Great value. With a starting price tag of $20,085 (with destination), the 2022 Kia Forte offers a lot of bang for your buck. Affordable compact cars like the Forte are getting harder and harder to find as consumers move to SUVs. For consumers willing to purchase a sedan, the Forte brings a lot for the money.

The base Forte FE comes with features like an eight-inch touchscreen, wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, remote keyless entry, Bluetooth, six-way manually adjustable front seats, and four audio speakers. Several advanced safety features are standard, as well, including forward collision warning, pedestrian detection, automatic emergency braking, lane-keeping assist, and lane departure warning.

The higher up the Forte lineup you go, the value of the trim tapers off, but higher trims feel nothing like compact sedans from years ago. The GT Manual trim comes equipped with a 10.25-inch touchscreen, a Harman Kardon audio system, dual-zone automatic climate control, heated front seats, LED interior lighting, blind-spot monitoring, rear cross-traffic alert, a wireless charging pad, and automatic high-beam assist.

Sharper design. For 2022, the Forte gets a large update with new exterior styling. The compact vehicle adopts an updated version of Kia’s “Tiger Nose” grille, as well as revised front and rear bumpers, new exterior lighting elements, and a new optional spoiler. Additionally, Kia has introduced new wheel designs for the Forte. The result is a much sharper Forte that looks similar to the sporty Stinger. The GT-Line and GT trims get a few more unique touches on the outside. These sporty trims feature new LED fog lights and LED taillights.

Kia has also updated the Forte’s interior design with a new center console that sees the compact sedan receive an electronic parking brake instead of the old manual one. The other big news is the newly optional 10.25-inch touchscreen that brings the Forte in line with the majority of Kia’s other vehicles.

Mixed performance. Kia continues to offer the Forte with two engines. The base engine is just enough for commuting and getting around town, but it is efficient. The FE, LXS, and GT-Line come with a 2.0-liter four-cylinder that’s rated at 147 horsepower. Unlike last year, the engine is paired with a continuously variable automatic transmission (CVT), as the manual transmission has been discontinued. In addition to being underpowered, the base engine drones and groans. The good news is that the base engine is efficient, carrying a combined fuel economy rating of up to 35 mpg.

The GT and GT Manual trims come with a far better engine in the form of a turbocharged 1.6-liter four-cylinder engine that produces 201 horsepower. This engine helps the trims feel quick in a straight line and puts the vehicle in the same league as the Honda Civic Si and Volkswagen Golf GTI. Power isn’t the issue with the 1.6-liter engine, it’s the transmission.

The standard seven-speed dual-clutch automatic transmission in the GT trims is a joy to use when traveling quickly down the road. It snaps off quick shifts with little drama. Drive the vehicle at low speeds and you’ll experience another side to the gearbox. At low speeds, the transmission hesitates, buckles, and chooses an odd gear. One way around this is to choose the available six-speed manual transmission, but it’s a $1,000 upgrade over the dual-clutch model. We think is a worthy upgrade for consumers that want to be able to enjoy driving the Forte.

Competitively spacious. Since Kia introduced the redesigned Forte in 2019, Hyundai has come out with a new Elantra, Honda has introduced a new Civic, and Volkswagen came out with a new GTI. The redesigned Volkswagen Jetta came out in the same year as the Forte. All of these vehicles have grown radically in size over their previous generations, making them more spacious than the Forte.

With 35.7 inches of rear legroom, most people won’t complain about interior space in the Forte. That is until they sit in one of the Forte’s competitors. The Elantra has 38 inches of rear legroom, the Civic offers 37.4 inches, and the Jetta has 37.4 inches. With that kind of a disparity, the Forte’s rear seats feel cramped.

There is some good news and it’s that the Forte’s trunk offers an impressive 15.3 cubic feet of cargo space. So, if cargo capacity is a priority, the Forte offers plenty at the expense of rear legroom.

Final thoughts. In a class with larger, more upscale, more high-tech, and more enjoyable compact vehicles to drive, the 2022 Kia Forte struggles to stand out. It does so primarily because of its value and design. For some, that will be enough.

The fully-redesigned Honda Civic raises the bar for the compact class with a stylish design, a spacious cabin, a peppy engine, impressive tech features, and enjoyable handling. The Mazda3 is one of the few compact vehicles to be offered in both sedan and hatchback body styles. It’s one of the most high-end compacts in the class with a luxurious cabin, a powerful turbocharged engine, and a stunning design.

Check prices for the 2022 Kia Forte