2010 Kia Forte

2010 Kia Forte

Episode 2851
Auto Value and Bumper to BumperTire Rack "The Way Tire Buying Should Be"

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
2023 Mazda3

2023 Mazda3

Still The Same Mazda3, Just A Bit Better

Episode 4304
Auto Value and Bumper to BumperTire Rack "The Way Tire Buying Should Be"

When the fourth-gen Mazda3 arrived for 2019, it grew a little more stylish, a lot more upscale; and loads more practical too, adding all-wheel drive into the mix for the first time. How does it get better than that? Well, for ’23 the 3 adds an engine update that promises to deliver more power and better efficiency. Time to speak truth to this power.

The Mazda3 has always been a great compact car, big on both fun and value, and has earned numerous MotorWeek Drivers’ Choice Awards over the years. This current-gen has been on the road for 4-years now, and it gets even better for 2023.

Starting with the powertrain, the base 2.0-liter I4 has been eliminated leaving just 2 versions of the 2.5-liter 4-cylinder, turbo and non-turbo. Base versions get a 5-horsepower bump to 191-horsepower, along with updates for its cylinder deactivation system. The 2.5 Turbo fits standard all-wheel drive and outputs the same 250-horsepower and 320 lb-ft. of torque as last year; provided you use Premium gas. Max ratings drop to 227-horsepower and 310 lb-ft. with Regular.

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A 6-speed manual transmission remains available in front-wheel drive 3s, but AWDs come exclusively with a sport-tuned 6-speed automatic. We found it well-sorted and seemingly always on the same page as us whether we were shuffling through back roads or sitting in traffic. There is a softer overall feel compared to Mazda3s of old, which you’ll appreciate when encountering harsh pavement, but it still feels plenty agile when called upon.

That softer feel certainly carries over inside, where it has gotten much quieter, and quite nicely finished, consistent with Mazda’s Audi-like premium intentions. All 3s get an 8.8-inch center display, and all of the fingerprints on our test car’s screen signifies most people assume it’s a touchscreen. It’s not, however, as inputs are made with a rotary controller on the console. It’s not the most intuitive system, but once you’re past the learning curve, it’s tolerable.

The rear seat room doesn’t have the roomy feel of the Subaru Impreza, but space is certainly more than adequate compared to the rest of the compact set. Rear cargo space for this hatchback rates a good 20.1 cubic-ft. with trunk space in the sedan coming in at 13.2 cubic-ft. So yes, the Mazda3 remains available in both sedan and hatchback, but we still prefer the 5-door hatch both for its practicality and for its sporty looks. Top Turbo Premium Plus gets gloss black aero treatments including a roof spoiler and front air dam.

At the test track, power from the 2.5-turbo felt more than adequate off the line, using all-wheel-drive grip to bite into the pavement and get up and go to 60 in 6.0-seconds flat. There was virtually no turbo lag, and the engine felt nicely refined with its power delivery. Transmission operation was equally as smooth and kept the power flowing quite effectively throughout the ¼-mile, which ended in 14.5-seconds at 95 miles-per-hour. We really appreciate a well-tuned 6-speed in this world of overactive 8 and 10 speed automatics.

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While there was definitely some understeer to manage in our handling course, the 3 turned in quickly and provided real, sporting feedback through our cone course. I-Activ AWD features G-Vectoring Control Plus, which uses both engine torque vectoring as well as selective braking to minimize body roll, and preserve the lively feel we’ve come to expect from Mazda. In panic braking runs, the pedal was soft, but that kept ABS pulsing to a minimum; and the results were great, as we averaged a very short 106-feet from 60, with minimal nose dive and stable, straight stops.

Government Fuel Economy Ratings for an all-wheel drive Turbo are 23-City, 31-Highway, and 26-Combined; we averaged a good 28.4 miles-per-gallon of Regular.

Obviously by eliminating the previous base engine, prices have taken a jump for ’23, but so has everything else. Still they remain more than reasonable. The base S now starts at $26,855, with the top Turbo Premium Plus at $37,815, with many options in between. And sedan prices are even more sensible, starting at $23,715.

Like most brands, Mazda seems to be going all-in on SUVs; as the 3 is the last family sedan and hatchback in their lineup. And it would be a real shame if that were to change. As the 2023 Mazda3, the hatchback in particular, is just about the perfect car, offering utility vehicles levels of practicality along with better than average luxury, plus handling performance that few crossovers can match. So, long live the Mazda3!


As Tested

  • Engine: 2.5-liter Turbo-4
  • Horsepower: 227 | 250
  • 0-60 mph: 6.0 seconds
  • 60-0 Braking: 106 feet (avg)
  • MW Fuel Economy: 28.4 MPG (Regular)
  • Transmission: 6-speed auto
  • Torque: 310 lb-ft. | 320 lb-ft
  • 1/4 Mile: 14.5-seconds at 95 mph
  • EPA: 23-City / 31-Highway / 26-Combined