2010 Kia Forte
Ever since Hyundai acquired rival Kia, it’s been a full throttle effort to transform the Korean brand’s image from a maker of inexpensive, basic use vehicles, to a high quality, mainstream mark. But their latest effort, the compact Forte, goes head-to-head against industry benchmarks Toyota Corolla and Honda Civic. While the Forte is clearly the most handsome Kia small car ever, it needs more than looks to stay in this race.
The all-new 2010 Forte is a breath of fresh air for the Kia lineup, and simply saying it replaces the generic Spectra would grossly underrate its potential impact.
Available now in a Sedan and Koup, with a “K”, its slightly edgy, American-sourced styling strikes a richer stance than any other Asian mass market small car.
The front-end of our test Forte Sedan, with its flared headlamps, smart-looking grille, and clam shell hood, does have a passing resemblance to the Honda Civic.
But, the well drawn character lines, and up swept side glass, give the Forte Sedan a sharp profile that is its own, and 15, 16, and 17-inch wheels and tires, along with a beefy rear-end, with wrapped and sectioned taillamp housings, cement the image of a well built small sedan.
The front drive Forte finds power from two variable timing I4s. LX and EX trim use a 2.0-liter with 156 horsepower and 144 pound-feet of torque. Our SX sports a 2.4-liter with 173 horsepower and 168 pound-feet of torque. That beats the Toyota Corolla XRS.
A five-speed manual is standard, with an optional four-speed automatic for LX and EX trim. The SX starts with a 6-speed manual, with a 5-speed automatic on our car.
Even with more power, Government Fuel Economy ratings for our SX are class competitive at 23 city/31 highway using regular gas. We managed an okay 27.6 miles per gallon in real world driving.
The Forte’s Energy Impact Score is 13.2 barrels of oil consumed per year, with a concise Carbon Footprint of 7.1 annual tons of CO2 emitted.
But, that car will be more sluggish than our SX which still needed 8.9 seconds to accelerate from 0 to 60, finishing the quarter mile in 16.8 seconds at 84 miles per hour. Off the line, the Forte felt energetic, with a good hookup, and steady power build. But the pace was hurt by slow shifts. And, while Kia engines have come a long way, our car’s 2.4 was still buzzier and less refined than top rivals.
Ride and handling show even more improvement. The Forte’s front strut and rear torsion beam suspension adds standard Electronic Stability and Traction control. A high value plus over most rivals.
And it showed. Through the cones our car felt very solid, with no flexy or flimsy feel. Steering is nicely responsive. Front push does come on quickly, so Forte is not as nimble or fun-to-drive as the all-independent Civic. But, it gets through with less body roll.
On more typical pavement, we found the Forte’s ride to be more sophisticated than we expected as well. Not soft, but not stiff either. Here, the Forte is more akin to the Corolla XRS.
The Forte’s Brakes are well above class average. Four-wheel discs with standard ABS and Brake Assist. Hard stops proved short at only 122 feet from 60. Stability was great. The pedal could have more feel but that’s a nit-pick.
The Forte’s cabin matches the exterior. It’s far more inviting than the Spectra, with a Civic and Corolla beating 96.8 cubic feet of passenger space.
The dash design is a toned-down version of the Kia Soul, with its overlapping gauges and boogey-board shaped center stack.
Seats are comfortable and well formed with leather an option on our top-level SX, which also included a tilt/telescoping steering wheel.
Forte standard equipment includes six airbags, a CD/MP3/satellite radio, USB port, and Bluetooth. But, air conditioning is an option on the LX.
The rear seats offer decent legroom - even for a six footer - as well as a standard 60/40 split folding feature which extends an already highly useful 14.7 cubic foot trunk.
Pricing for the Kia Forte starts at $14,390 for the LX. That’s over $1700 less than the less well equipped Corolla and Civic. The spread widens with the mid-level Forte EX at $16,490, and top-tier SX at $17,890. And all Fortes come with Kia’s 10 year/100,000 mile powertrain warranty.
Wow. We knew going in the 2010 Forte to be a generational improvement in Kia small cars. But, to be a serious alternative to the Civic and Corolla is packaging, power and economy, ride and handling, and style, is a surprise. But then Kia has been surprising us for years, and the compact Forte is just their latest tour to force.
- Engine: Sx 2.4-Liter
- Horsepower: 173
- Torque: 168 Lb Feet
- 0-60 MPH: 8.9 Seconds
- 1/4 Mile: 16.8 Seconds @ 84 MPH
- 60-0 MPH: 122 Feet
- EPA: 23 MPG City/ 31 MPG Highway
- Mixed Loop: 27.6 MPG
- Energy Impact: 13.2 Barrels Oil/Yr
- CO2 Emissions: 7.1 Tons/Yr
2024 Subaru Outback
The Outback Continues To Deliver
In a world that’s SUV crazy, it’s easy to forget that the Subaru Outback has been delivering capable and comfortable all-weather and all-road capabilities to adventure-loving Americans for years. In fact, it’s now well into its 6th generation. So, it’s time for us to check in with the latest Outback and find out what’s new.
Almost 50-years ago, long before all-wheel-drive became an option for just about every car on the road, Subaru released the first four-wheel-drive passenger car in the U.S. Immediately, they knew they had a good thing going with that wagon, but it wasn’t until the 1990s that the marketing folks got on board and helped launch the Subaru Outback Sport Utility Wagon.
While the 2024 Outback is approaching the end of its 6th generation, its not slowing down when it comes to delivering tons of value to adventure-minded families.
The Outback is the sole remaining wagon available here in the U.S. from a mainstream brand, though even Subaru doesn’t use the “W” word anymore.
Now strictly referred to as a mid-size SUV, when it comes to selling any vehicle, attractiveness is always a bonus, and the Outback’s unique blend of rugged and refined has set the tone for many followers over the years. The exterior was recently updated, and while it looks big and more like a true SUV than ever, it’s only about 5-inches longer than the 1990’s original.
Some trims do get additional standard content for ’24, but our top Touring XT showcases everything Subaru has to offer, with an 11.6-inch Starlink infotainment screen that controls more features than ever, includes navigation, and pumps tunes out with Harmon Kardon sound. EyeSight Driver Assist Technology remains an Outback standard.
Cargo capacity is a great 32.6 cubic-ft., 75.6 with rear seatbacks folded, and despite the high ground clearance, the floor is lower than SUV typical, which makes for easier loading.
Outback seat comfort has improved greatly over the years, and despite the increased reliance on the touchscreen, everything about the cabin is simple to operate and logically placed.
The XT part of our Touring XT means there’s extra power under the hood with a 2.4-liter flat-4 turbo engine which rates 260-horsepower and 277 lb-ft. of torque. It’s a big upgrade over the standard 182-horsepower naturally aspirated 2.5-liter.
Both engines are unchanged and work with Subaru’s Lineartronic CVT; all-wheel-drive is of course another Outback standard.
At Mason-Dixon Dragway, our XT had plenty of grip off the line, hitting 60 in 6.0-seconds flat. That’s a couple of tenths quicker than our last time out with this turbo-4. We’ll chalk that up to better weather this time around.
Like many Subarus, it doesn’t feel overly fast but it’s snappy off the line, and perfectly adequate from there.
Power delivery stayed very consistent down the track; the CVT definitely keeps engine revs maxed out the whole time, but noise is far from annoying. Our best ¼-mile time was 14.6-seconds at 97 miles-per-hour.
The Outback boasts 8.7-inches of ground clearance, which is more than many mid-size SUVs; and while it felt plenty competent through our slalom course, there was noticeable body roll and understeer to deal with. Yet steering was light and predictable, plus Active Torque Vectoring and Vehicle Dynamics Control are hard at work to keep you stable and safe no matter what.
In panic braking, there were only moderate amounts of nosedive, and mild ABS pulsing. Stops averaged a fine 115-feet from 60 miles-per-hour.
Government Fuel Economy Ratings are 22-City, 29-Highway, and 25-Combined. We averaged a great 27.9 miles-per-gallon of Regular; a feat most SUVs can only dream of.
That’s an average Energy Impact Score; with use of 11.9-barrels of oil yearly, with 5.9-tons of CO2 emissions.
Base Outbacks have plenty of standard content, and remain a real bargain, starting at just $30,240, top trims, including Wilderness, take you into the low 40s.
Decades of loyal Outback owners have helped Subaru grow the 2024 Subaru Outback into what it is today; a highly capable and comfortable, thoughtfully designed, adventure-ready family truckster that’s as adept at backwoods exploring as it is soldiering through the daily grind. Your family activities may not take you far off the beaten path, but life itself is an adventure, and the Subaru Outback is outfitted for your adventure better than ever.
- Engine: 2.4-liter flat-4 turbo
- Horsepower: 260
- 0-60 mph: 6.0 seconds
- 60-0 Braking (avg): 115 feet
- MW Fuel Economy: 27.9 MPG (Regular)
- Transmission: CVT
- Torque: 277 lb-ft.
- 1/4 Mile: 14.6-seconds at 97 mph
- EPA: 22 City | 29 Highway | 25 Combined