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Kia Forte owners report a good blend of feature content, strong driving dynamics and a solid, well-built feel. Pictured is a 2014 Kia Forte. - Todd Gillis
Kia Forte owners report a good blend of feature content, strong driving dynamics and a solid, well-built feel. Pictured is a 2014 Kia Forte. - Todd Gillis
  • Model: 2014-18 Kia Forte
  • Vehicle type: Sedan/coupe/ 5-door

History/description

With plenty of choice and affordable pricing, the Kia Forte lineup turned in pleasing looks, great feature content, good driving dynamics and various powertrain options for shoppers after a cheerful small car.

All in all, this one’s a compelling compact car lineup with something for virtually any shopper.

Feature content included heated and chilled leather and one of the easiest-to-use navigations and central command systems in the business.

The Forte was available in four-door Sedan, two-door coupe (Koup) and five-door Forte 5 variations. Cross shop this one against machines like the Chevrolet Cruze, Ford Focus, Dodge Dart, and Mazda 3.

Engines included two-litre four-cylinder, a 1.6-litre turbo four-cylinder, and a 1.8-litre four-cylinder. Six-speed automatic or manual transmissions were available.

What owners like

Many owners say a good blend of feature content, driving dynamics and a solid, well-built feel helped draw them in. Performance is pleasing from the higher-end engine options and fun-to-drive handling is also noted.

What owners dislike

Many owners wish for slightly better fuel economy and a less artificial feel to the throttle. Others long for a richer and more upscale feel to the cabin, which may use too many low-budget materials for some tastes.

The test drive

2014 Kia Forte - Todd Gillis
2014 Kia Forte - Todd Gillis

 

Check for a popping or snapping sound when applying steering input by parking the vehicle and working the steering fully from one side to the other, several times and at various speeds.

A detectable pop or snap sensation likely indicates the need to service or replace one or both front strut mounts, likely because of a crack or fracture to a plastic component within.

Run the central command interface through its paces, engaging all functions, including the backup camera, several times.

If the system fails to work properly, it may require a hard reset, which you can do yourself in seconds, for free. If this doesn’t fix any issues with non-functionality, the entire head-unit may need to be replaced, which can be pricey.

For maximum long-term performance and trouble-free operation, triple-check to ensure the seller specifically followed the oil-change instructions in the owner’s manual, using only approved oil and filters, and that they never skipped or stretched an oil change.

Check all service records to confirm continual and consistent oil changes, noting that even one skipped oil change can void remaining warranty coverage.

I dug up another slightly-worrisome issue around maintenance in a Kia Forte owner’s forum. Some owners question the need for regular maintenance, asking their fellow owners if they really need to have factory-prescribed maintenance items performed, or if a simple oil change is sufficient.

Avoid buying a used Forte from an owner who considered ongoing maintenance to be optional. Buying from someone who has convinced themselves to skip scheduled maintenance is a great way to wind up with headaches down the line, and with a vehicle whose remaining warranty coverage is voided.

Some Forte’s may have been delivered from the factory an insufficient refrigerant charge to the air conditioner system, which can cause weak AC performance. The solution here is to have a technician drain and refill the refrigerant. This may be covered by warranty.

Note that a clogged cabin air filter is another leading cause of air conditioning performance issues. If the AC in the Forte you’re considering seems weak, start by confirming that the cabin air filter isn’t plugged.

Finally, note that a diagnostic scan performed by your favourite technician is ideal ahead of your purchase to help uncover potential problems with the Forte’s driveline electronics and other systems.

This scan is cheap, fast, and highly effective in revealing issues that may be concealed, relating to sensors, wiring and other problems.

Have this scan performed whether or not a “check-engine” light is illuminated: it’s one of the best ways to protect yourself from buying someone else’s problems.

2014 Kia Forte. - Todd Gillis
2014 Kia Forte. - Todd Gillis

 

The verdict

At this point, Forte looks to be free of widespread or major concerns, and finding a good used unit will mainly be a function of ensuring that model was carefully treated to proper and ongoing regular maintenance. A healthy used Forte looks like a confident used-car buy that won’t break the bank.

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