I have not kept it a secret that I have been keeping a keen eye on the recent success story of the little South Korean manufacturer that could; Kia. I continue to express my great satisfaction with the direction they have been taking with their vehicles. The all-new 2014 Kia Forté SX is wonderful proof that compact sedans from Korea are no longer the economical, rather flimsy penalty boxes they used to be. The SX GDI I spent a week with is exactly what the North America compact 4-door sedan market needs right now.
The Forté sedan I had a bunch of quality time with was a Glimmering Silver Metallic outfitted in the SX GDI trim level. As standard in all SX models, it had a 2.0L GDI inline 4-cylinder engine coupled to a six-speed automatic transmission. This SX also came with 17” alloy wheels, LED tail lamps, and HID projector headlights. These features add a seriously executive look to the already-stunning exterior. The interior also proudly shows off toys that were previously unheard of in cars of this class.
Kia’s 2.0L GDI inline 4-banger produces a perfectly adequate 173 horsepower and 154 lb-ft of torque, available at 4700 RPM. By no means are these numbers earth-shattering, but I did not once find myself demanding more power. The Forté is especially peppy past 3000 RPM, and for some reason gas mileage doesn’t take a hit. In severe weather, I was able to average 7.5L/100km on regular fuel.
As a driving enthusiast, I instantly observed the suspension – it’s definitely noteworthy. The Forté handles corners with ease, and especially with the winter tires Kia chose for this particular tester, it was virtually unstoppable. Turn-in from the electric steering was pretty good, and there was minimal body roll. It didn’t exactly feel like a sports car, but with the front strut/rear torsion-beam suspension, the car did quite well through some of my favourite Terra Cotta twisties.
Equipped with soft-yet-bolstered leather seats, I found this little Kia very comfortable for all distances. Heated front seats have become the norm in virtually every class of vehicle, but this SX comes with heated rear seats. The driver’s seat is also ventilated for those hot summer days. The 6-speaker sound system and high-resolution navigation unit is amazing when put side-by-side with its competitors. Bluetooth streaming audio, satellite radio, and a heated steering wheel are all on-board. I can’t emphasize how much Kia really does give you for your dollar.
It’s not often that I drive a car where I don’t find many things to complain about, but evidently my week with the 2014 Forté was one of those rare occasions. I am not a huge fan of the driving position; the driver’s seat wasn’t all that easy to get comfortable in for spirited driving. The steering wheel was able to both tilt and telescope, but I was still unable to get it in the right position for my comfort level. Complete disclosure: I’m of average build and am roughly 5’8. Also, I didn’t really see any benefits from the “Active Eco” button in this car. Then again, I am willing to chalk it up to my test being in the heart of winter.
With an as-tested price of just over $26,000, the Forté SX isn’t cheap. Kia is no longer the cheapest option on the market – in fact, this Forté is amongst the most expensive in its segment. Although in a slightly different class, the Honda Civic Si (fully loaded) is slightly cheaper than the Kia. The Toyota Corolla, which starts at just under $16,000, can be loaded up to $24,000. This little Korean number gets pricey, sure, but it also has features that no other car in the price range does. I’ve driven cars that cost triple that lack some of these features.
I drove the Forté back to back with what I consider to be a segment leader, the new 2014 Mazda3. It may not have as many toys and gizmos as the Kia does, but the great efficiency and slightly superior driving dynamics help it edge ahead. However, the 2014 Forté SX is a little bit cheaper than a loaded-up Mazda3 GT. It’s a seriously good car, and a very well-executed effort from the South Koreans. I have no doubts in my mind that the Kias to come are going to be infinitely better; I’m looking forward to driving the new turbocharged Forté5 and of course, the Koup.
2014 Kia Forté SX Sedan Gallery