Auto Review: Fortifying the Forte
By Bill Heald - ReminderNews
Featured Article - posted Thu., Nov. 14, 2013
It’s not a compact; and if you look just at the exterior dimensions, it’s not a midsize. It’s a sedan in-between, and even though the EPA defines it as a midsize, it has the ability to squeeze into fairly tight parking spaces and stays very light on its feet while offering up generous interior room. The new 2014 Kia Forte rides on a larger, extensively revised chassis that changes its personality for the better. Best of all, with an increase in size, there’s been an expansion of both refinement and feature availability while yielding better performance and fuel economy. These changes ultimately make the Forte an even more desirable sedan than before, and it’s definitely worth a look, whether you’re looking for a compact or a midsize for your personal transportation needs.
The Forte’s front-drive architecture is motivated by two engines that are specific to the two models offered: the LX and the EX. The LX is the “base” version, although it is still generously equipped and is powered by a 1.8-liter Inline Four with 148 horsepower. The EX is the top of the line and gets a 2-liter Inline Four with Direct Injection that puts out a robust 173 horsepower. The LX is available with a six-speed manual or six-speed automatic, and as we were graced with this model for a week, we found the drivetrain to be smooth and responsive, with good power and a gearbox that did an admirable job of balancing acceleration with fuel economy. 60 mph arrived in 8.5 seconds, and in a week of mixed driving, we averaged a very respectable 34 MPG. Also well-balanced was the suspension tuning, as ride quality was compliant even over rougher roads, while handling remained crisp and the Forte was a pleasure to negotiate through traffic. Braking performance was also superb, with stops from 60 mph averaging 110.5 feet.
The laudable driving dynamics are not let down in the least by the interior appointments, for the Forte offered comfort, generous features and great attention to detail for this price class (including their UVO telematics with a rear camera display). As part of the optional Premium Package, the EX included very supportive seating with leather trim, which was quite welcome on long days on the road. This package also included a sunroof and a driver’s seat that is both heated and cooled (the front passenger seat is heated as well). The instrument cluster was clear and concise thanks to the optional Technology Package, which includes a Supervision meter cluster as well as a 4.2” LED screen. The rear seat is very roomy for two and offers good comfort to go along with the smooth ride mentioned earlier. The workmanship once again stands out compared with many offerings in this price range, helping to deliver solid value for the money.
The 2014 Kia Forte EX is EPA rated 24 MPG city/36 highway and has a base price of $19,400. With a full boat of options, our MSRP came to $25,515. www.kia.com