Kia Forte is a promising new entry in the compact sedan market [FIMG=RIGHT]http://www.cleanmpg.com/photos/data/501/2010KiaForte.jpg[/FIMG]Chris Bernius - CleanMPG - 06/12/2009 Unique Fuel Economy Package option on the EX model makes a good showing... --Ed. Kia released details on the new Forte sedan, and it looks to be very competitive with other compacts on the market. Replacing the Spectra and taking a quantum leap ahead in technology and creature comfort, the new model follows the new Soul into a market that is ready for revival in these financially tight times. Here are some of the highlights - Pricing - Starting at $13,695 for the LX version, $15,795 for the EX, and $17,195 for the SX version. Compact Exterior Size - At 178.3 inches long, 69.9 inches wide, and 57.5 inches tall, on a 104.3 inch wheelbase, it's about mid-pack in compact sedans. Kia spent extra time and resources on the structure and suspension to provide better handling, ride quality and overall refinement. Generous Interior Size - Overall interior room is 96.8 cubic feet, with front seats offering 40" headroom and 43.3" legroom, and rear seats offering 37.8" headroom and 35" legroom. Trunk is 14.7 cubic feet, which Kia notes is best in class. Comprehensive Safety Package - Active front head restraints, dual front airbags, front seat side airbags, side curtains, four wheel disc brakes with ABS and EBD, stability control, traction control, and TPMS. Powertrains - The LX and EX versions share a 2.0-liter CVVT DOHC engine, with 156 horsepower (head of the class again), and 144 pound-feet of torque. The SX offers a 2.4-liter engine with 173 horsepower. Four transmission options are available. On the LX/EX, the standard 5MT or optional 4AT. The SX has a standard 6MT and optional 5AT with "Sportmatic" shift feature. Fuel Economy - Here's where the Forte plays its hand well. EPA city/highway for 2.0L engine 25/34 (both manual and automatic) EPA city/highway for 2.4L engine, 6 speed manual - 23/31 EPA city/highway for 2.4L engine, 5 speed automatic - 22/32 Competitive fuel economy, but then there's a new idea in the Forte. There will be an optional Fuel Economy Package available on the EX model. It will include: - The 2.0-liter VVT powerplant - The five-speed automatic transmission - Motor Drive Power Steering (MPDS) - “Smart” alternator - Silica tires (for LRR) - Aero enhancements. EPA city/highway - 27/36 mpg, and a class-leading combined fuel economy of 30 mpg. The Fuel Economy package shows an approximate 10% gain in fuel economy, both around town and on the highway. A quick check of Kia's website shows the list price of the FE package to be $600, but it doesn't seem to be "clickable" alongside the leather or "premium" (moonroof and fancy wheels) packages. But the "build your own" calculator with an EX sedan with the FE package shows a total of $18090 including destination. That's right in the heart of compact sedan territory. If there is enough demand for the FE package, could the technology could spread to other models within the lineup? We can only hope.