2014 KIA Forte sedan
By Stretch Batchelor
2014 Kia Forte sedan
Curvaceous and Seductive
KIA Motors' upcoming release of their redesigned Forte sedan delivers curvaceous exterior styling changes with esthetic interior functional refinement.
"This is what we say...is a little bit of a relaunch for the Forte," explains Michael Sprague, Executive Vice President of Marketing and Communications for KIA Motors America.
KIA planned to launch the first generation Forte in June of 2009. This was the summer of "Cash for Clunkers," the U.S. government's stimulus vehicle trade-in program that forced KIA to postpone the first generation KIA Forte introduction. "Our Forte plans were torn-up...," remembers Sprague at the company's refresh of their stunningly redesigned all-new 2014 Forte sedan.
The all-new 2014 Forte sedan has two versions. Starting under $16,000 USD is the entry level LX 6 M/T model while the LX 6 A/T model begins in the mid $18,000 range. Both are powered by KIA's regularly aspirated 1.8-liter GDI (Gas Direct Injection) four-cylinder engine. The more powerful 2.0-liter GDI engine will be in the top of the line 2014 KIA Forte sedan LX model. Pricing for the LX model will be announced on release the end of March 2013.
The 2014 KIA Forte EX and LX models will arrive in U.S. KIA dealerships at the end of March, 2013.
Redesigned feature standouts
"Longer, lower and wider," explains Ralph Tjoa, National Manager, Car Product Planning, KIA Motors America. The all-new redesigned 2014 Forte sedan is physically longer, wider and lower than the first generation but emotionally it stands taller, tighter and tantalizingly unique for its vehicle segment.
One instantly notices the Forte's carved, sculptured exterior standing beside the vehicle. Looking inside one notes the angled instrument panel, "10% more," Tjoa remarks, tilting towards the driver. The initial emotional impact before starting the engine is upscale design and the elegant invitation of a higher priced vehicle.
The 2014 KIA Forte front and rear quarter glass windows elongate the vehicle and the chrome molding along the lower section of the windows highlight the "hockey stick" style. The trunk's "deck lid," as Tjoa notes, is 2 inches wider than the first generation KIA Forte. The 2014 KIA Forte drag coefficient, .27, is only a tenth higher than the company's KIA Optima. Under body panels and an integrated deck spoiler on the trunk with wrap around tail design exit parasitic drag cleanly for increased fuel economy benefits. Torsional rigidity (flexing of vehicle) has increased a dramatic 37% through high strength steel improvements. As Tjoa explains, "63% of the body is made of this material. Stiffer and lighter body."
The new 1.8 liter and 2.0 liter engines are smaller and lighter than the current powerplant. From offset cranks reducing friction (read better fuel economy) to 30% lighter aluminum engine bed plate, it also features a 30% lighter new manifold material.
McPherson struts have increased diameter bushings that permit additional suspension tuning in combination with the rear torsion beam suspension. Standard EPS (Electronic Power Steering) and "FlexSteer(TM) system" are standard starting in the base EX model. KIA's "FlexSteer(TM) system" offers the driver three levels of suspension -, comfort, normal and sport, with sport having the most resistance for sweepers.
NVH (Noise Vehicle Harshness) has improved. Total vehicle pillar isolation is accomplished with foam sealing, inside and out. Tjoa describes "special new material for the dash isolation pad the floor carpeting." The 2014 KIA Forte reduces both high pitch engine and low freq idle with a "dual layered engine mount with two tuning frequencies."
2014 KIA Forte Sedan EX (1.8 liter) with "Premium" and "Technology" packages
"Premium" package callouts
I drove the 2014 KIA Forte Sedan EX with the "Premium" and "Technology" Packages through the flat desert alongside Arizona's Superstition Mountain out of Scottsdale, Arizona upward in altitude through high desert canyons to Show Low, Arizona at 6,400 MSL. The 2014 KIA Forte EX "Premium" package offers a unique in class "power ventilated driver's seat with memory," 10-way powered adjustable driver's seat, 17" wheels, leather steering wheel and dual zone temperature control.
Greeting the 2014 KIA Forte sedan owner at night will be an esthetically practical "approach lighting" offered in the EX's "Premium" package. This "smart key system," incorporating lighting under outside mirrors and door handles when the driver approaches the vehicle, is wonderfully seductive. Light and shadow, always a winner for visually oriented creatures.
"Technology" package features
The 2014 KIA Forte sedan EX "Technology" package includes a "7" Navigation w/HD radio, and the all-important riding with a guest, "Dual-Zone Automatic Temperature Control w/Rear Vents" feature. KIA's Henry Bzeih, Chief Technology Strategist, Connected Car, explained that the 2014 KIA Forte sedan LX "Technology" package includes KIA's UVO "Your Voice" voice-activated smartphone app suite; "eServices" that include voice command Infotainment audio, phone and the just penned agreement with Google; and KIA's "My POI" (Point Of Interface). UVO's Google Maps navigation software interface permits a user to send their trips to the vehicle's navigation system with their smartphone or through a web browser interface from Google Maps.
Coming "second quarter of 2013" is Apple's AI (Artificial Intelligence) SIRI interface, Pandora music streaming.
Driving the 2014 KIA Forte EX with 6-speed Sportmatic transmission was effortless, quiet and relaxing. Again, the 2014 KIA Forte sedan EX model exudes more than its compact class designation. Software tuning for the passing gear initiation needs adjusting so the driver's accelerator pedal doesn't have to go nearly to the floor for downshifts. I quickly adjusted to my preference for the Sportmatic shifting manually for instant acceleration.
KIA is on track for seven new or redesigned vehicles in 2013. Note the 2014 Forte 5-door SX unveiled at 2013 Chicago Auto Show boasts the 1.6-liter GDI turbocharged four-cylinder engine, which is the same powerplant in KIA's parent company - Hyundai's Veloster turbo.
Could a 2014 KIA Forte coupe with the 1.6-liter GDI turbocharged four-cylinder engine be on the runway for 2013? Sprague referred to a presentation slide with silhouettes of the company's vehicles coming in 2013 and coyly hinted, "kinda guess which one of those products might have been that."
The 2014 KIA Forte has great ride and handling and is a great buy for the money. Future KIAs will only enhance the product line.