Why The 2014 Kia Forte Is So Important

2014 Kia Forte
The 2014 Kia Forte.
Ten years ago, a compact Kia sedan was what you bought if you couldn't afford anything else. Hey, at least it had that 10 year/100,000 mile warranty.

Four years ago (this month, in fact), we wrote about the 2010 Kia Forte and how it had come from behind to be a legitimate contender in the small car field...something for Toyota and Honda to worry about.

Well, with the all-new 2014 Forte, the day of reckoning has arrived.

Rear view of 2014 Kia Forte sedan
2014 Kia Forte Sedan.
The Forte plays in a crowded segment full of established nameplates...Toyota Corolla, Honda Civic, Nissan Sentra,  Mazda 3, Mitsubishi Lancer, Ford Focus, Chevrolet Cruze, Dodge Dart and the Forte's cousin, the Hyundai Elantra.

Starting at $15,400 for a base model, the Kia brings style, features and...did we mention style?....and it still carried that 10 year/100,000 mile warranty.

Even in top-level EX trim, the base price is a very competitive $19,400, as it includes a 173-horsepower, 2.0-liter four cylinder, a six-speed automatic, 16-inch alloy wheels, front and rear disc brakes, a full complement of airbags, ABS, traction and stability control, tire pressure monitoring, air conditioning, an audio system with Kia's UVO telematics, a rear-view camera, Bluetooth, USB and auxilary jacks, keyless entry, cruise control, a tilt/telescoping steering column, a leather-wrapped steering wheel and shift knob, audio controls on the steering wheel, automatic headlights, power folding outside mirrors with turn indicators and fog lamps.  Option any competitor to that level for that price (save cousin Elantra).  We'll wait.

And the best part of it is, the Forte is an entertaining driver.  With Kia's ever-increasing devotion to detail and quality materials, it feels like a bargain 3-series.  173 horsepower through an honest-to-God automatic (instead of a CVT) is more than adequate to encourage some sporting behavior at the wheel.

And let's face it...walking up to a car that looks that good makes you want to go find a road where you can have a bit of fun. Fun that won't set you back much at the gas pump, since the Forte's EPA estimate is 24 city/36 highway.

Interior view of 2014 Kia Forte
2014 Kia Forte interior.

As usual, our tester had most, if not all of the option boxes checked...adding a shade more than $5,300 in optional equipment to the car.  Basic economics and any level of frugality would suggest that adding more than a quarter of the car's base price in options might not be the best budgetary behavior, but we can't kick at any of what that money bought:

  • 17-inch alloy wheels ($300)
  • Premium Package including sunroof, leather seat trim, power adjustable driver's seat, heated front seats (ventilated driver's seat), heated outboard rear seats, pushbutton start, heated steering wheel, auto-dimming mirror, HomeLink, front door handle pocket lights, outside mirror puddle lights and an engine immobilizer ($2,600).
  • EX Technology Package including Xenon HID headlamps, dual-zone automatic climate control, navigation system with Sirius Traffic, HD Radio, a 4.2-inch LCD screen with Supervision Meter Cluster and LED taillamps ($2,300).
  • Carpeted floor mats ($115).
Total, with $800 freight and handling, $25,515.

While that's more than $19,400...it's not out of line with well-equipped compacts these days. And the Forte is one of the best. We'd give the edge in the segment to the Mazda 3....but not by a lot.  And if your choice was the Forte instead of the 3, you wouldn't hear an argument from us.