Breaking Tampa Bay, Florida and national news and weather from Tampa Bay Online and The Tampa Tribune | TBO.com
Wednesday, Apr 23, 2014

Kia offers up a fab new Forte for 2014


Published:

If I told you Kia was planning an amphibious electric four-door convertible, chances are your response would be a shrug of the shoulders and a nonplussed “OK.”

After all, the Korean auto giant seems to be in pretty much every section of the automobile market imaginable these days, from minivans to cute-utes beloved by hip-hopping hamsters.

Surprisingly, the one corner of the market they’ve pretty much ignored is potentially the biggest — the compact sedan segment.

From Ford’s Focus, to the Honda Civic, to the Chevy Cruze, to Toyota’s Corolla, compact four-doors are big business.

Yes, Kia has offered a Forte in the past. But this car was so dull and dreary you risked losing it every time you parked it at the mall.

“Honey, you see the Forte — it’s out there somewhere?”

But all that changes with this all-new 2014 version. This thing looks sharper than The Bieber in Nike high-tops, more of a head-turner than Rihanna in pretty much anything.

What I love is that funky grille, those swept-back headlights, and the truly ginormous windshield.

Plus that sweet, coupe-like swoop to the roofline.

And what’s not to love about the Forte’s price tag? A base LX stickers at just $16,700, though it is pretty thin on equipment.

Far better is the LX Popular I’ve been driving. Despite the very uncool name, it comes with all the toys, like a six-speed automatic, keyless entry, cruise and 16-inch alloys. It’s a deal at $19,100.

Topping out the line-up is the Forte EX, which starts at $20,200 though with a few boxes checked can soar to the $25 grand mark. That’s pretty pricy for a compact.

No, the LX gets the job done with its feisty 1.8-liter four-cylinder cranking out 148 hp and good for 37 to the gallon on the highway.

It’s a fun drive too, largely because at just under 3,000 pounds, it’s nice and light.

And despite being longer, wider, lower and roomier than its predecessor, especially in the back, it feels lively and nimble out on the road.

With so many drivers looking to downsize, or shave their motoring costs, this new Kia Forte could win plenty of new friends. And hamsters.

Comments