This 2014 Kia Forte video review compares this compact sedan to its competitors, and also talks about fuel economy, features, interior space, technology and comfort.
The Kia Forte is an excellent compact sedan. It's practical, really well-equipped and is actually good to drive. The engines get the job done and they won't cost you a lot of money at the pump. And to top it all off, it looks great inside and out.
Though there's a hatchback and a coupe, we're going to focus on the sedan. There are two trim levels and each gets its own engine. The base LX gets a 1.8-liter four-cylinder good for 148 horsepower and 29 mpg combined. The EX gets a 2.0-liter 173-hp 4 that returns 28 combined and makes the Forte one of the quickest compact cars.
Even if you stick with the base $16,000 LX, you'll still get power locks and windows, A/C, and even Bluetooth and an iPod interface. The EX for less than $20,000 steps it up with better cabin materials, plus a rearview camera and an upgraded stereo. This loaded EX is $26,000.
Now, that might seem like a lot, but there's very little separating this from premium compacts. It has leather and soft touch everything, the steering wheel's heated and so are all of the seats, and the driver seat has eight-way power, cooling and memory settings.
Even if you get a cheaper Kia Forte, the cabin's still a winner. It's distinctive, but not trying too hard like the Hyundai Elantra or Ford Focus. Plus, everything's nicely canted toward the driver, there's plenty of storage and the controls are simple.
It also has one of the best tech interfaces. The touchscreen has big buttons, things are easy to find, and calling up a playlist or a contact is quick. It literally took me seconds to pair my smartphone and even its voice commands work well.
You'd think with its fastback roofline that headroom would suffer, but even someone 6 feet tall has plenty of headroom. Legroom's good, too. Space is great up front, but this car has a power seat, so I can't say how the basic manual one is. As for the trunk, its 14.6 cubic feet is generous, though actually average.
The Kia Forte doesn't hit that sweet spot of fun, comfort and refinement like the Ford Focus, but it's not that far off. This car has the optional Flex Steer system that gives you three effort settings. None of them can match the Focus or Mazda 3 for steering precision, but they're unique and a big improvement for Kia.
It's getting hard to pick a compact sedan we don't like, but the Kia Forte is easily among our top choices alongside the Ford Focus, Mazda 3 and Honda Civic. The Hyundai Elantra is mechanically similar, but we think the Forte tops it in terms of design and driving experience.