Steering Feel - 2014 Kia Forte EX Long-Term Road Test
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2014 Kia Forte EX Long-Term Road Test

2014 Kia Forte: Steering Feel

February 21, 2014

2014 Kia Forte

Last week I spent five days in a 2014 Nissan Altima S while my Leaf was in the shop. It reminded me how important extended test drives are in selecting the car you want to buy. Case in point: the Altima is a pleasant commuter car, but after a few days I began to notice that the light steering requires frequent adjustment to stay centered in the lane. As soon as I identified this issue, it grew in my mind to the point where I think it might be a deal breaker. Was I being overly critical?

Enter the 2014 Kia Forte EX.

I got the Kia Forte for a run to Las Vegas. With steering feel on my mind, I noticed how the heavier steering feel and the chunky steering wheel inspires confidence. Or, you can dial in your favorite setting with a touch of the steering-wheel button on the electric-assist power steering (EPS). It seemed to need little correction to point it between the dotted white lines.

On a long trip, this might be fatigue-reducing. In the twisties it would mean a more pleasurable precise driving experience. If you're doing a lot of around town driving and parking, the comfort setting might be a good choice.

I then put myself in the place of the average car shopper. Would the weight of the steering be noticeable on a typical test drive? It's doubtful. For that reason, when you're car shopping, ask for a little freeway time. And key in on steering feel.

Philip Reed, Senior Consumer Advice Editor @ 12,870 miles


Comments

  • cobryson cobryson Posts:

    Sorry, but steering weight and feel ought to be one of the most noticed things on a typical test drive. It's one of the first things I noticed when test driving my Mustang, as I was concerned with how the new EPS system would feel.

  • hybris hybris Posts:

    When I drive my F150 with ye old power steering pump vs the new F150s at work the steering feel is miles apart. On my truck you need a bit of force nothing overwhelming but not quite 1 finger steering more like 2 or maybe 3 finger steering, which compared to the new trucks I can just about drive with one finger.

  • 09gt_ 09gt_ Posts:

    I think you're confusing steering effort (how "heavy" or "light" it is) and steering feel (how much information about what the front tires are doing that you can "feel" in your hands).

  • cx7lover cx7lover Posts:

    The EPS system on my Mazda6 is best in class, especially compared to the likes of the Kia/Hyundai EPS system. I also drove a rental Altima S (how many of us have had the pleasure?! Lots I'm sure!) and noticed the same about the steering but it was definitely better than in the Kia Optima I rented. The steering in that thing is a nightmare.

  • cx7lover cx7lover Posts:

    Also, what I meant by best in class is that it doesn't need any changable settings. It gets light enough at low speed and has the perfect weight at speed.

  • cotak cotak Posts:

    I don't think "majority" of car buyers notices. I mean most family sedans are like what you describe the Altima to be, very light and little feed back. On a family road trip a while back I found my parent's Camry was a lot more tiring to drive than my own car. Because in my own car I can feel enough that taking a curve in the road is instinctive. I take my eyes off the road to say change the radio etc and the car would track the curve beautifully. The camry required constant focus to keep it on track. The same I have found recently while test driving minvans and SUVs. I don't enjoy the minivans at all they'd turn but you have no idea what it's doing it's like playing a video game. All of these cars that I find lack steering feel they are all top sellers. that must mean for the average person the steering feel has no meaning.

  • diigii diigii Posts:

    That is the difference between the traditional power-assisted steering pump and a drive-by-wire throttle.

  • duck87 duck87 Posts:

    Just a random note, but steering isn't always down to the EPS rack- a lot of it has to do with suspension tuning and a lot of mainstream cars today have very little caster. @diigii: One has to do with power steering, the other has to do with throttle... @09gt: Exactly. I had asked this once already but does the adjustable steering in the Kia actually change FEEDBACK, or just HEFT? There's a significant difference between the two. Having lightweight steering is fine if you can feel what the front tires are doing- almost no vehicles on the road do that anymore and sometimes you get a horrible "sport mode" button that simply makes it harder to steer.

  • carchatter1 carchatter1 Posts:

    My co-worker just settled a lawsuit with Hyundai over the steering in her Sonata. She loved the car during a test drive, but noticed how poor the vehicle tracked after she purchased it. She had taken it back 4 or 5 times to have an alignment and they just couldn't get the car to go straight thanks probably to the electric power steering software. As for your Leaf, if it drives like mine, it has a very vague definition of straight ahead. About the worst I've experienced. I'm surprised you would be bothered by an Altima's steering if you're already used to the Leaf.

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