Regardless of the car in question, we auto reviewers can typically find at least one aspect of a vehicle we all agree on, but beyond that it's a crapshoot. In the case of the 2011 Kia
Forte, we found three: It's a great value, it's surprisingly fun to drive, and it's utterly forgettable.
What happened? A year and a half ago, we were pretty impressed with the Forte. Back then, it was the opening salvo of Kia's design revolution and a blinding improvement over the really forgettable Kia
Something-or-other it replaced. Less than two years on, though, the competition has come on strong and the Forte is faltering.
In fact, Kia
itself has left its own car in the dust. Just looking at our long-term KIA OPTIMA
parked next to the Forte you wonder how old the Forte is. Almost new? Really? The improvements Kia's made to the rest of the lineup in the short time the Forte's been on the market are no less than staggering. Normally, it would be strange to call for a midlife update less than two years in, but the Forte needs it.
"Completely inoffensive and wholly forgettable," associate road test editor Carlos Lago surmises, sentiments echoed by every other staff member who drove the car.
The Forte's problem is that it doesn't stand out at all. The once-wild (for a Kia) styling is boring next to competition from Hyundai
and Ford, and the interior is as interesting stylistically as Formica counter tops, and apparently made of the similar material. Editors knocked the ugly, unsupportive seats, clunky manual shift system, wimpy tires, and draconian stability control system.
Despite that, we also all loved how the car drove. "It feels nimble and alive. It's kind of a natural driver's car," associate editor Mike Febbo notes. The Forte feels light on its feet and is easy to throw into turns, at least until the stability control intervenes. It really makes a case for the old axiom about driving a slow car fast.