The Second Impression - 2014 Kia Forte EX Long-Term Road Test

2014 Kia Forte EX Long-Term Road Test

2014 Kia Forte: The Second Impression

August 8, 2013

2014 Kia Forte

Kias make a tremendous first impression. They look great on paper, even better in the metal and even if they aren't great to drive, all their other positive attributes make them seem like smart purchases. That was certainly the case with our long-term Optima, but over time, our enthusiasm waned.

Now we have a new 2014 Kia Forte. I, for one, was very positive about it in the Edmunds video review, ultimately concluding that it's a worthy alternative to the Ford Focus, Honda Civic and Mazda 3. However, will my appreciation for the Forte hold up over the course of a year?

I got my first extended drive in our new long-term Forte this weekend, driving it down to Los Angeles of Anaheim to watch one crappy baseball team play another one. As before, the Forte is a compact car I feel no shame walking up to and calling my own for a few days, especially when it so coolly greets you by automatically whirring out the folding mirrors as you approach. Getting in, our car's luxury car equipment level simply can't be touched by any competitor. On the surface, nothing about our Forte says "economy car."

Yet, the driving experience still betrays the Forte. Mid-corner undulations still send the rear suspension into a springy high-seas adventure, while none of the three steering settings provide the sort of feedback I'd prefer from a small car. And although the engine has plenty of power, its noises and vibrations are more indicative of a Lowe's saw department than its more audibly pleasing competitors. If I were buying a car in this segment, I'd ultimately opt for a Ford Focus and live without a cooled seat, a heated steering wheel and the Forte SX's other extra goodies. I would also recommend like-minded buyers consider the Honda Civic and Mazda 3.

So, I still say that the Forte makes a whole heap of sense for a whole heap of car shoppers. It looks great, gives you access to high-end features and really doesn't cost that much considering. I foresee happily signing it out this year, but like the Optima before it, I don't see it becoming a favorite.

James Riswick, Automotive Editor @ 3,400 miles

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