Kia Forte vs. Ford Focus

By

Automotive Editor

John has been a professional writer, editor, and producer for more than 15 years. His work can be found on TV, radio, web, and various publications throughout the world. He is a graduate of Northwestern University and lives in Cincinnati, Ohio. Most important, he boasts a loaded 1992 Cadillac Brougham d’Elegance in his garage.

Follow On: Google+ | Website

, Automotive Editor - July 10, 2014

In 2013, the all-new Ford Focus became an instant rockstar in the compact class. Buyers were surprised by how far the model had come from its inauspicious beginnings. A similar transformation occurred for the Kia Forte when an all-new model hit dealerships in 2014. Now more than ever before, the Forte out-delivers its predecessor in nearly every respect. But is the recent revamp enough to top the celebrated Focus?

See a side-by-side comparison of the Forte & Focus >>

What Works for the Forte

The Forte wears sharp styling to keep it from getting lost in the compact shuffle: longer, lower and wider. All that growth translates to a roomier interior, especially in the back, along with a midsize trunk. The seats are plusher and more supportive than ever before, and heat is now available for the rear. Kia has also engineered a quieter cabin. As an added bonus, a hatchback and coupe are now available alongside the more traditional sedan.

The base powertrain is a 148-horsepower 1.8-liter four-cylinder matched to a six-speed manual or six-speed automatic, a setup that yields 37 mpg on the highway. A 2-liter 173 horsepower version is also available as an option. The coupe houses a 201-horsepower turbocharged 1.6-liter. All but the base Forte offer driver-selectable electric steering with three settings: comfort, normal and sport.

The Focus Formula

A quick look around the Focus reveals that it's a cut above what buyers are used to in an economy car. Its exterior styling is dynamic and expressive, and the interior is full of high-quality materials. The dashboard layout, in particular, conveys a reassuring level of quality and refinement.

The Ford's 2-liter four-cylinder is good for 160 horsepower, yet it still delivers up to 40 mpg on the highway. Crisp handling and a well-balanced suspension contribute to an overall feeling of satisfaction in daily driving. The turbocharged ST model provides a massive boost to 252 horsepower for eye-opening performance. The lineup also includes an all-electric model for the eco-minded.

The Best of Both

The Forte comes so close to midsize in appointments and space that we could see it winning over shoppers who thought they needed a larger (and more expensive) sedan. The Focus continues to deliver undeniable style and refinement in addition to a superb mix of efficiency and performance for this class.

Our Verdict: Ford Focus

The Forte's many excellent qualities bring it close to -- but not quite even with -- the Focus.

Take a closer look at the Kia Forte >>

Take a closer look at the Ford Focus >>

, Automotive Editor

John has been a professional writer, editor, and producer for more than 15 years. His work can be found on TV, radio, web, and various publications throughout the world. He is a graduate of Northwestern University and lives in Cincinnati, Ohio. Most important, he boasts a loaded 1992 Cadillac Brougham d’Elegance in his garage.

Follow On: Google+ | Website

Comments