Kia has come a long way in it's art since they first started. One fine proof of this is the Forte, this sporty looking car is pretty much that...it's a peppy, good on gas sporty car. Now, it's not on the same performance level as a Golf or a Lancer, but for it's price you get a smooth driving fun car.
The 2.0L I4 gets going in a hurry and can do 0-60 mph in 8.3 seconds using its 156 horsepower, which isn't all bad considering it also achieves up to 34 mpg. The 5 speed automatic transmission is shiftable to give more of a sporty feel to the Forte. Riding in the Forte can get a little rough on bad roads due to the sporty, tighter suspension setup but, I don't think you'll get tousled enough to get your emotions stirred. When you take the Forte around corners on your afternoon mountainous terrain drive, you'll be ok with the suspension setup as the Forte stays flat and composed when flung around.
Inside you'll get steering wheel radio controls, cruise, a cd player, A/C, iPod/Mp3 inputs, all the utilities you want in a car. Don't be expecting anything comparable to a Mercedes, and you'll love this Forte. It is simply an affordable, safe, sharp...Kia, but it is put together well and Kia has been offering amazing warranties and you still see older ones on the road today, which says quite a bit about the reliability.
The Forte is a budget car, and as long as you keep that in mind it is a great car and a lot of fun to drive. I would suggest maybe having a separate car with a softer suspension setup for the longer trips.