All-new 5-door hatchback added to Forte lineup

Last year Kia introduced the Forte sedan, which has rapidly become one of the biggest success stories in the compact segment.

This year, the fastest growing manufacturer in the auto industry has expanded the Forte lineup by adding an all-new 5-door sedan.

The Forte 5-door is one of the most impressive new vehicles of the year.

With a base price starting below $17,000, the Forte 5-door is a versatile five-passenger model that is stylish, fun to drive and provides a lot of bang for the buck.

The interior will absolutely blow you away. It is roomy, elegant and absolutely loaded with nice to have comfort features that you wouldn’t expect to find on a vehicle with such an affordable price.

Standard equipment includes air conditioning, Sirius Satellite Radio, MP3 connectivity, Bluetooth wireless technology and steering wheel-mounted audio controls, to name but a few.

It’s also loaded with safety.

Standard safety equipment includes front active headrests, dual advanced front airbags, front seat-mounted and side curtain airbags, full-length side curtain airbags, anti-lock brakes with electronic brake force distribution and brake assist, electronic stability control, traction control and tire pressure monitoring system — again, to name but a few.

The new 5-door hatchback is available in two trim levels — EX and SX.

EX models are powered by a 2.0-liter dual overhead cam I-4 engine producing 156 horsepower (144 lbs.-ft. torque). Mated to either a 6-speed manual or a 6-speed automatic transmission, it has an EPA fuel economy rating of 25 mpg city, 34 mpg highway.

Forte SX trim levels are equipped with an upgraded 2.4-liter engine delivering 173 horsepower. It has an EPA fuel economy rating of 23 mpg city, 31 mpg highway.

Forte EX sedan buyers may also opt for the Fuel Economy Package, which includes the 6-speed automatic transmission, Motor Drive Power Steering (MDPS), “smart” alternator, new low-rolling resistance silica tires and aerodynamic enhancements, which help the vehicle achieve a 27 mpg city, 37 mpg highway fuel economy rating

The Forte is also available with the optional Technology packages (available on both sedan and 5-door). The EX Technology package includes navigation, fully automatic temperature control, push button start and fog lights.

The SX Leather package adds leather seat trim, heated front seats and an electro-chromic rear view mirror.

It also comes with the best warranty in the business, which a 10-year/100,000-mile powertrain warranty and a 5-year/60,000-mile basic warranty with roadside assistance.

From a styling standpoint, the Forte is absolutely seamless. It’s stylish, versatile, roomy and very comfortable.

The same with performance.

For those looking to get the most bang out for their transportation buck, the Kia Forte 5-door is a must for the test drive list.

Neal White has been covering the automotive industry for more than 20 years and is affiliated with the Texas Auto Writers Association.

MODEL:

2011 Kia Forte

5-seat compact sedan or hatch 

Front-wheel drive

Trim packages:

LX, EX, SX

PRICE RANGE:

$15,000-$23,000

ENGINE:

2.0-L I4 (156 hp/144 torque)

2.4-L I4 (173 hp/168 torque)

TRANSMISSION:

6-speed manual

6-speed automatic

EPA: 25/23 mpg city, 34/31 mpg highway (2.0/2.4 auto)

FUEL: Regular unleaded

TRACTION CONTROL:

Electronic stability control and traction control

BRAKES: ABS

LENGTH: 170.9 inches

WHEELBASE: 104.3 inches

WIDTH: 69.9 inches

HEIGHT: 57.5 inches

WEIGHT: 2781-2944 lbs.

TRACK: 61.3/61.6

(front/rear)

FUEL TANK: 13.7 gallons

TIRES: 15-, 16-, or 17-inch