Completely redesigned, the compact 2014 Kia Forte makes a stylish impression in available four-door sedan, five-door hatchback, and two-door coupe (Koup) versions. Spacious interior, upscale features, strong engines and lengthy warranty are other attributes compact car buyers may find appealing.
What Experts Think
Buyers of compact sedans want value, but they also want a little pizzazz and a good list of features. Here, say the auto critics, the 2014 Kia Forte does a fairly good job. On the other hand, the Forte is likely to disappoint in the performance department, but this isn't a track car, after all.
"The 2014 Kia Forte isn't as fun to drive as it looks, and it's not quite the bargain its deceptive starting price might suggest." (Kelley Blue Book)
Car and Driver editors note that the redesigned 2014 Kia Forte is based on the Hyundai Elantra. Its strengths include "tons of features for the money," in higher trim levels, "slick styling, very quiet, good brakes."
Over at AOL Autos, editors were impressed, for the most part, with what the new Kia Forte has to offer. "The Kia Forte is good looking, completely up to date with contemporary technologies, and more than adequate in the creature comfort and performance arenas." Other pluses include Kia's "generous" warranty program and "escalating residual values."
"With the promise of good fuel economy, and a relatively roomy interior, the new Forte has the potential to be ranked as one of the better compact sedans especially if ride, handling, and noise isolation are improved over the last one." (Consumer Reports)
Noting that the competition hasn't rested on its laurels and neither has Kia, the editors at Leftlane comment that "A few quick-change tricks and some that go much deeper have resulted in a Forte that is, once again, every bit as relevant as its competitors."
MSN Autos, meanwhile, describes the new Kia Forte as "longer, lower and wider" than its predecessor, offering "more room, more performance and more premium amenities" than before. They also note that the design was created by Kia's American Design Center in Irvine, California, and said to have strong European sport sedan influence.
What Owners Say
As expected with an all-new compact car offering, owners aren't at all shy about providing their comments. A review of what customers had to say on sites such as Yahoo Autos, Edmunds, Kelley Blue Book, and Cars.com, for example, finds that, for the most part, buyers of the 2014 Kia Forte are fairly well satisfied with their purchase.
Highlights include great gas mileage, nice ride, stylish looking, loaded with technology, great price, can buy wanted options like auto-dimming mirror without having to add on expensive packages, nice dynamics inside and out.
A couple of owner negatives mentioned were the fact that the Forte has no spare tire and the horn is "lame."
The 2014 Kia Forte is available as a four-door sedan in EX and LX trims and hatchback in EX and SX trims, and a two-door coupe (Forte Koup).
What buyers get on the base Forte LX sedan in the way of standard features includes 15-inch steel wheels, full power accessories, a height-adjustable driver's seat, a tilt-and-telescoping steering wheel, 60/40-split-folding rear seat, Bluetooth connectivity, and a six-speaker sound system with a CD player, satellite radio, and USB/iPod/auxiliary input jacks. Optional equipment on the LX sedan, available in the Popular package, includes keyless entry, mirror-mounted turn signal repeaters, upgraded trim in the interior, a sliding console armrest, cruise control, two additional speakers, a fold-down center armrest, dual lighted vanity mirrors, and 16-inch alloy wheels.
Moving up to the Forte EX sedan adds a more powerful engine, fog lights, LED running lights, chrome accents, adjustable steering, Kia's UVO voice-activated infotainment system, a leather-wrapped steering wheel, a sliding console armrest, a fold-down center armrest in the rear of the car, and a rearview camera. Options for the EX include two option packages and 17-inch wheels. The Premium package includes keyless ignition/entry, leather upholstery, a heated steering wheel, a ventilated eight-way power driver's seat, an auto-dimming rearview mirror, and a sunroof. The Technology package has a navigation system, dual-zone air conditioning with rear seat vents, xenon headlights and LED taillights.
Standard equipment in the Forte EX hatchback mirrors that in the EX sedan, while the Forte SX is a sportier version that includes 17-inch wheels, a turbocharged engine, metal sport pedals, chrome exhaust tips, and unique front and rear fascia. The available option packages for both hatchback trims are essentially the same as for the Forte EX sedan.
Like the Forte hatchback, the two-door Forte Koup is available in EX and SX trim levels. The Forte Koup EX has standard rearview camera, Bluetooth connectivity, satellite radio, a leather-wrapped steering wheel, a tilt-and-telescoping steering wheel. New for 2014 is Kia's FlexSteer, which allows driver adjustable steering effort between Comfort, Normal and Sport settings.
The Forte Koup SX adds 18-inch wheels, LED taillights, larger front brakes, and visual distinctions from Koup EX with alloy sport pedals, carbon-fiber-look trim details, and sporty and more aggressive-looking front and rear fascias.
Options on Koup EX and SX are such features as a navigation system, keyless entry/ignition, a sunroof, leather upholstery, heated steering wheel, and heated front seats with cooled driver's seat, auto-dimming rearview mirrors and dual-zone automatic climate control.
In the view of almost every auto reviewer, no one will ever confuse the 2013 Kia Forte with a pavement-burner. That simply isn't where its strengths lie. One publication put it as bluntly as to say that even with the more powerful of the two engines offered, the Forte is "lifeless" to drive.
Most of the motoring press isn't that harsh, however, as the 2014 Kia Forte is a value proposition for a buyer looking to stretch dollars and get a relatively stylish vehicle in the process.
Power for the front-wheel drive compact Kia Forte comes from two different engines, including one that is considered one of the most powerful in the segment. Each comes with a standard six-speed automatic transmission, although the smaller of the two engines has an available six-speed manual transmission.
The base powerplant in the Forte LX is a 1.8-liter four-cylinder engine that makes 148 horsepower and 131 pound-feet of torque. EPA-estimated fuel economy for this engine is 25 mpg city/36 mpg highway mpg (automatic), and 25/37 mpg (manual).
The Kia Forte EX gets the 173-horsepower 2.0-liter direct-injected four-cylinder engine that produces 154 pound-feet of torque. With its six-speed automatic transmission, this combination achieves an EPA-estimated 24 mpg city/36 mpg highway mpg.
Most reviewers note that the Forte trails much of the newer compact car competition in fuel economy numbers.
Part of the new electric power steering system includes a FlexSteer feature. What's that? FlexSteer allows the driver to select between Comfort, Normal and Sport steering modes. Just don't expect magic, here, say many reviewers, some of whom say the steering is "numb" regardless of mode selected.
The sporty Forte SX hatchback has a 201-horsepower 1.6-liter four-cylinder engine mated to a six-speed manual transmission or six-speed automatic.
Powerplants for the Kia Forte Koup include two four-cylinder engines. Koup EX gets the 173-horsepower 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine with standard six-speed automatic transmission, while Koup SX is powered by the 201-horsepower 1.6-liter that is available with either six-speed manual or six-speed automatic transmission.
Many in the motoring press observe that the longer and lower (but not higher) 2014 Kia Forte has a little less user space than before, although this is less of an issue in the front, where there's good passenger space. Common criticism is that the seats could use more bolstering on the bottom and back-seat passengers that are tall will not generally be happy. One option that Kia offers for the Forte that's not very common for the class is heated rear seats.
As for the overall interior, it's deemed by the auto critics to be nicely finished with higher-grade plastics. From the tambour-covered console storage to the round knobs for climate control, details are well-designed and not overplayed.
Some testers found that the Forte is extremely quiet during most road-going situations with the exception of periods of rapid acceleration when engine noise is more noticeable.
Trunk storage capacity, meanwhile, is among the roomiest in the category, measuring almost 15 cubic feet in the Forte sedan.
Safety & Reliability
Standard safety equipment on every 2014 Kia Forte includes antilock disc brakes, stability control, traction control, front side airbags and side curtain airbags. Rear side airbags are not offered.
Safety-related standard features include the rearview camera display and the Kia hill-start assist control, which prevents the vehicle from rolling backward when starting up on a steep grade.
In crash testing conducted by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS), the 2014 Kia Forte sedan (only) received the highest possible rating of "Good" in moderate overlap front, side impact and roof strength tests. No small overlap front tests have been conducted for this vehicle.
No models of the 2014 Kia Forte have yet been crash tested by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA).
There is no reliability data yet available on the 2014 Kia Forte.
|Sedan - FWD|
|LX||4dr Sedan Man LX||4 Cylinder||FWD||15400|
|LX||4dr Sedan Auto LX||4 Cylinder||FWD||16400|
|EX||4dr Sedan Auto EX||4 Cylinder||FWD||17800|
|SX||4dr Sedan Auto SX||4 Cylinder||FWD||19300|
|2013 Kia Forte||MSRP||Invoice|
|2013 Kia Forte||$15,400||$15,100|
|Similar Cars to Consider||MSRP||Invoice||Compare|
|2013 Toyota Corolla||$16,230||$15,338||Kia Forte VS Toyota Corolla|
|2013 Nissan Sentra||$15,990||$15,423||Kia Forte VS Nissan Sentra|
|2013 Hyundai Elantra||$16,695||$16,208||Kia Forte VS Hyundai Elantra|
|2013 Volkswagen Jetta||$15,545||$14,923||Kia Forte VS Volkswagen Jetta|
|2013 Ford Focus||$16,200||$15,269||Kia Forte VS Ford Focus|
Interested to see how the 2013 Kia Forte ranks against similar cars in terms of key attributes? Here are the 2013 Kia Forte rankings for MPG, horsepower, torque, leg room, head room, shoulder room, hip room and so forth.
|1||2013 Volkswagen Jetta||45|
|2||2013 Nissan Sentra||34|
|3||2013 Hyundai Elantra||33|
|4||2013 Ford Focus||32|
|5||2013 Kia Forte||31|
|6||2013 Toyota Corolla||30|
|1||2013 Ford Focus||160|
|2||2013 Kia Forte||156|
|3||2013 Hyundai Elantra||145|
|4||2013 Toyota Corolla||132|
|5||2013 Nissan Sentra||130|
|1||2013 Volkswagen Jetta||184|
|2||2013 Ford Focus||146|
|3||2013 Kia Forte||144|
|4||2013 Hyundai Elantra||130|
|5||2013 Nissan Sentra||128|
|6||2013 Toyota Corolla||128|
|1||2013 Kia Forte||40.0|
|2||2013 Hyundai Elantra||40.0|
|3||2013 Nissan Sentra||39.4|
|4||2013 Toyota Corolla||38.8|
|5||2013 Ford Focus||38.3|
|6||2013 Volkswagen Jetta||38.2|
|1||2013 Hyundai Elantra||43.6|
|2||2013 Kia Forte||43.3|
|3||2013 Nissan Sentra||42.5|
|4||2013 Ford Focus||41.9|
|5||2013 Toyota Corolla||41.7|
|6||2013 Volkswagen Jetta||41.2|
|1||2013 Hyundai Elantra||55.9|
|2||2013 Kia Forte||55.7|
|3||2013 Ford Focus||55.6|
|4||2013 Volkswagen Jetta||55.2|
|5||2013 Toyota Corolla||54.8|
|6||2013 Nissan Sentra||54.7|
|1||2013 Ford Focus||53.9|
|2||2013 Hyundai Elantra||53.5|
|3||2013 Kia Forte||53.0|
|4||2013 Toyota Corolla||53.0|
|5||2013 Nissan Sentra||50.9|