The new 2011 Kia Forte receives a mild refresh that catapults the economy car into the top echelon of recommended compact cars. Though considered a good vehicle when introduced last year, the small changes made for 2011 have the Kia Forte earning comparisons to top competitors like the Honda Civic and Volkswagen Golf. Learn what's new on the 2011 Forte and why it deserves a test drive.
What's New - 2011 Kia Forte
The big news for the 2011 Kia Forte is the introduction of a 5-door hatchback model. Look beyond the hatchback's sporty, appealing exterior, and you'll also notice a number of exclusive features on the new model. These features include special alloy wheels, new center console and optional navigation system.
All 2011 models (sedan, Koup and hatchback), receive an updated front grille and bumper. An all-new six speed manual and automatic transmission are expected to improve gas mileage. Other new available features include steering-wheel paddle shifters and a push-button start system.
2011 Kia Forte Styling
Though Kia has long been known as an economy-based automaker, the Kia Forte neither looks nor feels cheap. The exterior boasts crisp, albeit conservative lines that blend well into any suburban or urban atmosphere. While by no means a luxury vehicle, the interior is competitive for the class in terms of materials quality, comfort and aesthetic appeal. Front passengers are especially pampered with well-bolstered seating and the option to add seat warmers and leather upholstery.
As with most compact cars, rear seating is a bit on the cramped side for the Forte. However, if you limit maximum occupancy to four, then all passengers should be able to find reasonable comfort. Both the sedan and Koup offer an impressive 14.7 cubic feet of trunk space. Official storage capacity for the hatchback has yet to be released, but should afford a little more space than the sedan and Koup.
2011 Kia Forte Performance
The 2011 Forte returns with the same two engine options that were available last year. The base 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine offers 156 horsepower. A 2.4-liter four-cylinder engine ups performance to 173 horsepower. Though not particularly exhilarating to drive, the Kia Forte should deliver ample performance for the average around-town driver. Those interested in a more enthusiastic model might consider the new 2011 Mazda Mazda3 or 2011 Volkswagen Golf.
The EPA has yet to review mileage for the 2011 Kia Forte. However, Kia promises a slight improvement in mileage over last year (thanks to the new transmission options). This is great news for fuel-conscious shoppers - last year the Forte offered above-average figures of 27 mpg in the city and 36 mpg on the highway.
2011 Kia Forte Safety
The 2011 Forte comes standard with a long list of safety features. These include four-wheel anti-lock brakes, stability control, traction control, electronic brake-force distribution, tire pressure monitoring system and six airbags. Last year, the nearly identical 2010 Kia Forte earned a best-possible rating of "Good" from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS).
2011 Kia Forte Prices
The new 2011 Kia Forte starts around $14,000. Despite this low price, the vehicle offers an exceptional list of standard features that include Bluetooth, tilt steering column, satellite radio, and USB/auxiliary stereo inputs. Many drivers choose to upgrade to the $16,000 EX model, which also includes air conditioning, full power accessories, cruise control and an improved stereo system. Upper trim models add such features as sport seats, fog lights, leather seats, sunroof and a Fuel Economy package that maximizes mileage.