2020 Kia Forte

#14
in Sedans
2020 MODEL
$17,790 - $21,990
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2020 Kia Forte Complete In-depth Review & Buying Guide

Updated on: March 13, 2020
Tijo Tenson's image

Tijo Tenson

Content Writer

Kia is one such manufacturer that does its homework well before poking any of the game players in a particular segment. It has always focused on the newer generation and so a lot of its offerings mimic it. It follows a bold approach to provide well-rounded packages in all of its cars, which is a very tough feat to achieve in the current competitive automotive world. The 2020 Kia Forte is one such bold offering that brings along a host of features from the segment above and wraps it all up under a drool-worthy price-tag.

For those who aren't aware, Kia is just another "Hyundai" underneath. Based on the same lines, the Forte is a glorified Hyundai Elantra sedan that sits slightly above it in terms of price. Moreover, the Forte also packs slightly more performance under the hood as compared to its sibling car. However, is it just the Elantra that Kia Forte has to worry about to make a mark in this segment? Let's find out!

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Pros

Impressive Fuel Economy

Loads of features from the base up

Intuitive Infotainment Interface

Cons

Mediocre performance

Unsettled ride

What's New?

S trim has been discontinued

EX model gets a Special Edition package with a host of creature comfort features

Revamped cabin for more legroom and cargo space


Features

vehicle bio

base price

$17790

bodystyle

4dr Sedan

passenger capacity

5

drivetrain

FWD

engine type

displacement

122 cu.in.

horsepower

147 hp @ 6200 rpm

torque

132 lbs.-ft. @ 4500 rpm

transmission

6 speed manual

chassis

frame type

Unibody

suspension front

Independent Front Suspension

dimensions

wheelbase

106.3 in.

length

182.7 in.

width

70.9 in.

height

56.5 in.

curb weight

2707 lbs.

ground clearance

5.3 in.

capacity

payload capacity

931 lbs.

performance

zero to 60 mph

8 sec.

fuel economy

city/combined/highway

27/31/37 mpg

ev range

378 mi.

highway range

518 mi.

warranty

basic warranty

5 yr./ 60000 mi.

drivetrain warranty

10 yr./ 100000 mi.

roadside assistance

5 yr./ 60000 mi.


Pictures & Videos

Exterior
Interior
Videos
 2020 Kia Forte Review video
 2020 Kia Forte Detailed Review video

Styles

 2020 Kia Forte in Aurora Black color  2020 Kia Forte in Currant Red color  2020 Kia Forte in Deep Sea Blue color  2020 Kia Forte in Silky Silver color
Aurora Black

Vehicle images are guides only and may not reflect the model's exact specifications/features– exact specifications/features should be confirmed with the seller.

Ratings

Features

8.1

Engine And Performance

8.0

Interior

8.2

7.9

OVERALL RATING

Trims and Configurations

MSRP


 2020 Kia Forte FE

FE

power
147 hp @ 6200 rpm
fuel
Regular unleaded
mpg
35 combined

$17,790 - $18,690


Style Prices MPG Engine Transmission Drivetrain Seats Colors
FE 4dr Sedan (2.0L 4cyl CVT) Starting at $18,690 MSRP (31/35/41) 147 hp @ 6200 rpm, 2 L, Inline 4, regular unleaded
continuously variable-speed automatic front wheel drive 5
FE 4dr Sedan (2.0L 4cyl 6M) Starting at $17,790 MSRP (27/31/37) 147 hp @ 6200 rpm, 2 L, Inline 4, regular unleaded
6-speed manual front wheel drive 5

 2020 Kia Forte LXS

LXS

power
147 hp @ 6200 rpm
fuel
Regular unleaded
mpg
33 combined

$19,190


Style Prices MPG Engine Transmission Drivetrain Seats Colors
LXS 4dr Sedan (2.0L 4cyl CVT) Starting at $19,190 MSRP (29/33/40) 147 hp @ 6200 rpm, 2 L, Inline 4, regular unleaded
continuously variable-speed automatic front wheel drive 5

 2020 Kia Forte GT-Line

GT-Line

power
147 hp @ 6200 rpm
fuel
Regular unleaded
mpg
33 combined

$20,390


Style Prices MPG Engine Transmission Drivetrain Seats Colors
GT-Line 4dr Sedan (2.0L 4cyl CVT) Starting at $20,390 MSRP (29/33/40) 147 hp @ 6200 rpm, 2 L, Inline 4, regular unleaded
continuously variable-speed automatic front wheel drive 5

 2020 Kia Forte EX

EX

power
147 hp @ 6200 rpm
fuel
Regular unleaded
mpg
33 combined

$21,990


Style Prices MPG Engine Transmission Drivetrain Seats Colors
EX 4dr Sedan (2.0L 4cyl CVT) Starting at $21,990 MSRP (29/33/40) 147 hp @ 6200 rpm, 2 L, Inline 4, regular unleaded
continuously variable-speed automatic front wheel drive 5

Expert Review

7.9

Overall Rating


The Forte incorporates all the demands of a modern-day consumer and provides it in a desirable bundle. A humble 2.0L, naturally aspirated inline-four motor powers this sleek machine that pumps out a modest 147 horses and 132-pound feet of torque. You get to choose between a manual or CVT gearbox and this choice is applicable even on the base trim.

You are treated to one of the most lavish feature-laden sedans in its class for under $18k, which deserves a dilated pupil. This wholesome Kia faces a host of worthy competition which includes the modern Mazda3, the reliable Toyota Corolla and the very similar Hyundai Elantra. Let’s see which one of these well-rounded sedans are worth it.

2020 Kia Forte Sedan Front View
2020 Kia Forte Sedan Rear View

8.1/10
Features

 

8.0/10
Engine and Performance

 
 

8.2/10
Interior

 
 
 
 
 

2020 Kia Forte Features

8.1/10

The compact Forte is available in four trims for 2020. The S trim has been discontinued for this year and so we are now left with three brim-packed trims that are much more desirable than before. The base FE trim marks the starting of the Forte lineup at $17,790 which is unheard of in this segment, thus undercutting all of its competitors. You are also treated with a GT-Line trim which gives you a taste of the bonkers GT line-up which is a whole different breed with its turbocharged engine and amplified driving dynamics.

Kia is generous with its feature list as it has one of the best features to price proposition in this segment. You are treated to a host of safety features along with an array of creature comfort features which also includes steering mounted controls for cruise control. All of the trims are equally desirable, enough to get you confused!

Trims

FE

LXS

GT-Line

EX

MSRP

$17,790

$19,190

$20,390

$21,990

Features

Optional CVT Gearbox

All the features in FE trim added or replaced and:

All the features in LXS trim added or replaced and:

All the features in LXS and GT-Line trim added or replaced and:

 

15-inch steel wheels

16-inch alloy wheels

17-inch alloy wheels

17-inch alloy wheels

 

DRLs

60/40 Split-Folding Seats

Black Trunk lid spoiler

LED DRLs

 

Projector headlamps

CVT Gearbox

Front Fog lights

Heated Outside Mirrors

 

Solar Control Glass

Chrome exhaust tip

Heated Outside Mirrors

Dual-Zone Automatic Temperature Control

 

4-Speaker Audio System

Drive Mode Select(DMS)

6-Way Adjustable Driver’s seat

Adjustable rear headrests

 

3.5-Inch TFT LCD Display

Soft-touch upper door panels

Perimeter Approach lighting

10-Way Power Adjustable Driver Seat

 

Android Auto and Apple CarPlay

Black bumper accents

6-Speaker Audio System

Heated Front seats

 

Cruise control with steering controls

 

Leather-wrapped steering wheel

 
 

Leather-wrapped steering wheel

 

LED Taillamps

 
 

Day-Night Interior Rearview Mirror

     

Which wholesome trim should you go for?

We would recommend you to go all out with the Kia Forte. The EX trim which isn’t on the pricey end despite the number of insane features on offer will surely get you drooling. You get a competent sedan that will even put the so-called premium sedans in this segment to shame at just under $22k.

2020 Kia Forte Engine and Performance

8.0/10

The 2.0L inline-four engine doesn't complement the smooth and slick 6-Speed manual transmission. This pot pumps out moderate power figures which can get you from point A to B and that's about it. The only involving part about this engine is the gearbox. You can also opt for an optional CVT gearbox for the base trim which is standard on the higher ones.

2020 Kia Forte Sedan Has a 2.0L I4 Engine

The CVT is smooth and vaguely responsive which is not the case with CVTs in general, especially in this segment. This gives the Kia Forte an edge over its competition. The CVT gearbox helps squeeze the utmost potential of the engine without compromising on the fuel efficiency front. The three driving modes, namely-Normal, Sport and Comfort help alter the driving characteristics to best suit your needs. A very impressive and a drool-worthy addition from Kia.

Models

Kia Forte FE

Hyundai Elantra SE

Toyota Corolla L

Mazda 3 Base

MSRP

$17,790

$18,950

$19,600

$21,500

Engine

2.0L I4

2.0L I4

1.8L I4

2.5L I4

Transmission

6-Speed Manual

CVT

CVT

6-Speed Automatic

Horsepower

147 hp

@ 6200 rpm

147 hp

@ 6200 rpm

139 hp

@ 6100 rpm

186 hp

@ 6000 rpm

Torque

132 lb-ft

@ 4500 rpm

132 lb-ft

@ 4500 rpm

126 lb-ft

@ 3900 rpm

186 lb-ft

@ 4000 rpm

Hyundai Elantra is technically a Kia Forte underneath. As both are derivatives of a single product, the only difference between them is in the cabin and exterior styling. Toyota Corolla bottoms the list with the least power output, however, its expertise lies elsewhere. Mazda 3 takes the podium here.

Also read:

If not the Forte, then which Kia packs a good punch under its hood?

Is the Kia Forte trustworthy?

How quick is the Kia Forte from 0-60?

The acceleration figures below are of the manual gearbox equipped Forte. The CVT will add a few 100th of seconds to this time but won't make much of a difference. The 16.4-second quarter-mile time is rather moderate. The acceleration is linear and comfortable. It won't really pop your eyes out - it's just okay. However, the same cannot be said for the Forte's evil twin - The Kia Forte GT.

2020 Kia Forte Sedan 0-60 MPH In just 8.2 sec

The occupants will not feel the rush and thus reward you with a relaxed and comfortable experience. It amplifies the passenger comfort without being too sluggish, thanks to the impressive CVT gearbox. On the other hand, if anyone challenges you on the freeway, we'd suggest you give it a pass.

Models

Kia Forte FE

Hyundai Elantra SE

Toyota Corolla L

Mazda 3 Base

0-60 MPH

8.2 s

9.0 s

9.8 s

7.0 s

Quarter mile

16.4 s

16.2 s

17.4 s

15.2 s

Emission (Tons/yr of CO2 Emissions @ 15k mi/yr)

4.8

4.3

4.4

4.9

All of the contenders manage to minimize the emissions without sacrificing the performance. It is interesting to observe the major variations in 0-60 and quarter-mile timings for the very similar Kia Forte and Hyundai Elantra. The engineering outlook is clearly evident from these figures. Toyota Corolla gets handicapped due to its mediocre engine and power figures.

How well does the 2020 Forte handle?

With the world's expectations from the daily driver cars to be pushed to their limits is growing day by day, Kia has clearly taken care of this. The Kia Forte uses a steel unibody which has a lot of stress members that eliminate distresses on the body with ease. This helps the occupants to travel peacefully and be in their comfort zone without feeling the jolts. Electrically assisted power steering is precise in its reaction to inputs and helps sync the driver with the car instantaneously. Although the steering lacks feel, the responsiveness helps mask the demerit.

2020 Kia Forte Sedan Rear View

MacPherson struts and torsion beam axle with twin shocks take care of Forte's suspension business. Not really the best in this segment as the ride tends to unsettle with quick maneuvers. Kia has a more driving oriented GT line-up which drastically improves the driving dynamics so that the enthusiast in you can have his part. So, the Kia Forte is a mixed bag in terms of ride and handling.

Also read:

How does the Elantra feel behind the wheel?

Where does the Mazda 3 stack up on the handling front?

How much distance does it take for the Forte to stop from 60-0?

Kia has equipped the Forte with disc brakes on all four wheels, a lavish sight in this segment as many of the sedans in this segment comes with rear drum brakes. The rotors are among the largest in this segment and it also translates to a good bite.

The stopping distance is impressive as the 118 feet to a standstill is linear and doesn’t involve any abrupt movement. No nose dive at all as the car sits lower and the suspension does an impressive job of eliminating or minimizing yaw - unlike some better-established rivals here like the Honda Civic, that focus more on plush ride quality, thus inviting a lot of nosedive in extreme situations.

Models

Kia Forte FE

Hyundai Elantra SE

Toyota Corolla L

Mazda 3 Base

Brake Front (in.)

11.0

11.0

10.8

11.0

Brake Rear (in.)

10.3

8.0(drum)

10.2

10.4

60-0 MPH (ft)

118

125

119

118

Mazda 3 has slightly bigger brakes but that doesn’t bring in any major changes as it has the exact same stopping distance as the Kia. Hyundai Elantra is the only one of the lot which is equipped with rear drums and thus takes the maximum distance to come to halt.

2020 Kia Forte Fuel Economy

The efficient 2.0L engine helps chuck out good MPG figures for the Kia. We have similar figures for both the manual and CVT gearboxes. The below figures are of the manual one. CVT returns 31/41 MPG for city/highway.

The range is moderate and can sustain a decent weekend trip for your family. The drive mode selector helps maximize efficiency as per your driving needs. It helps the vehicle adapt to your driving style and keep performance and efficiency at its peak.

Models

Kia Forte FE

Hyundai Elantra SE

Toyota Corolla L

Mazda 3 Base

MPG (city)

27

31

30

26

MPG (highway)

37

41

38

35

MPG (combined)

31

35

33

30

Fuel Tank Capacity (Gal.)

14.0

14.0

13.2

13.2

Range

(City/Highway)

378/518

434/574

396/502

343/462

We can observe the difference in efficiency figures for a very similar car, namely, Kia Forte and Hyundai Elantra. Elantra has an edge here as the CVT in it is solely focused on efficiency unlike the balanced character of Kia. Mazda 3 and Corolla have marginally fewer MPG figures because of a bump in performance and added curb weight respectively.

Also Read:

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See what Fortune Magazine has to say about Toyota.

2020 Kia Forte Interior

8.2/10

Kia Forte is a very mature sedan in terms of interior styling. It has a very minimalistic design that is filled with superior materials. There are no hard plastics and the cabin is airy. The dashboard is well laid out with tactile buttons and a host of modern technology features which includes a floating center infotainment screen.

2020 Kia Forte Sedan Front Seats

Both the rows are comfortable in terms of seating and are well-bolstered with ample thigh support. The front seats pretty much adhere to the segment standards, however, the rear ones take things up a notch with stupendous passenger volume on all sides. The base model gets cloth upholstery and can lavishly seat four adults. As we go up the table, you get heated and cooled SOFINO trimming on the seats. In case you are unaware, SOFINO is the Kia specific term for high-quality artificial leather. All in all, an impressive yet interactive layout of the interior by Kia for the Forte.

Models

Kia Forte FE

Hyundai Elantra SE

Toyota Corolla L

Mazda 3 Base

Front (Head/Shoulder/Leg) (In.)

38.8/56.1/42.2

40.3/56.2/42.2

38.3/54.0/42.0

38.0/55.7/42.3

Second (Head/Shoulder/Leg) (In.)

37.5/55.3/35.7

37.3/55.3/35.7

37.1/51.7/34.8

37.3/53.5/35.1

The dual-zone automatic climate control keeps you cozy on those long journeys without breaking a sweat and the seats hold up for long durations as well. Hyundai has taken a different approach as they have given more weight for the cabin. It has a tad bit more headroom and legroom, although this comes in with a sacrificial cargo room. Mazda 3 features a very low roofline and so suffers in the headroom parameter. Kia stills has the most spacious cabin of the lot due to the clever use of seat design.

What are the infotainment features on offer in the 2020 Kia Forte?

Kia Forte has a floating 8-inch crisp LCD infotainment display that fills up the center of the dashboard - a familiar offering all across the Kia family. The base trim gets a four-speaker system whereas higher trims add two more to it. Android Auto and Apple CarPlay are standard and we are grateful for it. The instrument cluster also has an integrated TFT LCD display that displays technical data in a crisp and intuitive manner.

It also gets Kia’s in-house hands-free smartphone integration which makes usage of your phones much easier. Kia also gives you the privilege to opt for a 320W 8-Speaker Harman Kardon Audio System with an integrated subwoofer. This subwoofer is stuffed beneath the rear bench, so fret not, as it doesn't really take up any usable space. That said, the basic features associated with the infotainment system of the 2020 Kia Forte are:

  • 6-Speaker Audio System
  • 8-inch infotainment display
  • Apple CarPlay and Android Auto
  • Bluetooth Hands-Free Connectivity and audio

How much cargo can the Forte take in?

Cargo volume is class-leading in the Kia Forte. This is possible due to the smart cabin space management which has helped to squeeze out more cargo space. It is evident from the fact that its twin, the Elantra gets lesser cargo volume despite being the exact same in terms of dimensions.

2020 Kia Forte Trunk

The 60/40 split rear foldable seats add to the cargo volume and can help transport larger objects with ease. But you will have to get past the base trim for split seats. Nevertheless, Forte has one of the largest cargo compartments in its class.

Models

Kia Forte FE

Hyundai Elantra SE

Toyota Corolla L

Mazda 3 Base

Cargo Volume (cu.-ft)

15.3

14.4

13.1

13.2

Kia also offers a hands-free power trunk which can come in handy when your hands are full! It opens up if you have the smart key in its vicinity. Toyota has the least cargo volume due to its smaller shape which is followed by Mazda’s 3.

Also Read:

Is the Elantra as good as the Forte inside?

What makes the Toyota Corolla a segment-leader?

Interior Features

  • 10-Way Power Adjust Driver’s Seat
  • 5-inch TFT LCD Display
  • 6-Way Adjustable Front passenger seat
  • 60/40 Split-Folding Rear Seats
  • Cruise Control with Steering wheel controls
  • Dual 12V outlets
  • Leather Wrapped Steering Wheel
  • Drive Mode Select (DMS)
  • SOFINO Seat trimming
  • Heated Front Seats
2020 Kia Forte Sedan Interior
2020 Kia Forte Sedan Interior
2020 Kia Forte Sedan Interior
2020 Kia Forte Sedan Interior
2020 Kia Forte Sedan Interior
2020 Kia Forte Sedan Interior
2020 Kia Forte Sedan Interior
2020 Kia Forte Sedan Interior
2020 Kia Forte Sedan Interior
2020 Kia Forte Sedan Interior

2020 Kia Forte Exterior

Kia has adopted a striking design philosophy that resembles the rest of the Kia lineup. We don’t blame you for confusing the Forte with the Stinger as they have a lot of resemblances. The front fascia, for example, flaunts the Kia-centric grille that gives it a sporty touch.

2020 Kia Forte Sedan Three Quarter View

The simple lines and healthy shoulder lines are complemented by 17-inch alloy wheels which gives the Forte a very distinctive look. The front LED DRLs are housed along with projector headlamps which differentiates it from the crowd. It has an overall clean design language that isn’t too edgy but adds sportiness to the humble sedan.

Models

Kia Forte FE

Hyundai Elantra SE

Toyota Corolla L

Mazda 3 Base

Length (in)

182.7

181.9

182.3

183.5

Width (in)

70.9

70.9

70.1

70.7

Height (in)

56.5

56.5

56.5

56.9

Ground clearance (in)

5.3

5.3

5.1

5.5

Wheelbase (in)

106.3

106.3

106.3

107.3

Track width (in) F/R

61.5/61.9

61.5/61.9

60.3/60.4

61.7/62.2

Curb weight (lbs)

2707

2844

2910

3071

The cousins share exactly the same dimensions but differ in design language which makes all the difference. Toyota Corolla is the compact one of the lot and Mazda 3 flaunts its bold and youthful design language in the largest package of the lot.

Exterior Features

  • 17-inch alloy wheels
  • Auto Headlight Control
  • Trunk lid spoiler
  • Daytime Running Lights (DRLs)
  • Chrome Exhaust tip
  • Heated Outside Mirrors
  • LED Taillamps
  • Projector headlamps
  • Solar Control Glass

Also Read:

Is it just looks or is the Kia Forte actually well-built too?

Is the Hyundai Elantra as reliable as its sibling - The Kia Forte?

2020 Kia Forte Sedan Exterior
2020 Kia Forte Sedan Exterior
2020 Kia Forte Sedan Exterior
2020 Kia Forte Sedan Exterior
2020 Kia Forte Sedan Exterior
2020 Kia Forte Sedan Exterior
2020 Kia Forte Sedan Exterior
2020 Kia Forte Sedan Exterior
2020 Kia Forte Sedan Exterior
2020 Kia Forte Sedan Exterior

2020 Kia Forte Safety

Kia has been generous to load the Forte with an impressive list of standard safety features. No other sedan in this segment dares offer so many of them. Standard features like rearview camera, lane departure warning, and driver attention features are a rare sight in base trims. The NHTSA was impressed by the Forte and gave it a healthy four out of five stars - thanks to the high-tensile steel unibody structure that gets the credit for such an impressive result.

Apart from the above-mentioned features, the Forte also gets adaptive LED headlamps and a host of passive safety features as we move up the trim. No compromise on safety here.

Safety Features

  • 4-Dual Stage Airbags
  • Driver Attention Warning(DAW)
  • Forward Collision Warning(FCW)
  • Forward Collision-Avoidance Assist (FCA)
  • Lane Departure Warning(LDW)
  • Electronic Stability Control(ESC)
  • Hill Start Assist Control (HAC)
  • Tire Pressure Monitoring System(TPMS)

To know more on the safety front of the Kia Forte, click here.

2020 Kia Forte Competition

Kia Forte vs Hyundai Elantra

Meet the twins. Kia, as we know, is a part of the Hyundai family. So this rivalry is in house and so is a win-win situation for the company. But jokes apart, these two cars show us how two very same cars can be so very different. Kia has loaded its offering with a host of standard safety features and a more responsive CVT gearbox. The manual gearbox is a sweet addition from Kia again. We would not take the Kia for granted and so Forte is our choice here.

2020 Hyundai Elantra

Kia Forte vs Toyota Corolla

Toyota provides very reliable machines which we guarantee will never give you a hard time. But it dulls out in all of the other aspects which makes the Kia Forte a very desirable car. The Toyota Corolla has better driving dynamics, undoubtedly, but the CVT gearbox nullifies that boon. In fact, there are not many cars that provide you with such a feature-packed bundle, which the Kia Forte is.

2020 Toyota Corolla

Kia Forte vs Mazda 3

Now Mazda has really done its homework and observed the market closely. There is no other way that they could pull something like the 3 from its pocket. It is everything that the Kia provides, just with much more attitude in terms of bold modern styling and tech-laden features. However, the Mazda 3 has one of the most cramped rear seats of the class and falls behind in terms of comfort. But it still impresses us as a very economical luxury alternate which is shocking for this segment.

2020 Mazda 3

Also Read:

Heart stuck on the Toyota Corolla? See how much will it cost you.

Is the Hyundai Elantra less expensive to live with?

2020 Kia Forte Final Verdict

Kia has a winner in its hands as there aren't many sedans in this class that provides us with the level of involvement in terms of driving as well as features. In fact, other manufacturers should look up to Kia and learn a thing or two. It has a balanced blend of performance, safety features, comfort, and design. Kia has gone through all of the syllabus and thus fared very well in this examination. An impressive car at an impressive price point.