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2014 Kia Forte Is Great Compact But Why Not Selling?

The 2014 Kia Forte has been named the Best New Compact Sedan of 2014 by, which is a sentiment first expressed by Better late than never for this compact sedan that's really mashing the competition – except in sales.

As pointed out in our Kia Forte review, it's a comfortable, compact sedan with great technology, and backseat space for either adults or children. Plus it comes with a good sticker price starting at $19,400.

This award puts Kia’s European-inspired sedan in contention for the respected website’s Best of 2014 award. editors picked six cars to compete for the annual award, and the Forte topped its segment with its style, performance and value.

Yet, the one fly in the ointment is the 2014 Kia Forte is lagging behind sales of 2012. Year-to-date, through the end of November, the Forte has sold 61,844 units vs. 71,405 in 2012 at the end of November. Frankly, I'm wondering what's going on that Kia is having trouble marketing such a winner.

That could explain why Kia is willing to deal on this model. According to the Kia website, all models have financing right now from 0 to 1.9% for 36 months. You can also get $1000 cash back. The Forte LX can be leased for $179 a month for 36 months with $1999 due at signing. OK, enough free advertising for Kia, but you get the point. Kia is willing to deal on what is a really great compact sedan.

“The all-new Forte continues to earn praise for its sleek design, exceptional performance and plethora of features,” said Michael Sprague, executive vice president, marketing & communications, in the release announcing the award. “ speaks for, not only the industry, but also car buyers, and we are happy to have the Forte recognized for elevating the compact segment to new levels of sophistication with its premium features, comfortable cabin and refined ride.” will announce the Best of 2014 award winner at the North American International Auto Show in January 2014. The Forte stood out in its category for offering a wide variety of features and options, edgy styling and a comfortable ride. Earlier this year, the 2014 Forte also took first prize in the Today/MotorWeek $20,000 Compact Sedan Challenge.

“People buy compact cars because they are affordable and efficient, but that doesn't mean they have to be boring,” said Patrick Olsen, editor-in-chief. “The Forte breaks the mold with its head-turning styling outside and an interior full of affordable creature comforts.”

What he also overlooked is the Forte's fuel efficiency. During a week of testing by, the Kia Forte provided some great fuel economy. On a trip south to Washington, D.C., from Connecticut, when traffic was moving a little more slowly, I was able to get a combined 36.1-mpg, according to the onboard fuel computer. The trip back, when traffic was a little lighter and the Forte EX felt like running, our fuel economy was 33.9. In its defense, it was a colder, windier day, which could affect fuel economy. The EPA rates the Kia Forte EX at 24-mpg city and 36-mpg highway.

The Kia Forte EX is the higher level of the two trims offered. The base LX comes nicely equipped with steering wheel mounted audio controls, SiriusXM Satellite Radio (subscription required eventuall), Bluetooth wireless technology, power windows, air conditioning and power heated outside mirrors among the many features that make the Forte stand out. The optional Popular Package adds 16-inch alloy wheels, cruise control, keyless entry with remote trunk release and a sliding front armrest.

Stepping up to the EX trim broadens Forte’s appeal with additional comfort and convenience features, including some of the popular package options from the LX. 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 the remote keyless entry with trunk opener, rear camera back-up display, a sliding center armrest and a cooling glove box.

Here are some background stats on the Kia Forte sedan:

  • Wheelbase: 106.3 inches
  • Length: 179.5 inches
  • Width: 70.1 inches
  • Height: 56.5 inches
  • Curb weight: 2857 lbs.
  • Engine: 2.0-liter, inline four cylinder GDI engine
  • Horsepower: 173-horsepower at 6,500 rpm
  • Torque: 154 lb.-ft. of torque at 4,700 rpm
  • EPA estimated mpg city/highway: 24/36
  • Base price: $19,400
  • As-tested price: $24,300

Keith Griffin covers Hyundai and Kia at Torque News. He has been writing continuously about cars since 2002. Keith used to be a researcher/writer for US News & World Report, as well as numerous car sites, including Carfax and Car Gurus, and a contributor to The Boston Globe. Most recently, Keith was the managing editor for American Business Media. Follow Keith at @indepthauto on Twitter, on @LinkedIn and on his Indepth Auto Facebook page.