3/4 Front Glamour 2014 Kia Forte

Expert's Rating

4.4Excellent

MPG 24 City / 34 Highway
Pros
  • Decent power
  • Excellent warranty
  • Outstanding fuel economy
  • Sharp exterior styling
Cons
  • Interior lacks quality
Sexy, well-equipped and bargain-priced, there's a lot to like about the spacious Kia Forte.

Introduction

The Kia Forte has always been a respectable compact that scored well on value and standard features. Though saddled with ho-hum styling inside and out, the price was low, and you can't have everything. Or can you? Kia cures the mediocrity for 2014 with an all-new Forte that's downright sexy compared to its staid predecessor.

Taking a cue from American designers of generations ago, Kia has made the Forte longer, lower and wider. The result is a taut and muscular-looking compact with enough interior space to qualify as midsize. Rear-seat passengers benefit the most, treated to increased legroom and more supportive seats. Trunk space grows to 14.9 cubic feet, which puts it firmly in family sedan territory.

The Forte sedan goes on sale first, followed by a wagon-like hatchback and sporty coupe. As in the past, the Forte competes with more established brands by offering a price-to-equipment ratio that clearly spells value. The base LX sedan comes standard with obligatory features like air conditioning and power windows and locks, plus a split-folding rear seat, height-adjustable driver seat, Bluetooth, satellite radio and USB/iPod jacks. Additional power this year comes from a 1.8-liter four-cylinder making 148 horsepower, matched to a six-speed manual or automatic transmission.

Moving up to the EX gets you a 2-liter four-cylinder with direct injection and 173 horsepower, which comes only with the automatic. The EX also carries a snazzier interior, adjustable-effort steering and a rearview camera. The upcoming coupe and hatchback will start out in EX trim, meaning all will be exceptionally well-equipped for this class.

Those body styles will also come in sporty SX trim, anchored by a turbocharged 1.6-liter producing 201 horsepower. The SX package includes 18-inch wheels, LED tail lights and sportier trim throughout. Both the EX and SX can get some fairly swanky options like a cooled driver seat, heated steering wheel and heated rear seats.

Fuel economy is still very much a part of the equation. The LX sedan with manual transmission delivers 37 mpg on the highway and 25 mpg in town. With the automatic or larger EX engine, you're still only losing about one mile per gallon in either mode. That's competitive for a compact, and outstanding if you're shopping in the midsize class.

Which Style To Buy?

2014 Kia Forte
Starting price
$18,847
Shopper Popularity
37%

2014 Kia Forte EX

Recommended for: Buyers looking for a high level of equipment in a compact-midsize sedan.

The standard guise for coupes and hatchbacks, and available on sedans, the EX is powered by a 2-liter four-cylinder making 173 horsepower hooked to a six-speed automatic. In addition to everything found in the LX, you get 16-inch alloy wheels, a rearview camera, selectable-effort steering, fog lights, LED running lights, interior chrome accents, a leather-wrapped steering wheel, and Kia's Uvo eServices voice-controlled infotainment system.

The available Premium Package adds leather upholstery, a SmartKey entry system with push-button start, heated front and rear outboard seats, a heated steering wheel, a cooled power driver seat, and an auto-dimming rearview mirror. Buyers can also select the Technology Package with xenon headlights, LED tail lights, navigation and dual-zone climate control with rear vents. 17-inch wheels are available as a stand-alone option on any EX.

2014 Kia Forte
Starting price
$15,655
Shopper Popularity
57%

2014 Kia Forte LX

Most Popular
Recommended for: Price-conscious buyer looking for more space than the typical compact offers.

Available in sedan form only, the entry-level LX is powered by a 1.8-liter four-cylinder with 148 horsepower, matched to a six-speed manual or automatic transmission. Standard fare includes 15-inch steel wheels, power windows and locks, air conditioning, a tilt-and-telescope steering wheel, a height-adjustable driver seat, a split-folding rear seat, Bluetooth, and a six-speaker sound system with CD, satellite radio and USB/iPod connectivity.

The LX Popular Equipment package adds 16-inch alloy wheels, side mirrors with integrated turn signals, keyless entry, upgraded interior trim, eight audio speakers, cruise control, a sliding console armrest, a rear center armrest and dual lighted vanity mirrors.

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