2009 Honda CivicEnlarge Photo
The Honda Civic tops the Kia Forte by a bare two-tenths of a point on the TCC scale, while outdistancing the Ford Focus by a few laps. The Civic's refined feel is matched by the Forte and its passenger and cargo room is bested by the Forte, but its fuel economy, its reputation for durability and its mechanical sweetness nudge it into first place in this trio.
Other compact four-door sedans remain in the hunt with the Civic and Forte. The 2009 Toyota Corolla is especially attractive in its top trim level, though less so in the base trim. The Hyundai Elantra is another one of our top picks in this class, but the Forte strikes a more elegant, simple pose from the outside. The Chevy Cobalt is especially roomy and has a good ride but skimps on the features. Topping all of these also-rans in TCC's favorites list is the Mazda3, but admittedly it's not perfect and in terms of features the Forte has it beat squarely.