Kia has been on a real roll with new products, and their latest unfolding is the introduction of the 2014 Sorento midsize crossover utility vehicle and 2014 Forte compact sedan.
Though Sorento was all-new for model year 2011, 80 percent of its parts are new or significantly different for 2014. The original Forte appeared in model year 2010 and the 2014 version is a complete redesign.
For better driving dynamics, the 2014 Sorento has a wider stance and 18 percent more torsional rigidity. Its new chassis was engineered to provide a more comfortable ride and reduced NVH (noise, vibration and harshness). Extra interior volume includes more legroom for second- and third-row passengers, and the center console has been redesigned with simpler shapes aimed at making it “easier to use on a daily basis,” said Steve Hirashiki, senior product strategy manager for Kia.
For the first time, 19-inch wheels and a height-programmable power liftgate are now available on the Sorento, and this is the first Kia to offer a blind spot detection system and Kia’s next-generation infotainment and telematics systems.
Other interior refinements include satin chrome accents, a larger (8 inches) navigation screen, restyled gauge cluster, and new seat fabric with YES Essentials stain-resistant treatment.
The standard engine on all but the LX model is a new 3.3-liter gasoline direct injection (GDI) V6 generating 290 horsepower and 252 lb-ft of torque. It’s available as an option on the LX, whose standard engine is carried over from 2013, a 2.4-liter GDI four-cylinder with 191 horsepower and 181 lb-ft of torque. All models come standard with a six-speed automatic transmission.
Fuel economy ratings for the four-cylinder are 20/26 mpg with front-wheel drive and 19/24 mpg with all-wheel drive. For the V6, the numbers are 18/25 mpg with FWD and 18/24 mpg with AWD.
Also new for 2014 is electric motor driven power steering, replacing the previous hydraulic system and adding FlexSteer, Kia’s name for a feature that allows the driver to choose between three different steering modes: Comfort, Normal and Sport.
Base pricing, including an $850 destination charge, starts at $24,950 for a front-wheel-drive LX with four-cylinder engine. A top-of-the-line Sorento Limited with AWD is $40,550.
All but the Limited version of the 2014 Kia Sorento will arrive at local dealerships this month. The Limited model is scheduled to go on sale in the spring.
2014 Forte sedan is roomier, more powerful
For the 2014 Forte sedan, Kia used the term “dynamic muscularity” as its influence in creating the exterior design, but the term could also apply to Forte’s new chassis, which is longer, lower and wider.
Torsional rigidity is up 37 percent over the previous Forte, and wheelbase length has been increased more than overall length. The car is roomier and more powerful, and offers a bigger assortment of premium features than the previous version.
Kia describes its NVH countermeasures for the new Forte as “aggressive,” and says the car’s aerodynamics have been improved to the tune of a 0.27 drag coefficient.
There are two Forte trim levels, LX and EX, each with a four-cylinder engine. On the LX, it’s a 1.8-liter with 148 horsepower and 131 lb-ft of torque; on the EX, a GDI 2.0-liter with 173 horsepower and 154 lb-ft of torque. The LX is available with a standard six-speed manual transmission or optional six-speed automatic with sportshift. The automatic is standard on the EX.
As with Sorento, the previous Forte’s hydraulic steering system is replaced by electric power steering for 2014. The FlexSteer system providing driver-selectable settings for Comfort, Normal and Sport modes is offered only on the EX model.
Standard features on the LX include air conditioning, steering-wheel-mounted audio controls, power heated outside mirrors, SiriusXM satellite radio, and Bluetooth. An optional Popular Package adds cruise control, remote keyless entry and a sliding front armrest, and replaces the standard 15-inch steel wheels with 16-inch alloys.
The EX adds rear camera backup display, FlexSteer, a cooling glove box, and Kia’s next-generation Google-powered UVO infotainment system with eServices, which can accommodate an optional navigation system. The Premium Package option adds heated front and rear seats, 10-way power adjustable driver’s seat with air-cooled ventilation, leather seat trim, power sunroof, heated steering wheel, 17-inch alloy wheels (replacing the standard 16-inchers), and push-button start with Smart Key.
The 2014 Kia Forte is set to go on sale at the end of March. Exact pricing isn’t available yet, but Kia says an LX model with manual transmission will start at less than $16,000, and a well-equipped EX will cost about $18,500. EPA fuel economy ratings will be announced at a later date.