A long warranty is a powerful purchase consideration when you're shopping for a small, affordable car, and the 2014 Kia Forte has one. So we understand why you might be interested in buying this particular model over the more popular alternatives in the compact sedan class, such as the 2014 Toyota Corolla. It sure helps that the redesigned 2014 Forte is good-looking, too. But is this appealing Kia a smarter choice over the Corolla, one of the best-selling cars in the class that is also all-new this year? Let's take a closer look.
Examine the reliability and dependability histories for both the Kia Forte and the Toyota Corolla, and you'll find that each model impresses. However, the Toyota exhibits greater strength in this regard based on data from Consumer Reports and J.D. Power.
Nevertheless, we're going to call this one a tie. Why? The 2014 Kia Forte is backed by an industry-leading warranty that covers defects with the powertrain for 10 years or 100,000 miles, and with the rest of the car for five years or 60,000 miles, whichever comes first. Therefore, even if the Kia does break, it's not going to cost you anything in terms of repairs for a long time. Plus, Kia provides free roadside assistance for the first five years of ownership with no limit on mileage. Toyota won't help you if you get a flat tire or run out of gas with the 2014 Toyota Corolla.
The Corolla, however, is more likely to give you some running room as the fuel gauge approaches empty. All 2014 Corolla models except for the Eco version are equipped with a 132-horsepower, 1.8-liter 4-cylinder engine rated to get between 31 and 32 miles per gallon in combined driving, depending on transmission choice. The Corolla Eco model gets a more sophisticated 1.8-liter 4-cylinder engine generating 140 hp and is rated to return between 34 and 35 mpg, depending on the size of the wheels.
The lighter and more powerful 2014 Forte offers a 148-hp, 1.8-liter 4-cylinder in the Forte LX model, while the Forte EX model gets a 173-hp, 2.0-liter 4-cylinder. Regardless of engine or transmission choice, Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) ratings are 28 mpg for the smaller engine and 29 mpg for the larger engine, based on the EPA's combined driving calculation.
If you're looking for the more fuel-efficient car, the 2014 Toyota Corolla is it.
The Toyota Corolla is also the safer vehicle. Equipped with eight airbags and standard Smart Stop Technology that prevents unintended acceleration as long as the driver is stepping on the brake pedal, the Corolla earns high marks in almost every crash-test assessment.
According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), the Corolla earns an overall crash-test rating of five stars, the highest possible. The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) finds that the Corolla provides Good crash protection in most tests. The car gets a Marginal rating in the small overlap frontal-impact test, indicating a need for structural modifications to better protect occupants.
Still, that's better than the disappointing 2014 Kia Forte. The IIHS finds the Kia to perform at a Poor level in the small overlap frontal-impact test, while the Forte earns a Good rating in other assessments. Ratings from the NHTSA aren't impressive, either. While the car gets an overall rating of four stars, in frontal-impact testing the Forte performed at a 2-star level for front passenger protection, which is awful for a newly engineered vehicle. The NHTSA hasn't changed its standards since the 2011 model year, so there's no excuse for this dismal showing.
Where the 2014 Kia Forte clearly excels in relation to the 2014 Toyota Corolla is technology. While it's true that the Corolla comes standard with LED headlights and a USB 2.0 port -- features unavailable for the Forte at any price -- the Kia's subscription-free UVO eServices technology, Digital Jukebox system and FlexSteer steering effort adjustments help to distance it from the Toyota. Plus, Forte buyers can equip the car with a ventilated driver's seat, heated rear seats and a heated steering wheel, making the Kia the more comfortable car in most climates.
In case you're wondering about UVO eServices, it works when a compatible smartphone is paired to the system via Bluetooth, and it offers a range of features including Crash Notification Assist, 911 Connect and a Parking Minder that can help you find the Forte in a crowded parking lot. This is impressive technology for a compact car.
People measure value in different ways, but when it comes to the Kia Forte and the Toyota Corolla, the former delivers a little more of it than the latter. Here's why: The Forte's long warranty and Roadside Assistance Program provide superior ownership peace of mind, though it bears mentioning that the Corolla comes with two years or 25,000 miles of free scheduled maintenance. Still, a few free oil changes and tire rotations don't equate to years of worry-free driving.
Otherwise, the Kia and Toyota are evenly matched. If you're buying, the deals on the Forte are better, typically offering lower interest rates for longer terms or, as an alternative, a cash-back rebate. If you're leasing, the Corolla offers lower payments on a better-equipped version of the car. Both models get an average 3-star depreciation rating from ALG, and both models earn the highest rating from Consumer Reports for overall cost of ownership.
Measured in terms of the things that people say they care most about when buying a new car, the 2014 Kia Forte and the 2014 Toyota Corolla are equally appealing. However, we're going to recommend the Corolla over the Forte for one simple reason, and that's crash protection.