2014 Kia Forte
Base price: $16,000 (estimated)
As tested: $18,000 (estimated)
MPG: Not available
- Appealing styling
- Segment-leading safety, comfort, and convenience features
- 2-liter engine
- Electric power steering has a slight lag in response time at highway speeds
- Optional navigation system can be difficult to program
By Nina Russin
Does the all-new Kia Forte sedan have the mettle to fend off competitors such as the Hyundai Elantra? We believe the 2014 model, rolling into dealerships Spring 2013, has what it takes.
Although the first-generation Forte was a good product, it never emerged from the shadow of the edgier-looking Elantra with which it shares a platform. The newest Forte is still less aggressive-looking than the Elantra, but its coupe-like profile and stretched cabin will turn heads. Plus, adding two inches to the wheelbase increased legroom in both rows of seating. A wider trunk opening makes it possible to load a bicycle inside with second-row seats folded flat. Inside, designers added soft-touch surfaces in key areas.
The Forte also surpasses the Elantra by offering both 1.8- and 2-liter engines, the latter of which is not available on the competitor. On a mountain drive, the upscale Forte EX proved to have peppy performance, which Kia has delivered with its legendary value. The 2-liter engine and 173 horses offered considerably more power than the Elantra, a quality that was especially noticeable climbing steep grades.
The Forte’s six-speed automatic transmission also enhances fuel economy. EPA figures are not yet available for the 2014 Forte, but an average of 30 mpg isn’t an unreasonable estimate based on previous models.
In terms of ride, the road noise and vibration are much reduced for what you’d expect from a car of this size. A new FlexSteer feature enables the driver to adjust steering effort to his or her liking, and the Forte’s 34.8-foot turning radius makes it easy to park on the street. The independent front suspension and solid rear axle keep uneven road surfaces at bay for passengers, still keeping the chassis flat when the driver corners.
Standard safety features include front, side, and side curtain airbags; antilock braking; traction control; stability control; and hill start assist. A standard rear backup camera on the EX eliminates blind spots in the back corners and makes it easier to monitor cross-traffic in crowded parking lots.
Its restyled exterior, engine options, handling, and safety features make the all new-Kia Forte a strong class competitor.
Nina Russin, has been writing about the auto industry for 25 years, including a weekly columnist for the Chicago Sun-Times.