After years of explosive growth and record-setting sales, Kia’s momentum in this country ground to a halt last month, when the brand endured a volume decline of 7.8 percent. That means there’s an awful lot of pressure on the company’s next wave of new products—like the 2014 Kia Forte—to recapture some of that mojo and show that Kia will be able to compete against the rest of the mainstream over the long haul.
And to accomplish that, Kia is marking a notable return to its roots with the redesigned Forte, which will boast both high value and a low price. In fact, with a starting point of $15,900, the 2014 Kia Forte will have the lowest MSRP of any mainstream compact sedan in America. Consider how the Forte stacks up against the rest of the compact crew:
2014 Kia Forte—$15,900
2013 Nissan Sentra—$15,990
2013 Dodge Dart—$15,995
2013 Ford Focus—$16,200
2013 Toyota Corolla—$16,230
2013 Hyundai Elantra—$16,965
2013 Chevrolet Cruze—$17,130
2013 Honda Civic—$18,165
Yet at the same time, as pointed out by Michael Sprague, executive vice president of Marketing & Communications for Kia Motors America: “The all-new Forte significantly raises the bar, offering upscale amenities and eye-catching appeal. When you combine exclusive available features like a ventilated driver’s seat and UVO eServices in a car with such an attractive design, it’s very clear the all-new Forte sets a new standard for the compact segment.”
2014 Kia Forte: What You Get
As indicated, despite its relatively low cost, the 2014 Kia Forte is no bare-bones econobox; the entry-level Forte LX includes air conditioning, Bluetooth wireless technology, steering-wheel-mounted audio controls, power windows, a three-month trial subscription to SiriusXM radio, and heated, power-folding exterior mirrors.
Now, what it doesn’t offer is a standard six-speed automatic transmission—that requires a $1,500 premium—but frankly, the DYI unit is more fun anyway, especially when you consider the Forte’s 1.8-liter I4 makes a relatively peppy 148 hp. Keep in mind, though, that this is a new, slightly smaller engine than in the 2013 starter model, a move likely made to bump the car’s EPA grades up to the 40-mpg standard for highway driving (exact ratings are still TBD).
On the other hand, stepping up to the 2014 Kia Forte EX provides owners with a more powerful 2.0-liter I4 with direct injection and 173 hp, and this engine is projected to deliver an EPA line of 24 mpg city/36 mpg highway/28 mpg combined with its sole transmission choice, a six-speed autobox. Starting at $19,400, the up-level Forte also includes the UVO in-vehicle infotainment/telematics system, a rearview camera, keyless entry, and a “cooling” glove box.
A wide variety of premium upgrades also are available, including Kia’s FlexSteer system for tuning steering performance, LED taillights, heated front and rear seats, and the only air-cooled driver’s seat in the segment.
The 2014 Kia Forte is scheduled to reach dealerships by the end of April.