine comes paired with a six-speed automatic transmission.
Both the Forte Koup SX and Forte5 SX are powered by a turbocharged 1.6-liter four-cylinder engine making 201 horsepower and 195 pound-feet of torque. These models come paired with a six-speed manual or a six-speed automatic transmission.
Forte models equipped with the 1.8-liter engine are EPA-rated at up to 26/39 mpg city/highway. Models equipped with the 2.0-liter engine are EPA-rated at 25/37 mpg city/highway. Fortes powered by the turbocharged 1.6-liter have an EPA rating of up to 22/30 mpg city/highway.
Although all three Forte body styles share common engineering and technologies, subtle design differences are present too. For instance, the front fascia in the sedan is marked by a large tiger nose, the same look found in larger models, including the Kia Optima. A smaller, lower grille opening is also present. The front fascia in coupe and hatchback models features a narrow tiger nose and large lower grille openings. All three layouts are marked by oversized headlamp assemblies with LED lighting accents.
Flowing body lines, rising beltlines, distinctive upper and lower profile lines and sculpting are common to all three body styles. At the rear, wraparound tail lamps and one or two tailpipes are present. Wheel updates, a spoiler and diffuser trim are present on SX models.
Inside, the Kia Forte offers room for five across all three body styles. The second-generation model is slightly longer and wider than the earlier Forte. As a result it provides sufficient room for three to ride in the rear seat. Bucket seats are up front and a 60-40 split-folding seat is in the rear.
Standard features across the Forte line include power accessories, a tilt-and-telescopic steering column, a USB port and auxiliary input jack, a 12-volt outlet, Bluetooth connectivity, satellite radio, cruise control and cloth seats. Upgrades achieved through trim level and package selections bring in leather seats, a navigation system, a rearview camera, heated and ventilated front seats and heated rear seats. All models come with bottle holders in each door. SX editions add steering wheel-mounted paddle shifters and optional sport leather trim.
Interior volume measures 96.2 cubic feet in the sedan, 92.3 cubic feet in the coupe, and 98.2 cubic feet in the hatchback. Trunk dimensions measure 14.9 cubic feet in the sedan and 13.3 cubic feet in the coupe. Cargo capacity in the hatchback measures 23.2 cubic feet.
The Forte's chief competitors include the Dodge Dart, Toyota Corolla, Chevrolet Cruze, Nissan Sentra, Ford Focus and Honda Civic. Shoppers might also consider the Subaru Impreza, Mazda3, Mitsubishi Lancer, Hyundai Elantra and Volkswagen Jetta.
The first-generation Kia Forte was introduced in 2010. This model replaced the previous Kia Spectra.
Upon its introduction, all three Kia Forte body styles offered a 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine as standard equipment. A 2.4-liter four-cylinder engine making 173 horsepower was available.
Depending on the model selected, 2010 editions offered five- and six-speed manual transmission choices or four-, five- and six-speed automatic transmissions. Beginning in 2011, the entire Forte line was composed of six-speed manual or automatic transmissions only.
The first generation sedan was offered in EX and LX trims. The coupe was offered in EX and SX trims, and the hatchback came in EX, LX and SX trims. All models come with steering wheel-mounted audio controls, a USB port, an auxiliary input jack and Bluetooth technology. Upper trim levels bring in power accessories, alloy wheels, sport-cloth seats and a tilt-and-telescopic steering column.