2014 Kia Forte: A Compact Car with Premium Features

Earlier this year we got a sneak peek at the the 2014 Kia Forte and now we were able to get behind the wheel and see what this sleek compact car can do. First and foremost, the Kia Forte has gotten a facelift for 2014. This is one sassy and sexy looking compact car. Toyota Corolla eat your heart out. Not only are its new refined curves front and center, so are its guts and they have been totally re-engineered. The LX model in particular comes with an efficient 1.8-liter engine, or if you opt for the EX model, there is the 2.0-liter engine.

The Forte’s stylings could easily be found on pricier vehicles and that is what we have come to love with the Kia brand in general, that you get so much more for half the price of some other competitors. To that effect, the interior is refined with clean lines and it is not plasticky. If you opt for add-on packages then there is the heated seat option too. Of course this is a very welcome and cozy convenience to have on cold days, so much so, that it warms up your body so well you that you might not need to turn on the heat in the car.

There is also the keyless entry, which comes standard, LED headlights, and then of course there is the biggest feature by far which is the latest generation of the UVO infotainment system. It might be the easiest infotainment system that we have tested so far this year. That said, while it may not support Apps like Pandora or some others that are typically found in cars these days. The important key features you would want in a good in-car infotainment system, including robust digital music support, and a simple to use Google based navigation system are all here.

The UVO system recognized our iPhone 5s just a moment after we plugged it in via USB. When attempting to pair the iPhone via Bluetooth, UVO was just as efficient, and we were able to stream our Spotify songs almost instantly. Finally, the navigation system on UVO is also easy to navigate, with a more intuitive U.I. than previous generations.

The Kia Forte EX which was used for our review, comes with remote keyless entry with a trunk opener, a rear camera back-up display, and a sliding center armrest and a cooling glove box. This version of the EX also included the Premium Package that really transforms the Forte into a premium class vehicle. The package includes heated front and rear seats, a 10-way power adjustable driver’s seat with class-exclusive air-cooled ventilation, leather seat trim, a power sunroof, and 17-inch alloy wheels.

But how does this car drive? We are happy to report that the suspension has been significantly improved and that the Forte handles pot holes and frustratingly choppy streets much better than previous 2013 Forte, resulting in a much smoother ride. There were a few points during our drive that we were able to rattle the suspension, but not too badly that we thought the car was going to fall apart in the street.

As for MPG, the Kia Forte 2014 is pretty solid with an average of 24MPG in the city versus 36MPG on the highway, and those numbers were definitely on point. Lets also keep in mind that your gas burns much slower on the ECO setting versus the normal drive mode. But ECO will inhibit a bit of the car’s performance as well. Overall, we weren’t disappointed with the Forte’s on-road performance, it was tight on handling and accelerated pretty smoothly and without hesitation on quick moves.

Verdict

Kia ups the ante with their ‘little’ compact car. Certainly the additional equipment packages add even more to the entire experience, but even without them, you will be very satisfied with the 2014 Forte LX trim or EX trim. These models looks great, drive great, sound great, and have a lot of standard features that you would have to pay extra for otherwise. In comparing it to a higher-end 2013/2014 Honda Civic, Ford Titanium, or Toyota Corolla – you will save on average $2,000 to $3,000 dollars – and this is certainly a worthwhile chunk of change. The pricing for the 2014 Kia Forte with LX trim starts at around $16k to $17.5K. While the Kia Forte with EX Trim around is about $19.5k.

The Good: Solid vehicle with good upgrades over previous models. Priced well. Lots of standard but premium features. Good handling. Looks a lot more expensive than it is. New and Improved UVO infotainment system is a pleasure to use.

The Bad: ECO mode still holds back the true engine capacity of the car. Still doesn’t handle big bumps that well, but suspension is still a big improvement over the 2013 model.