Danielle Assenheimer

Frontrunner: 2014 Kia Forte EX

With every redesign, Kia becomes increasingly enticing, and the 2014 Forte is no different. For 2014, Kia worked on addressing the bland interior and road noise concerns of consumers and critics. The question remains, how victorious were they in their efforts?

Kia Forte 2

Our Forte arrived in head-turning Abyss with black interior. The color, along with the added touch of LED positioning lights and taillights place the Kia at the head of its class in terms of exterior design. The upgraded LED taillights recall its larger and even more luxurious sibling, the Cadenza. The EX trim level includes fog lights, a finished exhaust pipe, and  17-inch wheels which go exceptionally well with the color of the car. After spending some time with the Forte, you begin to pick up on the smooth wave exterior design that carries on into the interior.

The smart new look is paired with a surprising number of features for a vehicle with a $25.5k MSRP. Not only did the front seats have heated and ventilated (driver only) options but the back seats were also heated. While keeping yourself warm in the back seat, you can also stretch out— our taller staff members can confirm that there’s plenty of leg room. As  mentioned before, the wave motif carries over to the interior, specifically on dashboard and all four door panels. It may be subtle but it does not go unnoticed.  The UVO entertainment screen, angled towards the driver, is one of the best touchscreens in the business with menus that aren’t clumsy.  Navigating around the infotainment allows you to keep your eyes on the road for more of the time since the commands are direct and easy to find.

Kia Forte 6

There are two engine options based on trim level, the LX is equipped with a 1.8-liter four-cylinder engine, while our tester, the EX comes with the 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine which generates 173 hp and 154 lb-ft of torque. The fuel economy isn’t as good as some other top rivals, however. The Forte comes equipped with a 6-speed automatic, and that is a contributing factor. The increased prevalence of 8 speed and CVT transmissions might make the current gearbox outdated sooner rather than later. The engine in the EX is what we would consider to be fast enough. Although we didn’t drive it, the engine in the LX may be a bit too sluggish, even for a car of this size.

The drive in the Forte is comfortable and reassuring. It handles well around turns and feels steady. There was limited road noise, even at highway speeds, and visibility is excellent all around, which is important in a car this size. It also has selectable weight steering—giving you the choice of comfort, normal, or sport modes. There is very little difference between comfort and normal, while sport mode does provide slightly stiffer steering.  Even with the steering in sport, tapping through the gears with the gear selector falls short of a spirited experience.

Kia Forte 3

The 2014 Kia Forte proves to be an excellent value. It has both the looks and features that a consumer is now looking for in the compact-car class. If you want the more refined exterior look with a bit more power, opt for the EX trim level. The premium package and technology package add a number of comfort and convenience features not found on other cars in this segment.  They do well to enhance the experience, which helps you to overlook the lack of power we like in our cars.  The redesigned 2014 Kia Forte is a new frontrunner in the compact-car class, especially if comfort and style are at the top of your list.

-Danielle Assenheimer

2014 Kia Forte EX
$19,400
17″ Alloy Wheels $300
Premium Package $2,600
EX Technology Package $2,300
LED Taillights $115
Destination Charges $800
As Tested MSRP $25,515

Related:
New Kid on the Block: 2014 Kia Cadenza
Living on the Edge: 2013 Kia Rio 5 SX

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