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2014 Kia Forte Sedan Road Test Review by Bob Plunkett

2014 Kia Forte Sedan Road Test Review

By Bob Plunkett

Forte, the curvaceous compact-class 4-door sedan from Kia of South Korea shows a stunning new shape for next-generation issues of 2014.

Theme for the exterior design is a fluidity of lines drawn in rectangular format but with a radically raked windshield and low-sloping hood, an arching canopy over the cabin and flank windows plus roof pillars muted to forge the profile of a swift and racy 2-door coupe.

Forte's brash face sports exaggerated narrow-eye headlamp clusters streaking up front fenders and a gaping-mouth grille fitted with shiny mesh chrome.

Side panels undulate with ripples and bulges for wheelwells plus a high-mount character line which rises toward the tail.

The abrupt rump looks busy with an integrated spoiler, multi-lamp taillight assemblies punctuating corners and a body-colored bumper swooping over the exhaust pipe fixed on the right side of blackout lower fascia.

Forte for 2014 configured as a 4-door sedan uses a rigid unibody structure with the wheelbase length -- the distance between front and rear axles -- stretching two inches longer than previous-generation issues to 106.3 inches.

The width of the body extends to 70.1 inches and the distance from the prow up front to the tail bumper tallies to 179.5 inches -- nearly 15 feet.

These spatial measures serve to crimp both front and rear overhangs of the body and push the wheels outward toward edges of the package, creating a long and broad and stable platform.

For suspension Kia's compact sedan employs independent struts up front and a rear torsion beam with coil springs.

Each 2014 Forte sedan stocks passive safety systems like frontal air bags and front seat-mounted side-impact air bags plus curtain-style air bags above outboard seats on the two rows.

For active safety, every issue also posts a disc brake at each wheel, with electronic linkage to a 4-channel anti-lock brake system (ABS) with electronic brake force distribution (EBD) and brake assist system (BAS). Further, there's a vehicle stability management (VSM) device aboard to control the electronic stability control (ESC) system, traction control system (TCS) and motor-driven electric power steering (MDPS) system.

Kia segments the 2014 Forte Sedan into two models -- Forte LX the price-leader and a deluxe Forte EX.

Each trim grade totes a different 4-cylinder engine.

Forte LX gets a dual-overhead-cam (DOHC) 4-cylinder plant that displaces 1.8 liters and uses Kia's continuously variable valve timing (CVVT) equipment to balance the power output with thrifty fuel economy.

The plant generates 148 hp at 6500 rpm and torque of 131 lb-ft at 4700 rpm, with fuel consumption numbers running to 25 mpg for in-town driving and up to 37 mpg on the road.

Forte LX uses a standard 6-speed manual gearbox or optional 6-speed electronic automatic.

Forte EX upgrades to a DOHC 2.0-liter in-line-4 with gasoline direct injection (GDI) and CVVT controls.

It pumps out 173 hp at 6500 rpm plus torque of 154 lb-ft at 4700 rpm and links exclusively to Kia's 6-speed electronic automatic transaxle.

Pop open the driver-side door and scoot into the bolstered bucket, which nestles next to a floor-mounted center console and faces a molded steering wheel and the dashboard instrument binnacle housing big round easy-to-read analog gauges including a tachometer.

Forte's cabin layout shows a pair of bucket seats up front flanking the console and a 60/40 split-folding bench in back with two articulated seat positions but room for three in a pinch.

The compartment seems generous in scale for a compact-class vehicle with 96.2 cubic feet of space. Headroom amounts to 39.1 inches up front and 37.3 inches in back, with front-seat legroom stretching to 42.2 inches and 35.9 inches in the rear.

Our experience behind the wheel in 2014 Forte sedans includes stop-and-go sessions on the broad boulevards of Phoenix, quick-clip runs on the I-10 and I-17 freeways, and twisty time on 2-lane blacktop routes weaving through Arizona Mountains of the Sierra Anchas Range.

In every situation, Forte impresses us with its keen mechanical precision, fast fire power and the level of comfort evident in cabin fittings.

Forte LX the price-leader edition rolls on 15-inch steel wheels with 195/65R15 tires and contains power controls for windows and door locks, 6-way manual adjustable driver's seat with cloth seat upholstery, air conditioning, trip computer, tilting-telescoping steering wheel with wheel-mounted audio controls, dual 12-volt power outlets, Bluetooth connectivity, satellite radio and AM/FM/CD/MP3/USB audio kit.

Forte EX upgrades to 16-inch alloy wheels with 205/55R16 all-season tires and power-folding exterior mirrors with integrated turn signal indicators, front foglamps and LED positioning lights, cruise control with wheel-mounted controls, a leather-wrapped steering wheel, keyless entry device with trunk opener, console sliding armrest, rear camera display, UVO telematics package and six audio speakers including door-mounted tweeters.

Kia tunes the MSRP chart for Forte 2014 -- down to $15,900 for Forte LX with the 1.8-liter engine and 6-speed manual shifter. Forte EX with the 2.0-liter engine and 6-speed automatic transmission lists for $19,400.

For more information on Kia vehicles, click here.