I’ll admit to being old enough to remember what buying a compact car once meant: settling. With the possible exception of the Mitsubishi Mirage, that’s simply not the case anymore, and the 2014 Kia Forte5 SX is the latest example of the loaded compact to hit the scene.
I don’t use the word “loaded” lightly: Every seat in our Forte5 tester is heated, front and rear, as is the steering wheel; the driver’s seat also has cooling capability. There’s a moonroof, leather seating surfaces and faux carbon fiber accents. UVO connects all your devices to a large, bright touch-screen center display while automatic climate control and auto headlights attend to comfort and safety.
The Forte5 also gets Honda-like levels of exterior visibility thanks to a huge greenhouse and low beltline; this thing's got glass everywhere, and the cabin feels more spacious than it is even with black trim. The aforementioned carbon fiber accents and soft plastics and padding throughout give the car a more upscale vibe than one would expect, bolstered by the amount of light in the cockpit. Rear-seat room was generous enough for me, at 6’1”, to get comfortable in the driver’s seat then sit in the rear seat directly behind it without any discomfort; the kids in booster seats had plenty of space. And there’s an actual, usable rear cargo area under that hatch -- at least as much as that touted by some compact crossovers.
Under the hood is a 1.6-liter turbo four putting out a hair over 200 hp. The engine has plenty of grunt for this relatively light car, but it’s not overly refined and needs to be throttled to really get moving; that despite max torque available from 1,750 rpm -- gearing on our tester’s six-speed automatic is likely diminishing some of the fun; we give credit to Kia for offering a six-speed manual transmission with the turbo engine and upscale SX trim -- now give us a car so-equipped to test.
The only significant flaw in the Forte’s performance is one endemic to Korean cars in general -- numb, nonlinear steering. The Forte gets the same electronically adjustable steering boost we had on our long-term Hyundai Santa Fe; seems like it's the ideal way to tailor steering weight for any driver, right? In theory, but in reality it’s useless, simply offering three different degrees of blatant artificiality. Most Kia buyers will be oblivious even to the function's presence, but for the sport-oriented younger buyer attracted to the Forte's turbo engine and good looks, the rubbery steering could be a turnoff.
K900 distraction aside, Kia is keeping its focus on building excellent small cars, and the Forte5 is another competitive whack at Corolla/Civic market dominance. It offers ridiculous levels of equipment, particularly in SX trim for a price that, while not exactly cheap, is certainly right in the mix with its Asian competition. And finally, at least in five-door trim, it looks sharp to boot.
The 2014 Kia Forte5 SX comes in at a base price of $21,700 with our tester topping off at $27,360.
ASSOCIATE EDITOR JAKE LINGEMAN
I’m not sure about the look of this car directly from the front, but in any three-quarters, profile or rear view, this is a cool car. This one is nearly $30K, optioned to the hilt, but this would be a kickass runabout through my teens and twenties. Hell I would drive it now, guilt free. The styling lines look well thought out and sporty.
It doesn’t feel as quick as the numbers suggest -- 200 hp, 3,155 pounds, but if you put your foot to the floor, it’ll get up and go. But like Andy said, it doesn’t seem to cook until well past 1,750 rpm, which is supposed to be max torque. Still, no one will be annoyed by the slowness. The paddles are pointless unless the transmission is tuned aggressively, and in this car it is not. But it’s smooth, I’m sure the “normies” will like that. It’s also a little buzzy inside, but again, not annoying.
The SX trim adds sportier suspension, more power and some bits inside. I’d say it’s definitely worth the $1,200. The steering is on the tighter side and the suspension, while basically compliant, offers a good bit of bite during turns.
I can’t go all the way and say the interior feels “upscale,” but with the leather seats, leather wheel, and soft-touch pieces, it’s not a bad place to spend time. The radio setup is good and easy to use, the seats are comfortable and fully adjustable and the space in the back looks big.
If you could save yourself a few thousand in options, and get out of the dealership for about $25K, this is a great value.
The 2014 Kia Forte5 SX is equipped with a 1.6-liter turbocharged I4 coupled with a six-speed automatic gearbox.
Article Source: this factual content has not been modified from the source. This content is syndicated news that can be used for your research, and we hope that it can help your productivity. This content is strictly for educational purposes and is not made for any kind of commercial purposes of this blog.