2014 Kia Forte EX Long-Term Road Test

Wrap-Up


  • 2014 Kia Forte EX

    2014 Kia Forte EX

    Our long-term loan of a 2014 Kia Forte EX sedan started 12 months ago. | June 25, 2014

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Read the 2014 Kia Forte's introduction to our long-term fleet.

See all of the long-term 2014 Kia Forte's updates.

What We Got
A base 2014 Kia Forte EX sedan starts at $20,200. For that price, there's an extensive list of features. Standard USB and aux inputs, Bluetooth, cruise control, steering-wheel-mounted controls, Uvo infotainment and telematics services and a back-up camera were the most notable.

We also added additional options in order to test as many features as possible. The Premium package ($2,600) added a sunroof, leather seats, power seats, heated seats for all outboard passengers front and rear, a ventilated driver seat, push-button start, keyless entry and a steering wheel heater. The EX Technology package ($2,300) added xenon HID headlights, dual-zone climate control, LED taillights and a 4.2-inch color navigation screen. A set of 17-inch wheels was also on the options list ($300).

The total cost for our 2014 Kia Forte EX was $25,735. We had one year before this loaner had to be returned to Kia. Our goal was to reach 20,000 miles. Here's what our editors had to say.

Performance

  • "With 173 horsepower and 154 pound-feet of torque, it's one of the more robust engines in the compact segment. And combined with a standard six-speed automatic you would think it would be pretty quick. In reality, it's peppy but hardly quick. Between the power band of the engine and the shift program of the transmission, this Kia doesn't accelerate with much urgency. On the plus side, the engine is very smooth and quiet no matter how hard you push it. And the shifts from the transmission are very refined as well. In fact, some of the engine's lazy feel could be chalked up to the fact that it never really feels like it's working very hard. Not a bad trait for a compact, four-cylinder sedan." — Ed Hellwig

  • "Passing maneuvers came easily on Interstate 15, and the six-speed automatic transmission was quicker than I expected to drop down a gear, or two, when needed. Full-throttle acceleration down entrance ramps felt good, too. This engine is smoother than previous iterations of this 2.0-liter." — Erin Riches

  • "Early on in our test of the Forte, Mark Takahashi wrote about the rear suspension and how its relatively unsophisticated design can lead to awkward undulations coming from the rear of the car when driving over bumpy or choppy pavement. This isn't something you'll encounter on a daily basis necessarily. But it is a quality that cars like the Mazda 3 or Ford Focus don't suffer from, and it's important enough that I'd encourage a shopper to factor it in for his or her car purchasing decision.... The Forte's steering doesn't provide as good of a feel of the road as those cars, either, so that's another aspect to pay attention to.... Given how good these top-level small sedans are, even little things like this can make a difference." — Brent Romans

  • "Honestly, the only thing I don't like about driving our Forte is the steering. Even that's not terrible. It's just a few paces off the class lead if you want to talk about feel. Although it performs its primary function (turning the front wheels), it isn't sporty. Plus, I found myself making small corrections when I had the car pointed straight on Interstate 15, which wasn't a big deal but suggests that this electric-assisted power steering system could use additional refinement." — Erin Riches

Mileage

  • "I calculated my fuel economy driving to Las Vegas at 33.7 mpg (while the Forte's onboard computer showed 34.4 mpg). Driving around town for three days, I averaged 26.4 mpg (onboard computer: 27.1 mpg). And returning to Los Angeles I got 35.3 mpg (onboard computer: 35.3 mpg). By the way, the 2014 Kia Forte EX is EPA-rated at 28 combined (24 city/36 highway). What does all this add up to? First of all, it appears that the onboard computer is pretty darned accurate compared to other cars I've driven. Second, the lower fuel economy driving to Las Vegas was probably due to the fact that Sin City is at an elevation of 2,181 feet. And finally, these fuel economy levels, both city and highway, are pretty impressive." — Phil Reed

Comfort

  • "I'm just not that into the interior style and find the seats flat, featureless and lacking enough thigh support and seat-bottom recline for even short drives.... Turns out, with the Forte, time is your friend. I wiggled around trying to get comfy for the first hour or so of the trip and then, BAM! I was settled. I hit the right combo of wiggling, lumbar, rake, height and tilt and just clicked into the seat. This is how safecrackers must feel." — Mike Magrath

  • "For most of our travels around Vegas, there were four or even five adults inside the compact Kia. It was cozy, but for the most part, the Forte was up to the challenge. Ordinarily, when I'm driving our Kia Forte, I don't use all the seat-track travel, which is pretty good since I'm 5 feet 10 inches tall with a 34-inch inseam.... I scooted the driver seat up to make room for my stepfather to ride behind me. My knees were bent more than I'd prefer for optimal comfort, but it was still a safe driving position and it opened up adequate legroom for everyone in back. Later in the trip, my husband took the wheel and I sat in the backseat with my parents for the drive to dinner. It was snug, but there was enough shoulder room and hiproom that we weren't pressed up against each other." — Erin Riches

Cargo Space

  • "I've been looking for something I don't like about our 2014 Kia Forte. And while loading up a trunkful of Goodwill items, I noticed its box-crushing trunk hinges. I was careful to move the junior fireman's hat toward the middle of the trunk, safely out of harm's way." — Kelly Hellwig

  • "It's super handy that our 2014 Kia Forte EX long-termer has split-folding rear seats. And even though the seats don't form a perfectly flat (not even close) load floor, you can still pretty easily fit a road bicycle or a 29er mountain bike in the back, thanks to the generous trunk pass-through. There'd be even more space in that pass-through if not for the seat-dropping mechanisms, which hang down a bit." — Mike Monticello

Interior

  • "Contrasting dash stitching in a Kia? Yep, and it's not even the big-dollar Cadenza. And would you look at that faux carbon-fiber trim? A tad ambitious maybe, but it doesn't look half bad. These are just a couple of the surprising styling details I've noticed in our 2014 Kia Forte. There are more, too, but the fact that there are any at all shows just how far Kia has come. I don't expect compact sedans to put much effort into details like this since their main goal is basic transportation at a reasonable price. Then again, stuff like this never hurts, and if you can combine it with all the basics for a reasonable price, then all the better." — Ed Hellwig

  • "If some friends of yours end up going along for a ride in your 2014 Kia Forte, they'll likely be pretty pleased with the rear seating. For starters, there are 35.9 inches of rear-seat legroom, which is very good for this class of car. (Here's a link to the Edmunds comparison tool loaded with two other cars known for their roomy rear seats, the Civic and Jetta, and one with a smaller-than-typical rear seat, the Focus.) Headroom should also be sufficient for adults up to about 6 feet tall. As for the seating itself, I've found it to be pretty comfortable. There's adequate support under your thighs from the seat cushion, the backrest isn't overly upright and there's a pleasing amount of padding on the door and center armrests." — Brent Romans

Audio and Technology

  • "It seems like some manufacturers find joy in 'challenging' us with infotainment intricacies and all manner of hidden menus. So it was refreshing to get into the 2014 Kia Forte EX the other night. Within seconds I had made room on the car's phone list by deleting 'Scott's iPhone,' whoever that poor guy might be. An instant later, my phone was paired and ready to go. Truly that simple. The touchscreen is easy to use and the climate controls are all right there for you in plain old large knobs and buttons." — Mike Monticello

  • "Our Forte EX comes standard with Kia's Uvo service. There are a lot of neat features within Uvo, such as having an Uvo app on your smartphone, maintenance notifications and indicators, emergency assistance and enhanced entertainment. Uvo also includes voice command functionality for phone, audio and navigation on our Forte.... I've tried it out a couple of times and, at least on those times, it worked well.... The voice command functionality for audio isn't as useful in my opinion. You can use it to select modes (AM, FM, satellite, etc.), presets and other main functions. It also has basic control of an audio player/iPod. But those are functions that are also easily done just using the buttons on the steering wheel or center stack. Ideally, Uvo could also be used to select specific artists, tracks or music on your iPod like you can with Ford's Sync voice-command system, for instance.... Unfortunately, though, this functionality isn't available on our Forte." — Brent Romans

  • A couple of weeks ago I complained about not being able to hear our 2014 Kia Forte's navigation system provide directions. Now, after spending some time in other test cars this week, I realize how much I do appreciate the simple graphic display the Kia offers. Some systems overly clutter the page with additional details. But when you're not interested in POI or alternative routes, the Kia does a great job of showing just the potential slow-downs. During my daily commute, this is all the info I need." — Kelly Hellwig

Maintenance

  • As Travis previously noted, our 2014 Kia Forte was subtly telling us it was time for its first oil change and other minor service stuff. I had the choice of three Kia dealerships for the inaugural visit and went with the one that was, by a hair, the closest to my house. (The fact that it's within walking distance of a Nordstrom did factor into my decision.) The service advisor said that the car would be ready in 1.5 to 2 hours. I was in the middle of trying out some very nice dresses less than an hour later when he called to say the car was done. The minor service included the points laid out in the owner's manual, with the exception of the fuel additive. We didn't get that. According to the fine print, fuel additive is only required if the owner doesn't use Top Tier gasoline. Our service folk seem to trust that we do. We got no upsell, and no surprises. Just the way we like it." — Carroll Lachnit

Miscellaneous

  • "The Forte also serves very well in the considerably less glamorous, but much more commonplace role as a commuter. From start to finish, the Forte makes it as easy as possible. Walk up to the car and the perimeter lights automatically greet you. Open the door, hop in and fire it up. All while leaving the key in your pocket thanks to the optional keyless entry/ignition system. Once under way, the Kia's peppy, on-point response makes putting some distance between me and unpredictable, inattentive drivers a snap. During the ride in, the Forte's comfortable seats (they fit my shorter frame just fine), quiet cabin and respectable ride quality further reduce commuter stress." — John DiPietro

  • "These LED taillights are one of my favorite design details. They're actually optional. You've got to pay for the $2,300 Technology package if you want them, but that's also your ticket to xenon headlights, so if you're like me, you're already getting that package anyway. In addition to the energy efficiency argument you can make for LEDs, this is one of the most distinctive sets of taillights available on any sedan under $30,000. You see these lights at night and you instantly know you're looking at a Forte, or at least some new cool Kia." — Erin Riches

Maintenance & Repairs

Regular Maintenance:
Routine service intervals for the Forte occurred every 7,500 miles. We found the service team at Cerritos Kia so agreeable after our first visit that we went back again for our second. The maintenance cost us $62 and $167, respectively.

Service Campaigns:
A routine ECU reflash was the only service bulletin to affect the Forte during our test.

Fuel Economy and Resale Value

Observed Fuel Economy:
EPA estimates for the Forte EX sedan are 28 mpg combined (24 city/36 highway). Our best single tank averaged 36 mpg, while the average for the year was 29 mpg. The most distance covered on a single tank was a respectable 381 miles.

Resale and Depreciation:
Our Kia Forte EX sedan had an MSRP of $25,735. One year and 19,057 miles later it was valued at $18,941 by Edmunds' TMV® Calculator, based on a private-party sale. This equates to 26 percent depreciation, which is slightly higher than what is typical for the segment.

Summing Up

Pros: Strong engine, smooth shifting transmission, delivers its posted mileage ratings, excellent seats, easy-to-use navigation system, long list of features for the price, simple heating and air-conditioning controls, good forward visibility.

Cons: Can get buzzy at high engine speeds, trunk hinges intrude on cargo space, slightly higher depreciation for the segment.

Bottom Line: One of the best compact sedans in the segment. After nearly 20,000 miles, we had a hard time finding something bad to say about it.

 
Total Body Repair Costs: None
Total Routine Maintenance Costs: $228.42 (over 12 months)
Additional Maintenance Costs: None
Warranty Repairs: ECU update per open service bulletin
Non-Warranty Repairs: None
Scheduled Dealer Visits: 2
Unscheduled Dealer Visits: None
Days Out of Service: None
Breakdowns Stranding Driver: None
 
Best Fuel Economy: 36.4 mpg
Worst Fuel Economy: 15.2 mpg
Average Fuel Economy: 28.8 mpg
 
True Market Value at service end: $18,941 (private-party sale)
Depreciation: $6,794 (26% of original MSRP)
Final Odometer Reading: 19,057 miles

The manufacturer provided Edmunds this vehicle for the purposes of evaluation.

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Edmunds Insurance Estimator

The Edmunds TCO® estimated monthly insurance payment for a 2014 Kia Forte in VA is:

$184 per month*
* Explanation
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