The 2010 Kia Forte doesn’t look it.
Or for that matter, doesn’t much act like it either.
But it is. It’s the new Kia Forte, Kia’s replacement for the aging Spectra, it a Kia, though just not what you’ve know. That old Spectra—or as the Kia Spectra5, as a 5-door hatchback, has been the mainstay of the Kia lineup, so the Forte has the substantial responsibility of continuing Kia’s climb in sales in the U.S.
So change—although necessary—was risky, particularly for the American design team responsible for it. Like the funky rectangular Kia Soul, the Kia Forte was designed in California, but unlike the Soul, the Forte must appeal to Middle America, a demographic/psychographic that might not be as receptive to the offbeat Soul. But the new sedan had to be a fresh face to get attention in a crowded field but without some of the outlandish styling of many of its competitors.
Not to worry. The Californians have incorporated new family grille, a shape that looks like the grimace of a Polynesian deity, into a sleek original shape. With its rake, high rear deck and subtly creased and raised fenders, the Forte looks like it’s in motion even when standing still. That’s a cliché but, well, it works.
The interior is well designed, perhaps not as distinctive as the exterior, even though Kia says the instrument panel is made up of “three cylinders.” A large speedometer is centered between a tachometer on the left and on the right, an outlandishly large fuel gauge that matches the tach in size.
The center stack is laid out well though no space is available for a navigation screen…nor does Kia have immediate plans for one. Need help finding your way? Get a handheld/mountable unit—Garmin, TomTom or whatever—which would be less expensive than an in-dash unit anyway. Perhaps the Suzuki SX-4 arrangement will become common at least in the lower vehicle price range.