Like Hyundai, KIA has really been on the move and has been growing rapidly due to some really gorgeous new rides designed by former Audi employee Peter Schreyer.
Agent 001 was in Arizona this week to drive the 2014 Forte and Sorento for the first time.
Lets look at the details of each first and then we'll give you the verdict.
First, the Forte:
Full 2014 KIA Sorento and Forte launch photo gallery
2014 KIA Forte details
The all-new 2014 Forte will be offered in LX and EX variants with a choice of an efficient 1.8-liter engine or a more powerful 2.0-liter engine.
Set to arrive at Kia retailers in early 2013, the all-new Forte will represent the heart of KMA’s small-car line-up, replacing the current Forte, which has been a sales success story since launching in 2009. Slotted between the Rio sub-compact sedan and the best-selling Optima mid-size sedan, the all-new Forte includes a raft of unexpected available premium features in a package that easily accommodates five passengers and their belongings.
Offered in LX and EX trim levels, the all-new Forte proudly carries on Kia’s reputation for offering premium features that redefine automotive segments. The LX model comes standard with steering wheel mounted audio controls, SiriusXM™ Satellite Radio, Bluetooth® wireless technology, power windows, air conditioning and power heated outside mirrors among the many features that make the Forte stand out from its competition. The optional Popular Package adds 16-inch alloy wheels, cruise control, keyless entry with remote trunk release and a sliding front armrest. The Eco Package includes Kia’s ISG (Idle Stop & Go) system, dual-zone automatic temperature control with rear seat ventilation and unique “eco” badge.
Stepping up to the EX trim broadens Forte’s appeal with additional comfort and convenience features. Kia’s next-generation UVO in-vehicle infotainment system with eServices is standard and can now be integrated with an optional navigation system. Additional standard EX features include remote keyless entry with trunk opener, rear camera back-up display3, a sliding center armrest and a cooling glove box. The new optional Flex Steer system allows the driver to choose between three distinct steering profiles: Comfort, Normal and Sport. Features found in the optional Premium Package include heated front and rear seats, a 10-way power adjustable driver’s seat with class-exclusive air-cooled ventilation, leather seat trim, power sunroof, 17-inch alloy wheels and push button start with Smart Key and a heated steering wheel. Opting for the Technology Package garners HID headlights, LED tail lights, a 4.2-inch color LCD cluster screen and dual-zone automatic temperature control with rear seat ventilation.
Enhanced Performance, Improved Ride and Handling
The all-new Forte offers spirited performance thanks to two advanced four-cylinder engines. The LX features a 1.8-liter powerplant, while the EX comes standard with a 2.0-liter engine. Both engines feature dual continuously variable valve timing and a lightweight intake manifold that reduces weight by 30 percent over a cast unit. The aluminum “bed plate” located below the cylinder block reduces engine NVH levels and improves block rigidity by 30 percent.
With 148 horsepower available at 6,500 rpm and 131 lb.-ft. of torque on tap at 4,700 rpm, the 1.8-liter MPI inline four-cylinder engine found in the LX routes power to the front wheels through either a standard six speed manual transmission or an optional six speed automatic gearbox.
Forte EX enhances the driving experience with a 173-horsepower (at 6,500 rpm) 2.0-liter inline four cylinder GDI engine. With a robust 154 lb.-ft. of torque available at 4,700 rpm, the EX comes standard with a six speed automatic.
The all-new Forte rides on a chassis that is longer (by 1.2 inches), lower (0.6 inches) and wider (0.2 inches) than the previous Forte sedan. With its 106.3-inch wheelbase, two inches longer than the outgoing model, the all-new Forte rides on a McPherson strut front suspension and a coupled torsion beam rear axle. On-center steering feel is improved utilizing larger bushings and revised front suspension geometry. Electric power steering has replaced the hydraulic system from the previous Forte, reducing parasitic load. Optional Flex Steer puts the driver firmly in control with settings for Comfort, Normal and Sport, which vary steering effort at the touch of a steering wheel-mounted button.
The base LX manual rides on 195/65R-15 tires, while 205/55R-16 tires on 16-inch alloy wheels are optional. The top-of-the-line EX is shod with the same 55-series tires. Low-profile 215/45-17 tires mounted on sporty 17-inch alloy wheels are optional.
Dramatically swept headlight lenses cut deeply into the front fenders and incorporate projector headlamps. LED positioning lights create distinct eyebrows, making the Forte instantly recognizable in a crowd. Gentle sculpting along the Forte’s lower flanks taper the sheet metal inward, affording the car a taut, nimble appearance without diminishing its road presence. Around back, the up-kicked fender line and trunk design, with its deep horizontal crease, lend width and charisma while allowing the complex curves of the tail lights to flow over the rear haunches.
A Modern and Sophisticated Cabin
Opening the wide doors reveals a cabin sculpted in organic curves. Gentle ripples across the instrument panel convey serenity, as if small waves are radiating from a pebble dropped into a pond. The driver-centric cabin is canted 10 degrees and features high-quality materials and soft touch points. Large, easy-to-read instruments dominate the binnacle, and secondary controls fall easily to hand. The optional 4.2-inch color LCD screen nestled between the white-on-black gauges in the EX provides trip and ancillary vehicle information front and center to the driver. Tasteful chrome bezels ring the HVAC rotary knobs and the optional push-button start. Additional chrome accents, standard Bluetooth® hands free phone integration and power windows, mirrors and door locks enhance the all-new Forte’s premium feel. Optional leather seating trim, power sunroof, and dual-zone automatic climate control with rear seat vents and HID head lights take the Forte to new levels of sophistication.
Auto Spies verdict:
Sharp exterior and interior design with a very 'premium sports sedan' look.
Quieter and more solid ride than it's step brother Elantra (To say it mildly, there is a HEALTHY competitiveness between Hyundai and KIA) .
Excellent front and rear space.
Comfortable and well laid out cabin.
Decent gas mileage (33MPG observed by us for mostly spirited highway, open road driving)
Best of breed warranty compared to competition (5 years, 60,000 miles)
Definitely the better choice over the Cruze, Corolla, VW (gas engine), Focus (base engine NOT ST), Elantra, Mazda3 and Civic.
Very good value for the money.
Good driving dynamics and it's nice to have selectable steering modes.
The NOT so good:
Smaller nav screen than Dodge Dart and UVO not as good as uConnect.
Real life gas mileage for a 2014 model in this category should be better.
KIA has become a force to be reckoned with and the Forte will strengthen their position. I give it a STRONG third place position behind the Jetta Diesel and Dodge Dart. I'd choose the Jetta dieseI for the unreal mileage and range in combo with German driving dynamics although it is much more expensive than the Forte. And I think the Dart is better looking (especially rear light cluster), has a better driving feel on road and has a better telematics product. But KIA's track record, killer warranty and a very good product in the Forte could create a REAL headache for ALL these competitive vehicles products. By taking a healthy slice of sales from all of them, including VW and Dodge. A test drive at your dealer of all these cars is a must.
Full 2014 KIA Sorrento and Forte launch photo gallery
Full 2014 KIA Sorento and Forte launch photo gallery