Friday, January 31, 2014

2014 Forte is new, and yes, improved

Mark Glover’s AutoGlo car reviews also can be seen on the Business page of The Sacramento Bee’s website – via the “GALLERY: Reviews of new cars” link at

Sacramento, California – Clean, stylish and efficient, the all-new-for-2014 Kia Forte got my heart beating, which is not a typical result when I’m driving a smallish sedan.

But there it is.

I guess part of it comes down to simple pleasures, and the Forte EX sedan I tested had that in layers.

Personally, I’m always skeptical of highly publicized “all-new” versions of car models that have been on the market for some time. You’re either underwhelmed or disappointed amid myriad changes.  Not so, this third-generation Forte.

Let’s start with the skin, which is smoothly angled and looped on a practical-size platform.  This chassis is longer, wider and lower than the previous generation, and the corresponding room is evident throughout.  Three NFL linebackers would be cramped in the rear seats, but generally, you can transport five in comfort.

I was stunned at the number of standard interior amenities I spotted from my comfortable cockpit seat, keeping in mind that this car starts at an affordable $19,400.  Besides air bags galore and a tire pressure-monitoring system, I was spoiled by an array of easy to use controls in orbit around my leather-wrapped steering wheel.

My ride included gaudy extras, a $2,600 “Premium Package” (heated seats, exterior mirror puddle lights and power tilt/slide sunroof were part of the deal) and a $2,300 “Technology Package” (nav system, LED taillights and more).  Those goodies pushed the bottom line to $25,515.

But seriously, I mentally subtracted those items and found that I would have been perfectly happy with the Forte EX as is.

That’s probably because the tester was a fun drive, with a responsive four-cylinder, two-liter engine rated at around 170 horsepower.  Response at low revs was surprisingly brisk, and the car performed well in the urban jungle commute.

Steering was instantly responsive, and I quickly found myself making quick, sharp maneuvers I normally would not dream of making in a similar-size sedan.

The Forte was stable in hard turns, and it was righteously sporty when my right foot demanded it.  Interior cabin noise was evident at full song, but not abrasively so.

Front and rear disc brakes were appropriately grabby, but the Forte’s suspension stayed rock-steady even under hard braking.

Fuel mileage certainly won’t upset anybody: 24 miles per gallon in the city and 36 mpg on the highway.

Overall, Kia really did make this Forte a better car all the way around.


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