By Jason Allan
KBB Expert Rating: 8.1
Whether you've already come around on Kia or you're still not convinced, test driving the all-new 2014 Kia Forte is guaranteed to make your decision about a compact sedan, hatchback or coupe more difficult. It's as sporty and substantial inside as it is outside, the available features list is luxury-like in quantity and quality, and save for some foundational shortcomings relative to competitors like the Honda Civic, the overall level of refinement is on par with anything in the class. The 2014 Kia Forte is definitely worth a look, and for buyers in search of features and technology, it's going to be a long look.
The 2014 Kia Forte's key strengths include its good looks, great tech and a generous warranty.
The 2014 Kia Forte sedan, Forte5 hatchback, and Forte Koup aren't as fun to drive as they look, and they're not quite the bargain their deceptive starting prices might suggest.
The Kia Forte has been totally redesigned for 2014.
Driving Impressions If you're drawn to the 2014 Kia Forte by the implied promise of its sporty look and available 173-horsepower engine, prepare yourself for a disappointing test drive. While it's quick...... enough and handles just fine, the Forte falls far short of the Ford Focus, Mazda3 and Volkswagen Jetta in driving feel, which is a big part of fun-to-drive. But as long as you're among the 99% of buyers more interested in transportation than track time, you won't find anything not to like about the way the Forte drives, rides or handles. On the other hand, the 2-door Forte Koup and turbocharged Forte5 hatchback still have driving dynamics several steps behind cars like the Honda Civic Si or Volkswagen GTI, something Kia must fix if it hopes to be a player in the sporty compact segment. Still, the Kia Forte is a fun car, but more because of its looks, features and tech than its driving dynamics.
In addition to a bunch of other cool infotainment capabilities – many of them voice-activated – Kia's next-gen UVO system leverages your Bluetooth-connected smartphone to automatically call 911 in the event of an airbag deployment, and lets you send a navigation destination from your computer to the car.
As part of its new electric power steering system, the 2014 Kia Forte EX includes a FlexSteer feature that lets the driver select between Comfort, Normal and Sport steering modes. Comfort mode feels the least artificial, making small corrections easier and mitigating some of the compromise of efficiency-enhancing electric steering.
The interior of the 2014 Kia Forte is sporty and straightforward, with a heavy helping of tech and just a whiff of whimsy thanks in large part to vertical ripples in the passenger-side dash. It's all very well done. The back seat is average in size for the category, but the Forte does boast the uncommon option of heated rear seats, and even a heated steering wheel. The trunk is among the category's roomiest, measuring almost 15 cubic feet.Exterior
On one hand, the Kia Forte isn't as flashy as its Hyundai Elantra corporate cousin. On the other hand, the Forte's look will probably age better because of it. The 2-door Koup and hatchback Forte5 bring a bit more style to the lineup without undermining the conservative aesthetic. Here, Kia's healthy addiction to category-first features manifests itself in power-folding exterior mirrors, puddle lamps and illuminated door-handle pockets, a collection of niceties not offered on most luxury cars in 2013.
Technically, the 2014 Kia Forte starts at $16,700 with destination, including Bluetooth and USB connectivity, air conditioning, and a split-folding rear seat. But it also has small steel wheels, a manual transmission and a host of feature deficiencies. Add $1,500 for an automatic transmission, then another $900 for the Popular Package – alloy wheels, remote keyless entry, etc. – and you've got yourself a respectable compact car, but for $19,100. The $19,400 Forte Koup and $20,500 Forte5 both start a trim-level higher, and include a lot of what's optional on the sedan. A full complement of active and passive safety features are standard on every Forte.
A fully loaded 2014 Kia Forte can surpass $25,000, but with an impressive set of equipment that includes common touches like leather seats, moonroof, keyless entry and push-button start, plus unexpected touches like a heated steering wheel, ventilated driver's seat and heated rear seats. The Google-powered UVO eServices infotainment system is also among the most comprehensive systems in the segment. Moving up to the turbocharged engine adds $2,000 to the Forte Koup, or $1,200 in the Forte5.
The front-wheel-drive Forte is available with three different engines, depending on body style, including one of the most powerful engines in the segment. Each is matched with the same 6-speed automatic transmission, while a 6-speed manual is available as well, again, depending on body style. The Forte's power advantage requires a small compromise in fuel economy, with the Forte's numbers trailing many of today's newer compact cars.
1.8-liter 4-cylinder (Kia Forte Sedan LX)
148 horsepower @ 6,500 rpm
131 lb-ft of torque @ 4,700 rpm
EPA city/highway fuel economy: 25/37 mpg (manual), 25/36 mpg (automatic)
2.0-liter 4-cylinder (Kia Forte Sedan EX, Koup EX, Forte5 EX)
173 horsepower @ 6,500 rpm
154 lb-ft of torque @ 4,700 rpm
EPA city/highway fuel economy: 24/33 mpg (manual, Koup only), 24/36 mpg (automatic)
1.6-liter turbocharged 4-cylinder (Kia Forte Koup SX, Forte5 SX)
201 horsepower @ 6,000 rpm
195 lb-ft of torque @ 1,750-4,500 rpm
EPA city/highway fuel economy: 22/29 mpg (manual), 22/30 mpg (automatic)
Today's Kias don't offer the same price advantage they used to, but better quality, more features and improved resale values make them a much smarter buy. Yes, the Forte's $16,700 starting price is one of the lowest in the category, but Kia won't make many of those bare-bones vehicles and you don't want one anyway. You might still pay less for a Forte than a Civic, but the apples-to-apples difference will likely be hundreds of dollars, not thousands. The $19,400 base price for the Forte Koup, or $20,500 base price for the Forte5 hatchback doesn't include the turbocharged engine, which is a primary reason to get either car. Regardless, don't expect to pay much less for a Forte, but you'll be getting more features. And if you plan on keeping your next new car longer than the three years or 36,000 miles that most competitors cover, Kia's impressive 5-year/60,000-mile bumper-to-bumper warranty is a real advantage.
By Fiddle on Monday, May 19, 2014
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 5,100overall rating 8 of 10rating details
Pros: "very good car - superbly outfitted"
Cons: "initial price w/ good incentives, but costly after"
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 7
"Terribly fast and awful depreciation, although I have no idea why a car this good would do this. Terrible gas mileage in winter, but very good at other times. Extremely good car except for these costs. Excellent warranties."
14 people out of 32 found this review helpful
By Kathy on Wednesday, May 14, 2014
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 2,600overall rating 9 of 10rating details
Pros: "Priced right, easy driving. Looks & feels luxury!"
Cons: "Not one complaint."
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 10
"Excellent and comforts galore! Fully loaded..you name it, this car has it. I highly recommend this vehicle."
8 people out of 10 found this review helpful
By Designer Dude on Tuesday, May 13, 2014
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 12,000overall rating 10 of 10rating details
Pros: "Great Price, Luxury Car Features, fun to drive"
Cons: "The UVO system is a bit lacking"
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 10
"I bought this car because it was nice looking and it had pretty good Mileage and as phenomenal warranty. 5 yrs 60K number to number and 10 years 100k Power train, after owning two ford products anything would have been better. But Honestly this car has far surpassed my expectations. With the really fuel efficient GDI 2.0 it averages 26-28 around town and 36-40 on the freeway. I drove to LA and around all weekend on 1 tank of has 457 miles on a tank that is unbelievable. The ride is strong, quiet and smooth. The Active ECO system is amazing. I loaned it tony friend for an afternoon who has a 2012 Honda Civic, and he told me he wished he had bought a forte, the ride was much smoother and quieter, not like the road noise you get from Honda. (however my daughter has a 94 civic with 211,000 miles and it is still going strong. So I paid 18k with rebates on a 2014 KIA FORTE with the premium package, the deal of the century and if I was buying again tomorrow I would get the exact same thing. I love Love love the car!!!! If I was going to change anything I might get the technology package, to get the dual climate control, otherwise the happiest I have ever been with any car."
6 people out of 9 found this review helpful