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 |  Feb 11 2009, 6:10 PM

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Unveiled simultaneously at the Chicago Auto Show and the Canadian International Auto Show in Toronto, Kia took the wraps of its new Forte compact sedan.

The Forte will be offered in three trims with LX and EX models featuring a 2.0-liter four cylinder engine with 156hp and 144 ft-lbs of torque. An SX model will also be offered with a larger 2.4-liter four cylinder boasting 173hp and 168 ft-lbs of torque. This is more power than what is offered in either the top line Mazda3 or Toyota Corolla.

A five-speed manual is standard on the LX and EX with an optional four-speed automatic. We’re a little disappointed to see a four-speed on a brand new cars these days but those who so choose can opt for the SX, which comes with a six-speed manual as standard an an optional five-speed automatic.

Kia will offer a Fuel Economy Package, featuring the 2.0-liter engine with a five-speed auto, motor driven power steering (as opposed to electric), low rolling resistance tires and improved aerodynamics. This will result in a class-leading 36 mpg on the highway.

LX models will be quite basic but EX and SX models will include standard power windows and locks, remote keyless entry, AC and steering-wheel mounted audio and cruise controls. A sunroof and leather seating will be optional. SX owners might just want to stick with the cloth seats, however, as Kia has equipped the Forte SX with styling red stitching.

SX models will also get plenty of other upgrades to match that red stitching, including a sport-tuned suspension, larger front brakes, a rear spoiler and 17-inch wheels with significantly sized 215/45/17 tires.

Wow.. a Kia we’re actually excited to drive!

Note: At the Canadian International Auto Show, Kia also had the Koup Concept on display (first featured at least year’s New York Auto Show) and according to Kia rep Sixto Fernandes, Kia will launch a new coupe in the summer and we should expect it to look very close to the concept.

2010 Kia Forte:

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Kia Koup Concept:

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Official release after the jump:

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