Kia Motors continues to be one of the fastest growing automotive manufacturers in the United States. So how do you continue making waves in a sea of vehicles offering everything from mini coolers to interactive touchscreens that rival the latest handheld devices? Well, the Korean auto builder believes they have the answer with their Four Pillars of Communication approach consisting of 1) music 2) sport 3) pop culture and 4) connected life. This is evidenced in ad campaigns with NBA All-Star forward Blake Griffin, larger than life music loving Hamsters, and most recently Kia’s “Space Babies” campaign which aired during the Super Bowl, all of which touch upon the aforementioned strategy.
In addition to trend-setting marketing efforts, Kia wants to shake up the industry by integrating interactive technology into their vehicles such as free subscriptions for UVO (Your Voice) eServices, the company’s telematics and infotainment system. By providing a backdrop to the company behind Kia’s sporty little sedan, the 2014 Forte, we are better able to understand its intentions and specifications. Automotive Rhythms had the delighted pleasure of evaluating the vehicle during its national press introduction in Arizona not to long ago. We thoroughly enjoyed its attributes while test-driving along Arizona’s most scenic routes, mountains and daily urban scenes.
The new Forte features an all-new chassis for a longer, wider and lower stance hinting at its flashy ego and intentions. Offered in two models — the LX and EX — the Forte receives its styling cues from the swift cheetah combined with the pin-point precision of an archer, and is targeted squarely at the male demographic in their late 20s and early 30s. Powering this compact athlete are two available four-cylinder engines. The LX houses a 1.8-liter that cranks out 148-horsepower and 131 pound-feet of torque with power pushing the front wheels through a standard 6-speed manual transmission or optional 6-speed automatic gearbox. The EX steps up its game with a 173-horsepower 2.0-liter inline 4-cylinder with a healthy 154 pound-feet of torque, which is mated to the standard 6-speed automatic transmission. Driving through hills and valleys the Forte held up well under these trying conditions without any noticeable engine strain.
Though I’m a true fan of the skilled exterior design, it was the interior that most impressed me. Truly inspiring for a compact sedan are chrome accents, a large and easy-to-read instrument panel, the optional 4.2-inch color LCD screen with Kia’s standard next-gen Google-powered UVO eServices, optional leather seating trim, and enough legroom in both front and rear seats to aptly accommodate Blake Griffin. Equally gratifying are the steering wheel mounted controls. One of my biggest pet peeves is the misuse of technology to simply showcase for display purposes. This is not the case with the Forte where form and function combine for a visually pleasing and productive interior.
The optional Premium Package includes heated front and rear seats, a 10-way power adjustable driver’s seat with air-cooled ventilation, a power sunroof, 17-inch alloy wheels, heated steering wheel, and push button start with Smart Key. Optional FlexSteer enables the driver to select from Comfort, Normal, and Sport modes, which vary steering.
Keeping you safe from mayhem are dual front airbags as well as front seat and full-length side curtain airbags. Standard safety equipment also includes anti-lock brakes, traction control and electronic stability control. Given Kia’s Four Pillar strategy, pricing will surely be a significant selling point as their conquest to shake up the industry continues.