Kia continues to surprise me with just how much better its vehicles have become these days. I remember back to some real “econobox” models last decade that looked and felt as cheap as they come, but over the last few years the automaker has truly come into its own, and the 2014 Kia Forte is no exception to this rule.
This is the second generation of Forte, which is offered in sedan, coupe and five-door configurations. For 2014 Forte is longer, lower and wider and rides on an all-new chassis making it more than a worthy contender in the hot compact car segment that features the likes of Civic, Corolla and Focus.
Forte is not the right car for everyone, but it is a great choice for many. It is comfortable, quiet, smooth and even peppy in its day-to-day offerings. It can seat up to five, although four adults will be most comfortable with the rear seat hosting quite good head- and legroom.
The new Kia Forte is offered in LX and EX trim levels with our recent tester arriving outfitted in the latter. Powertrain offerings consist of 1.8-liter four-cylinder in LX models and with all EX Fortes getting a 2.0-liter Gas Direct Injection engine rated at 173hp and 154 lb. ft. of torque and comes standard mated to a smooth six-speed automatic transmission. Fuel economy is rated at 24 mpg city and 36 mpg highway.
A notable change for 2014 is the new electric power steering that allows Kia to offer the new FlexSteer option, whereby drivers can fine tune steering feel in one of three settings via button on the steering wheel. Comfort, Normal and Sport are your choices with subtle differences felt in each. I found the Sport setting to suit most of my driving needs during my week behind the wheel.
The 2014 Kia Forte was designed in California in Kia’s American Design Center and features significant changes over its predecessor. The new look is less chiseled than before while offering a sportier stance, broader shoulders and a more aggressive windshield rake.
The interior received an overhaul as well, giving the cockpit a more driver-centric feel while upgrading styling and material quality. Our EX model featured leather seat trim as well as ventilated and heated drivers seat, push button start, heated steering wheel, power tilt/slide sunroof, HD/SiriusXM radio with auxiliary inputs, Bluetooth wireless connectivity, UVO eServices Telematics with rear camera display and navigation system with Sirius Traffic. There is also the Supervision Meter Cluster with its 4.2-inch color LCD display that rides center dash providing the driver with all necessary secondary information.
While 16-inch wheels are standard, our tester rode on 17-inch alloys and featured four-wheel disc brakes along with standard traction control system, electronic stability control, vehicle stability management, hill-start assist and a host of airbags including full-length side curtains.
Pricing for the all-new 2014 Kia Forte EX sedan begins at $19,400 with our tester arriving heavily laden with extra goodies at $25,515. As with all new Kia models, the Forte features a 10-year/100,000-mile powertrain warranty and 5-year/60,000-mile basic warranty with matching roadside assistance on the latter.
The Kia and Hyundai brands continue to surprise as they deliver relevant products that offer attractive styling and competitive features without sacrificing the joy of driving itself.