The 2014 Kia Forte is offered in LX and EX models, and only as a sedan in redesigned form. The LX is powered by a 148-horsepower 4-cylinder engine, while the EX model gets a special 2.0L direct-injected four that makes 173 hp and 154 pound-feet of torque. Both engines include continuously variable valve timing, which helps provide responsiveness over a wide range while enhancing fuel economy. LX models offer a choice between a 6-speed manual gearbox and a 6-speed automatic transmission, while EX models only come with the automatic.
An available Eco Package adds Idle Stop & Go, a system that will automatically shut off the engine at stoplights and restart it when you lift back off the brake pedal; it also adds dual-zone climate control, rear-seat ventilation and special badging.
The Forte has a MacPherson strut-type front suspension and coupled torsion-bean rear setup. Across the model line, electric power steering is now included, and an available Flex Steer system lets you choose between Comfort, Normal and Sport modes, changing the steering feel with a button on the steering wheel. Base LX models have 15-inch steel wheels while 16-inch alloys are available. The top-of-the-line EX model includes 17-inch alloys with lower-profile tires.
Inside, the instrument panel is canted 10 degrees toward the driver, for a cockpit feel and there are large, easy-to-read gauges. There's a multi-information display with 4.2-inch screen on EX models and trims and materials have been upgraded significantly versus last year's model.
Forte LX models come standard with air conditioning, power windows, power heated mirrors, steering-wheel-mounted audio controls, Bluetooth connectivity and Sirius Satellite Radio compatibility. EX models add remote keyless entry, a rear backup camera, a sliding center armrest, and a cooled glovebox.
EX options are grouped into several packages. The Premium Package includes heated front seats, a power driver's seat, cooling for the driver's seat, leather upholstery, a power sunroof, push-button start, a Smart Key system and a heated steering wheel. Separately, a Technology Package combines HID headlamps, LED taillamps, dual-zone climate control, rear-seat ventilation and a 4.2-inch color display screen.
The Kia Forte has been completely redesigned for 2014, with longer, wider and lower proportions, improved performance and fuel economy, a more refined ride and more comfortable interior and more technology and connectivity features. Most notably, perhaps, it adopts Kia's more distinct, European-influenced design language that has helped propel the brand's sales in recent years.