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2021 Kia Forte

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Used Car Price Range
$12,845 - $20,998
$12,845 $20,998
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2021 FE 4dr Sedan w/ Manual
most popular
Price:   -  From $17,890
2021 FE 4dr Sedan w/ CVT Price:   -  From $18,790
2021 LXS 4dr Sedan w/ CVT Price:   -  From $19,390
2021 GT-Line 4dr Sedan w/ CVT Price:   -  From $20,490
2021 GT 4dr Sedan w/ CVT Price:   -  From $22,790
2021 EX 4dr Sedan w/ CVT Price:   -  From $23,090
2021 GT 4dr Sedan w/ Manual Price:   -  From $23,390
Expert Rating
3.1 (Good)

Our expert ratings are based on seven comprehensive criteria: quality, safety, comfort, performance, fuel economy, reliability history and value.

You can interpret our ratings in the following way:

: Outstanding vehicle. Only the most exceptional vehicles achieve this rating.

: Very Good vehicle. Very good and close to being the best vehicle in its class.

: Good vehicle. Decent, but not quite the best. Often affordable, but lacking key features found in vehicles of the same class.

: Below average vehicle. Not recommended, and lacking attributes a car buyer would come to expect for the price.

: Poor vehicle. Simply does not deserve to be on the road.

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What's New

The 2021 Kia Forte enters another year on the market with minimal changes. The current version of the compact sedan debuted in 2019 and it added a sprightly GT model last year.

The Forte has maintained a strong sales presence despite the shift away from conventional sedans.

Choosing Your Kia Forte

The Forte is offered in five trim levels: FE, LXS, GT-Line, GT, and EX. Pricing starts at $18,855 including destination for the base FE model and climbs to $24,055 for the EX.

Engine Choices

Most Forte models carry a 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine, but the GT gets a 1.6-liter turbocharged four-cylinder for quick performance.

Engine TypeHorsepowerTorqueFuel Economy (Combined)
2.0L 4-Cylinder147 hp132 lb-ft33 mpg
1.6L Turbo 4-Cylinder201 hp195 lb-ft30 mpg

The base FE comes standard with a six-speed manual transmission, while the rest of the trims with the 2.0-liter engine get a continuously variable transmission (CVT). The CVT is a $900 upgrade on the FE.

The GT starts with a seven-speed dual-clutch automatic gearbox, but the six-speed manual is available for $600.

Front-wheel is standard; all-wheel drive isn't available.

Passenger and Cargo Capacity

The Forte makes the most of its compact dimension, providing legitimate room for five people. At 15.3 cubic feet, trunks space ranks at the top of this class.

Kia Forte

Safety Features

Every Forte comes equipped with lane keeping assist, lane departure warning, driver alertness monitoring, forward collision warning, and automatic emergency braking.

Stepping up to the GT-Line brings blind-spot monitoring, lane change assist, and rear cross-traffic alert. The range-topping GT model adds automatic high beams and rear parking sensors.

Only the GT with the automatic transmission is available with adaptive cruise control, but it's hidden in the $2,000 GT2 Package.


The FE and LXS carry an 8-inch touchscreen, four audio speakers, one USB port, and Apple CarPlay and Android Auto compatibility. The GT-Line and GT get six audio speakers.

The EX emphasizes connectivity above the other trims, adding navigation, HD radio, a second front USB ports, and eight-speaker Harman Kardon audio system, and a wireless phone charger.

On the GT-Line, the GT-Line Premium Package ($1,700) includes all of those features except the navigation and wireless charger. The GT's GT2 Package ($2,000) includes all of those EX features but navigation.

Kia Forte

FE - From $18,855

The FE provides the basics, like keyless entry, cloth seating, six-way manual front seats, manual climate control, cruise control, and automatic headlights. The FE rolls on 15-inch steel wheels with full covers.

LXS - From $20,355

The LXS feels more like a complete car thanks to upgrades such as a split-folding rear seat, soft trim on the upper door panels, gloss black exterior accents, and 16-inch machine-finish alloy wheels.

Remote start becomes available for $495.

GT-Line - $21,455

The GT-Line takes on a sportier appearance with black-accented 17-inch wheels and a leather-wrapped sport steering wheel. Other additions include LED taillights and fog lights, push button start, and heated side mirrors with turn signal indicators. Seats are clad in a mix of leatherette and cloth with white stitching.

The GT-Line Premium Package ($1,700) adds a sunroof, LED interior lighting, a 10-way power driver seat, and the aforementioned infotainment upgrades.

GT - $23,655

The GT combines the appearance of the GT-Line with the turbocharged engine. To complement the extra power, the GT gets a sport-tuned suspension, 18-inch two-tone wheels, and dual exhaust outlets. LED headlights, automatic high beams, and leatherette and cloth upholstery with red stitching are exclusive to the GT.

Only models equipped with the manual transmission come standard with a sunroof, Michelen summer tires, and a 4.2-inch driver information display.

On GT trims with the automatic gearbox, the GT2 Package ($2,000) includes a sunroof, the Harman Kardon audio system, adaptive cruise control, a 10-way power driver's seat, wireless charging, heated and ventilated front seats, and more.

EX - $24,055

The most luxurious member of the Forte family, the EX has a sunroof, full leatherette interior, heated and ventilated front seats, a 10-way power driver seat, dual-zone automatic climate control, a sliding front armrest, and rear air vents. Outside are 17-inch machine-finish wheels and chrome window surrounds.

Compare Forte Trims Side-By-Side

CarsDirect Tip

Most buyers will find the 2021 Kia Forte FE too austere by today's standards, leaving the LXS as the actual base model. In terms of car for the money, the EX wins by virtue of its abundant standard equipment. However, if performance really matters, only the GT will do.

author image
Automotive Editor
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Expert Review

  • Pricing undercuts competitors
  • Has good safety features
  • GT trim is definitely sporty
  • Base engine fails to impress
  • CVT lacks responsiveness
  • Elantra has more rear legroom
Expert Rating
3.1 (Good)

Our expert ratings are based on seven comprehensive criteria: quality, safety, comfort, performance, fuel economy, reliability history and value.

You can interpret our ratings in the following way:

: Outstanding vehicle. Only the most exceptional vehicles achieve this rating.

: Very Good vehicle. Very good and close to being the best vehicle in its class.

: Good vehicle. Decent, but not quite the best. Often affordable, but lacking key features found in vehicles of the same class.

: Below average vehicle. Not recommended, and lacking attributes a car buyer would come to expect for the price.

: Poor vehicle. Simply does not deserve to be on the road.

author image
Automotive Editor

Good but not great. Small sedans like the Kia Forte are finding themselves less popular than ever now that crossovers reign over every segment of the market. That has led to numerous popular compacts being discontinued - most notably, the Chevrolet Cruze and Ford Focus.

On one hand, that should be good for cars like the Forte, which now finds itself in a market with less players than ever. But the double-edged sword of less competition is that the remaining few - in this case, stalwarts like the luxury-sporting Mazda 3 and all-star Honda Civic - raise the bar that much higher. When all your rivals exist within the winner's circle, that bar is high indeed.

And that's the predicament of the Kia Forte. Beneath its innocuous design is a strong value that's anchored by its pleasant interior and long list of standard technology. But it falls short in key areas like refinement and roominess. Simply put, the Forte is a good car among great cars.

Cheap but not cheerful. Most Fortes use a 2.0-liter four-cylinder that isn't turbocharged. Total output is a modest 147 horsepower, which amounts to a 0-60 mph time on the wrong side of eight seconds. It moans and groans the entire time. At least it's efficient: it can get up to 41 mpg on the highway in base FE trim, while middle trims return 29 mpg city, 40 highway, and 33 combined.

Its lethargy is exaggerated by the CVT transmission that is standard on all but the base FE trim. We've driven a number of CVTs at this point; though early ones were crude, the latest versions have been massaged into genuinely decent transmissions. The Forte, though, still comes off as undercooked. It hesitates to simulate downshifts, and when it does finally decide to oblige the result is more noise than perceptible acceleration. We'd rather have the six-speed manual, but it's only available with the base FE or the sporty, turbocharged GT (which we'll get to in a minute).

The ride quality is notably better than the powertrain's refinement. Especially on the lower-trim models, bumps are smoothed out nicely. This isn't always the case with cheap compacts.

Compared to the competition, however, a decent ride can't outweigh the other refinement concerns. A base Honda Civic is smoother, the base Mazda 3 is faster, and both don't suffer the sort of torque steer and lateral instability that plagues the Forte during sharp maneuvers.

With a little engine and chassis tweaking, the standard Forte could equal its rivals for refinement - but for now the behind-the-wheel experience leaves us underwhelmed.

Kia Forte

Sporty, promising GT. While the base car has us uninspired, that isn't the case with the GT, the special turbocharged trim that boasts 201 horsepower from its 1.6-liter four. The upgrades go beyond slapping a turbo on the base engine: the GT also features a dual-clutch automatic, an independent rear suspension - the other models use a torsion beam setup - a flat-bottomed steering wheel, and an available six-speed manual.

All those upgrades amount to a faster, smoother, more enjoyable Forte, making it our easy favorite of the Forte lineup. 0-60 mph takes a respectable 6.7 seconds, and during any sort of acceleration the engine feels more responsive and willing. It feels like an eager four-door disciple of the hot-hatch icons that's now out for the Jetta GLI and Civic Si.

Still, not all is perfect with the GT; we're talking specifically about the dual-clutch automatic Kia chose to make standard. Driven hard, this gearbox is predictable and enjoyable, snapping off hard, fast shifts like the best dual-clutch units. The problem is in more normal conditions. Crawling around through town, it feels indecisive. More than once it seemed to engage a gear, then backtrack, then revert and reengage the gear it initially chose. Needless to say, we weren't amused.

Driven hard, the GT is a fun little number, and even around town we like the 1.6-liter engine and the dialed-in chassis. It also costs a good $3,000 or so less than a Honda Civic Si and nearly $5,000 less than a Jetta GLI; at that sort of discount, the Forte GT feels like a steal. But please do yourself a favor and buy the manual, as the dual-clutch is not yet ready for prime-time.

Pleasant interior, okay space. The Forte is more than its powertrains, though - a lot more. The value of the Forte lies in its cabin, where lots of technology, some surprising available features, and plenty of safety gear are all accounted for.

Considering the price - which, at $19,000 to $23,000, undercuts its competitors by a substantial margin - the Forte offers a contemporary cabin featuring an attractive design. Yes, there's a fair amount of hard plastics, but that isn't out of scope for the segment. What impresses us more is the eye towards ergonomics and style. And besides, higher trims use lots of high-grade materials that help disguise the Forte's price point.

The base model is certainly spartan - it doesn't even feature a split-folding rear seat - but it does get an 8.0-inch touchscreen with standard Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. Most competitors open their lineup with a 7.0-inch touchscreen - with the Subaru Impreza claiming the smallest screen at 6.5 inches - so the bigger screen and its intuitive software get our nod of approval.

Also standard? Automatic emergency braking, active lane control, and a driver attention monitor. All trims aside from the bottom two get blind-spot monitors as well. Adaptive cruise is available, but it isn't standard even on the top-of-the-line EX.

Our biggest quibble with the Forte's interior regards back-seat space - namely, the lack of it. 35 or so inches of legroom shouldn't bother us too much, but we wonder why the Kia got gypped when its corporate cousin, the Hyundai Elantra, features 38 inches of second-row legroom. As for the competition, the Jetta and the Civic each offer 37 inches of legroom.

At least the Forte has 15 cubic feet of trunk, making it relatively massive once you realize a full-size sedan typically has about 16 cubic feet of cargo space.

Final thoughts. The Forte has matured into a decent compact that provides a stellar value when you consider the level of technology and safety for the price. Unfortunately, we're less enamored with the base powertrain and dual-clutch automatic, both of which need to spend a little more time with the engineers. If you can live with the mechanical idiosyncrasies, however, the Forte is worth shopping against the better-known names in the segment.

Check prices for the 2021 Kia Forte »

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Specs & Features

Overall Crash Safety Rating
Engine - Cylinders/Horsepower/Torque
2.0L I-4 / 147 HP / 132 ft.lbs.
6-spd man w/OD
Drive Type
Fuel Economy - City/Highway/Combined
27 / 37 / 32 Mpg
Passenger Capacity
Bumper to Bumper Warranty
60 Months / 60,000 Miles
Mechanical Specs
Engine - Cylinders/Horsepower/Torque
2.0L I-4 / 147 HP / 132 ft.lbs.
Drive Type
Fuel Economy - City/Hwy/Combined
27 / 37 / 32 Mpg
4-wheel Disc
Front Suspension
Rear Suspension
Semi-independent Torsion Beam Beam
Spare Tire And Wheel
Fuel Tank
14.0 Gal.
Recommended Fuel Type
Regular Unleaded
Average Cost To Fill Tank
Dimensions & Capabilities
Maximum Cargo Volume
15.3 Cu.ft.
Passenger Volume
96 Cu.ft.
Exterior Length
182.7 "
Exterior Width
70.9 "
Exterior Height
56.5 "
Front Headroom
38.8 "
Rear Headroom
37.5 "
Front Legroom
42.2 "
Rear Legroom
35.7 "
Front Shoulder Room
56.1 "
Rear Shoulder Room
55.3 "
Front Hip Room
Rear Hip Room
Curb Weight
2,707 Lbs.
Wheel Base
106 "
Turning Radius
17.4 '
Exterior Features
Door Count
4 Doors
15.0 " Steel
Clearcoat Monotone / Pearlcoat Monotone
Exterior Mirrors
Dual Power Remote
Grille Moldings
Black W/chrome Surround
Rear Spoiler
Stainless Steel
Interior Features
Passenger Capacity
Seat Trim
Front Seat Type
Heated Front Seats
Front Driver Seat Direction Controls
Front Passenger Seat Direction Controls
Front Armrests
Rear Armrests
Rear Seats
Radio & Infotainment
Am/fm, Seek-scan
Radio Steering Wheel Controls
Apple Car Play
Android Auto
Bluetooth w/ Hands-Free Connectivity
Convenience Features
Steering Wheel Type
Telescopic Tilt
Climate Control
Cruise Control
With Steering Wheel Controls
Sun Roof
Rearview Mirror
Day-night / Auto-dimming Day-night
One Touch Open Window
Tinted Windows
Vanity Mirrors
Remote Keyless Entry
Keyfob (all Doors)
Power Outlets
Safety Features
Overall Crash Safety Rating
Overall Front Crash Safety Rating
Overall Side Crash Safety Rating
Rollover Crash Safety Rating
Front Impact Airbags
Driver And Passenger
Driver Side Impact Airbags
Seat Mounted
Knee Airbag
Passenger Side Impact Airbag
Seat Mounted
Rear Side Airbag
Seatbelt Pretensioners
Anti-Lock Brakes
4-wheel Anti-lock Brakes (abs)
Forward Collision Warning
Forward Collision-avoidance Assist (fca) Forward Collision Mitigation
Blind Spot Sensor
Lane Departure Warning
Lane Departure
Autonomous Cruise Control
Pedestrian Detection
Driver Attention Alert
Driver Attention Warning (daw) Driver Attention
Daytime Running Lights
Auto High Beams
Adaptive Headlights
Parking Sensors
Security Systems
Security System
Panic Alarm
Ignition Disable
Bumper To Bumper Months Miles
60 Months / 60,000 Miles
Major Components Months
120 Months / 100,000 Miles
Included Maintenance Months
Roadside Assistance Months
60 Months / 60,000 Miles
Corrosion Perforation
60 Months / 100,000 Miles
Accessories Months
60 Months / 60,000 Miles

Used 2021 Kia Forte for Sale

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