By on July 26, 2013

2014 Kia Forte EX Exterior, Picture Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes

When Kia started selling the ’94 Sephia in America, nobody was worried. Not the American car companies still adjusting to the market share lost to the Japanese competition, and not the Japanese who used cheap and reliable cars to take the market share in the first place. The laissez-faire attitude to the Korean upstart was understandable, the Sephia was a truly horrible car. In 1997 Kia filed for bankruptcy protection and the big boys patted themselves on their back for not worrying about the Asian upstart. When another unremarkable Korean company purchased 51% of Kia, nobody cared. They should have.

Through a convoluted set of financial arrangements, Hyundai and Kia are 32.8%  joined at the hip and the result is greater than the sum of its parts. The reason seems to be “internal” competition with rumors of Kia/Hyundai in-fighting constantly swirling. Apparently each believes that they should be king of the hill. This means we can’t talk about the 2014 Forte without talking about the Hyundai Elantra. This is not a case of Chevy/Buick/Oldsmobile badge engineering. Kia and Hyundai have access to the same platform, engine and other parts bins but they operate on their own development cycles. What that means to you is: these brothers from a different mother exist in different generations. The 2006-2010 Elantra was the cousin to the 2009-2013 Forte meaning the Kia was a “generation behind”. That’s changed for 2014 with the Forte being the new kid on the block and while the related Elantra won’t land until the 2015 model year at the soonest.

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Exterior

The old Forte was very “grown up” with lines that were clean, straight and unemotional. For the Forte’s first redesign, Kia  injected styling from Kia’s successful mid-sized Optima. Up front we see a larger and better integrated corporate grille. The shape is supposed to be modeled after the nose on a tiger, but I fail to see the resemblance. The larger and more aggressive maw is flanked by stylish headlamps with available LED day-time running lamps and bi-xenon main beams. Yes, this is a Forte we’re talking about.

From the side profile, it’s obvious this Forte is bigger than last year’s compact Kia. The wheelbase has been stretched by 2 inches, the belt-line has been raised and raked, and attractive new wheels have been fitted. Despite the growth, weight is down 280lbs vs the 2013 model and chassis stiffness has increased. Moving around the back you’ll find something unusual: a rump that doesn’t offend. It seems rear ends are difficult to design these days with cars like the Jaguar XJ and Ford Fusion having incredible noses and disappointing butts. Our EX tester came with the optional LED tail lamps further bumping the Kia’s booty.  Taken as a whole, I rank the new Forte and the new Mazda 3 the most attractive in the segment.

2014 Kia Forte EX Exterior, Picture Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes

Interior

While I spent most of my time in the Forte EX (that’s the model two of our readers requested), I snagged a base Forte from a local dealer for comparison. The reason I sampled both the EX and LX is because the top-line trim (and the base with the “popular package” swap hard plastic door panels for soft injection molded bits. I’m also not a fan of black-on-black interiors (as this was equipped) so I needed to check out the lighter options. Most LX models on the lot were equipped with medium grey fabric and two-tone dash and door plastics (black upper, fabric matching lower). Most EX models on the other hand were dressed in black like out tester. I found the darkness not only slightly oppressive, but also cheaper looking than the grey leather alternative. Either way you roll, you’ll find more soft touch plastics than the Honda Civic and more hard polymers than a Ford Focus. Is that a problem?

In the US, compact cars are all about value. Value means compromise and cutting the corners you can get away with. The trick to creating a winner is knowing which corners to cut and where to bling. (The rapid refresh of the 9th generation Civic shows that even the big boys can clip the wrong corners.) For 2014, Kia uses plenty of hard plastic but it is now located away from frequent touch points like airbag covers, front door panels, etc. The faux-carbon-fiber surround on the radio is a bit cheesy and the style is a bit boring, but our fully-loaded $25,400 model had a gadget list that could easily have been an option list on a BMW. Out tester had heated front and rear seats, heated steering wheel, HID headlamps, a cooled driver’s seat, 2 position seat memory, power folding side mirrors with puddle lamps, sunroof, keyless entry and keyless go, lighted exterior door handles and dual zone climate control. The extensive gadget list forgives the visible body-painted window frames in my book.

Front seat comfort is greatly improved over the outgoing model with thicker foam in the seat bottoms and backs, and a wider range of adjustibility. Kia claims best in segment front legroom and I’m inclined to believe them as passengers with long legs had no troubles finding a comfortable position. The rear seats benefit the most from the platform stretch with 36 inches of legroom and a seating position that didn’t offend my back after an hour. If rear seat room is what you’re after, that new Sentra still trumps with an insanely large back seat and seat cushions positioned higher off the floor than most.

2014 Kia Forte EX Interior, Picture Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes

Infotainment

It’s obvious the Forte is a half generation ahead of the Elantra when you look at infotainment. LX models make do with four or six speakers and an attractive (but basic) AM/FM/XM/CD head unit with USB/iDevice integration and a Bluetooth speakerphone. The base system is competitive with base and mid-range systems from the competition, although Kia doesn’t include smartphone app integration, Pandora or other streaming radio options. Jumping up to the EX model ($19,400) gets you the latest “UVO 2 with eServices” system. The Microsoft powered 8-inch touchscreen system is bright and easily readable, and has improved USB/iDevice integration allowing you to select songs and playlists with voice commands ala Ford’s SYNC. Also included is an array of OnStar-like services including vehicle diagnostics, car locator and automatic 911 dialing when your airbags deploy. Unlike OnStar or Chrysler’s latest uConnectm, your phone must be paired and present for these services to work.

Adding navigation to the 8-inch system is only possible by selecting the $2,300 “Technology package” which also nets HD Radio, a 4.2″ LCD in the instrument cluster, HID headlamps, dual zone climate control, rear HVAC vents and LED tail lamps. The package is a good deal but $2,300 is a big pill to swallow. Making matters more expensive, you can’t check that option box without checking the $2,600 “Premium Package” as well. The premium pack adds a power sunroof, 10-way memory driver’s seat, leather, ventilated driver’s seat, heated steering wheel, heated rear seats, auto dimming mirrors, keyless go, car alarm, and puddle lamps.

2014 Kia Forte EX UVO2 Connections, Picture Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes

Drivetrain

While most subcompacts make do with one engine, the Forte has two. LX models get a 1.8L four cylinder engine with variable valve timing cranking out 148 HP and 131 lb-ft. Not very exciting. Jumping to the EX swaps in a 2.0L mill with direct-injection. The larger engine bumps power to 173 ponies and 154 lb-ft. While this isn’t hot hatch territory, it is more oomph than you find in the Civic, Focus, Mazda 3, or Elantra.

Cog counts are higher than some of the competitors (I’m looking at you Civic) with the 1.8L starting off with a standard 6-speed manual and optional 6-speed automatic. That same 6-speed slushbox is the only transmission for the 2.0L EX. (Pay no attention to the EPA’s 2.0L/MT scores, we’re told that combo remains on the cutting room floor.) Raining on the Forte’s parade is mediocre fuel economy. The LX scored 25/37/29 MPG (City/Highway/Combined) with the manual, 25/36/29 with the automatic and the EX slots in at 24/36/28. Over 657 miles we averaged 32MPG which is slightly lower than the 2013 Honda Accord 4-cylinder.

2014 Kia Forte EX Exterior, 17-inch Wheels, Picture Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes

Drive

The last gen Forte was a great deal but it wasn’t exactly king of the track. As a result my dynamic expectations were fairly low as I got behind the wheel. I was pleasantly surprised. The new Forte’s chassis is noticeably more rigid on the road, a distinct improvement over the Elantra which can feel like a damp noodle on uneven pavement. Kia’s engineers have also worked most of the kinks out of the Forte’s suspension giving the 2014 model a well tuned ride that’s on the stiffer/sportier side of the spectrum. Electric power steering is here to stay, but at least the Forte allows you to adjust the level of assist via s button on the steering wheel. In the firmest steering mode, there *might be* the faintest whisper of steering feedback. Maybe. Either way, the Forte is a surprisingly agile companion on winding roads. The Forte’s new-found abilities made me wonder for the first time what a turbo Forte would be like.

I’m not saying the Forte is as engaging or exciting as a VW GLI, but this chassis finally shows some potential. The 2014 model is certainly the dynamic equal of the Focus and Cruze. I would be one of the first customers in line if Kia went out on a limb and jammed the 274HP 2.0L turbo from the optima under the hood. Such a move wouldn’t just blow the Civic Si and Jetta GLI out of the water, it would give the Focus ST a run for its money.

2014 Kia Forte EX Exterior, Picture Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes

The feel of the Forte EX is down to the suspension, but the road holding is thanks to optional 215/45R17 rubber. Base Forte models get fairly high-profile 195/65R15s while mid-range models get 205/55R16 tires. The flip side of this tire choice is that mediocre fuel economy. 32 MPG is 1.5MPG below the Civic and 4.5 MPG less than the Nissan Sentra. Despite the wide tires the Forte ranks among the quietest in the class easily tying with the Focus and Cruze.

I prefer to think of myself as “financially frugal”  but at home that’s spelled c h e a p. It’s not that I want the cheapest car or the most economical car, I want the best deal. I can’t help it, the word “bargain” ignites a fire in my loins. The new 2014 Forte is that kind of bargain. Sure, it’s not as roomy as the Sentra, not as quiet as a Cruze, not as dynamic as a Focus and lacks the Civic’s reputation, but this new Forte is well priced, packed with features you won’t find on the competition, and I was unable to find a single thing to dislike. Kia’s compact car transformation from the Sephia, a car I wouldn’t make my worst enemy live with, to a car that I would recommend to friends (and have) has taken only 20 years. To copy a line, that makes Kia the fastest social climber since Cinderella. Since I care more about the driving experience and gadget list than fuel economy, this shoe fits.

 

Kia provided the vehicle, insurance and one tank of gas for this review

Specifications as tested

0-30: 3.24

0-60: 8.24

1/4 Mile: 16.47 @ 85.2

Average Observed Fuel Economy: 32.0 MPG over 657 miles

 

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144 Comments on “Review: 2014 Kia Forte (Video)...”


  • avatar
    Dave M.

    Excellent review Alex! While a compact sedan is not in my future, I have dozens of folks annually ask me for suggestions on cars to shop. Kia and Hyundai have come miles in our market – and yes, there is nothing wrong with value shopping. Their warranty is unbeatable, and frankly if Volkswagen offered the same warranty it would go a long way in softening their long-held reputation.

    • 0 avatar
      rockit

      I hope Kia is not following in Hyundai’s footsteeps and being shady with their warranties… Hyundai’s is far from unbeatable.

      http://seedebtrun.com/2012/10/americas-worst-warranty-why-i-will-never-buy-another-hyundai.html

      But it looks like Kia is now ripping styling from the Focus…following a Hyundai tradition (Accent, Santa Fe)

      • 0 avatar
        gslippy

        About that story your link goes to…

        The story was written by someone with no car knowledge. There is no ‘temperature gauge that injects coolant into the engine’. Such a device is called a thermostat – a $6 item that can fail on any car. The actual temperature gauge would have registered a hot engine if the thermostat stuck closed, but if the driver isn’t looking at it, they won’t know.

        The writer dealt with an unscrupulous dealer, who probably used the writer’s lack of car knowledge against them. Gauges would not be covered under a powertrain warranty, but neither is a thermostat.

        The 10/100 warranty only covers internally lubricated parts, which wouldn’t include a thermostat and related damage. A decent dealer might split the cost of a new engine with the owner, but they have no obligation to do so.

        In conclusion, the story was written by a disgruntled owner who wanted the dealer to replace his unwarranted engine.

        • 0 avatar
          Dan

          It’s hard to tell what the guy is describing when he doesn’t know a service engine light from a gage from a thermostat, but “the monitors also had apparently failed” sounds to me as if the temp gage didn’t work either.

          If that’s the case there would be no obvious symptom prior to the engine cooking itself.

          The cooling system is always left out of the powertrain warranty but this was a 3 year old car that was just 1000 miles out of the 5/60 bumper to bumper warranty.

          I’d be disgruntled too.

        • 0 avatar
          rockit

          The Hyundai/Kia warranty is not a good warranty, it is misleading for many. However, it is a great marketing tool.

          You can search about the Hyundai warranty and you get many similar folks who have found the warranty to be very bare in reality, as well as difficult to have Hyundai deal with any problems covered by it.

          • 0 avatar
            MBella

            You can search for problems with any manufacturers’ warranty. It’s difficult to say they don’t have the best warranty when their bumper to bumper is as good as most others powertrain.

            This guy didn’t write a story that makes any sense and it’s hard to figure out what happened to his car. It overheated, but a plausible reason isn’t mentioned.

          • 0 avatar
            rockit

            MBella:

            You are correct, however the Hyundai/Kia warranty is known for giving the most problems. Hyundai/KIa dealerships are part of the problem as well.

          • 0 avatar
            tuffjuff

            I had a 2006 Hyundai Sonata (the second most recent refresh, and some may say when Hyundai finally started trying to compete) that I bought used in early 2008 with maybe 20k on the odo. It was an excellent vehicle, lots of features for the money, a fairly quiet interior (especially for the price), decent options, and one of the first non-luxury vehicles in America, to my recollection, that came standard with stability/traction control, which were super helpful in the Wisconsin winters.

            At around 28k miles, I’d go to turn on the vehicle in the morning and nothing. This happened 6-8 times over the course of maybe three months. Turns out the vehicle was somehow losing the charge on it’s battery overnight. The battery came back fine, but as a precaution it was replaced.

            Turns out the car’s electronics were activated late at night – like midnight. The headlights (and I imagine other things) would turn on randomly and would stay on until the battery was drained.

            The dealer would later blame the radio headunit, because why would that cause the automatic headlights to malfunction hours after the car was turned off. The kicker though – this was right past 36k, which was the end of the bumper to bumper warranty for second owners. Many, many conversations with Hyundai corporate later and nothing was resolved. It was buy an $800 headunit, buy an aftermarket unit (which at the time wasn’t that cheap) to *maybe* fix my car’s battery being drained.

            I am sure they buy their cars better, now, but when you need the warranty and the support just isn’t there…

        • 0 avatar
          rockit

          The Hyundai/Kia warranty is misleading, so he did think his thermostat was included in the warranty. The warranty sounds great in the ads doesn’t it? It was designed to be misleading.

          And yes, it is his fault of not knowing what was included warranty wise but as you know complaining is not against the law. As well several people have left comments having similar Hyundai warranty experiences.

          • 0 avatar
            Lynchenstein

            If the Hyundai dealer in Victoria, BC is representative of the rest of the Hyundai shops I’m surprised they sell ANY cars at all. In my experience, the crew there act like a bunch of frat boys and appear to be caricatures of the “sleazy, high-pressure used-car salesman”.

        • 0 avatar
          ajla

          I’m way on the owner’s side here.

          If the guy’s story is true, you have a car 1000 miles out of the bumper-to-bumper warranty, dealer maintained, failed thermostat, blown engine, no warning indicator (I can’t believe that a modern car which beeps and flashes at you for EVERYTHING doesn’t have a high temperature warning light/sound), and “monitors failed” I’m guessing means the gauge itself wasn’t doing anything either.

          And Hyundai tells him to pound sand. Nuts to that crap.

      • 0 avatar
        George B

        Here’s the 2013 warranty. http://www.kia.com/us/content/media/en/manuals/2013_warranty.pdf

        I think the 100k mile warranty is potentially valuable for the case of intake valve deposits and 2.0L direct injection engine in the EX.

      • 0 avatar
        bd2

        In JD Power’s 2013 CSI study (which covers owner satisfaction for service and repairs), Hyundai was only one of 3 Asian import brands to score above the industry avg. and for the 2012 CSI study, Hyundai and Kia were 2 of the 3 Asian import brands that scored above the industry avg.

        Furthermore, if Hyundai’s warranty coverage was as bad as you claim then the last thing many Hyundai owners would do is purchase another Hyundai and Hyundai has one of the highest ownership loyalty in the industry.

        As for “ripping off” styling, Ford has been utilizing the oversized hexagonal grill that Hyundai started in 2005-6 with the HED-2 and HED-3 concepts.

        In addition, the headlight shape of the Ford Fiesta is eerily similar to the headlight shape on the HED-2 concept and the body design of the Fiesta is very similar to that of the HED-3 concept.

        And neither the Accent nor the Santa Fe look much like Fords.

        • 0 avatar
          rockit

          That JD Power survey only covers new vehicles so invalid point. Lots of Hyundai owners are getting new Hyundai’s. Lots ARE NOT returning to the brand for the reasons mentioned. This warranty is causing many to not return, the stories prove it.

          The Ford Iosis (2005) previewed current trends which are in fully swing now, followed by Iosis X (2006) Hyundai has “borrowed” elements from both and other Ford products as well as other automakers.

          The Accent, Santa Fe and Tucson are clearly Ford design (and others) “borrowers.”

          If you need any other answers please let me know.

          • 0 avatar
            gslippy

            I think you should buy a Ford, rockit.

          • 0 avatar
            bd2

            Um, the JD Power CSI study covers the 1st 3 years of ownership.

            You don’t think autos have repairs under warranty during the 1st 3 years?

            Sure, there are people not returning to Hyundai, but there are people not returning to all brands.

            That doesn’t take away from the fact that Hyundai has one of the highest ownership loyalty rates in the industry (at one point, the highest according to a couple of studies).

            As for the Iosis concept, it looks little like some of the Ford production models that came out such as the Fiesta.

            Hyundai’s HED-2 and HED-3 concepts look nothing like the Iosis and Ford, like many other automakers, has utilized the oversized, hexagonal grill shape that Hyundai first used.

        • 0 avatar
          rockit

          gslippy:

          Just against fanboi’s. And fallacies.

          • 0 avatar
            bd2

            That’s ironic, indeed.

          • 0 avatar
            rockit

            bd2:

            Oh please. That from someone that will defend Hyundai/Kia even when they are wrong and someone who sells them for a living.

            If i was criticizing any other automaker (GM, Ford, Chrylser-Fiat, Toyota, Honda..) you know you wouldn’t care less.

            Again, the Iosis in 2005 started the trend of pulled back headlights, interesting surfacing, and exaggerated grille, styling elements that Hyundai adapted. (If these are good styling elements is a whole different story)

      • 0 avatar

        Nice review, Alex.

        On the warranties: When a TrueDelta member complains to me about a dealer refusing to cover a repair, at least 90 percent of the time it’s a Hyundai or Kia. People expect these warranties to cover more than they actually do–there are a number of systems with their own, shorter terms–and dealers allow no wiggle room.

    • 0 avatar
      jpolicke

      VW offered a 10/100 powertrain warranty for a few years in the 90′s (’94-’97?). They probably found out they couldn’t afford it then, and I doubt if they could now

  • avatar
    NormSV650

    I drove loaded Sportage EX, no turbo SX version anywhere, and liked the cooled driver’s seat. But at $31K the base engine was peppy steering was ramped up quick and was not linear. The tire noise and road feel was really bad. I could feel every seam in the pavement and the road seams going vehicle direction was distrubing at first as I could both hear and feel them through the qheel. I was really shocked by the price of $30+ with all the formed plastic door panels and plan black interior.

    If you drive one just remeber to expose your new tatooes and latest grundy clothing. Some real tools working sales.

    • 0 avatar
      bd2

      Get better tires; the OEM tires on the Sportage are crap.

      • 0 avatar
        NormSV650

        The tires were not bad but at 20 mph over groove pavement I personally don’t think it was the tires but the suspension bushings and lack of NVH transmitting the noise.

    • 0 avatar
      probert

      I’ve had quite a difference experience. I found the sportage to be a nimble taught pleasure to drive. It’s has near sports car agility but is stable and reassuring in the tight spots . I drove through the Rockies in severe thunderstorms and it never skipped a beat.

      I think people are expecting something like the Ford Escape – an understeering barge of a car whose only noise is a mooing groan when you actually rev the engine.

      I never noticed untoward noise but I’m not interested in isolation – I like to know stuff is happening out there.

      I’m not saying you’re looking for these things, rather, my point is that it is a surprisingly involving driver’s car and if that’s not what you’re expecting it could catch you off guard.

      • 0 avatar
        NormSV650

        The seam in the pavement with the Sportage felt more like a paraellel rumble strip than sporty nature. Remeber your Radio Flyer little red wagon that would jar the contents to death if they weren’t padded? Or watch the little kid riding over the sidewalk seems and his fat little cheeks amplifying every occurence? We got 400 feet out the dealership and I wanted to turn back, I was done. In that demogrpahic in Kia land the salemen and I share motorcycle stories as he told me about his life as a motorcycle saleman. Most of the staff was in khakis and tatooes. Just not my style.

        On Car & Driver I was comparing handling and brakng number with a Sportage Turbo and my new Buick Encore, very close. The Encore is down by almost half of the Sportage Turbo output but eclipses it in handling and braking.

        • 0 avatar
          SC5door

          10 seconds to 60 on that Encore?

          Sorry, I’ll deal with .2g on the skidpad for something with bigger “balls”.

          Also don’t see how you got 400 feet from the dealer and decided that the suspension was that bad. By the way you’ve already had comments on the sales staff (and then put all KIA dealers in that category) the car could have ran on hopes and dreams and you’d still come up with something.

          • 0 avatar
            NormSV650

            Remember smaller vehicle carry their weight down low compared to bigger ones. And heavier vehicles are result of engineering, or lack there of, and not much can be done to change it. On the other hand is engine output especially with a turbo can easily be increased as the turbo charger has to have extra capacity for different situations the engine may enounter like higher elevations.

            How about removing the 300 lbs more a Sportage Turbo weighs than an Encore? Or taking the lighter Encore for $21K new(Autotrader) adding intake, exhaust, and ecu($1,000) to have the same torque as a Sportage Turbo and end up running into the 14 second quarter mile range and net mid-30′s in fuel economy?

  • avatar
    tuffjuff

    Here’s hoping those that buy these have their vehicles hold up, or – if they don’t, have a pleasant service bay experience.

    • 0 avatar
      tmport

      I have a 2006 Kia Spectra5, which I believe is two model generations behind the current Forte. I haven’t had a single unexpected thing go wrong with the car in 6+ years–I’ve only had to do the periodic fluid changes, get new brake rotors and pads after 30,000 miles (the rotor replacement was my fault for waiting too long on the pads), and new tires (after 50,000 miles on the OEM tires!) People who think that Kias and Hyundais are unreliable are living 20 years in the past.

      Having said that, the EPA mileage for the new Forte is really disappointing–a deal breaker for me. I’ve been disappointed by the mileage on my current car as well. It’s rated 22/31, but I find it difficult to get much more than 22 with mixed driving (c. 60% city, 40% highway), and I am am not a speed demon. I get well over 30 mpg with exclusively highway driving, but that’s rare.

      • 0 avatar
        DeadWeight

        There’s no doubt Kia and Hyundai are making vastly more reliable vehicles now than just 5 years ago, let alone the trash they made 15 years ago.

        However, I’ve driven precisely one (out of approximately 8 or 9) Kia or Hyundai products (whether on test drives, as rentals or under other circumstances) that had what I’d consider to be a competent suspension setup, and that was a 2011 Hyundai Sonata; every other Kia or Hyundai, even the Genesis Sedan, Sorrento, Azera, Soul, Tucson, etc., had suspension issues baked into the design.

        The 2011 Azera with a mere 5000 miles on the odometer I had as a rental for two weeks in St. Louis had the most ridiculous suspension of any modern vehicle I’ve ever driven. Not only did it porpoise up & down on smooth highway pavement for no apparent reason, but that vehicle actually moved laterally at highway speed when encountering even the mildest undulation, and my passengers all noticed this extremely odd behavior.

        I found the Sorrento and the new Tucson to have extremely poor ride quality, and the ride quality of the Genesis sedan is so nervous and jittery that a Chrysler 300 or Ford Taurus puts it to absolute shame.

        The 2011 Sonata was tight as a drum, and it tracked true without any suspension noise or odd behavior, but I only had it for 2 days (I have always wondered if the current Sonatas hold up in this regard).

        The big issue I believe confronting Kia & Hyundai is that they no longer possess any price advantage, let alone the steep one of years past, relative to the competition (and this is particularly problematic with respect to the Japanese competition, which they are probably most often cross shopped against).

        • 0 avatar
          Big Al from Oz

          @Deadweight
          You must remember you can’t think that all Kia’s have the same suspension tuning.

          In Australia our tuning is different than in the US and Europe.

          The US and Europe have softer suspension tuning, even though the European cars are a bit tauter.

          US vehicles tend have poor handling characteristics in Australia and possibly Europe.

          • 0 avatar
            bd2

            Yeah, Kia Australia tends to do a better job with suspension tuning than Kia in Korea, the US and Europe.

            Kia should just adopt the Australian tuning across the board.

        • 0 avatar
          bd2

          Pretty much outdated by now.

          The 2011 Sonata had a decent enough ride, but the Optima has the better ride and handling (as well as steering feel).

          The 2011 Azera is the old model and while the ride on the new Azera is improved, it’s the 5 year old Kia Cadenza which takes the cake – the review generally placing the ride of the Cadenza just a smidge below that of the Impala and better than that for the Avalon which, like for the Camry and ES, has been criticized for its ride quality.

          The new Santa Fe Sport likewise has a much better ride (better than the new RAV-4) than its predecessor and the refreshed Sorento changed its underpinnings so that it now gets the updated platform that is on the SFS.

          As for the Genesis, the biggest problem were the horrible OEM Dunlops.

          Hyundai since then has gotten rid of the Dunlops and refined the suspension setting so the ride on the non-R-Spec Genesis has been widely praised.

          But overall, Kia seems to be doing a better job as the Cadenza and new Forte have, in particular, been noted for their combination of ride and handling and being better than their Hyundai counterparts.

      • 0 avatar
        bd2

        Don’t understand the disappointment with the mileage rating on the 2.0 Forte which is considerably up on HP than anything else in the segment (bar special performance trims).

        In Motor Trend’s latest comparison of compacts, despite the advantage in HP (and in 0-60 times), the Forte finished 2nd in fuel economy to the Mazda3, besting both the Civic and Sentra (As they say, YMMV in these types of tests).

        Forte – 7.8s – 24.4mpg
        Civic – 9.1s – 23.5 mpg
        Sentra – 9.7s – 21.2 mpg
        Mazda3 – 8.3s – 25.3 mpg

        http://www.motortrend.com/roadtests/sedans/1303_compact_sedans_the_big_test/viewall.html

        • 0 avatar
          npaladin2000

          Because the just-announced Mazda3 is going to have an even more powerful engine (184 HP), more torque (185 lb-ft) and the same EPA rating.

          Also, because the consumer usually cares more about MPGs than 0-60 times. And the ones that do will probably end up buying a Mazda over a Kia. ;)

          • 0 avatar
            bd2

            Except in the MT test, the Forte had better observed fuel economy than the Civic and the Sentra (the Sentra with a really slow 0-60 time of 9.7s).

            I agree that more enthusiasts will go for the Mazda3 (we’ll see what Kia does with the new Koup), but consumers also look at acceleration times as really slow times can mean a greater chance of a mishap when trying to merge into a busy highway.

        • 0 avatar

          Anyone getting low 20s in these cars isn’t driving them how they’re typically driven.

      • 0 avatar
        pietalian

        @tmport – Sounds almost identical to my wife’s Spectra5. MPG is in the low-to-mid 20s in town, but there hasn’t been a single broken anything in 80,000 miles. Not a remarkable car in any category, but not terrible as far as appliances go. The transmission seems to be aging fast though

    • 0 avatar
      WildcatMatt

      All I can say is that the transmission on my my wife’s 2011 Elantra Touring started shifting funny at about 43,000 miles. The dealer reset the computers once and when it improved but didn’t resolve the issue, they replaced it two weeks later with no further questions asked, at no cost, and with a loaner.

      Draw whatever conclusions you want about reliability when the car’s going 25,000 miles a year but the bottom line is, the problem was addressed.

      My wife was even more willing to buy another Hyundai after that, until she found out they killed the ‘Touring off so now she’ll take her money to someone else who will sell her a wagon.

  • avatar
    fozone

    you mentioned the raised beltline — is visibility out of this thing terrible? Can you lose an Escalade in the blind spots?

    • 0 avatar
      Alex L. Dykes

      Front visibility is exceptional, rearward visibility is middling for this segment. The backup camera was a huge help. Lane changing wasn’t an issue.

      • 0 avatar
        fozone

        Thanks. I think all reviews of newer cars should make a point of discussing visibility — it seems like manufacturers don’t care much about it,but every time I leave my old Subaru and get into a new rental, I feel like i’m piloting a Panzer or something.

  • avatar
    kjb911

    am I the only one who thinks the tailights are very close to the Focus Sedan’s?

  • avatar
    prabirmehta

    Great review as usual Alex! Keep them coming!

  • avatar
    Scott_314

    Alex your hard work is apparent – details where we need them, and opinions that make sense. You’re on a roll.

  • avatar
    brid1970

    Kia has come a long way from the days of the Kia-Honda tie, and the ubiquitous, in Korea, Bongo minivan…..

  • avatar
    jim brewer

    Put me down also as wanting a description of visibility; For some reason car writers like to talk about whether plastic is cheap or expensive. If its not wood or leather its all cheap. Visibility is a big real-world issue that deserves a couple of lines.

  • avatar
    gslippy

    This isn’t just the best-looking car in its class, I think it’s one of the best-looking cars available today.

    It’s at the very top of my next-to-consider list, should my 01 Elantra ever quit. Blue 2.0, just like in this report.

    It’s interesting that H/K have profitably offered the 10/100 warranty (5/60 upon resale) for so long, but other mfrs just can’t bring themselves to do it.

    • 0 avatar
      mike978

      Agree about the warranty. Honda and Toyota could easily offer it at minimal cost but for some reason they do not.
      Maybe the cost is very small for H/K and it is a nice extra selling feature for the salesman to close the deal.

    • 0 avatar
      rockit

      The Hyundai/Kia warranty is not that great…

      http://seedebtrun.com/2012/10/americas-worst-warranty-why-i-will-never-buy-another-hyundai.html

      • 0 avatar
        MBella

        So one uniformed post online is proof that the warranty isn’t good.

        • 0 avatar
          rockit

          It’s not just one post. There are many on different sites!

          …Also design is very subjective but the new Forte is again a hodge-podge of previous design cliches and is not original or good looking to say the least.

      • 0 avatar
        bd2

        You can keep repeating that based on ONE dubious source (which is not surprising considering your track history of bashing Hyundai) but in JD Power’s CSI survey, Hyundai has repeatedly placed above the industry avg.

        Furthermore, If Hyundai’s warranty coverage was as bad as you claim, then Hyundai shouldn’t have one of the highest owner loyalty rates (repeat buyers) in the industry.

        • 0 avatar
          rockit

          There any many sources…look for yourself. I don’t bash Hyundai, just inaccuracies I see. The Hyundai fanbois are the most defensive so its more interesting.

          I don’t see the bragging points of a CSI survey for a new vehicle…. thats good I guess? We both know those JD Power CSI surveys should be taken with a grain of salt.

    • 0 avatar
      Detroit-X

      I agree. These sedans have a honest, adult, handsome styling without too many exaggerated/pretentious gimmicks. (Chevy Spark: huge headlights, Chevy Silverado, tiny headlights). Hooray for no CVT, but where is the 250 HP engine??

      One gripe of mine (among all brands) is the false obligation to name the radio/entertainment system. UVO? Ovulating?

      • 0 avatar
        npaladin2000

        It’s using the Hyundai 6-speed automatic. I’ve driven that once or twice, and it made me wish they used a CVT. Or at least finished development on that 7-speed DCT they’re supposed to be working on.

    • 0 avatar
      bd2

      Actually think this is one of the weaker offerings from Kia’s Peter Schreyer led design team.

      The front end is a bit overstyled (compared to the say, the Optima SX) and it’s one of the poorer renditions of the Kia “tigernose” grill.

      Also, the dash/center stack design looks like something from the 1990s (the new Kia Rondo/Carens has a much nicer/upscale looking dash, as does the Kia cee’d).

      Instead of developing a 5-door hatch version of the new Forte, I wish Kia just brought over the cee’d from Europe for the hatch as Hyundai did with the Elantra hatch (bringing over the i30 hatch).

  • avatar
    mike978

    “Since I care more about the driving experience and gadget list than fuel economy, this shoe fits.” I will look forward to your 2014 Mazda 3 review, sin ce that by all accounts is class leading for driving dynamics and has some gadgets this doesn`t – such as heads up display and i-Eloop.

  • avatar
    laphoneuser

    I like the looks of this car very much, and I have faith in Kia as a carmaker, but $25,400 for a small car with 173hp/154ft lb. is a deal? Sorry, not for me.

    This car is still a generation away from being worth that money, and I don’t care what kind of electronic gizmos it has.

    I’d consider it (consider it) at this money with the 2.0T that you mention.

    Until then, I’ll look elsewhere for my deals.

    edit: I know that’s MSRP, so if this car can be had for around $20K on the street, I’ll call it a good value.

    • 0 avatar
      Firestorm 500

      If you think this car has a $5,400 markup from invoice to sticker, you are sadly mistaken.

      • 0 avatar
        Dan

        At upmarket dealerships like Kia, “sticker” typically includes $700 scotchguard, $1200 pinstriping, $500 glass etching etc.

        Which come right back off if you weren’t born last Tuesday, but it wouldn’t be there unless a widow or moron walks in the door and pays it once in a while.

    • 0 avatar
      texasspeed

      I was at the mall yesterday, and some dealer had an Optima sitting on display inside. It was a very sharp car, and I was impressed until I looked at the window sticker: $36K! Maybe I’m out of touch with reality, but that seemed really high for what you got.

      The funny thing was the car had a tag hanging from the rearview mirror that said “$4600 off”, which led me to believe they may have trouble moving something so expensive.

      • 0 avatar
        30-mile fetch

        Upper trim Optimas are gorgeous and look high-rent inside and out. But if they have the same steering, chassis, and seating issues as the lower-trim levels, then they haven’t earned the right to charge $36K, regardless of how peppy the 2.0T is.

      • 0 avatar
        Syke

        Our local Kia dealer had one of those on the showroom floor when I took the ol lady’s Spectra in for service. That car has every available option on it and is as high priced as you can go on a Kia (for the moment). I think they’re spreading a few of them around in preparation for that new model above the Optima. Get the punters used to Kia’s with a price tag beginning with “3″.

      • 0 avatar
        bd2

        That would be for the top SXL trim and one can easily get to the same sticker price for the top trim Fusion or Accord.

        The refreshed SXL trim has an interior that’s better than entry-level luxury sedans like the Acura TSX.

        • 0 avatar
          N8iveVA

          “That would be for the top SXL trim and one can easily get to the same sticker price for the top trim Fusion or Accord.”

          That’s the problem, i think that a lot of people still think that H/K’s are still thousands less when comparably equipped and they often aren’t.

    • 0 avatar
      30-mile fetch

      I could never lay down $25K for this car either, even though it has an impressive array of goodies for that price. I would rather sacrifice electronic options for a better drivetrain and chassis. $25.5K will buy that GLI, and that’s exactly where I would go if I were shopping the compact segment.

  • avatar

    Most cars are truly ugly these days, but the grill on this one is hideous. And, yeah, the eyes may look like BMW, but the rest of the Forte’s face is so gawd awful–and 3 series are so well-styled by today’s standards–that there’s just no comparison. Even if there’s nothing offensive about the rear, there’s nothing attractive about it either, and the Fusion’s while not particularly attractive, is a couple of rungs up from this.

    Those A pillars look like they’re going to be impossible to see around when you’re turning–like so many cars today–and the slit windows make a car look like a prison instead of a freedom machine.

    At least the side isn’t as chaotically busy as on the new Mazda3, but I’m d*mning with faint praise.

    • 0 avatar
      bd2

      While I agree this rendition of Kia’s “tigernose” grill isn’t that great, the front end of the F30 3 Series is just awful.

      Too bad we don’t get the Kia cee’d b/c that has a great front end.

  • avatar

    Most cars are truly ugly these days, but the grill on this one is hideous. And, yeah, the eyes may look like BMW, but the rest of the Forte’s face is so gawd awful–and 3 series are so well-styled by today’s standards–that there’s just no comparison. Even if there’s nothing offensive about the rear, there’s nothing attractive about it either, and the Fusion’s while not particularly attractive, is a couple of rungs up from this.

    Those A pillars look like they’re going to be impossible to see around when you’re turning–like so many cars today–and the slit windows make a car look like a prison instead of a freedom machine.

    At least the side isn’t chaotically busy as on the new Mazda3, but I’m d*mning with faint praise.

    • 0 avatar
      probert

      Hate to sound like a fan boy but Kias are very handsome cars in the modern idiom. In the case of the sportage I’d venture to say beautiful.

      The A pillars can be an issue but only on left U turns. Most people are too busy texting to notice. With the sportage you need a back up camera – beauty has its price – about $398.00 in this instance.

  • avatar
    APaGttH

    Does it come with a fembot?

  • avatar
    Kyree S. Williams

    Yes, but wouldn’t the Forte be *compact*, rather than *subcompact*?

  • avatar
    Beerboy12

    Alex, what is the chances of getting 60-0 braking times in your reviews. I personally view that as the most telling and important measurable of a car test / review. It exposes chassis weakness and is a great safety indicator.
    Great review, thanks! The Koreans really have come along way, good on them.

    • 0 avatar
      N8iveVA

      “It exposes chassis weakness and is a great safety indicator.”

      Not always with compact cars, esp. if they put low rolling resistance tires for better fuel economy. Those tires add at least 10% to your stopping distance.

  • avatar
    JD321

    Why would someone choose this over a Honda Accord?

    • 0 avatar
      NoGoYo

      Better yet, how does this compare to an Optima Turbo?

      • 0 avatar
        DeadWeight

        JD, that’s a great question, given that a 200 horsepower, larger, faster, more quiet, safer, far more refined, and even more fuel efficient Accord (that will have way better resale value as well as reliability) can be had for about 22k (and patient, savvy shoppers who can do without a ton of options in what is an already well equipped base Accord can probably do closer to 20k if they strike at the right time).

        • 0 avatar
          JD321

          Just the resale values alone make the Accord the better value. The neighbor girl down the road got a LX for $20.8K and it looks tasteful and classy in white. The Accord is by far the best value in the sedan space.

          • 0 avatar
            npaladin2000

            If you’re buying a car for resale value and ROI, you’re buying a car for the wrong reasons. Besides, buying a car because it’ll be easier to get rid of? Come on!

          • 0 avatar
            JD321

            A lot of people use adult reason and evidence when dealing with their own finances. A lot also have “family finances” and do not have the luxury of making financial decisions using emoting narcissism. This is why Camry and Accord sell so well. If you plan/time right, you can pick up a new Accord EX-L for $25k and have very low value depreciation.

          • 0 avatar
            bd2

            For 2013 model years, ALG ranks Hyundai 2nd (after Honda) for residual value.

            Kia is 8th, Nissan 7th and Toyota 6th.

            Also keep in mind that residual value is calculated from MSRP – so those who are paying closer to MSRP (as Honda buyers do) end up paying more upfront.

            The residual value on the current gen Optima will likely surpass that of the Camry as Toyota continues to increase incentive spending and fleet sales on the Camry and as more Optima buyers purchase the higher trims than Camry buyers (the Optima has an ATP that is $1,700 higher than that for the Camry).

    • 0 avatar
      Firestorm 500

      Exactly my question.

      I wonder why most anyone would choose any other car other than a Honda Accord.

    • 0 avatar
      Prado

      This car and the Accord are my top 2 contenders for a new ride. Here are the reasons I would potentially choose the Forte.
      1) ‘Right Sized’ car… I don’t need a car as big as the Accord and would prefer something smaller, which can still seat 4 comfortably.
      2) Better looking (subjective).
      4) A lot More features at the same price point.
      5) Comparable performance.. The 2.0 Forte EX has the power of a typical midsize car and does not feel underpowered like most compacts like the Civic and Elantra.
      6) To be different. Accords are everywhere.

    • 0 avatar
      krhodes1

      Because they don’t need a car that gigantic, and they want all the possible bells and whistles you can get in a car?

      Not everyone buys cars by the pound…

      I can’t imagine buying an Accord over an Optima, personally, but that is a whole different class of car.

      And ultimately, no one is going to pay MSRP for this car.

    • 0 avatar
      Ion

      Bad credit?

  • avatar
    billfrombuckhead

    Hyundai and Kia are the posterchildren of government motors.

    “The situation deteriorated further in July 1997 when Kia, Korea’s third largest car company, ran out of cash and asked for an emergency bank loan to avoid bankruptcy. At about the same time Jinaro, Korea’s largest liquor group, filed for bankruptcy. These events prompted international credit agencies to start downgrading the ratings of banks with heavy exposure to the chaebol. This raised the borrowing costs of the banks, and led them to tighten credit, making it even more difficult for debt heavy chaebol to borrow additional funds. By October 1997 it was clear that additional funds for Kia would not be forthcoming from private banks, so the government took the company into public ownership in order to stave off bankruptcy and job losses. This followed hard on the heels of a decision by the Korean government to invest an equity stake in Korea First Bank, to stop that institution from collapsing due to a its bad loans. The nationalization of Kia transformed its private sector debt into public sector debt. Standard & Poor’s, the US credit rating agency, immediately downgraded Korea’s debt, causing the Korean stock market to plunge 5.5%, and the currency, the Korean won, to fall to $1=Krw929.5. According to S&P, “the downgrade of…..ratings reflects the escalating cost to the government of supporting the country’s ailing corporate and financial sectors.””

    http://www.wright.edu/~tdung/asiancrisis-hill.htm

    • 0 avatar
      el scotto

      A couple of things: 1. government motors is often used as meme for GM on ttac. 2. Your cut and paste from God knows where doesn’t mention Hyundai. You do. I still don’t understand how this excerpt from student’s paper is relevant to current activity.

  • avatar
    AMC_CJ

    “fully-loaded $25,400 model”

    That’s way too much for a small FWD anything. Ridiculous! I might, might, consider an Abarth around that price just for the fact it’s cool as hell, but a forgettable everyday sedan, by a Korean maker no less? Forget it. What do you get for all that extra money, some stupid gadgets that are going to break in 10 years? People actually shell out that kind of money for that car?

    • 0 avatar
      NoGoYo

      See my above comment about the Optima Turbo.

      It’s about 2k more than a fully loaded Forte, but with more space and 100 more horsepower.

    • 0 avatar
      Wizegui

      @ Alex – How does this car drive or handle compared to the Civic? It seems that most of the criticisms of Korean cars these days are their suspension tuning.

      I was at a Kia dealership recently, and here in Canadaland, they were asking for $30k for this model. I get the fact that it was luxury car features like rear vents and heated seats, but at the end of a day, I sure as hell ain’t payin’ 30 large for what basically is a $16k sedan.

    • 0 avatar
      el scotto

      Ok, I’ll bite. What do you consider the correct price for a fully-loaded small FWD anything? Should we all be in stripper Versas and sweating on humid days? If I can 10 years out of a car and it’s various parts; I considered that a good deal. I humbly suggest you look around the next time you venture forth for whale oil and button hooks. Lots of 25k small FWD sedans around nowadays. An Abarth is a good value at 25k with a canvas roof and the ability to synch with my smart phone. Egads! you say? A smart phone? During the coal and steam train time, the railroads got very smart about telling time. They devised time zones to divide the country. After their perambulations and evening repast; my west coast customers find it convenient to call me on my smart phone. My east coast office will be locked and guarded by a cheaper version of Pinkerton detectives by the time they call. Nealy 3/4 of a valuable working could have been lost to the difference in time. I humbly suggest you engage in discourse with another gentleman or lady about their Korean derived motorcar. Your opinions may change; they are no longer peddled by gone tomorrow ne’er do-wells. We do live in faster moving times these days. Good Day Sir

      • 0 avatar
        krhodes1

        An Abarth with a canvas roof is $30K with any other options on it. Though a loaded metal or glass roofed one IS $25K. My Abarth with but the single option of Climate control and butt heat was $21K after discounts. But an Abarth is also chalk and cheese compared to this car. I cannot imagine that anyone would ever cross shop them.

        But I do agree with your point. A loaded small car with all the tech bells and whistles has an MSRP in the mid-high $20K range these days. That is simply how it is. The bells and whistles cost about the same whether the base car they are installed on costs $18K, $22K, or $40K. KIA charges about the same for the tech toys as BMW. And I don’t see how that can be any different.

        • 0 avatar
          el scotto

          krhodes1, thank you for your reply. The closest I’ve came to buying an Abarth is some very casual internet shopping. Too lazy to drive an hour to the dealer and no real desire to buy right now. Butt heat? Not so much in central VA. AC to fight dinosaur melting heat? Yes please, super size mine.

    • 0 avatar
      afflo

      I’m always amazed when people pay 30k and over for pickup trucks. At least this is a modern car! $30-$40k for a low-tech box with a manure compartment on the back?

      15-25 seems like the “normal” range for a compact (c-class) auto these days. 10-20 for a b class, and 20-30 for midsize. There’s overlap, and you can choose extra size or extra creature comforts. Likewise, you can get more house for your money by buying in an area with less amenities, or buying a house that is more cheaply constructed. Extra room for cheapo carpet, vinyl siding, laminate countertops, and easy driving distance to the TGI-Olive-Bees and Walmart supercenter.

    • 0 avatar
      bd2

      Then don’t get a higher trim with the bigger powerplant.

      All those tech goodies cost $$.

      A loaded Focus Titanium costs even more.

  • avatar
    carguy

    Nice review Alex – I appreciate your attention to details. Would it be possible to also include some comments about braking and tire performance in future reviews?

  • avatar
    30-mile fetch

    Thorough as always, Alex.

    Another sedan with a fastback roofline and no decklid. Getting bulky items into that trunk ought to be fun, and I wonder what the rear headroom is like.

  • avatar
    interested456

    Very nice review. But you should give credit for the “financially frugal/at home that’s spelled c h e a p” line to Jeanne Robertson, a very funny speaker/comedian. Your line comes pretty much verbatim from her “Southern Style” DVD.

  • avatar
    npaladin2000

    “The larger engine bumps power to 173 ponies and 154 lb-ft. While this isn’t hot hatch territory, it is more oomph than you find in the Civic, Focus, Mazda 3, or Elantra.” I assume you guys mean the BASE Mazda3? Given that the 2.5L gets 184 HP and all. :)

    I don’t get why Hyundai/Kia keep that 1.8L around still. It was initially supposed to be a 40 MPG marketing point, but that’s all over with now, and the 2.0L gets essentially the same mileage.

  • avatar
    afflo

    According to their website, the Forte Koup is coming back as well, with a turbo direct-injected 1.6 pushing 200+ hp.

    Glad to see not everyone is abandoning the coupe market for small gamily cars!

  • avatar
    marc

    +1 for the Evita reference, though I’m not sure how many car guys knows that is not a line actually about Cinderella, especially since you mixed your metaphors by bringing up shoes.

  • avatar
    el scotto

    “When another unremarkable Korean company purchased 51% of Kia, nobody cared. They should have.” Does this mean another car company could have bought some/most/all of Kia at that time? GM to make Daewoo bigger? Ford? Tata? One of the European companies? No alternatives were stated.

  • avatar
    fozone

    Alex — if you are still reading the comments…

    One way that TTAC can really separate itself from other sites that review cars is when reviewing mainstream sedans, always include:

    1) Visibility, front, rear and side.

    2) Does a 2013-vintage car seat fit in the thing? Like a typical overstuffed Britax seat.

    I realize this would require the site to spring for a car seat for each reviewer (or to just get a well-used one on craigslist), but it is actually a *major issue* for anyone with kids under 5. Even in larger cars where you think this wouldn’t be a problem… it sometimes ends up being a problem. You could save people a trip to the dealer by including this info.

  • avatar
    npaladin2000

    Can’t wait to see a smackdown between this, the 2014 Mazda3, and the 2014 Corolla.

    Unfortunately, no matter what the test result, an insane number of drones will go buy the Corolla anyway. :(

  • avatar
    APaGttH

    I really don’t get all the complaints that come out when a C-segment car is reviewed and the fully loaded every option in the book pricing is $23K to $28K (give or take).

    There was a post (since edited) that a “loaded” Optima was $27K. Well, that sure doesn’t come as close as loaded as the Forte – and to get to that level (with admittedly some extra goodies) you have to load up an Optima to $33K+.

    GM and Ford both took a chance with a high content C-segment cars in the Cruze and Focus can both won (one can debate the fleet quantity that the Focus sells at). The Civic went the opposite direction in its update and look what happened, a rushed refresh.

    The black mark I see on the Forte is its somewhat mediocre MPG (relatively speaking). It appears that this is one of those cars that could benefit from a bigger engine and with little to no MPG penalty in the process.

    Why on earth would someone pay $25K for a C-segment car (sticker?). Gee I don’t know, considering that about 130K C-segment cars are sold a month (back of the envelope math including the Corolla, Civic, Cruze, Focus, Elantra, Mazda3, Jetta, and Forte) I’d say a lot of people are speaking with their wallets. Yes, not all of those are fully equipped S, LX, LTZ RS, Titanium, SX, etc. etc. but the stripper models are largely going to fleet sales. How many people actually buy a Jetta S with the 2.0 slow??? Or a base optionless Corolla LE? Or an optionless LS Cruze? Not a lot.

    The price is what the market will carry, and people a lot smarter than you and me do that analysis. Finally, if you live in urban or drive in urban areas, yes the Optima can be had for not much more Cheddar, but good luck parking it – and that is a big consideration people make (personally I wouldn’t buy a new car to have it battered in an urban environment anyway, but that is me)

  • avatar
    burgersandbeer

    Nice video review. I had several questions for the written review, but most were answered in the video. I like the time marker to skip the infotainment section too.

    Anyway, a couple remaining questions:
    -The video contradicts the text in the road noise department. The text says comparable to the Focus and Cruze, but the video says it is a problem. Please clarify.
    -Does the 2.0L engine actually feel like 173hp? Where is the redline on it? The hp sounds reasonably high for a 2.0L engine in this class of car. Based on reviews of Hyundai/Kia’s other products, it sounds like Hyundai/Kia have a tendency to overrate their engines.

  • avatar
    burgersandbeer

    I like the luggage test, though it does assume people that pack reasonably. Most woman I know do not. I think you should show what happens to the trunk with the giant suitcase that scrapes by at just under 50 lbs.

    Speaking of the trunk, the wiring harness clipped to the hinge stood out to me for some reason. Is that were other manufacturers with similar hinges put the harness? It looks like a recipe for disaster.

  • avatar
    burgersandbeer

    A ventilated seat and heated steering wheel is really cool in a C-segment car. Especially the ventilated seat. It’s worth noting that while the technology package forces the premium package, it looks like you can take the premium package without the technology package. At least that’s the way Kia’s web site works.

  • avatar
    burgersandbeer

    I’m not sure how much tire choice is impacting fuel economy compared to competitors. For example, the sentra offers 205/50/17s. The difference between 205s and 215s is not going to cause a drop of 4.5 mpgs. My guess is some combination of wheel weight, CVT vs Kia’s automatic, gearing, and engine tuning.

    Those 215s aren’t completely out-of-line with the class either. Focus uses 215s on even the 16″ wheels.

    And speaking of tires, Kia gives you Nexens? I’ve had Nexens before and hated them. I don’t think tirerack even sells them.

    • 0 avatar
      bball40dtw

      It probably has to do with a number of things. Tires may be 1 MPG or so. The top level Focus will drop 3-4 MPGs off the Focus SE Eco. I would say the tradeoff is worth it.

      My Focus has 235s and I still average MPGs in the low to mid 30s. Swapping the original Michelin PS3s for Continental ExtremeContact DWS hasn’t changed my fuel economy either.

      Heck, Ford throws 225s on their hybrid.

  • avatar
    Joss

    Competent export product. The SK government & people have the north to worry about. They could garnish some ideas from German reunification when the time comes. The problem is that family dynasty or medieval absolute monarchy. No chance of Glasnost or Perestroika here. The regime is self perpetuating more isolated and brutal than Castro’s other old communist world. If collapse comes what to do with its starving brain-washed hordes?

    • 0 avatar
      Summicron

      @Joss

      Sir, to avoid being thought a shaved-head 300 lb. American with a chin patch, please google “garner vs garnish”.

      90% of Americans make the same mistake but we have no excuse.

      • 0 avatar
        shaker

        Possibly the phrase “Garnish one’s wages” is the source of the misinterpretation (?)

        On topic: The Forte is a solid improvement over the previous generation but (even with leather, gadgetry, etc) a 25k car should show a little more imagination in the interior design; it just looks a bit dull in there – the center stack reminds me of my ’97 Camaro (whose interior this Forte’s resembles – not a bad thing, just outdated).

  • avatar
    Power6

    ventilated seat, bi-xenons, heated rear seats…this is getting beyond the “democratization of luxury” now compacts are using features you might not get in that more expensive model as selling points. Can’t really surprise and delight with your premium car anymore “oh my Kia has that too”

    I think about the merits of buying a loaded up basic car like this Kia or spending that money on something more sophisticated made with higher quality materials, but rather lacking in features/options.

    • 0 avatar
      NormSV650

      It boils down to the “lip stick on a pig” thing. But some of these bottom feeders sure blur the line of econo-box and near-luxury.

      Alex thinks the 2.0T would take the cake, the local dealership near Cleveland said there is not one single 2.0T Sportage in their system. With the Sportage EX into the $30′s who is going to pay more for a Kia.

      No one is going ga-ga over a V6 RAV4 just because it is one of the fastest awd cuv’s available. She is a still a pig.

      • 0 avatar
        burgersandbeer

        What does it take for a car to not be a pig? A premium badge? I can see the argument that gadgets on a car with a weak, buzzy engine and poorly tuned suspension amount to lip stick, but now the RAV4 V6 is lip stick too? I don’t see how a stronger engine is lip stick.

        I see no reason to complain that these options exist. As Michael Karesh pointed out in one of his reviews, you either want the toys or you don’t. Not everyone thinks a lower-trim level midsize car at the same price is not necessarily a better buy. If you don’t care about the toys, either buy the lower trim level and save the money or spend it on a car with better performance and interior materials.

      • 0 avatar
        28-Cars-Later

        The funny thing is people do go “ga-ga” over RAV4 and those other POS faux SUVs. The general public wouldn’t know high quality engineering if it bit them in the butt, they want to feel special and so many people simply can’t afford “special” new. To many the shiny RAV4 is the height of their automotive ownership. Hyundai/KIA wisely realized this and offers “luxury” features in their sub $10,000 (mfg costs) econoboxes like Forte. Whether these models are exclusive or even if 50% of them are still running in ten years is irrelevant. They tapped into the 30K millionaire instant-gratification market and its working. Lipstick on a pig? Maybe.

        • 0 avatar
          el scotto

          Uh, no. “Quality engineering” is usually marketing and not science now days. Is an X3 three times better than a RAV4? It is if price is your criteria. If you’re using common sense, no. I think Oscar Wilde was right if price is your leading criteria. Still unclear if you dislike C/SUVs or those who buy vehicles that don’t have your exalted “quality engineering”. You sir have slipped into the land of the intellectually dammed. Not everyone needs a “quality engineered” pizza cutter from Williams-Sonoma or a “quality engineered” daily driving machine. Directly proclaim what you deign superior and damn what you perceive as mediocre. If not, you will be like the fellow at the club boasting how he got last year’s fashion on sale at the expensive department store. Your former contemporaries will shudder that you didn’t get it right the 1st time and you will compound yours errors when you speak of price. On the other hand, some things like aged single malt scotch are all good.

    • 0 avatar
      el scotto

      When I was a lad and men wore jacket and ties on airplanes, there was a simple (unwritten) rule. If you wanted the best, and sometimes exclusive options, you had to buy the top of the line car. Look at the options that were either exclusive to Cadillac or very expensive on other GM products. Nowadays, there are probably just 2 or 3 options available on luxury cars that aren’t available on the Kia. Does that make the luxury car 30k better? I think not. I’m the guy who expects to get 10 years/150000 miles out of any vehicle I buy. I want phone compatibility, heated/cool seats/hole in the roof. After 3 of those 10 years I don’t want to be setting in traffic and say damn I should’ve got that option.

      • 0 avatar
        28-Cars-Later

        “After 3 of those 10 years I don’t want to be setting in traffic and say damn I should’ve got that option.”

        I am of a similar mindset. Funny thing I learned at the auction years back, the loaded model of car X really doesn’t go for much more than the stripper model (typically +15%), even if its retail value was say 25% higher.

  • avatar
    SC5door

    Correction:

    The 8″ touch screen is NOT standard on the EX model. The 8″ touch screen shown in the review comes with the technology package. EX comes standard with a smaller touch screen and backup camera.

  • avatar
    JLGOLDEN

    Love your reviews, Alex. You tend to point out certain vehicle details, which I too would notice. And, when you climb into trunks and cargo compartments: LMAO! Love it!

  • avatar
    Tomifobia

    You have Lady Gaga on your iPod? Seriously?

  • avatar
    danio3834

    An uncompetitive car for a reasonable price. This car is not my Forte.

  • avatar
    SC5door

    Dear KIA:

    Where’s the SX sedan? Are they waiting for the Koup and 5 door to launch and then the sedan SX? They showed the 5 door with the Turbo, as well as the Koup thus far.

    And as far as the SX 5 door is concerned, where’s the interior flair? All I saw in the photos was the different pedals, and that was about it. The outgoing SX had different seats (material) with red stitching on the seats, doors, and steering wheel. Could have saved the money on the different rear valance too, doesn’t need dual exhaust.


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