Test drove a Kia Forte EX today.
Yeah, it looks great (it really does) but it rides like a slightly stiffer Corolla. Reviewers seem to get dazzled by the way Hyundai's and Kia's look, but have they really changed what's underneath? Doesn't seem it to me.
The car tended to sway a little side to side on the freeway just like my Cobalt, pick-up with this larger engine was smoother than the Cruze but didn't feel particularly fast. The seat wasn't any better, although it was wider.
Surprisingly the car didn't corner well at all, less lean in than my Cobalt of course but still no handler.
It was fairly quiet and had a lot of features but the touchscreen was annoying (although better than Chevy's since it has a power and volume knob-but no station preset buttons)
What did impress me was the build quality. The rubber seals and gaskets and headlight surrounds and items like that looked ten times better than any Chevy does. GM really needs to fix that, it makes a huge impression.
So, my next drive will be the 2013 Mazda 3.
So far I would rank my test drives:
1. Subaru Impreza (loud and a CVT-yuck)
2. Chevy Cruze (idle neutral and poor powertrain smoothness a deal killer, best suspension of any compact, IMO)
3. Ford Focus (Cramped interior, hideous dashboard and balky transmission deal killers
4. Kia Forte-No deal killers but not that impressive
5. Honda Civic-Horrible seats and hideous dash deal killers
6. Chevy Sonic-Really jerky power train, jumped coming to a stop, no arm rest/console-deal killers)