2011 Kia Forte SX 5-Door Hatchback – Short Take Road Test

It wasn’t so long ago that Kia was selling crummy Sephias and clunky Sportages to the double-coupon set. But the intervening years have proved that Kia and its parent company, Hyundai, are quick studies when it comes to meeting or exceeding industry standards. So when Kia benchmarks a car like the charismatic Mazda 3 five-door, as it seemingly did when designing its Forte hatchback, it’s no surprise when the result hits close to the mark. In this case, really close.

If imitation is the most sincere form of flattery, we imagine Mazda was blushing the first time it saw the rear end of the 2011 Kia Forte five-door. With its forward-raked backlight, roof spoiler, triangular quarter-windows, and similar C-pillar treatment, the Forte hatch is stylistically reminiscent of the first-generation Mazda 3. Indeed, even as the Kia’s kicky rear end is attached to the straight sides and beveled mug of the Forte sedan, it says “Mazda” to us far louder than “Kia,” and we’re not sure that’s an accident. But the Kia’s proportions seem even tidier than the Mazda’s, partly on account of the paring of more than seven inches of rear overhang from the Forte sedan’s silhouette.

A Little More Space, a Lot Better Access

Although more than a few C/D staffers would choose the Forte hatch over the sedan based on looks alone, increased cargo capacity and easier access to your stuff are in the pros column, too. The Forte five-door’s more capacious shape yields another 4.7 cubic feet of cargo space behind the rear seats compared with the sedan’s 14.7-cubic-foot trunk, but the greater advantage is the hatchback itself, which of course allows the loading of bulky stuff that wouldn’t fit through a regular trunk opening. The hatch also has 60/40-split rear seatbacks and covered storage space beneath the cargo floor.

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