When I was looking to purchase my Forte, I tested all variations of the EX (5-spd manual, 4-spd auto, and 5-spd auto). The manual drove fine - more fun than an auto, imo. However, since the auto's have the ability to be 'manually shifted' in a sense, you can still have some of the same fun, with the convenience of an auto.
I eventually opted for the model with 5-spd auto. Great gas mileage and still have the ability to manually shift if I'm ever in the mood.