2014 Kia Forte : Review

2014 Kia Forte Sorento Event1 560x224Recently we were invited out to Scottsdale Arizona, to get a first hand look at two of Kia’s new models for 2014, the Sorento and Forte. You can see both above, looking all sexy while they pose under the pool at the W Scottsdale. I was paired up with Cory Gunther of Slashgear, for a full day of diving primarily in the fabulous Tonto National Forest.

Tonto National Forest 1 560x224Today we’re going to focus on a review of the 2014 Kia Forte, while last week we highlighted the Sorento. Slashgear has already posted their review of the Forte, which you’ll notice has some similar photographs. As you can see, we enjoyed taking the Forte off the main drag to find some stunning backdrops.

You may remember the 2014 Kia Forte from its awesome Super Bowl commercial that we featured recently. Their concept for the ad campaign is to respect the tech in the Kia Forte.

You could probably tell from the ad, the Forte is being marketed to young single men. Fun Fact : The “Hot Bots” are played by Miss USA 2011 Alyssa Campanella.


2014 Kia Forte Exterior 1 560x223The 2014 Kia Forte is a rather stunning redesign of the previous model with a much sleeker and sportier look. Influenced by European sport sedan styling, the Forte’s modern aesthetics were developed at Kia’s American Design Center in Irvine, California. The front end in particular, with its HID projector headlamps and LED positioning lights gives the Forte a distinctive look.

We found the more aerodynamic design appealing and a welcome departure from the previous model. There are hints of the wildly popular Kia Optima in the design, which is certainly welcome. The model we drove was their new “Abyss Blue” color, which is definitely more risqué than the Sorento’s offerings, but we still crave more vibrant choices.

Some of the notable new external features available on the 2014 Forte include power folding side-view mirrors with puddle lamps and turn-signal indicators, illuminated door handle pockets, LED tail lights, and 17-inch alloy wheels.


2014 Kia Forte Interior 1 560x224Consistent with the messaging in their Super Bowl Commercial, technology in this compact sedan is a definite focus. Considering the market they’re aiming for, it makes sense to load this vehicle up with as much technology as possible while keeping the sticker price reasonable, and that is exactly what Kia has done. The Forte we drove included the push-button start, bluetooth, satellite radio, dual-zone climate, heated seats and steering wheel, back-up camera, navigation and driver seat memory that we’ve seen on other Kia models.

As a big guy driving a compact sedan, I’m often times reminded of that fact constantly. However that doesn’t seems to be the case when I sit behind the wheel of a Kia, and the Forte didn’t disappoint either. It felt roomy and comfortable, and while I’d probably never buy a compact sedan, the Forte gave me no reason to complain in regards to space.

In our 2014 Kia Sorento review, we raved about the touchscreen interface, navigation, and UVO eServices. While all of those highlights certainly apply to the Forte, the smaller 7-inch LCD display did have some glare and reflection issues (maybe due to the 10 degree tilt) that we didn’t notice in the Sorento. However this prompted us to explore the features of the 4.2-inch TFT display in the center of the meter cluster, and we were delighted to find its even further simplified version of the turn by turn directions. Consistent with other Kia models we’ve driven, the controls and interfaces just seemed perfect to us. Everything we wanted, exactly where we wanted it.


2014 Kia Forte Performance 1 560x224The Forte is available with two different engines. The base LX model is powered by a 1.8-liter four-cylinder engine rated at 148 horsepower geared for fuel-efficiency and ease of use. The EX model now features a 2.0-liter four-cylinder GDi engine rated at 173 horsepower. Obviously if you have the funds, you’re going to want to go with the EX that we drove. Hell, even if you don’t have the funds, we suggest you find them.

Like other GDi Kia engines we’ve driven, the six speed Forte impressed us with its power, responsiveness, and gas mileage. While it clearly didn’t have the power of an Optima Turbo, we had no trouble passing tourists in the mountains of Arizona. Considering the price point, there was no cause to complain about performance on this compact sedan.


2014 Kia Forte Exterior 2 560x224When we first drove the 2012 Kia Optima Turbo about a year ago, we rarely noticed  Kia vehicles on the road. However that has clearly changed over the past year, and that bit of anecdotal evidence is backed up by the numbers the marketing folks showed us. They’re making solid products, and the public is really starting to notice.

The 2014 Kia Forte is just the next chapter in that story, and overall it impressed us. The newly re-designed exterior was a dramatic and welcome upgrade. The interior was comfortable and packed with the technology that makes us horny. Starting around $15k and coming fully loaded for just over $20k, the Forte fills its spot (between the Rio and Optima) in Kia’s lineup admirably. Much like their other vehicles, we think it will make a surprising competitor in your new car search.