The past few years have seen Kia rise up from its cheap car roots and become a major player in some of the key areas of the automotive marketplace. But there has been one area that the automaker hasn't been quite able to wrap its hands around; the compact car. Kia has tried its hand before at building compact vehicles, but the results have ranged from middling to somewhat decent.
But Kia thinks that with the 2014 Forte, they have cracked the compact car code. Let's find out if they have.
The 2014 Forte continues Kia's trend of designing sharp looking car. Draped in what the automaker calls Abyss Blue and a set of optional seventeen-inch alloy wheels on the EX, the Forte in my eyes has to be one of the best looking compact vehicles on sale. The overall shape mimics the smaller Rio sedan with similar front and rear end styling. Up front is the distinctive honeycomb grille that is flanked by upswept headlights. Around back are a set of taillights that extend into the rear quarter panels.
The Forte's interior is very stylish with a large amount of soft-touch materials and premium touches such as a stitched cover for the instrument cluster. It makes the Forte feel much more special than many of its counterparts. Build quality is also excellent.
Being a little bit longer and wider than its predecessor, the 2014 Forte does boast a bit more interior space. This is apparent for back seat passengers as legroom is in abundance. Headroom is decent, but taller passengers will find it somewhat tight due to the sloping roofline. There is also the option of heated seats for the back to make passengers feel comfortable during the winter. Up front are heated leather seats, with the driver also getting power adjustment and cooling. Trying to find a comfortable position in the front proved to be a difficult task for me as I constantly adjusted the seat, trying to get that perfect setting.
This particular Forte EX came equipped with Kia's UVO infotainment system and eServices. As I have written previously on Kia's UVO system, it is very easy to comprehend at glance and use. With the addition of eServices which brings forth such features as automatic 911 notification and vehicle diagnostics, Kia has possibly one of the best all-around infotainment systems on the marketplace. But I had an odd problem arise with the UVO system in the Forte. I found the that hands-free calling system would end the call at exactly 15 minutes. At first, I thought it was my phone dropping the call, but I soon figured out it was UVO. I'm not the only person to experience this. A fellow writer who drove a Forte around the same time as me had the same thing happen to him. Now I have sent Kia an inquiry about this and I'm currently waiting to hear back from them.
For more on the powertrain and ride, see page 2.
The Forte EX comes equipped with a 2.0L direct-injected four-cylinder engine that packs 173 horsepower and 154 pound-feet of torque. This is paired with a six-speed automatic. The engine is more than suitable for most situations that you'll find yourself in as it provides robust acceleration and torque coming on strong early on in the rev range. This is helped by the Forte's low curb weight of 2,959 lbs. The six-speed automatic provides quick shifts and helps keep the engine right in the sweet spot of power. EPA rates the 2014 Kia Forte EX at 24 City/36 Highway/28 Combined. My average for the week landed me around 28 MPG.
Under the Forte's skin, Kia employs a strut setup for the the front and a torsion-beam for the rear. This helps give the Forte a big car ride. As for driving fun, the Forte is competent around corners. Its not a Mazda3 by any stretch of the imagination, but it does show that Kia is learning how to build a fun car. A couple places that Kia should work on in the near future is reducing the amount of wind and road noise that comes into the cabin and working on a better steering system than the current and gimmicky driver-selectable steering system.
The 2014 Kia Forte shows that Kia has finally figure out not only how to build very competent compact car, but one that is very much vying for top in class honors. Taken as a whole, the Forte does most everything well. If you're considering a compact car, it would be a disservice to yourself if the Forte isn't on your list.
Disclaimer: Kia Provided the Forte EX, Insurance, and One Tank of Gas
Engine: 2.0L GDI DOHC D-CVVT Inline-Four
Driveline: Six-Speed Automatic, Front-Wheel Drive
Horsepower @ RPM: 173 @ 6500
Torque @ RPM: 154 @ 4700
Fuel Economy: City/Highway/Combined - 24/36/28
Curb Weight: 2,959 lbs
Location of Manufacture: South Korea
Base Price: $19,400.00
As Tested Price: $25,515.00 (Includes $800.00 Destination Charge)
Premium Package - $2,600.00
EX Technology Package - $2,300.00
17-Inch Alloy Wheels - $300.00
Carpeted Floor Mats - $115.00