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    2013 Kia Forte Koup SX


    By William Maley

    Staff Writer - CheersandGears.com

    April 25, 2013

    The compact front-wheel drive coupe class has been on the decline in recent years. Once a bright light in the automotive world with a number of manufacturers competing, the class has shrunk down to just four models; the Honda Civic Coupe, Scion tC, Hyundai Elantra Coupe, and Kia Forte Koup. The oldest one of this group, the Forte Koup, has fallen to the wayside since the other three have either been refreshed or are a new model. But does being the oldest model in this group mean that you shouldn’t take a look at it? I recently found out as I spent a week with a 2013 Kia Forte Koup SX.

    gallery_10485_647_867469.jpg

    Doing my first walk around the Koup when it first arrived, my inner monologue chimed in with “wait, is this a Honda Civic Coupe doppelganger?” Looking at the front and side profile, the Forte Koup does seem to pull some liberties from the Civic coupe in the overall design. Thankfully, Kia did make some changes to make it not seem like a carbon copy of a Civic coupe. The front has the now familiar Kia grille all blacked-out and a unique bumper treatment. The side profile features a set of muscular lines and a set of sharp seventeen-inch wheels.

    Inside, the Forte Koup doesn’t have the same styling exuberance as the exterior. It's pretty much the same interior you’ll find in the Forte sedan and five-door model. It's not the nicest interior, but most of the interior bits are screwed in very well (aside from one door panel that rattled slightly when I was playing certain types of music) and the layout is very utilitarian.

    gallery_10485_647_1515016.jpg

    Space is very much at a premium thanks to short roof height. Up front, the limited headroom space is eaten up by the optional sunroof. I had to adjust the drivers seat in such a way that my head wasn’t touching the roof, which meant I wasn’t in the most comfortable position during my time. Combine that with a seat that I found to be very uncomfortable, and I would come out feeling very sore from a drive. The backseat should only be reserved for small kids thanks to the tight head and legroom.

    However, the Forte Koup does fight back with an abundance of equipment. My tester came with such amenities such as heated leather seats, navigation, Bluetooth, automatic climate control, hands-free calling, alloy pedals, and a proximity key. Kia still knows how to do the value argument very well.

    Under the hood for the Forte Koup SX is a 2.4L DOHC four-cylinder engine producing 173 horsepower and 168 pound-feet of torque. At low rpms, the 2.4L pulls surprisingly well, making it plenty quick for those who drive in the drive in the city or suburbs. Moving higher in the rpm range, the engine begins to run out of steam. This is very noticeable when entering a freeway or deciding to throw the Koup around.

    gallery_10485_647_195737.jpg

    Transmissions for the Forte Koup are a six-speed manual or an automatic with paddle shifters. My car came equipped with the automatic and found it to be a perfect companion. The paddle shifters are a great addition since they can operated when the transmission is in Drive or manual mode. My only complaint with the paddle shifter are the placement the paddles. Mounting them on the steering wheel is horrible place since the paddles are always moving around. Putting them on the steering column would be a better idea.

    Fuel economy for the Forte Koup SX stands at 23 City/31 Highway/26 Combined when equipped with six-speed automatic. My average for the evaluation stood at 26 MPG. Highway driving saw the number climb to 30.2 MPG.

    The Forte Koup’s ride is decidedly mixed. On one hand, the Forte’s suspension tuning and heavy-weighted steering make it a pleasure to drive around corners. On the other hand, the Forte Koup’s suspension needs to go to finishing school. I found the ride to be unbearable when driving on the rutted Michigan roads as the suspension has no give at all. The steering also needs some refinement as its too heavy in daily use.

    gallery_10485_647_1407816.jpg

    At the end of my time with Forte Koup SX, I was left conflicted. The Koup has a lot going for and against it. It's a great value and has some snazzy looks, but the ride and steering are a mixed bag. The big problem is the current Forte Koup isn’t a standout anymore like it used to be. Honda and Scion have introduced new versions of their compact coupes, the Civic and tC respectively. There is also the Hyundai Elantra coupe in play which brings some very startling looks and impressive fuel economy to the class.

    It's better to wait for the new Forte Koup, due out sometime later this year, than to get the current one.

    gallery_10485_647_609491.jpg

    Disclaimer: Kia provided the vehicle, insurance, and one tank of gasoline.

    Year - 2013

    Make – Kia

    Model – Forte Koup

    Trim – SX

    Engine – 2.4L Inline-Four

    Driveline – Front-Wheel Drive, Six-Speed Automatic

    Horsepower @ RPM – 173 @ 6,000 RPM

    Torque @ RPM – 168 @ 4,000 RPM

    Fuel Economy: City/Highway/Combined - 23/31/26

    Curb Weight – 2,891 lbs

    Location of Manufacture – Hwaseong, Gyeonggi; South Korea

    Base Price - $19,800.00

    As Tested Price - $24,520.00* (Includes $775.00 destination charge)

    (Note: This Forte Koup didn't come with a window sticker, so I'm guessing the as tested price here)

    Options:

    SX Technology Package - $1,800

    Leather Package - $1,000

    Sunroof - $795

    Rear Spoiler - $395

    William Maley is a staff writer for Cheers & Gears. He can be reached at william.maley@cheersandgears.com or you can follow him on twitter at @realmudmonster.

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    The Forte has an optional cooled driver's seat as well. I think that is a great feature because no one wants to stick to hot leather in the summer, and most cars under $30k don't offer that.

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    I wonder if the next Forte will have a Koup version also.. Nice to see a few car makers (Hyundai, Kia, Honda, Toyota) still offer coupe versions of their FWD compacts, considering the Big 3 gave up on them.

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    There will be a Koup version, it is on Kia's website as a 2014 coming soon vehicle. They also offer a 201 hp turbo 4, most in this segment don't offer that kind of power in a coupe either. You have to spend more on a Golf GTI or Focus ST and those aren't coupes.

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      View full article
    • By William Maley
      There is one vehicle that Fiat Chrysler Automobiles has to get right the first time - the minivan. The company is credited for creating this vehicle segment back in the eighties with the introduction of the Dodge Caravan and Plymouth Voyager. Each subsequent version brought forth some new improvement or feature that put it ahead of the pack. But due to the bankruptcy in 2009 and subsequent merger with Fiat, plans for the next-generation Chrysler Town and Country and Dodge Caravan were pushed back. This left the old model struggling against some fresh competition in the form of the Honda Odyssey and Toyota Sienna. 
      But last year, Chrysler surprised everyone with a new minivan. Wearing the Pacifica nameplate, the van was unlike anything that had come before. It featured a sleek design, handsome interior, and the option of a plug-in hybrid powertrain. The bigger surprise was that Chrysler would be the only brand getting the new van. The Dodge Caravan would continue in its current incarnation for a few years to provide a low-cost option for those shoppers. Has Chrysler pulled a rabbit out its hat or has the unthinkable happened and the Pacifica trails the competition?
      The first thing to take in about the new Pacifica is how good-looking it is. The design comes courtesy of the 700C that debuted quietly a few years back at the Detroit Auto Show. The rounded front end is reminiscent of the recently departed 200 with a narrow grille and headlights, chrome trim along the edges of the grilles, and a sculpted hood. The side profile shows off two character lines; one running from the front fender to the chrome trim for the windows and another running through the door handles and curving into the rear fender. We would only make one slight change to the Pacifica. Our Touring L tester featured 17-inch wheels that looked a bit small for a vehicle this size. We would go for the larger 18-inch wheels that fill in the wheel wells much better.
      Anyone who has been in the last-generation Chrysler Town and Country or Dodge Caravan knows the interior was well past its sell-by date. When pitted against competitors, the two vans came up very short in terms of design, materials, space for cargo and passengers; and infotainment. Step inside the Pacifica and it is clear that Chrysler has done its homework. The design is much more modern with flowing lines and contrasting colors. It also feels more spacious than the outgoing vans thanks to some smart decisions such as the removal of the center console to allow for an open floor between driver and passenger, and the use of a knob for the transmission. Material quality has also seen a noticeable improvement with many surfaces now boasting soft-touch plastics. It wouldn’t be crazy to say the Chrysler Pacifica is ahead of everyone when it comes to the interior.
      Depending on the trim, you can order the Pacifica with seating for seven or eight people. Our Touring L featured the eight-seat layout with a removable middle seat for the third row. It will take you a few moments to figure out how to remove the seat, but once you do, it is quite easy to remove and install the seat. The rest of the seats feature Chrysler’s Stow ’n Go folding system where the seats can fold into compartments in the floor to provide a flat load area. Cargo area is in line with the current crop of minivans with 32.3 cubic feet behind the third row, 87.5 cubic feet behind the second row, and 140.5 cubic feet with both rows folded. As for passengers, both rows of rear seats provide an excellent amount of head and legroom. Getting into the third row is much easier thanks to second-row seats offering a tilt function.
      FCA has equipped the Pacifica with the newest version of their UConnect system. The interface may look similar to the older UConnect system, but there are a number of changes that help catapult this new version towards the top of the infotainment system list. First, the new system is much sharper thanks to the new fonts and an updated screen that provides improved brightness levels. FCA has also improved the overall performance of the system, meaning no slow downs when going between various functions. One item we cannot comment on is navigation as our test Pacifica didn’t come with it.
      Power for the Pacifica comes from the 3.6L Pentastar V6 with 287 horsepower and 262 pound-feet of torque. This is paired with a nine-speed automatic transmission that routes power to the front-wheels only. It might not be the fastest van on the road (that honor falls to the Toyota Sienna), but Pacifica comes very close. Power comes on a smooth and steady rate. You’ll find yourself not wanting more power when merging onto a freeway or trying to make a pass. FCA has seemed to get its act together with the nine-speed automatic transmission. Issues with clunky shifts and gear hunting have been mostly ironed out. The transmission now features smooth and quick upshifts. The only item we would want FCA to work on is the transmission’s hesitation to downshift in certain situations such as making a pass.
      EPA fuel economy for the 2017 Chrysler Pacifica is rated at 18 City/28 Highway/22 Combined. Our week mostly spent in the city returned 23.2 mpg.
      The primary concern when it comes to a van’s ride and handling characteristics is providing maximum comfort and the Pacifica delivers. The suspension delivers a smooth ride even on some of the rough roads on offer from Metro Detroit area. An added bonus is how well the Pacifica isolates road and wind noise from coming inside. At highway speeds, only a whisper of wind noise makes it inside. But the Pacifica becomes a bit of a surprise when it comes to handling. Despite its large size, FCA’s engineers made the Pacifica feel quite nimble. The steering might not give that impression as it feels somewhat light when turning. But go around a corner and the van feels more like a midsize sedan than a van. 
      It has been a long time coming for a new minivan from FCA and the good news is that they haven’t dropped the ball. The Pacifica may not have ripped up the rulebook when it comes to minivans, but it sure has expanded or rewritten bits of it. From a surprising balance of ride and handling characteristics to the best interior in the class, it is clear that FCA wants to reclaim the crown of the best minivan. But there one thing that we need to address and that is FCA’s poor reliability history. No matter which survey or study look at, more often than not, FCA’s core brands are towards the bottom. What does this mean for the Pacifica? We can’t say for right now, but this could be the one thing that makes or breaks Chrysler’s new van.
      For right now, the Pacifica is at the top of the class.
      Disclaimer: Chrysler Provided the Pacifica, Insurance, and One Tank of Gas
      Year: 2017
      Make: Chrysler
      Model: Pacifica
      Trim: Touring L
      Engine: 3.6L 24-Valve VVT V6
      Driveline: Nine-Speed Automatic, Front-Wheel Drive
      Horsepower @ RPM: 287 @ 6,400
      Torque @ RPM: 262 @ 4,000
      Fuel Economy: City/Highway/Combined - 18/28/22
      Curb Weight: 4,330 lbs
      Location of Manufacture: Windsor, Ontario
      Base Price: $34,495
      As Tested Price: $36,880 (Includes $995.00 Destination Charge)
      Options:
      Premium Audio Group - $895.00
      8 Passenger Seating - $495.00
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