The Kia Forte reminds us of the well-known saying “champagne taste on a beer budget.” For car buyers with that mindset, the 2022 Forte offers styling and equipment that’s reminiscent of the Stinger sports sedan at a much more affordable price. Unfortunately, the Stinger’s winning performance isn’t part of the package. Instead, the Forte offers middling acceleration from a standard 147-hp four-cylinder and a chassis that’s tuned more for comfort than for sporty driving. A more powerful 201-hp GT model sits atop the lineup, but it’s not quite aggressive enough to hound performance-oriented alternatives such as the Honda Civic Si, Mazda 3, the Volkswagen Jetta GLI. But for buyers who couldn’t care less about performance and just want to maximize value, the Forte offers a lot to like.
What’s New for 2022?
For 2022 the Forte debuts a refreshed look, complete with revised front and rear bumpers, a new grille, updated exterior lighting elements, and new wheel designs. Inside, a new 10.3-inch infotainment touchscreen is optional and a host of new driver-assistance features are updated. All models now come standard with a lane-following assist system; the optional adaptive cruise control system now offers a feature that uses navigation data to adjust speed based on posted speed limits and it can also slow the the car in preparation for curves. Wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto are now standard features, a USB charging port can be added in the rear of the cabin, and the Forte’s center console has been reworked to accommodate a new electronic parking brake with auto hold.
Pricing and Which One to Buy
We’d select the more powerful and sportier GT model. Not only does the GT come with a 201-hp turbocharged four-cylinder, which provides much quicker acceleration, it also ditches the Forte’s standard continuously variable automatic transmission (CVT) for either a seven-speed dual clutch or a six-speed manual. The GT also comes nearly loaded with all manner of luxury and convenience items, including 18-inch wheels, sport seats, ambient interior lighting, and a wireless smartphone charging pad.
Engine, Transmission, and Performance
The Forte offers two different engine options: a 2.0-liter four-cylinder with 147 horsepower and a turbocharged 1.6-liter four-cylinder with 201 horsepower. The 2.0-liter felt sluggish when we tested it, and the continuously variable automatic transmission (CVT) didn’t help. The non-turbocharged engine required 8.2 seconds to motivate the Forte from zero to 60 mph at our test track—notably slower than the Mazda 3, which got there in 7.0 seconds. The optional 201-hp turbocharged engine, however, puts the Forte GT in the same league as the Volkswagen Golf GTI and Civic Si—in theory, at least. At our test track, a manual transmission-equipped GT test car managed a 6.7-second run to 60 mph, slightly off the pace of those two memorable performers. The Forte offers a comfortable and stable ride, but its handling isn’t as exciting as its Stinger-inspired exterior styling would suggest, even in the sportier GT model. In fact, when hustling the Forte in a recent comparison test against the Civic Si and the Jetta GLI, we found ourselves working harder in the Forte to keep up with the rest of the pack.
Fuel Economy and Real-World MPG
The Forte, specifically those equipped with the less powerful engine and automatic transmission, will keep drivers cruising past gas stations. With a highway efficiency of 40 mpg and a combined fuel economy of 33 mpg, this is where the Forte excels. If you opt for the GT with the dual-clutch transmission, the combined fuel economy drops to 30 mpg. In our 200-mile highway fuel-economy test, the 2019 Forte registered 41 mpg, which is a little better than the EPA rating. For more information about the Forte’s fuel economy, visit the EPA’s website.
Interior, Comfort, and Cargo
The interior of this car impressed us with its minimalist design and high-quality and upscale materials. The back seat is spacious enough for two adults to be comfortable, and long road trips in the Forte can be made without complaint. The base model offers all the basic amenities, but things get more pleasant as you work up through the various models. Dual-zone automatic climate control is optional, for example, as are heated and ventilated front seats. With all the seats up, the Forte fit seven carry-on bags, one more than both of its key rivals, the Toyota Corolla and the Honda Civic.
Infotainment and Connectivity
The 2022 Forte is a steal given its available—even down to the base model. An 8.0-inch infotainment touchscreen with Bluetooth and wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto is standard but GT-Line and GT trims come with a larger 10.3-inch display with in-dash navigation and SiriusXM satellite radio. All models come with a secondary 4.2-inch color display between the gauges, and a wireless smartphone charging pad is an option.
Safety and Driver-Assistance Features
Kia offers a handful of standard and optional driver-assistance features, including an optional adaptive cruise control feature that uses navigation to predict upcoming curves in the road and slows the car’s speed in preparation for the turns. For more information about the Forte’s crash-test results, visit the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) and Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) websites. Key safety features include:
- Standard forward-collision warning with automated emergency braking
- Standard lane-departure warning with lane-keeping assist
- Available adaptive cruise control with lane-following assist
Warranty and Maintenance Coverage
Kia’s powertrain warranty sets it apart from most other manufacturers, with most offering just 5-year/60,000-mile warranties. The Forte and the Elantra—from its corporate sibling, Hyundai—are the only compact cars that offer this much standard coverage.
- Limited warranty covers 5 years or 60,000 miles
- Powertrain warranty covers 10 years or 100,000 miles
- No complimentary scheduled maintenance