What's the Most Affordable Compact Sedan?

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Car shoppers want a long list of features in a new car, even if that car is a compact sedan that starts around $16,000. That starting price usually doesn't include what many consider "must-have" features — chief among them an automatic transmission.

We took 11 compact sedans and looked at their prices when equipped with the following features:

  • Automatic transmission
  • Cruise control
  • USB input
  • Remote entry
  • Tilt/telescoping steering wheel
  • Steering-wheel audio controls

It may seem like a simple search, but if you're looking at a new Nissan Sentra, Dodge Dart or Volkswagen Jetta, you'll need to know the specific trim level, options and option packages to ensure you won't regret not having that one missing feature.

We took those as-equipped prices and then added five years of fuel costs to come up with the most affordable compact sedan on the market.

Having recently purchased our long-term Honda Civic that has all of these features in a base model, we thought it had a good shot of scoring well here. But the results were somewhat surprising, especially in terms of what car was No. 1.

By David Thomas | May 8, 2013 | Comments (15)

Cars.com Family Reviews the 2013 Kia Forte 5-Door

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The 2013 Kia Forte 5-Door delivers a lot of bang for the buck, making it a good choice for small families looking to stretch their budget, says Cars.com Family reviewer Carrie Kim. This five-seat hatchback is lacking in the looks department with a design that seems too basic for the fun-loving Kia brand. Looks aside, Carrie found the Forte 5-Door to be a good fit for hauling her toddler and all her gear.

2013 Kia Forte 5-Door Family Review

By Jennifer Newman | April 10, 2013 | Comments (1)

2014 Kia Forte Koup: Photo Gallery

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The sedan and hatchback versions of Kia's compact Forte were redesigned for 2014; a new coupe, or Koup in Kia lingo, also joins the roster this year. The new Forte Koup mirrors its siblings' newfound flashy styling, fitting right into the lineup.

More 2013 New York Auto Show Coverage

Base EX and sporty SX models are available. The EX uses a 173-horsepower, 2.0-liter four-cylinder; uplevel SX versions get a little more oomph from a 201-hp, turbocharged 1.6-liter four-cylinder. Check out the gallery below. Cars.com photos by Evan Sears. 

By Jennifer Geiger | March 27, 2013 | Comments (0)

Most-Read Car Reviews of the Week

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Yet again this week, no competitor coming up the hill was hungry enough to wrestle Toyota's ravenous RAV4 from its perch atop our most-read reviews list. But with four newcomers to this week's list — including a trio of 2014 entries — the 2013 version of the RAV4 may face some formidable competition in coming weeks. The 2014 Mazda6 and 2014 Subaru Forester burst onto the most-read-reviews scene in second and third place, respectively, while the 2014 Kia Forte waded in at No. 10. The remaining newcomer this week, the 2013 Ford Fusion Hybrid, landed in eighth place.

Check out what was popular this week:

1. 2013 Toyota RAV4
2. 2014 Mazda6
3. 2014 Subaru Forester
4. 2013 Ford Fusion
5. 2013 Hyundai Santa Fe Sport
6. 2013 Ford Explorer
7. 2013 Ford Escape
8. 2013 Ford Fusion Hybrid
9. 2013 Nissan Pathfinder
10. 2014 Kia Forte
By Matt Schmitz | February 9, 2013 | Comments (1)

2013 Chicago Auto Show Winners and Losers

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The Chicago Auto Show is traditionally big on floor space and short on new product debuts, and the 2013 edition is no different with just a handful of all-new production and concept cars making their premieres. Editors Mike Hanley, Aaron Bragman, David Thomas and Joe Bruzek crisscrossed the expansive show floor in search of the hits and misses.

2014 Toyota Tundra

Mike Hanley: Winner
It would have been nice to see some frame or powertrain improvements, but the styling changes nicely update the truck. The taller hood makes for a bold front end, and the stamped badge on the tailgate is something you'd typically see on a concept truck. On the show floor, the changes work. Whether it stands a chance in the real world with updated domestic competitors is another thing.

Aaron Bragman: Loser
Lots of us thought that the new 2014 Chevy Silverado and GMC Sierra updates were tepid, but this makes GM's changes look revolutionary. Two elements one can point to — the new grille and the new interior, and neither one looks good. The new headlights and body-colored grille make the Tundra look like a bigger Honda Ridgeline, which is not a positive change. The interior is practically a direct rip-off of the current Ford F-150, and with no changes to the structure or powertrain (a five-speed automatic transmission? Still?), one wonders why Toyota even bothered to change anything.

David Thomas: Winner
I like the updates to the Tundra because it maintains a modern look versus the traditional styling of the domestic trucks on the market. The Tundra is what you think a truck in 2013 should look like. The different treatments to the grille are interesting, too, and everyone seemed to love the stamped-in name on the tailgate. Inside may be a "ripoff," but it is well-executed.

Joe Bruzek: Loser
Is Toyota giving up on the Tundra? It looks that way with hardly significant styling improvements and rip-off of the F-150's interior styling plus no mechanical changes to the truck's capabilities. The Tundra's old interior at least differentiated itself from other pickups with a unique, clean and swoopy design instead of the blocky industrial look it now uses.

By David Thomas | February 8, 2013 | Comments (8)

2014 Kia Forte 5-Door Video

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The new Forte 5-Door's sweeping headlights, 18-inch wheels and muscular body make it one of the best-looking cars in Kia's portfolio, says Cars.com reviewer Kelsey Mays. 

More 2013 Chicago Auto Show Coverage

The uplevel SX version borrows the Hyundai Veloster's turbocharged four-cylinder, which is good for 201 horsepower. Standard features across the lineup — a backup camera, leather-wrapped steering wheel and Bluetooth connectivity — mean it's well-equipped. Its roomy backseat and cargo area should also appeal to car shoppers. Check out the video below.

By Jennifer Geiger | February 8, 2013 | Comments (0)

2014 Kia Forte 5-Door: Up Close

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Kia's newest compact hatchback is here, and it's a looker. Based on the same platform as the Hyundai Elantra GT, the Forte 5-Door may share some chassis parts but gets its own unique powertrains. The one to have has to be the SX trim level with a 201-horsepower, turbocharged 1.6-liter four-cylinder, a choice of six-speed manual or automatic transmissions, a sport-tuned suspension and more aggressive styling.

More 2013 Chicago Auto Show Coverage

That styling is simply fantastic. Kia has been on a roll lately with the styling of its latest products, and the new 5-Door is no exception. Sporting aggressive front and rear ends with LEDs aplenty, it's a shape not unlike the Europe-only Volkswagen Scirocco: low-slung, racy and more appealing than its Hyundai cousin.

By Aaron Bragman | February 7, 2013 | Comments (2)

2014 Kia Forte 5-Door: Photo Gallery

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The 2014 Kia Forte 5-Door, which bowed today at the 2013 Chicago Auto Show, successfully builds on the platform it shares with the Forte sedan. The result is a car that's not only easy on the eyes but exciting behind the wheel. That excitement is punctuated by the Forte 5-Door's sportier, more aggressive styling, new grille, 16- to 18-inch alloy wheels and LED day running lights — there's also a useful hatchback in place of the sedan's trunk.

More 2013 Chicago Auto Show Coverage

The excitement continues under the hood, as the Forte 5-Door's two trim levels offer either a 173-horsepower, 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine or a 201-hp, turbocharged 1.6-liter four-cylinder; both are paired with a six-speed manual or automatic. Check out the gallery below.

By Matt Schmitz | February 7, 2013 | Comments (0)

2014 Kia Forte 5-Door at the 2013 Chicago Auto Show

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  • Competes with: Volkswagen Golf, Ford Focus hatchback, Hyundai Elantra GT, Mazda3
  • Looks like: Kia's built themselves a VW GTI-killer
  • Drivetrain: 201-hp, turbocharged 1.6-liter four-cylinder in SX trim or 173-hp, 2.0-liter four-cylinder in EX trim, six-speed manual or automatic transmissions
  • Hits dealerships: Summer 2013

Hot on the heels of the newly updated 2014 Kia Forte sedan comes the new Forte 5-Door, introduced today at the 2013 Chicago Auto Show. In place of the sedan's trunk is a useful hatchback with 22.3 cubic feet of cargo room.

More 2013 Chicago Auto Show Coverage

The platform is shared with the Forte sedan, but the Forte 5-Door features unique front and rear styling that is more aggressive and sporting. The hatchback also sports a new grille. The biggest differences are under the hood, however.

By Aaron Bragman | February 7, 2013 | Comments (6)

Cars.com Reviews the 2014 Kia Forte

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There are a lot of stylish, refined and efficient sedans in the compact class, but the last Kia Forte didn't really stand out as any of those. The redesigned-for-2014 Forte, however, does a great job of blending attractive styling and a high-quality ride, says Cars.com reviewer Joe Bruzek. Unfortunately, fuel economy and pricing are still unknowns, cautions Bruzek.

2014 Kia Forte Review

By Jennifer Geiger | February 4, 2013 | Comments (1)

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