Already on sale in its native South Korea, the Kia Forte sedan joins a lineup of Kia cars that have seen a resurgence since getting styled by former Audi designer Peter Schreyer. While based on the same platform as the Hyundai Elantra compact sedan, the Forte boasts a sportier look, bespoke touches—including Kia's new UVO with eServices infotainment system—to further separate itself from Hyundai. Also, as Kia has positioned itself as a sportier brand, adopting touches that will help the car build upon its newfound racing success in World Challenge Series racing.
With a high-class look, tons of features, and what should be a pretty decent price, there's but one question left: Will it get 40 mpg on the highway? This is a point of contention, as Hyundai and Kia both had to backtrack fuel economy numbers in November, with the EPA finding that they had improperly calculated them.
Who It's For
The Kia Forte is a step up from the subcompact Rio, positioned as a car for young professionals, young families, and those who might just want good fuel economy. Competing against the Ford Focus, Chevrolet Cruze, and Honda Civic, among a long list of other cars, the Forte is poised to carve out a niche from what are largely insubstantial numbers in the class it currently has.
Available with loads of features, including xenon headlights and LED tail lights, the Forte goes further with:
- A standard 1.8-liter four-cylinder engine at available 2.0-liter engine. Horsepower numbers haven't yet been announced, but expect close to the Elantra's 148 horsepower for the base engine.
- Available Idle Stop & Go that will conserve fuel at rest, coupled in an Eco package.
- Three selectable steering weights that can make the car feel sportier.
- A 4.2-inch LCD color screen built into the gauge cluster.
What We Think
With the boom in success Kia has experienced over the past few years, it wouldn't surprise us if the 2014 Forte was Kia's next breakout hit. It looks good, has a ton of features, and clearly differentiates itself with an engine option unavailable in the Elantra. It's also geared towards a younger, more performance-oriented audience, with racing pedigree to back it up. We're still wondering if it'll be able to achieve 40 mpg as so many of its competitors have been able to do.
We're hearing rumblings of the European hatchback Kia Cee'd coming stateside as the Forte hatchback, and we can't imagine Kia will be giving up its coupe market. With that in mind, what we're seeing now is hardly the end. Expect more powerful, sportier versions of the Forte to come out soon.
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