The Kia Forte made its North American debut in model year 2009, introducing the concept of a truly compact car unlimited by design layouts; it could be bought as a two-door coupé, a four-door sedan and a five-door hatchback. All are front engine, front-wheel drive cars.
The first generation was sold until 2013, perfectly suiting its target market (which Kia executives had described as a younger crowd, more interested in racier, sleeker designs). The second generation, available for the 2014 model year, was entirely redesigned, inside and out (although still offering the same three body styles). A longer and wider, lower stance improved both aesthetics and performance while at the same time, both new engines – a 1.8-liter four-cylinder producing 148 horsepower, and a two-liter upping the ponies to 173 hp – actually increased fuel efficiency. This was a combination that couldn’t fail when fuel prices seemed to be following an endlessly upward curve.
Across the Range
All 2014 Kia Fortes boast front-end LED positioning lights (LEDs are also available for the rear as an option), comprehensive steering wheel-mounted controls, an updated airbag system along with active head restraints.
Forte is available in two basic trim levels; LX and EX.
Kia Forte LX:
- 1.8-liter gas engine, developing 148 horsepower and delivering 25 MPG city, 37 highway
- Projector Beam Headlights
- SiriusXM Satellite Radio
- Bluetooth connectivity
Kia Forte EX:
- 2.0-liter, 173 horsepower engine that still sips at the gas, giving 24 city, 36 highway
- LED Positioning Lights
- Microsoft’s UVO eServices Infotainment System
- Rear Camera Display
Two very special editions are also available.
Kia Forte5 SX
Also heavily redesigned for 2014, the Forte5 is Kia’s first real try at attracting the hot-hatch audience. Performance figures for the entry-level model are reported as:
- 7.5 seconds to 60 mph
- 15.7 seconds quarter-mile (terminal 89 mph)
Wheelbase under the new model is two inches longer than hitherto, but the use of more high-strength steel reduces the need for structural metal, so vehicular mass is largely unaffected.
The Forte5’s highest performance version is the SX, which runs a 1.6-liter turbo-charged four-cylinder engine that’s entirely new to Kia’s North American inventory. This volunteers some pretty substantial enhancements:
- 201 horsepower (the 2013 naturally-aspirated 2.4-liter only developed 173)
- 195 lb-ft of torque (the previous incarnation maxed out at 168)
Sold with a standard six-speed manual and an optional six-speed automatic transmission, the front-strut/rear-torsion-beam suspension has also been uprated, hydraulic steering has been replaced by an electrical installation, and the driver has a choice of ‘Normal,’ ‘Comfort,’ and ‘Sport’ boost settings on the turbo.
Kia Forte Koup
Koup is Kia-speak for ‘coupe,’ a sporty complement to the range’s more staid sedan and five-door hatches.
Two-door coupes are becoming increasingly rare in the compact car segment, but Kia isn’t relying on that to stand out. Making far more of the head and taillights than did the pre-revamp design and eschewing the oddly contorted grille gracing its stable-mate sedan, the Kia Forte Koup is a very attractive car.
Two engines are available (both four-cylinder):
- A naturally-aspirated, direct-injection two-liter is standard, developing 173 horsepower and 154 lb-ft of torque
- The Koup SX uses the direct-injected 1.6-liter Gamma-family turbo, harnessing 201 horses and serving up 195 lb-ft of torque
The turbocharged edition also has an uprated braking set-up.
Drivers on both sides of the Delaware River, anywhere in the Interstate 95/295/276 triangle, should get down to 7 U.S. 130, Burlington, New Jersey, where Burlington Kia hold a massive inventory of all models in most trim levels. Test drive the Kia Forte in NJ at Burlington Kia!