Over Memorial Day weekend, I hit the road in the 2011 Kia Forte hatchback to visit my family. I was thoroughly impressed with the 2011 Forte hatchback’s infotainment system, which integrates Bluetooth, navigation, voice-activated controls, AM/FM radio, satellite radio, a CD player and iPod connectivity. I think it’s one of the easiest and quickest infotainment systems in the affordable small car class, despite a Bluetooth system that could have responded better to voice commands.
The navigation is really easy to use. When I went to Red Ribbon, a bakery in Virginia Beach, Va., with my sister Alana, the system let me type in the address speedily, something that would have taken me twice as long on the Honda Fit’s pokey system. The voice control function was on mute, but I easily made adjustments. The layouts for the iPod integration were also easy to navigate. Alana hooked up her iPod quickly, found Al Green’s “Let’s Stay Together” and started jamming.
Things didn’t go so well when I decided to call my brother. I pressed the voice control button on the steering wheel and said, “Call Nate.” The system (which I named Courtney) was confused. “Sorry,” she said and asked me to restructure my commands. I broke it down. “Call.” I let Courtney compute. Then, “Nate.” Courtney gave me a list of names on the screen and asked me to select an option. Annoyed that Courtney still didn’t understand me, I took my eyes off the road, checked the list and asked for the first option. Finally, the phone rang. Reception was decent, but perhaps I had a hard time understanding Nate because I woke him up.
Despite its finicky voice control, the 2011 Kia Forte’s infotainment system is intuitive and fast, two compliments some affordable small cars can’t claim.