The Kia Forte is a well engineered vehicle that I believe is best in class for the price. I paid $17,713.00 out the door for a EX 5-door in Titanium with stone interior. My car was equipped with auto-dimming mirror w/compass, wheel locks, rear bumper applique, cargo net, cargo tray, spashguards and an i-pod cable. I had no trade-in and the price included 6% sales tax and all dealer fees. I did get $2,000.00 in rebates. This car is fun to drive around town and on the interstate. I'm very impressed with the design, quality and functionality of this car. I don't think you will find a better car under $21K.
I have the hatch with the 2.4 liter. this is a seriously fast car (for its class/price) with 0-60 in about 7 seconds (A/T). i've owned mine since february 2011, and have about 11,000 miles on it. no service issues so far.
Let me first say that I'd never thought I'd look twice at a Kia until recently. THey've certainly improved their vehicles in every way. Purchased a certified 2012 Forte EX 5-door at a Kia dealer w/ 27k miles after trading in 07 Toyota Rav. This is a great design as a small wagon. Seems like a best kept secret too, since I don't see to many out there. Great looks, great mileage (30 average, more on hiway), and MUCH better acceleration than my Honda Fit. I was doing hiway speeds of 75 mph, and the tach was still under 2500 rpm! I've had it for 1 1/2 months and already put almost 3k miles, no probs. Can't beat the warrantee either. Way to go Kia.
For the first 56,000 miles, this car is dependable and looks great; however, do not be fooled by the "normal" KIA noise coming from the engine. I live in Tampa, Florida, and dealership support has been poor thus far. The clicking sounds in the engine base ended up needing a tension pulley at 60,500 miles, just 500 out of warranty. Kia USA agreed to honor and pay as it was 600 $ for repairs. I still heard a metal whirling sound, but was told that was a "normal" KIA sound...what? At any rate, about 3000 miles later, the whirling sound is getting louder and now it has been diagnosed as needing a new compressor..haha. seriously? I still like the car; it handles a little better than the Honda fit (which is out of my league, it seems pricewise), but the Forte is still the riff raff of the hatchbacks, and honestly? With this happening at 60,000 miles, holy moly, I do not see the car having any value whatsoever at 100,000. P.S. I had an Isuzu Trooper 290,000. It was the sweetest 20,000$ I ever spent. I feel I was a bit rough with the scoring, but if I was to get mezmerized and sucked in on a 100,000 power train warranty, it would be with an Elantra. Right now with the boom shakalaka noise and rattle and roll, anything is better than what I am dealing with...1200$ for a compressor, wow!
Keep in mind this is a compact car. You are not going to get ride/room or power of a mid-size car. We purchased our Forte 5 door new on 6/2012 and have 50,000 miles on it. THE GOOD - a/c, engine power, drives nicely, cup holders and storage room, big back seat (5 door), blue tooth, only one repair - the key would not unlock the driver's door but the remote has always worked. Also a great warranty - 10 yr/100,000 mi We live in Texas and the a/c can handle the hottest days. I am 6'3" and I have room in the back seat. THE BAD - No Water Temperature gauge (has light), head rests are very uncomfortable, and the fuel mileage. If I use the cruise control I get poor fuel mileage. If I drive into a head wind I get poor fuel mileage. Keeping the speed at 70 mph or less with a tail wind and accelerating down hill and backing off going uphill I have gotten 35 mpg as advertised or better several times.