The latest car that was delivered to my house for testing was the 2014 KIA Forte sedan that was introduced late last year. The Forte has been around since 2008 but had extensive updates added to the vehicle for the current model year. My test car came in Abyss blue metallic paint and included black leather seating for five inside.
As of this writing, I do not know where KIA came up with the name for this car, but wonder if they named it after the handsome Fabian, teen idol of the 50’s and 60’s. Many readers do not know that Fabian’s full name was Fabiano Anthony Forte, or that he was referred to his record producer by Frankie Avalon, another South Philadelphia resident. Eleven of Fabian’s songs reached the Billboard Hot 100 listing, including “Hound Dog Man”, “Tiger”, and “Turn Me Loose”, and he later got into movies including the part of Pretty Boy Floyd in “A Bullet for Pretty Boy” (1970).
Perhaps KIA’s sedan that I drove was not named after Fabian, but my research into the matter has ended. I will say, however, that the Forte is a “pretty boy”, as are several Hyundai and KIA vehicles since the hiring of Peter Schreyer by the corporation to head their California design studio. This year’s model is lower, wider, and longer that those of the past, with a wheelbase of 106.3” and an overall length of 179.5”. The Forte weighs 2,950 lbs.
My test Forte carried an M.S.R.P. of $25,515, a figure that took me a little by surprise when I withdrew the monroney from the glove box. Included was $300 for 17” alloy wheels, $2,600 for a premium package, and $2,300 for an EX technology package. Thus, the car was equipped with sun roof, power/ventilated driver seat, heated front buckets, push button starter, proximity smart key, heated tilt/telescope steering wheel, navigation system, satellite radio, Bluetooth/USB connectivity, and power outside folding mirrors with light stripes.
The KIA was powered by a 2.0 liter (173 hp/154 lb. ft.) four cylinder, DOHC, 16 valve engine and featured a six speed automatic transmission with manual shifting mode. Acceleration of the Forte is reportedly zero to 60 in 7.3 seconds, and fuel economy is rated 24-city and 36-highway. My observance was of 32 mpg during my week with the car.
My wife and I drove the KIA to Denver for a visit as well as a trip from DIA to Greeley on Highway 85. Ride was suitable, guidance was fine, and wind noise was not excessive. At the airport parking lot and in Greeley I admired the Forte’s small, 34.8’ turning radius. The car fetched a lot of onlookers with the superb styling I hinted at earlier as well as the well-designed 17” alloys, which were fitted with Nexen Classe Premiere P215/45R17 m/s radials. Chrome door handles adorned the exterior of the car.
KIA is one of only three auto brands to increase sales in each of the last four years, and the Forte, with about 40,000 sold this year-to-date, is a key component of their success. I can see why; it’s quite a “Tiger”.