2014 Kia Forte Review | Toronto Sun

2014 Kia Forte Review
By Harry Pegg, Toronto Sun


Kia is making a habit of raising the bar. This time it’s in the compact segment with the 2014 Kia Forte.


Designers started by making the car lower and wider than the previous edition, adding a new grille and making available just about every comfort and convenience feature you’ll find in much large, more costly vehicles.


The new sedan is 30 mm longer, 5 mm wider and 25 mm lower than the previous Forte. The wheels have been moved out to the corners, increasing wheelbase to 2700 mm.


Kia Canada product planning supervisor Kyle Buller describes the new Forte as the “next level of the original design by Peter Schreyer.”


The new grille can be flanked by available LED positioning lights and HID headlights. Wraparound, multi-dimensional frosted LED light bar tail lights are available to dress up the already-attractive rear.


Forte models begin with base LX with 1.8-litre four-cylinder engine and six-speed manual shifter. It’s a small motor, but it’s much stronger than its size would indicate, climbing long, 10% grades up to 4,000 ft. without gasping. Shifting is smooth and positive. And if you are reluctant to do your own shifting, you can opt for a six-speed automatic to do the work.


2014 Kia Forte Review


LX, by the way, is the only model with the manual transmission – and air conditioning is not a standard feature. No wonder Kia Canada only expects 2% of sales to come from that model.


EX and SX models are powered by a new 2.0L “four” hooked to the six-speed automatic, which you can get with steering wheel-mounted paddle shifters.


The new 2.0L gas direct injected engine uses every bit of its 173 horsepower and 154 lb.-ft. of torque to get the Forte moving – with surprising quickness. This isn’t a car that’s going to win stoplight races, but it merges onto freeways without causing me any nervous moments and the transmission goes through its shift routine exactly on cue.


FlexSteer electric power steering gives me the ability to choose Comfort, Normal or Sport steering effort.


The Arizona ride route is all-pavement, but on a variety of surface conditions. Forte’s stiffer structure and revised McPherson strut front suspension and torsion beam rear axle combine to smooth out any highway imperfections.


Cornering is precise. The car goes exactly where I point it.


Safety features include increased use of high-strength steel to reinforce the cabin should anything go wrong. To have things go wrong to the point of testing that particular feature, you have to overcome the assistance offered by ABS with brake assist, stability control, hill assist control and vehicle stability manage system that automatically intervenes when it senses oversteer or understeer.


Forte’s interior has plenty of space for four adults (as usual, ignore the five-seat claim…it’s not a place for humans). Leg room and head room are excellent front and back.


Forte’s real forte, though, is luxury. The amenities are far beyond anything I’d expect to find in the compact car segment.


Seating is supportive in all the right places – firm without being hard. It’s easy to undertake a long journey in this sedan.


Standards include Bluetooth, satellite radio, power windows and locks, trip computer, tilt/telescoping steering wheel with audio controls.


Making life easier for everybody are available features such as (depending upon model) soft-touch materials, top-grain leather steering wheel and shift knob to match leather seating.


Even more luxury brings navigation system, 10-way power memory heated and cooled driver seat, heated front passenger seat, heated rear seats, heated steering wheel, automatic climate control, LCD/TFT instrument cluster, smart key push-button start/stop and exterior puddle lighting.


Built on a new platform shared with the Hyundai Elantra, Forte is designed with that competitor squarely in its sights although Honda’s Civic and the rest of the top five compact segment sellers are on the hit list as well.


Pricing is yet to be determined, but if it’s anywhere near as aggressive as you might expect from Kia, the Forte is going to hit the bull’s eye.


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