Heels On Wheels - 2014 Kia Forte Sedan Review
HEELS ON WHEELS
By Katrina Ramser
San Francisco Bureau
The Auto Channel
INTRO TO THE 2014 KIA FORTE VEHICLE The value-based Forte sedan gets a longer, lower and wider chassis for the 2014 model year, adding depth to its compact presence while sprucing up the design for car that is surprisingly spacious, snazzy, and easy on the fossil fuels at 29 miles-per-gallon combined.
I drove a 2014 Kia Forte sedan with a bigger 173-horsepower 2-liter four-cylinder direct-injection engine featuring Dual Continuously Variable Valve Timing and a six-speed automatic transmission. My EX trim (the Forte offers just two trims – the base LX and EX) features the following standard equipment highlights: upgraded clothe upholstery; UVO powered by Microsoft; a rear camera display; remote keyless entry; a six-speaker audio system with door-mounted tweeters; a cooling glove box; sixteen-inch alloy wheels; and assorted chrome and body-color exterior accents to differential it from the base. Total vehicle cost as described comes to $19,400.
Main competitors to the Kia Forte sedan are numerous, with stand-outs including the Mazda3, Chevrolet Cruze, Honda Civic, and Ford Focus where style and value are concerned. A couple of the aforementioned offer a sportier ride, but lack in style and standard technology features.
HEELS ON WHEELS REVIEW CRITERIA
Stylish But Comfortable Results: The cabin focuses on infusing style with function, leaving plenty of head, leg and cargo room for five. Note there is also a 5-door and coupe version. At the base LX trim grade you’ve still got a healthy list of modern connectivity features, like Bluetooth, USB and auxiliary input jacks, XM Radio, and steering wheel-mounted audio controls. You can upgrade here to an optional $2,600 Premium Package for heated front and rear seats, leather upholstery and a sunroof; while the EX offers a $2,300 Technology Package that tacks on a 4.2-inch cluster screen, high-intensity discharge headlights, and dual-zone automatic temperature control with rear seat ventilation. The UVO powered by Microsoft is Kia’s voice-activated infotainment system that can now be integrated with the optional navigation system.
Reliability & Safety Factor: With the model year not yet tested by government agencies, the 2013 Kia Forte sedan was a Top Safety Pick with The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) for having crash-test ratings of “Good” in every area and will likely earn as such for the 2014 model year. Standard safety equipment includes an advanced airbag system, electronic stability control, traction control, vehicle stability management, LATCH for kid seats, hill-assist control, electronic brake-force distribution, and rear child-safety door locks.
Cost Issues: The base LX trim starts at $15,900 and includes all the mentioned connectivity technology. Here is where the Cruze and Focus have trouble competing: Although our American compact models also sport low entry costs, most conveniences mentioned are optional features with a price tag.
Activity & Performance Ability: My 2-liter is an upgrade from the smaller 148-horsepower 1.8-liter four-cylinder, toting enhanced performance and handling when mated with an all-new optional Flex Steer system that allows the driver to choose between Comfort, Normal and Sport steering profiles. Overall driving is spirited and planted, but lacking the true athletic personality trails as found in the Ford Focus.
The Green Concern: The base LX trim with the smaller 1.8-liter gets a fuel economy of 25-city and 37 highway for a combined 29, while the 2-liter takes it down just 1 mile-per-gallon for a combined 28. The available Eco Package featuring Kia’s Idle Stop and Go system helps stretch those fuel economy numbers.
FINAL PARTING WORDS
Energetic and contemporary, the 2014 Kia Forte sedan excels where value and commanding compact looks are concerned. If you prize fuel economy numbers of 29 miles-per-gallon combined, you won’t miss the fact a couple competitors offer a slighter sportier ride.
©2013 Katrina Ramser