March 11th 2013

A 2014 favorite: the Kia Forte EX

If you’re looking for a great vehicle that combines a slick sedan with fuel efficiency and a modest price point, look no further than the upcoming 2014 Kia Forte EX, a sedan worth raving about.

The newest vehicle from the popular Forte line that debuted in 2009 is as improved as ever, with a better ride quality, passenger comfort, and ideal engineering.

The new car has changed its entire wheelbase, with an extended version up to 106 inches, and a widened body by 1.2 inches. It’s a little shorter–an inch to be specific–with front and rear tracks that vary by about 1/10 of an inch.

There is also a new strut suspension on the 2014 Forge, with an improved steering clarity combined with a recalibrated rear or

The 2014 Forte’s front McPherson strut suspension now employs larger bushings in an effort to improve steering clarity, and a recalibrated rear torsion beam helps with providing a pliable ride. Kia upped the Forte’s torsional rigidity by 37 percent by using high-tensile steel in 60 percent of its chassis. Cavities between the structure and body panels were filled extensively with advanced foam to minimize noise, vibration, and harshness (NVH). An electronically boosted Motor Driven Power Steering (MDPS) unit replaces the outgoing, less efficient hydraulic setup. A new standard (for the EX trim) FlexSteer programming changes steering effort based on mode (Comfort, Normal, or Sport), with Sport having the highest boost resistance. The first generation’s SX trim and its 173-horsepower, 2.4-liter four-cylinder were axed for 2014. Instead, a reworked and equally as powerful 2.0-liter GDI four-cylinder with variable valve timing and a six-speed automatic gearbox gets the highest level EX going (a 1.8-liter MPI with six-speed auto or manual transmission motivates the LX). Torque is down compared to the elder 2.4-liter by 14 lb-ft, but, as engineers pointed out, the mill is smaller and lighter thanks to a 30 percent less massive intake manifold. An aluminum bedplate ups engine block rigidity by 30 percent, which also cuts NVH. Given that the 2014 Forte weighs around 50 pounds less than its predecessor (depending on trim and amenities), fuel efficiency is expected to be on par with the outgoing EX’s 26/36 mpg ratings in the city/highway.

Designers at Kia’s California studio took the lead on styling. They emphasized athleticism and dynamism with the brand’s newest take on its “Tiger Nose” grille. Sweptback projector halogen headlamps (xenon HIDs are optional) with LED eyebrows flank the trademark grille, while broader shoulders, a sculpted hood and side panels, “complex curves” at the rear, and a steeply raked windshield evoke a modern, confident flair. The lean, long profile now includes small windows ahead of the rearview mirrors. The standard 16-inch alloys up the styling ante, but it’s the optional 17-inchers wrapped in 215/45R-17 rubber that best fill the Forte’s wells. Brighter LED taillights with 81 individual diodes arrive with the optional Technology Package selected. Like the Rio, Optima, and Cadenza, boxiness is out and sleekness is in; the first generation Forte looks positively plain by comparison.  Inside, there are new plastics with varying degrees of softness. The material still overwhelmingly populates the space, but there’s no blatant feeling of cost-cutting here. The most notable improvements are the smallest ones: A black monochromatic scheme, the neatly positioned switchgear, available chrome button surrounds, and the optional 4.2-inch LCD cluster set between the tachometer and speedometer are welcome touches. Designers implemented a rippling water motif (ahem, Nissan Cube, anyone?) on the dash and doors for added flair, and for sportiness, they angled the dash 10 degrees toward the driver.

Of course, the Forte EX is stuffed with creature comforts galore. Pick either LX or EX trim to get Bluetooth device connectivity, multifunction steering wheel, satellite radio, power windows and locks, air conditioning, and a 60/40 folding split rear seat. Stepping up to the EX gives a Google-powered UVO infotainment system with eServices, remote keyless entry, cruise control, leather-wrapped steering wheel and shifter, and rearview camera. The most sought-after option groups, says Kia, will be the Popular and Technology Packages. They add features including navigation, power folding mirrors, xenon headlamps, heated front and rear seats, ventilated 10-way adjustable power driver seat, and dual-zone climate control, among many others. There are also puddle and door handle lamps for the most discerning of compact sedan buyers. Most of the mechanical changes impressed me during my three-hour test drive. The chassis feels solid and calm in sweeping fast-paced corners, and its ride stays comfortable on choppy highways or city streets — a testament to the suspension retuning and extended wheelbase. The first-generation’s lively driving personality lives on, except now, your lower back won’t suffer as a result of what was an often jostling ride, though the new seats aren’t all that supportive. Roll onto the throttle judiciously and you’ll notice smooth shifts and a nice dose of torque low in the band, so you won’t need to wring out every rpm up until the 6750 redline to find gusto.

One major gripe: The Forte’s FlexSteer system lacks any notion of consistent, tangible feel no matter the mode or vehicle’s speed. There is always an artificial tug to on-center when you don’t want or expect it. Sometimes, the boost seems to modify mid-rotation as if your passenger were throwing a secret on/off switch. That said, all-around visibility from inside is spectacular, as is front passenger comfort. Kia’s multimedia/navigation system is as easy to use as they come — it’s clear, intuitive, and quick-thinking. The available rear climate control vents and center armrest, not to mention, a respectable amount of headroom (37.3 inches), are standout backseat elements. To ease loading and unloading of the 14.9 cu-ft cargo space, engineers widened the trunk opening by 2 inches. The forgettable, Plain Jane Forte no longer exists. In the four years since its inception, Kia’s four-door has matured splendidly. Save for a lackluster helm, the Forte thoroughly covers all the right compact sedan bases. And with starting price of around $19,000 for the EX (plus, Kia’s generous 10 year/100,000 mile warranty), we’re guessing they’ll move off dealer lots without much fuss.

If you’re thinking about trading in your old Kia Forte for the new Forte EX, you should first consider all of your options. Sure, it’s easy to sell your vehicle to an auction, but vehicle donation can be just as rewarding. Though it’s not often discussed, donating your vehicle to charity can save you some big money when you do your taxes. So when you’re thinking about upgrading to a new car, keep donation in mind. You will not only benefit when tax season comes along, but you will also be doing something of great worth for a charity in your community.

Comments are closed.

Andrew's Biography

Email this Author with comments or questions.

Andrew loves art and design, and pursues his studies in his final year at the Ontario College of Art and Design. He loves seeking out new artists and giving them their dues, and in his spare time, focuses on his own abstract sculpture.