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Back to back test drive of the 2010 Kia Forte LX 5-speed and SX 6-speed

 Test drive of the 2010 Kia Forte SX 6-speed manual and LX 5-speed manual!

I had an appointment this morning to test drive both EX and SX manual versions of the 2010 Kia Forte. It turned out that there was no EX available, and I drove a base LX with the 2.0L and 5-speed manual. This is an acceptable subsitute for the EX, as LX and EX only differ in equipment level and tire size.

The test loop I chose was fairly complete, with a lot of badly broken pavement on local roads, followed by highway driving, including a long uphill section. I drove the test loop with the LX first, then switched to the SX and drove over the same course. Here are the highlights:

Engine
Although the 2.0L (LX, EX) is adequate, the 2.4L in the SX feels markedly stronger. The difference in normal driving is low-end torque. There is not much below 3000 rpm with the 2.0, while the 2.4 has some grunt off the line and pulls strongly from 2500 rpm.

2010-kia-forte-sx.jpg

Transmission
Both the 5-speed (LX) and 6-speed (SX) are slick shifting. Throws are short and precise. The 5-speed has the 2.0L engine spinning at 3000 rpm at 120 kmh, which is perfect (not too tall), as there is still a decent throttle response available. On the 6-speed, 5th is almost the same as on the 5-speed, while the 6th gear drops revs to 2500 rpm at 120 km. On the long highway uphill climb, the 2.0 engine needs a downshift in 4th to built momentum, while the 2.4 engine is able to build up speed slowly in 5th.

Ride
Certainly the surprise of the day. The ride on both cars is tight and well controlled. There is no floating sensation. Even on the worst pavement sections, there was no bottoming of the suspension. The SX is set up just a bit tighter than the LX, but not excessively so, and remains comfortable. Steering feel is simply acceptable. It’s not too light, but offers not much feel for road texture.

Tires
Major disapointment on Kia Forte LX. The Hankook Optimo OEM tires are very noisy, even at low speed. My current winter tires are quieter than these tires. The salesman agreed with me on this. If I was to purchase the EX, which has the same tires, I would need to replace the tires with something better before taking delivery of the car. There is no tire noise problem with the upgraded tires (Goodyear Eagle LS2) on the SX

Noise
For its class, the Forte is commendably quiet, except for the tire noise noted above. The body feels rock solid and there was no rattle in the LX, and an occasionnal click coming from the rear seatback on the SX. No rattle in the sunroof.

Stereo
I didn’t listen to the 4-speaker base stereo in the Forte LX, but tried the 6-speaker premium stereo in the SX. I had brought with me a USB key with some music samples. The sound quality is very good for a factory radio in that class of cars. The bass is satisfying and the treble is clear, with ample sound level, at least for me. I could easily live with this stereo without feeling I need an upgrade.

Other impressions
Interior space is great for the class, visibility is excellent, as the seat can be raised to get a good view above the relatively low beltline. Windshield is steeply raked, so top of dash is deep. Leather seats in the SX look and feel good, while cloth seats on the LX have a nice pattern. No mouse fur on roof lining.

Verdict
I am ready to get the 2010 Kia Forte SX, as the 2.0 L engine is not powerful enough for my taste. I feel the SX is worth the $3000 price premium over the EX. As I’m not confident enough in Kia’s resale value, I only want to lease the Forte, not buy it.

Unfortunately, Kia only offers leases for 24-36-48 months periods. I would have been ready to discuss a 39 months to 42 months lease, but it’s not available. I want the lease to end in early fall, not in the middle of summer. So I told the salesman that I would come back to see him in September.

The Back to back test drive of the 2010 Kia Forte was written by BernardP, a member of our KIA-WORLD Forums. It was originally posted in the Kia Forte Forum, but BernardP kindly allowed me to post it at the blog as well. Enjoy your read and thanks to you BernardP!!

We have another great Kia Forte review written by one of our dear readers. Read it here: Kia Forte comparison test. Or head over to next page to read exclusive Kia Forte Koup review!

10 thoughts on “Back to back test drive of the 2010 Kia Forte LX 5-speed and SX 6-speed

  1. put it this way, the korean market model gets a 1.6!

    i don’t think any market gets the 2.4 except for the US/Can.

  2. I took the test drive in Canada, where the Forte has been on dealers’ lots for more than 2 weeks.

  3. Great Car,
    i buy the 1.6 and its so economic car, Fast, have a nice CD Player i love the Sporty Style. thanks KIA

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