It's a good time to be shopping for a compact sedan, but not such a good time to be introducing a new compact sedan. The competition out there is tough, and the 2014 Kia Forte EX joins a crowded field that makes it even tougher.
The newly redesigned Forte is longer and wider than before, with a fully revised suspension that promises more control and compliance. There's also an all-new direct-injection motor that brings more power to the party. On paper, it's an impressive package that appears to have everything it needs to compete in the crowded compact sedan segment. And now that a 2014 Kia Forte EX has entered our long-term test fleet, we've got a year to see if that feeling holds up.
What We Got
With a $20,200 starting price, the 2014 Kia Forte EX comes well equipped with standard USB/aux input, Bluetooth, cruise control, steering-wheel-mounted controls, air-conditioning and Kia's unique Uvo eServices infotainment/telematics system with standard back-up camera.
We've never spent a full year with Uvo, and this is the perfect opportunity. This system not only gives real-time maintenance notifications, but it features 911 Connect in case of an accident, roadside assistance and apps like Twitter, Siri and Pandora. This is free for 10 years/100,000 miles and does not require an additional data plan on your phone.
Another first for us from the Kia family is the new 2.0-liter, direct-injected four-cylinder that's hooked to a six-speed automatic transmission. This new motor, in direct-injected trim, isn't currently shared with anything else in the Kia line and makes 173 horsepower at 6,500 rpm and 154 pound-feet of torque at 4,700 rpm. This outguns most of its rivals like the Civic (140 hp), Dodge Dart (160 hp) and Ford Focus (160 hp). Though it makes the most power of the group, there's no real sacrifice to fuel economy. The 2014 Kia Forte returns 24 city/36 highway and 28 mpg combined.
But those are just the features of the base EX. Ours, as is usual for our test fleet, is loaded. First up, the 17-inch wheels replace the standard 16s and ring up $300. Next up is the $2,600 Premium package that includes a sunroof, leather seats with power adjustability and ventilation for the driver, heated front seats, heated outboard rear seats, push-button start and entry and a heated steering wheel. The EX Technology package adds $2,300 and includes xenon HID headlights, dual-zone climate control, navigation, LED taillights and a 4.2-inch color LCD in the instrument panel.
When everything gets added up, this Crimson Red 2014 Kia Forte EX wears a sticker price of $25,735. It was provided to us by the manufacturer for the purpose of this test.
Why We Got It
This 2014 Kia Forte EX joins our fleet at a prime time for us and a difficult time for the Forte. The compact sedan segment is booming. For starters, Honda has just released the 2013 Honda Civic with extra content and a lot of refinement to an already solid package. The 2013 Ford Focus is excellent as well, not to mention the Chevy Cruze and Hyundai Elantra. On the horizon, the Toyota Corolla is getting a full redesign for 2014 and the all-new Mazda 3 is right around the corner. And then, finally, in our very own test fleet is the all-new 2013 Dodge Dart that is equipped very similarly.
Not only does it have to live up to the now-high standards we have for Kia cars, but it has to impress us in what may be the freshest and most competitive segment in America. We've got 20,000 miles to see if the 2014 Kia Forte is a front-runner, or just a member of the pack. Follow along on our long-term road test page for daily updates on this and the rest of our long-term test fleet.
Best MPG: 35
Worst MPG: 20.3
Average MPG over 852 miles: 24.2
The manufacturer provided Edmunds this vehicle for the purposes of evaluation.