To the uplifting sounds of blues music, Kia took the wraps off the new Forte (get it? It's musical and it means "strong." Someone give the naming department a cookie) at the Chicago Auto Show today. The Forte will be available in three trim levels: LX, EX and SX. You can read details about the sporty SX over on Autoblog; here we'll focus on the EX and more luxurious LX versions, as they get the best mileage ratings.
Both the LX and EX use a 2.0-liter DOHC four-cylinder engine that produces 156 horsepower and 144 pound-feet of torque. These trims come with Continuously Variable Valve Timing (CVVT) and multi-port electronic fuel injection and use either an optional electronically-controlled four-speed automatic transmission or a standard five-speed manual transmission. The EX and LX are also available with an optional Fuel Economy Package, which adds a five-speed automatic transmission to some low-rolling resistance tires to get, and I quote from the press release, "class-leading combined fuel economy of 36 mpg (highway)." That's less than clear, but a quick call to Kia PR and a look at the spec sheet provides these numbers: The LX and EX get 25 city / 34 highway with the 4-speed automatic and 26 city / 36 highway with the Fuel Economy Package. Kia's Alex Fedorak told AutoblogGreen that using the EPA formula, the Fuel Economy Package Forte gets a combined rating of 31 mpg. That 39 mpg diesel Forte that Korea gets? No such luck for the U.S.
Look for the 2010 Forte at dealerships later this spring or in early summer, and expect more from news, including pricing, on the Forte brand later in the year.