Kia Forte vs. Toyota Corolla

By

Automotive Editor

Willis is a freelance writer based out of Philadelphia. Born and raised in Colorado, he graduated from Williams College. When he's not writing about cars or the outdoors, he spends his time rock climbing or reading with his two cats.


, Automotive Editor - June 25, 2019

Compact sedans are battlegrounds for value. Which brand can provide the most practicality and reliability in an affordable package? For years, one of the first answers has been Toyota. Along with its Camry stablemate, the Toyota Corolla is one of the best-selling sedans in America. Fresh off a redesign, the Corolla is better equipped to take on the competition, but the all-new Kia Forte is nipping at its heels. The Forte offers exceptional value backed by Kia’s strong warranties. Should buyers change their tune?

See a side-by-side comparison of the Forte & Corolla »

What the Forte Gets Right

The redesigned Kia Forte wins the price battle. A base Forte starts at $18,585 including destination, which is $1,845 less than the cheapest Corolla.

To make the price even sweeter, every Forte comes backed by Kia’s long warranties. Kia guarantees the powertrain for 10 years or 100,000 miles, with the basic warranty extending for five years or 60,000 miles. Toyota only offers five years or 60,000 miles of powertrain coverage and three years or 36,000 miles of basic warranty coverage.

For the price, the Forte packs in a surprising number of features. The base 147-horsepower engine is more powerful than the Corolla’s 132-hp unit, although neither is likely to win many drag races.

Every Forte comes with features like dual-zone automatic climate control, keyless entry, and an 8-inch infotainment touchscreen with Android Auto and Apple CarPlay compatibility.

In sedan form, the Forte even wins out on cargo space. Its 15.3 cubic feet of trunk space is good for the class and exceeds the Corolla sedan’s 13 cubic feet.

What the Corolla Gets Right

The Toyota Corolla’s biggest advantage is its extra body style: buyers can opt to have the Corolla as a hatchback. The Forte comes in sedan form only these days, which limits practicality somewhat.

Buyers may be wise to select the hatchback Corolla, although it does add a price premium. The hatchback sits on a different architecture and has a different powertrain. The hatchback’s engine makes 168 horsepower, which easily outguns the Forte.

Corolla’s are popular choices for rideshare drivers, and the reason is clear. The Corolla has a whopping 41.4 inches of leg room in the second row. That figure is more like a mid-size sedan than a compact, and it’s nearly six inches more than the Forte.

Two Cars, or Three?

The Toyota Corolla sedan and hatchback are different enough that they nearly warrant their own categories. The hatchback shape is the Corolla’s biggest ace over the Forte. With more buyers looking for practicality, not everyone will settle for a sedan.

While the hatchback is the newer and more polished car, it also pushes the Corolla even further from the Kia Forte’s price range. Although the rear seats do fold down, the cargo capacity only adds a few cubic feet over the Forte’s trunk.

Our Verdict: Kia Forte

The Toyota Corolla’s rear leg room is commendable, but the Kia Forte is the better car overall. It offers a strong feature set and a practical package at an attractive price, backed by excellent warranties. Economy cars are all about stretching a buyer’s dollars as far as they’ll go, and the Forte is the winner in that department.

Take a closer look at the Kia Forte »

Take a closer look at the Toyota Corolla »

Side-by-side comparison of features, pricing, photos and more!

, Automotive Editor

Willis is a freelance writer based out of Philadelphia. Born and raised in Colorado, he graduated from Williams College. When he's not writing about cars or the outdoors, he spends his time rock climbing or reading with his two cats.


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